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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Burial March of Dundee

By William Edmondstoune Aytoun (1813–1865)

From the ‘Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers’

SOUND the fife and cry the slogan;

Let the pibroch shake the air

With its wild, triumphant music,

Worthy of the freight we bear.

Let the ancient hills of Scotland

Hear once more the battle-song

Swell within their glens and valleys

As the clansmen march along!

Never from the field of combat,

Never from the deadly fray,

Was a nobler trophy carried

Than we bring with us to-day;

Never since the valiant Douglas

On his dauntless bosom bore

Good King Robert’s heart—the priceless—

To our dear Redeemer’s shore!

Lo! we bring with us the hero—

Lo! we bring the conquering Græme,

Crowned as best beseems a victor

From the altar of his fame;

Fresh and bleeding from the battle

Whence his spirit took its flight,

’Midst the crashing charge of squadrons,

And the thunder of the fight!

Strike, I say, the notes of triumph,

As we march o’er moor and lea!

Is there any here will venture

To bewail our dead Dundee?

Let the widows of the traitors

Weep until their eyes are dim!

Wail ye may full well for Scotland—

Let none dare to mourn for him!

See! above his glorious body

Lies the royal banner’s fold—

See! his valiant blood is mingled

With its crimson and its gold.

See how calm he looks and stately,

Like a warrior on his shield,

Waiting till the flush of morning

Breaks along the battle-field!

See— oh, never more, my comrades,

Shall we see that falcon eye

Redden with its inward lightning,

As the hour of fight drew nigh!

Never shall we hear the voice that,

Clearer than the trumpet’s call,

Bade us strike for king and country,

Bade us win the field, or fall!

On the heights of Killiecrankie

Yester-morn our army lay:

Slowly rose the mist in columns

From the river’s broken way;

Hoarsely roared the swollen torrent,

And the Pass was wrapped in gloom,

When the clansmen rose together

From their lair amidst the broom.

Then we belted on our tartans,

And our bonnets down we drew,

As we felt our broadswords’ edges,

And we proved them to be true;

And we prayed the prayer of soldiers,

And we cried the gathering-cry,

And we clasped the hands of kinsmen,

And we swore to do or die!

Then our leader rode before us,

On his war-horse black as night—

Well the Cameronian rebels

Knew that charger in the fight!—

And a cry of exultation

From the bearded warrior rose;

For we loved the house of Claver’se,

And we thought of good Montrose.

But he raised his hand for silence—

“Soldiers! I have sworn a vow;

Ere the evening star shall glisten

On Schehallion’s lofty brow,

Either we shall rest in triumph,

Or another of the Græmes

Shall have died in battle-harness

For his country and King James!

Think upon the royal martyr—

Think of what his race endure—

Think on him whom butchers murdered

On the field of Magus Muir:

By his sacred blood I charge ye,

By the ruined hearth and shrine—

By the blighted hopes of Scotland,

By your injuries and mine—

Strike this day as if the anvil

Lay beneath your blows the while,

Be they Covenanting traitors,

Or the blood of false Argyle!

Strike! and drive the trembling rebels

Backwards o’er the stormy Forth;

Let them tell their pale Convention

How they fared within the North.

Let them tell that Highland honor

Is not to be bought nor sold;

That we scorn their prince’s anger,

As we loathe his foreign gold.

Strike! and when the fight is over,

If you look in vain for me,

Where the dead are lying thickest

Search for him that was Dundee!”

Loudly then the hills re-echoed

With our answer to his call,

But a deeper echo sounded

In the bosoms of us all.

For the lands of wide Breadalbane,

Not a man who heard him speak

Would that day have left the battle.

Burning eye and flushing cheek

Told the clansmen’s fierce emotion,

And they harder drew their breath;

For their souls were strong within them,

Stronger than the grasp of Death.

Soon we heard a challenge trumpet

Sounding in the Pass below,

And the distant tramp of horses,

And the voices of the foe;

Down we crouched amid the bracken,

Till the Lowland ranks drew near,

Panting like the hounds in summer,

When they scent the stately deer.

From the dark defile emerging,

Next we saw the squadrons come,

Leslie’s foot and Leven’s troopers

Marching to the tuck of drum;

Through the scattered wood of birches,

O’er the broken ground and heath,

Wound the long battalion slowly,

Till they gained the field beneath;

Then we bounded from our covert,—

Judge how looked the Saxons then,

When they saw the rugged mountain

Start to life with armèd men!

Like a tempest down the ridges

Swept the hurricane of steel,

Rose the slogan of Macdonald—

Flashed the broadsword of Lochiel!

Vainly sped the withering volley

’Mongst the foremost of our band—

On we poured until we met them

Foot to foot and hand to hand.

Horse and man went down like drift-wood

When the floods are black at Yule,

And their carcasses are whirling

In the Garry’s deepest pool.

Horse and man went down before us—

Living foe there tarried none

On the field of Killiecrankie,

When that stubborn fight was done!

And the evening star was shining

On Schehallion’s distant head,

When we wiped our bloody broadswords,

And returned to count the dead.

There we found him gashed and gory,

Stretched upon the cumbered plain,

As he told us where to seek him,

In the thickest of the slain.

And a smile was on his visage,

For within his dying ear

Pealed the joyful note of triumph

And the clansmen’s clamorous cheer:

So, amidst the battle’s thunder,

Shot, and steel, and scorching flame,

In the glory of his manhood

Passed the spirit of the Græme!

Open wide the vaults of Athol,

Where the bones of heroes rest—

Open wide the hallowed portals

To receive another guest!

Last of Scots, and last of freemen—

Last of all that dauntless race

Who would rather die unsullied,

Than outlive the land’s disgrace!

O thou lion-hearted warrior!

Reck not of the after-time:

Honor may be deemed dishonor,

Loyalty be called a crime.

Sleep in peace with kindred ashes

Of the noble and the true,

Hands that never failed their country,

Hearts that never baseness knew.

Sleep!—and till the latest trumpet

Wakes the dead from earth and sea,

Scotland shall not boast a braver

Chieftain than our own Dundee!