A poem to Clan Donald by Alice Claire MacDonell, Bardess to the Clan Donald

Here’s a poem by my great aunt that I found on Clan Donald Magazine No 7 (1977) Online. It’s dedicated to the Clan Donald from her book “Lays of the Heather” their first formation (in 1889) as a society since the ’45.

To The Clan Donald
by Alice Claire MacDonell, Bardess to the Clan Donald
Rouse, ye children of MacDonald,
From each far and distant shore!
Hands outstretched across the ocean
Cling in fancied grasp once more.
Helpers of the weak and suffering,
As the knights of ancient lore;
Hearts that never knew dishonour
Beat as loyal as of yore.
Wake again, O great Clann Dhomhnaill!
Let not duty call in vain:
In the vanguard of the battle
Form your serried ranks again.


Let the fiery cross be carried
Over mountain, foss, and fell;
Whilst the piper’s magic music
Stirs our spirits with its spell.
Rally gallant sons of Donald,
From each far and exiled home!
Distance cannot now divide us,
Wherso’er our footsteps roam,
Sworn to stand henceforth as brothers
On the battlefield of life:
Willing hands held out to succour
Weaker members in the strife.

Gather in the scattered columns
Of our great and noble name;
Sons whose fathers’ deeds are written
In the deathless Book of Fame,
Ye whose sires preferred to witness
With their lives ‘gainst tyrant rule,
Mightier in their landless honour
Than to live as fortune’s tool.
First of all the clans of Scotland
Where a daring deed was done;
Last to leave the field of battle
Till the stubborn fight was won.

Not in vain our boasted motto,
“By the sea and by the land;”
In the strength of love united,
By our ancient laws we stand.
No! not dead the hearts that slumber,
Crushed awhile ‘neath alien heel.
Land and pelf they have bereft us,
But our dreams they could not steal.
Let the hideous garb be banished
Of a dull and sodden race,
And the graceful kilt and sporran
On your manly forms replace.

Oh, to see the glens and valleys
Start to sentient life again,
With the laughter of the sheiling
And the bleating from the pen!
0h, to see the waving tartan
Floating free o’er heathery breeze,
And the children’s laughter echo
Through the silent forest trees.
Oh, to hear the tones of greeting
In the kindly Gaelic tongue,
And the beauteous tales of Ossian
In their native language sung!

Where are now the clustering hamlets
Nestling on the fair hillside?
Where are now our stately peasants,
Once our nation’s prop and pride?
Ask the waves that beat incessant
‘Gainst the grey and beetling crags;
Ask the owner of rich forests,
As of glorious sport he brags;
Ask that briny sea made salter
With the tears of feeble age:
Loud protesting ‘gainst the exile
Writ in history’s darkest page,
Breaking o’er the ships that bore them
In a blind, impotent rage.

Scotia! you have need to waken,
If your heart be not inured
To the wailing of your children
And the wrongs they have endured.
Pace the wild and trackless regions,
Once the right of Scottish men …
Sent adrift to make a shelter
For the monarch of the glen.
See the shrouded hills of Scotland
Wrapped in sorrow’s misty pall,
Mourning for her ancient language,
well-nigh lost ‘neath Sassunach thrall.
From the shadows reigning o’er her
Free our land, O great Clann Dhomhnaill!

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2 thoughts on “A poem to Clan Donald by Alice Claire MacDonell, Bardess to the Clan Donald

  1. Thankyou for the beautiful poem by your Great Aunt Alice C. McDonnell. I will certainly send it to family members, (fellow McDonnell’s),and save it on my Favorites.God Bless,Tom McDonnell,Cedar Lake,Indiana.

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