Alice Clare MacDonell of Keppoch, Clan Donald Bardess

As mentioned in my previous post, my great great great aunt Alice Clare MacDonell of Keppoch was the Clan Donald Bardess. I had an email today from Taylor Macdonald who has a library of MacDonald History and Genealogy here. He found a number of Alice’s books on Amazon, including: For God and St. Andrew (1928), The Crushing of the Lilies (1927), Songs of the Mountain and the Burn (1912), Lays of the Heather: poems (1896). Only one was available so I’ll see if I can get a copy. In the meantime, I’ve included another of her poems I found on the Clan Cameron site here.

Lochaber’s Sons
(The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders)
by Alice C. MacDonell of Keppoch 1895

From the depths of far Lochaber,
Where the snow clad crests on high
Stand like sentries pointing upwards
Towards the wild tempestuous sky.
Where the oak’s umbrageous shadow
Interlacing shades a mile
Dark and cool, the fiercest sunshine
Fails to pierce the dark defile
Where the heather root is strongest,
Growing past the height of a man;
Clothing all the hills and valleys,
Badge of the Macdonald clan.
There they stood when first embodied,
Cameron and Clandonald’s men;
Side by side as many a foeman
Found them to defend their glen.
Proud on high they raised their colours,
And the war pipe pealed aloud,
Echoing back from Achnacarry
To the Keppoch hills around
E’en the tartan that they wore,
Bore witness to the ties of yore.

Side by side they fought together
Thro’ Egypt’s fierce and stern campaign,
Side by side they marched together
Thro’ the sunny land of Spain.
And they stood within the trenches,
When young Alec Cameron fell;
Pierced to death and sore surrounded,
Rather than the French could tell
That a Cameron’s sword was yielded
By a man who bore his name,
Better death in all its phases
Than the smallest taint of shame;
Seven wounds were gaping open
When they found him where he lay:
But he knew his picket rescued,
And a smile seemed half to play
Disdainful as he’d mocked the Frenchmen,
Falling, dying, upon the field –
“On our hearts is writ a sentence,
Thus – A Cameron ne’er can yield!”

They it was who charged the foemen,
Bonaparte’s selected guard,
What were they when matched in courage,
Hand to hand in conflict hard
‘Gainst the stubborn Highland soldiers
Trained by nature to endure?
Forward rushing with one impulse,
In their vengeance swift and sure.
For there rose a cry of anguish
In a hoarse and maddened yell,
When gallant Philips Cameron
Backward on his charger fell.
And the soldiers clubbed their muskets,
And they fought like men insane;
Till the Frenchman paid his tribute
For the life blood of the slain.
Early morn beheld them fighting,
But the darkest shades of night
Fell before their rage was sated,
And the foe was put to flight.
With muffled drums and arms reversed
The laid their gallant chief to rest;
To the wailing of the pibroch,
With the colours on his breast.
Crashed the roar of distant battle,
Loud the thunder rolled o’erhead;
But the full and loyal tribute
Had been paid their dear loved dead.

At the siege of Burgos, springing
On each other’s shoulders, formed
Of their men a scaling ladder
Up the jaggèd rocks they stormed,
With the gallant Forty-second,
Trusted comrades they of yore,
O’er the palisades went streaming,
Climbing, cheering, lifted o’er.
Rushed the strong redoubt of Frenchmen,
And La Colombette was won,
Levelled steel and shout of triumph
Cheered the brave and dashing run.
But a triumph still more noble
Led the dauntless Cameron men;
When their comrades were surrounded,
Caught like sheep within a pen.
And they saw the Forty-second
Driven from the post they’d ta’en.
Then the gallant Douglas shouted,
“rally men! Your post regain!”
Tho’ the hill in front was darkened
By the cavalry in flank,
Fearless stood the Camerons waiting,
Line on line in steady rank.
Like the waves of stormy ocean,
Burst a loud tumultuous cheer;
As the torrent rushed upon them,
And the foe were flanked in rear.

Down they came with bonnets waving,
Carried like a wave of thought,
Then the Camerons cheered in answer,
That with men indeed they fought.
Hard they held their breath from rushing,
As they sprang their foes to meet,
Till the levelled steel was reddened,
And they forced them to retreat.
Inch by inch they fought like tigers,
Till their own redoubt was gained.
Reckless of the awful carnage,
And the tightened muscles strained,
Till their comrades’ post they carried,
Then the cheer of victory rose;
As they saw before them scatter
The last remnant of their foes.
When they saw the Douglas bearing
On his breast the golden cross,
Then the thrill of glory covered
The dead heroes of their loss.
It was they repulsed the Frenchmen
In the valley of the Lanz,
They who formed the Highland union,
Wave on wave on Alma’s bank.

As roe-deer reared within the forests,
At Quatre Brae they bounded o’er,
Graceful poised with scarce an effort
The fifteen feet of bank before.
Then their famous charge was driven
Home to the advancing force,
Back upon the bridge they huddled
The troopers of Napoleon’s horse.
Their’s the charge the guns to cover,
Their’s to hold that dangerous post;
Volley upon volley answered
From the hedge the charging host;
Side by side they fought untiring,
Full upon their column drove
The pressing mass of horsemen falling
Back, in vain for order strove.
When their shot gave out, retreating,
Step by step in steady line,
Till their square reformed and bristled,
Glistening shewed the bayonets’ shine.
Wild an high the pipes resounded
From Mackay who stepped without,
Cogadh na sith! The soldiers answered,
With a loud triumphant shout.
Wild notes playing, streamers flying,
Defiance to the foe was thrown,
Exposed, undaunted, marched the hero,
Playing round the square alone.

From the depths of far Lochaber,
Where the snow crests point on high,
Twine the heath and oak together
For the deeds that cannot die.
By sea or land, for Queen and country,
They have fought and they have bled,
Lochaber’s sons, the true and dauntless,
Fearless followed, fearless led.
Spread abroad your dark blue colours,
The thistle ensigned with the crown,
The sphinx that tells of Egypt’s glories,
The battle names of brave renown.
Gallant sons of brave Lochaber,
Single in your greatness stand,
The triumph of your beauteous country,
The pride of dear old Scotia’s land.

Editor’s Note: Published in Celtic Monthly in 1895. Due to its subject matter, it may originally date from earlier, perhaps the early-mid nineteenth century.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s