I was on Ben Dobhrain yesterday,
no stranger in her bounds was I;
I looked upon the glens
and the bens that I had known so well;
this was a happy picture
to be tramping on the hillsides,
at the hour the sun was rising,
and the deer would be a-bellowing.
The gallant herd is joyous,
as they moved off with noisy stir;
the hinds are by the spring,
and the speckled calves looked bonny there;
then the does and roe-bucks,
the black-cocks and the grouse cocks
the sweetest music ever heard
was their sound when heard at dawn of day.
Blithely would I set out
for stalking on the hill passes,
away to climb rough country,
and late would I be coming home;
the clean rain and the air
on the peaks of the high mountains,
helped me to grow, and gave me
robustness and vitality.
I earned my living for a time,
at shielings that I knew full well,
with frolic, fun, flirtation,
enjoying maidens tender fellowship;
twere contrary to nature
that this should still obtain there;
we had perforce to leave them,
when the time arrived to separate.
Now since old age has stricken me,
I have an ailment that will cleave to me,
that has wrought havoc on my teeth,
while my vision is beclouded;
I am not fit for exploit
though I might find it needful,
and though pursuit were on my trail,
I could not step out very fast.
Although my head is hoary
and my locks have become scanty,
oft have I loosed a deer-hound
against a wild, high-headed one:
though I, who loved them always,
were to see them on the hillside,
now, being sadly short of breath,
I cannot go a-chasing them.
In their rutting season,
devotedly I followed them;
then an interlude with country folk,
while giving them new songs and verse;
another spell with comrades,
while we were campaigning:
cheery were we then,
nor was the dram to us a novelty.
When I was in my early youth,
twas folly kept me destitute;
tis Providence bestows on us
each fair thing that was promised us;
though I am scant of riches,
my mind is full of solace,
for I trust that Georges daughter
will have provided bread for me.
Yesterday I was on the moor,
and grave reflections haunted me:
that absent were the well-loved friends
who used to roam the waste with me;
since the mountain, which I little thought
would suffer transformation,
has now become a sheep-run,
the world, indeed, has cheated me.
As I gazed on every side of me
I could not but be sorrowful,
for wood and heather have run out,
nor live the men who flourished there;
theres not a deer to hunt there,
theres not a bird or roe there,
and the few that have not died out
have departed from it utterly.
Farewell to the deer forests
O! they are wondrous hill-country,
with green cress and spring water,
a noble, royal, pleasant drink;
to the moor plains which are well beloved,
and the pastures which are plentiful,
as these are parts of which Ive taken leave,
my thousand blessings aye be theirs.