'Twas not the beacon light of war, Nor yet the "slogan" cry, That chilled each heart, and blanched each cheek, In the country of Mackay, And made them march with weary feet, As men condemned to die. Ah! had it been their country's foe That they were called to brave, How loudly would the piobrachd sound, How proud their "bratach" wave; How joyfully each man would march, Tho' marching to his grave. No! 'Twas a cruel, sad behest, An alien chief's command, Depriving them of house and home, Their country and their land; Dealing a death-blow at their hearts, Binding the "strong right hand". Slowly and sadly, down the glen They took their weary way, The sun was shining overhead Upon that sweet spring day, And earth was throbbing with the life Of the great glad month of May. The deer were browsing on the hills, And looked with wondering eye; The birds were singing their songs of praise, The smoke curled to the sky, And the river added its gentle voice To nature's melody. No human voice disturbed the calm, No answering smile was there, For men and women walked along, Mute pictures of despair; This was the last sad Sabbath they Would join in praise and prayer. And men were there whose brows still bore The trace of many scars, Who oft their vigils kept with death Beneath the midnight stars, Where'er their country needed men, Brave men to fight her wars. And grey-haired women tall and strong, Erect and full of grace, Meet mothers of a noble clan, A brave and stalwart race, And many a maiden young and fair, With pallid, tear-stained face. They met upon the river's brink, By the church so old and grey, They could not sit within its walls Upon this sunny day; The Heavens above would be their dome, And hear what they would say. The preacher stood upon a bank, His face was pale and thin, And, as he looked upon his flock, His eyes with tears were dim, And they awhile forgot their grief, And fondly looked at him. His text: "Be faithful unto death, And I will give to thee A crown of life that will endure To all eternity." And he pleaded God's dear promises, So rich, so full, so free; Then said "Ah friends, an evil day Has come upon our Glen, Now sheep and deer are held of more Account than living men; It is a lawless law that yet All nations will condemn. "I would not be a belted knight, Nor yet a wealthy lord, Nor would I, for a coronet, Have said the fatal word That made a devastation worse Than famine, fire, or sword. "The path before each one of us Is long, and dark, and steep; I go away a shepherd lone, Without a flock to keep, And ye without a shepherd go, My well beloved sheep. "But God our Father will not part With one of us, I know, Though in the cold wide world our feet May wander to and fro; If we like children cling to Him, With us He'll ever go. "Farewell my people, fare ye well, We part to meet no more, Until we meet before the throne, On God's eternal shore, Where parting will not break the heart. Farewell for ever more." He sat upon the low green turf, His head with sorrow bowed; Men sobbed upon their father's graves, And women wept aloud, And there was not a tearless eye In that heart-stricken crowd. The tune of "Martyrdom" was sung By lips with anguish pale, And as it rose upon the breeze It swelled into a wail, And, like a weird death coronach, It sounded in the vale: "Beannaicht' gu robh gu siorruidh buan Ainm glormhor uasal fein Lionadh a ghloir gach uile thir Amen agus Amen." And echo lingering on the hills Gave back the sad refrain. Methinks there never yet was heard Such a pathetic cry As rose from that dear, hallowed spot Unto the deep blue sky, 'Twas the death wail of a broken clan - The noble clan Mackay. And ere another Sabbath came, The people were no more Within their glens, but they were strewn Like wreck upon the shore, And the smoke of each burning home ascends To Heaven for ever more.The text given, Psalm sung, are all as it happened.
- Annie MacKay, Scotland: 1883