1829
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Glencoe.

The African: a Tale, and other Poems.

Dugald Moore


Ten Spenserians, a topographic poem in the lyric mode. Glencoe, in Argyllshire Scotland, was the site of the infamous 1692 massacre in which the Macdonald clan was murdered in their sleep by the Campbells, ostensibly their guests. Perhaps use of the stanza for this topic was suggested by Thomas Campbell's popular Gertrude of Wyoming (1809) which describes an Indian massacre in Pennsylvania.



Star of the morning! be my guide; with thee
I'll seek the wilderness, where one can mark
Those rugged spots, where man at least is free—
The pilot of his own unfetter'd bark.
Dear to my spirit is the mountain dark,
The shiver'd rock, the ocean's boundless roll,
The solitary waste — that bids us hark
To the great voice, which breathes into the soul
The might of Him, whose arm stretch'd out creation's whole.

Seest thou yon ocean of stupendous cliffs,
Heaving their snowy bosoms to the sky,
Whose frozen front the hovering eagle skiffs
With her broad wings, while passing dimly by;
And list that mountain-torrent's dreary sigh,
As through the horrid glen it wanders slow?
Ah! deeds have there been done of blackest dye,
And purest blood, by guile, was doom'd to flow!
Oh! pause, and mark it well, that desert is Glencoe.

The form of nature here is grim and gaunt,
A desert without tree to cheer the view;
The eagle is the sole inhabitant,
Throned in his palace of ethereal blue:
Amid the sky, the rent cliffs breaking through,
Where desolation keeps his withering hold,
Throwing his naked pride and murky hue
Upon each mountain's rugged forehead bold,
That lowers with shatter'd front, making creation old.

Where rise the hills, as if they long'd to kiss
And join each other in a rude embrace,
Like savage lovers in the wilderness,
There sport the desert's fair and chainless race;
Far from the hunter's aim, the blood-hound's chace,
The red deer wanders, and the stately stag
Bounds gallantly along the mountain's face
While the gray fox seems in the glen to lag;
The airy-footed goat sports on from crag to crag.

And see upon the stream of Cona, stand
A few gray stones, the monuments of blood:
They show the lowly dwellings of the band
Who cheer'd their murderers in courteous mood:
They were not conquer'd by those villains rude,
But in night's solitude, when all was still,
When sleep each manly spirit had subdued,
They felt the brand of murder through them thrill,
Then death's long hollow groan rung widely o'er each hill!

Ay, in the hour of slumber and of faith,
When youthful love seem'd cradled with delight,
When friendship should have come, instead of death,
To guard the courteous sleepers in the night—
The yell of murder spread from height to height,
Then, waked the startled eagle on her cloud,
Scared by the flames that broke upon her sight;
Scared by the dying screams, that long and loud
Rose from the manly hearts, that 'neath death's tempest bow'd.

Oh! for a tongue — an arm to blast the slave
Who did the deed — the heart that gave it birth!
May Scorn, with her lean finger, point the grave
Where such vile monsters mingle with the earth.
Kings are but men; — yet they, with hellish mirth,
Can sport with hearts more noble than their own;
Plant red destruction on the friendly hearth;
Make shackled millions with oppression groan;
Upraise the seeds of peace, which Thou, O God! hast sown.

Cona! though lonely, still thou hast a charm,
Which all thy desolation cannot blight:
Within thee Fingal raised his mighty arm,
And Ossian's harp rung to the breeze of night.
And now, methinks, upon yon awful height,
That beetles o'er the desolated way,
I mark his giant form and tresses white,
Floating upon the mountain-storm like spray,
And like a shade he seems of some forgotten day.

But, hark! those echoes stealing o'er the hill,
Wild and unearthly; — are they from his lyre?
Ah! no: — his mountain harp-strings now are still:
Dark nameless time beheld the Bard expire,
But not his glory, nor his deep-toned fire.
No! — like the blasts of his own uplands blue,
It seems to strengthen as it warbles higher;
And from the dreary spot where first it grew,
The breath of fame has blown it's sparks creation through.

When sinks my dust again into the earth,
When all of me has perish'd — that can die;
When my free spirit springs to second birth—
O Scotland! may I still thy beauties eye,
With feelings strong as those of days gone by,
When the lone stars of heaven have only been
Companions in my wanderings. May I fly,
Like spirit of a sound, o'er each loved scene
That charm'd, like thee, Glencoe! my boyhood's hour serene.

[(1830) 98-102]