THE EMIGRANT'S FAREWELL
By Alexander Stewart
The wind whipped the canvas. The tall-masted vessel strained
Sail to the west in it's voyage of sorrow;
Fast faded Cantyree: the sad flight from the Highlands was
Bitter today and uncertain tomorrow,
Red gold on the ocean the sunset before them
The gull's scream gave warning of tempest to come;
But sea lanes in storms had no terrors for Dugald:
His eyes stung with tears for farewell to his home.
He stood in the stern with his gaze on the mountains
Dusk-dark in the distance, the peaks of Argyll:
Such peaks as looked down on his forefathers' dwelling
Now roofless for hillcat and fox to defile.
“O, land of my heart”, were the words of his grieving
“Who would not sorrow at leaving you so?
Dammed be the tyrants, the faithless and grasping
Whose greed and ambition decree we must go.”
“They have driven us out like the mists of the morning
dispelled by the glare of the gathering day.
The deer and the moorcock claim crofts long grown silent:
“The blood-ties that bound us, once stronger than iron,
corrupt Chiefs have broken, like Judas, for gain;
Fat sheep from the south graze the land that was our land:
Woe, wealth without honour, estates without men!
Note: The tragedy of the Clearances was that they were inflicted on Highland populations just when they were settling down to order and prosperity after the horrors of civil war and feuding. Rich landowners started using the law of property to try to get richer at the expense of their tenants.