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Poems by Charles MacKay
Strathnaver No More


"Sutherlandshire was formerly a populous county, inhabited by a quiet, orderly, brave, religious race of men, remarkable for their fine forms, great bodily strength and high military qualities. Since sheep have found their way to these pastures, this country is one wide and waste solitude.  Where three or four shepherds, with their dogs, can take charge of a district twenty miles in extent, it is not surprising if we wander for days without seeing the traces of human life—solitary as the sands of Africa or the immeasurable ocean." —Critical examination of Dr. MacCulloch's work on the "Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland " (Edinburgh, 1825).

STRATHNAVER NO MORE

Posthumously published in 1890.
A poem by Charles Mackay, LLD., [1814-1889]


Bonnie Strathnaver, extinct are the fires
That glowed on the hearths of our true-hearted sires,
Where we sat at the gloaming and learned at the knee
The deeds of the Clan in the days of the free.

Red-handed Oppression, that calls itself Law,
Has swept through the land, spreading havoc and awe ;
And, fierce as a whirlwind, laid low in the dust
The sheltering homes of the brave and the just;

Laid low to the earth the abodes of the men
That once were the glory and pride of the glen,
Who fought for their country when Duty appeal'd
And Victory summoned her sons to the field.

Brave men and true women were fruits of the line,
And grew on our moors in the old happy time,
Ere the land was considered God's gift to the few
With absolute right to possess and subdue ;

Ere hucksters succeeded the noble and brave,
And robbed us alike of a home and a grave,
And cared not for harvests of barley and corn.
While deer could be hunted and sheep could be shorn ;

While cattle and grouse could be turned into gold,
And men like our fathers, those heroes of old,
Brave in heart, strong in hand, clear of purpose and head,
Were worthless as merchandise, living or dead.

So the cot was pulled down, and laid waste the kail-yard,
And turned into wilderness fruitless and hard
For the sheep or the deer and the shy ptarmigan—
For anything, everything, rather than man.

Bonnie Strathnaver ! we see thee in dreams,
Thy craigs and thy corries, thy braes and thy streams ;
We tread the green heath, we clamber the Bens,
And wail for the woe of the desolate glens,

And think of the time when a perishing realm,
That rivals invade and that foes overwhelm,
Shall call, but in vain, for the aid unsuborned
Of the men it misgoverned, insulted, and scorned :

Shall call, but in vain, in its right of endeavour.
For the help it has banished for ever and ever
Of the clansmen, the noble, the strong and the brave.
Who wander afar o'er the wild western wave.

Strathnaver ! Strathnaver ! farewell evermore,
We're banished afar from thy beautiful shore ;
But cherish the hope through all sorrow and pain
That Right shall be Might in Strathnaver again !


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