Kenneth Macrae.


Orpheus’ lute it warbled well,1
Over hill and over dell,2
Making trees with pleasure dance,3
Steeping rocks in love’s fond trance ;4
And the lays of mighty Pan5
Stopped the river as it ran6
His reed-pipe calmed the bubbles,7
And soothed the wild bees’ troubles ;8
Paganini’s violin spoke,9
E’en when half its strings were broke ;—10
But music’s own soul enchanted lay11
In the pibroch pipes of Kenneth Macrae.12


On the banks of sweet Lochawe13
First the light of day he saw,—14
Fitting home for Nature’s child,15
’Midst the mountains bleak and wild ;16
High into the balmy air17
Cruachan rears his forehead bare,18
While beneath the Awe, sweet stream,19
Glances onward like a dream ;20
While Orion’s bright beams burn21
Like a halo round Kilchurn ;—22
There, careless, he whiled youth’s summer day23
Amidst the heather, young Kenneth Macrae.24


And the music of the dell25
Into Kenneth’s soul deep fell ;26
And the beauties of the glen,27
And the tales of valiant men,28
And the glories of the dead,29
And the valour of days fled,30
Sank into his soul, and then,31
On his pipes they lived again.32
Brighter far than gay cascade,33
Sweeter far than mountain maid,—34
Like a sweet dream of heaven, they say,35
Were the pibroch pipes of Kenneth Macrae.36


High up on the mountain-side,37
Where rushed torrents in their pride,38
There amidst the tufted heather,39
There in fair and stormy weather,40
Ever o’er his chieftain’s sheep41
Kenneth would his vigil keep ;42
And his pipes, so wild and shrill,43
Echoed o’er the lonely hill,—44
The wild cat paused upon her spring,45
The blackcock hovered on the wing ;46
And the linnet hushed his song, they say,47
To list to the pipes of Kenneth Macrae.48


At a wedding or a fair49
Kenneth and his pipes were there,50
With their music wondrous sweet,51
That made hearts forget to beat :52
Playing pibrochs, warlike strains,53
Nerving arms for battle plains ;54
Playing love’s soft lullaby,55
Leaving but a yearning sigh ;56
Playing coronachs sad and low,57
Till each heart was bathed in woe ;—58
For hope and anguish and love, they say,59
Were born of the pipes of Kenneth Macrae.60


But like death-knell from afar61
Tidings came of opening war ;62
News was spread through every glen63
The country wanted fighting men64
Brave men bred among the heather,65
Who would fight and die together,66
Who the Highland kilt would wear,67
And the Highland claymore bear.68
Tempted from their native land,69
By the beck of glory’s hand,70
Many a brave fellow went, they say,71
And foremost of all was Kenneth Macrae.72


Where before war’s hand blood-red,73
Fair peace shrieked and wildly fled,74
While the world with bated breath,75
Watched Crimea’s vale of death,76
High above the deaf’ning roar,77
From the plains that reeked with gore,78
Upward to the trembling sky,79
Rose the bagpipes’ music high ;—80
Standing there, death’s shadow ‘neath,81
Cool as if on his native heath,82
Playing his pibrochs so wild, they say,83
Cheering his comrades, brave Kenneth Macrae.84


He inspired the Ninety-third,85
As they ne’er before were stirred ;86
Nerved that thin red line of steel,87
Till the shattered foemen reel ;88
At his music, fierce and high,89
Scotchmen deemed it gain to die.90
High above the cannon’s peal,91
And the deaf’ning clash of steel,92
Pointing out the path of duty,93
With a weird unearthly beauty,94
Clear and undaunted that awful day,95
Rose the pibroch pipes of Kenneth Macrae.96


When the drooping wings of night97
Gathered o’er the ghastly sight98
When the dreadful fight was done,99
And the victory was won ;100
Where, upon the gory plain,101
Stiffened lay the gallant slain,102
’Midst the dead did Kenneth go,103
Alone with mournful step and slow ;104
And the coronach’s sad wail105
Trembled on the weeping gale,—106
O’er many a comrade dead, they say,107
Wept the pibroch pipes of Kenneth Macrae.108


But when the dark wreath had passed109
That o’er Inkerman was cast,110
And the vail of darkness fell111
O’er the host who fought so well ;112
While the night hours slowly crept,113
And fierce battle weary slept,114
There amidst the trenches red,115
They found fearless Kenneth dead :116
In his hand clasped his claymore,117
Slung behind his pipes he bore ;118
There, cold and pale and lifeless, he lay,119
And his pipes were still, brave Kenneth Macrae.120


Never more in Awe’s sweet glen,121
Will his pipes be heard again ;122
No more will his music shrill123
Echo o’er the lonely hill :124
He has passed through death’s cold river,125
And his voice is still for ever.126
Never more on battle-field127
He his bold claymore will wield ;128
He will never rise again129
From that blood-red battle plain ;—130
But the like will never be heard, they say,131
To the pibroch pipes of Kenneth Macrae.132