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{Robert Buchanan - The Poet of Modern Revolt by Archibald Stodart-Walker}





A ‘Skaal’ to the gods has always been a favourite song of Mr. Buchanan’s. He has sung of ‘Ades, King of Hell,’ ‘Selene the Moon,’ and ‘Iris the Rainbow,’ and on the grave of the older gods must eventually raise a tremulous wail to the newer gods, whose coming darkened the groves of Pan. In ‘Balder the Beautiful’ the rimes of Scandinavian mythology have supplied the poet with a new ‘Song of Divine Death,’ and round the Northern god he has wreathed the songs of despair at the ceaseless coming of the swift-winged Angel. This generation has seen at least three Balders — the ‘Balder Dead’ of Matthew Arnold, the ‘Balder’ of Sydney Dobell, and the ‘Balder the Beautiful’ of Robert Buchanan. Mr. Dobell’s tragedy has no bearing on the Balder of Deity, and the following note of the poet contains a reference to Mr. Arnold’s that indicates the dissimilarity of the two. ‘It may be well for readers of the following poem to dismiss from their minds all recollection of the “Eddas,” Ewald’s “Balder,” Oehlenschläger’s “Balder hün Gode,” and 141 even Mr. Arnold’s “Balder Dead.” With the hero of these familiar works my Balder has little in common; he is neither the shadowy god of the “Edda,” nor the colossal hero of Ewald, nor the good principle of Oehlenschläger, nor the Homeric demigod of Mr. Arnold. In the presentation of both the Father and Son, I have reverted to the lines of the most primitive mythology; discovering in the one the northern Messiah, as well as the northern Apollo, in the other (instead of the degraded Odin of later superstition) the Alfadur, or temporarily omnipotent godhead, who, despite his darker features, has affinity with both the Zeus of the Eleusinian mysteries and the Jehovah of the Bible.’
     But as the poet adds, ‘it is unnecessary, however, further to explain the spirit of a poem which the competent reader will interpret in his own way, and which, if it fulfils its purpose at all, should have many meanings for many minds.’
     For those who count the later efforts of the poet as the work of a writer daring in purpose and too reckless in method, who find in ‘The Wandering Jew,’ ‘The Devil’s Case,’ yes, even in ‘The City of Dream,’ the heresy of uncompromising Eclecticism, a heresy which in their view destroys the value of these poems as works of art, ‘Balder the Beautiful’ will probably stand as the high-water mark of the poet’s imagination and poetical genius. It can be regarded in the same category as ‘The City of Dream’ in that its success lies in the power of the poet to grasp and 142 portray with suggestive art the ever-changing expression on the face of nature, and with that insight which is the brightest star in the crown of the poet, to weave a subtle meaning and to suggest the soul’s interpretation for the changing floods that pass from the Eternal Spring, and flow into the varied channels of nature.
     Like most of the poet’s work, it sounds the keynote of despair in the face of misery and death, with a belief in the ultimate triumph of the human soul, echoed in the final dictum that ‘All that is beautiful shall abide, all that is base shall   die.’
     A proem, ‘A Song of a Dream,’ serves as a prelude, of which these are three of the stanzas:

O what is this cry in our burning ears,
     And what is this light on our eyes, dear love?
The cry is the cry of the rolling years,
     As they break on the sun-rock, far above;
And the light is the light of that rock of gold
     As it burneth bright in a starry sea;
And the cry is clearer a hundredfold,
     And the light more bright, when I gaze on thee.
My weak eyes dazzle beneath that gleam,
     My sad ears deafen to hear that cry:
I was born in a dream, and I dwell in a dream,
     And I go in a dream to die!
     .         .          .         .          .         .          .

O what are the voices around my way,
     And what are these shadows that stir below?
The voices of waifs in a world astray,
     The shadows of souls that come and go.
And I hear and see, and I wonder more,
     For their features are fair and strange as mine,
But most I wonder when most I pore
     On the passionate peace of this face of thine.
We walk in silence by wood and stream,
     Our gaze upturned to the same blue sky:
We move in a dream, and we love in a dream,
     And we go in our dream to die!
     .         .          .         .          .         .          .

O closer creep to this breast of mine;                                                   143
     We rise, we mingle, we break, dear love!
A space on the crest of the wave we shine,
     With light and music and mirth we move;
Before and behind us (fear not, sweet!)
     Blackens the trough of the surging sea—
A little moment our mouths may meet,
     A little moment I cling to thee;
Onward the wonderful waters stream,
     ’Tis vain to struggle, ’tis vain to cry—
We wake in a dream, and we ache in a dream,
     And we break in a dream, and die!

     The Birth of Balder opens with the ‘Song’ in the following metre:

There blent with his growing
     The leaf and the flower,
The wind lightly blowing
     Its balm from afar,
The smile of the sunshine,
     The sob of the shower,
The beam of the moonshine,
     The gleam of the star.
’Mid shining of faces
     And waving of wings,
With gifts from all places
     Came beautiful things;
The blush from the blossom,
     The bloom from the corn,
Blent into his bosom,
     Ere Balder was born.
     .         .          .         .

In the sedge of the river
     The swan makes its nest;
In the mere, with no quiver,
     Stands shadow’d the crane;
Earth happy and still is,
     Peace dwells in her breast,
And the lips of her lilies
     Drink balm from the rain;
The lamb in the meadow
     Upsprings with no care,
Deep in the wood’s shadow
     Is born the young bear;
The ash and the alder,
     The flowers and the corn,
All waited for Balder,—
     And Balder is born!

144 This song is embodied in fourteen stanzas, and is a picture of the earth as it prepared itself for the birth of the ‘God.’ We next view the birth, growth, and attainment of Godhead of the young spirit. ‘Lovely as light and blossoms are, and gentle as the dew, a white god stainless as a star deep hidden’ is Balder. Leaving him upon a bank of flowers, ‘Frea,’ his mother, flies upward to the heavens, and at the feet of the All-Father announces that the young god is dead, at which there is joy in heaven. Meanwhile Balder, down in the forest, is growing into the splendour of his manhood.

He drinks no nurture of the breast,
     No mother’s kiss he knows;
Warm as a song-bird in its nest
     He feels the light, and grows.

Around him flock all gentle things
     Which range the forest free:
Each shape that blooms, each shape that sings,
     Looks on him silently.

The light is melted on his lips
     And on his eyes of blue,
And from the shining leaves he sips
     The sweetness of the dew.
     .         .          .         .          .         .

O look into his happy eyes,
     As lustrous as the dew!
A light like running water lies
     Within their depths of blue;

And there the white cloud’s shadow dim
     Stirs, mirror’d soft and gray,
And far within the dream-dews swim
     With melancholy ray.
     .         .          .         .          .         .

His hair is like the midnight sun’s,                                                         145
     All golden-red and bright;
But radiance as of moonrise runs
     Upon his limbs of white.
     .         .          .         .          .         .

Quietly as a moonbeam creeps
     He moves from place to place;
Soft steals the starlight, as he sleeps,
     To breathe upon his face.
     .         .          .         .          .         .

Now brightly gleams the soft green sod,
     The golden seeds are sown;
O pale white lily of a god,
     Thou standest now full blown!

     The goddess Frea returns to earth to find Balder, and ‘when the trumpet of day was blown from the great golden gateways of the sun, and when leaf by leaf the crimson rose o’ the east open’d, and leaf by leaf illumed in turn, glittered the snowy lily of the north,’ she meets her son, ‘bright, beautiful, and palpably divine.’ In his eyes ‘immortal innocence and mortal peace are bent to love and gentleness divine.’ Under the ministration of the starlight and the moonlight, the dew and the flowers, he has grown into beauty and strength:

And from the crimson of divine deep dawns
And from the flush of setting suns, thy cheeks
Have gather’d such a splendour as appals
The vision, even mine.
.          .         .          .         .          .         .

And ne’er was sound of falling summer showers
On boughs with lilac laden and with rose,
Or cuckoo-cries o’er emerald uplands heard,
Or musical murmurs of dark summer dawns,
More sweet than Balder’s voice.

146 Balder speaks to his mother of how the world has kindled to him like an opening rose, and how in the gladness of the world great joy had come to him, and in the love of her celestial looks he reads the answer to the mystery of his dim earthly being. He has had dreams of other gods, and in horror he reveals the truth that he has seen his Father—the stern, cruel force that sweeps with unsympathetic look over all things great and small. The mystery of Death oppresses him—all the earth has become darkened by the sight of the death of one small bird. The mother tells Balder that he must journey with her to that dim Land which lies ‘ev’n as a cloud around the Father’s feet’—and they set forth. As they go they pass by an ocean where the god views for the first time the form of the human dead. His soul is much disturbed, and to his questioning the answer comes that man is to the gods ‘no more than singing birds that soar a little flight and fall.’
     On the Heavenward journey they come to where the goddesses dwell—Rota, ‘a tall shape with mailed plates upon her breast, a skirt blood-red, and in her hand a spear,’ Gefion, Eir, Freya, and others. ‘These lilies fair, blown in the still pools of Eternity,’ are asked by Frea to give a benediction to the young god. This is the picture of Freya:

But as he gently came there interposed
A wonder of new brightness,—such a shape,
So perfect in divine white loveliness,
As never mortal yet beheld and lived.
And Balder trembled, and his bosom heaved                                        147
With an exceeding sweetness strange and new,
While close to his there came a shining face,
Still as a sunbeam, dimmer than a dream.
And Freya, for ’tis she whose touch is life
To happy lovers, and to loveless men
Is sickness and despair, said, breathing warm,
While on her alabaster arms love’s light
Was flushing faint as through a rose’s leaves,
‘Let all my sisters greet thee as they will,
I love thee, Balder! since of lovely things
Thou art the brightest and the loveliest!’
And lo! ere he was ware of her intent,
Unto his cheek she prest a warm red mouth
Kings of great empires would have swoon’d to touch,
And poet’s heavenly-dower’d would have died
To dream of kissing. Then thro’ Balder ran
A new miraculous rapture such as feels
The dark Earth when the scented Summer leaps
Full-blossom’d as a bridegroom to her arms;
Such as musk-roses know when blown apart
By sunbeams in mid-June; and Balder’s sense
Swoon’d, and he seem’d strewn o’er with fruit and flowers,
And on his lids were touches like warm rain,
And on his nostrils and his parted lips
Delicious balm and spicy odours fell,
And all his soul was like a young maid’s frame
Bathed in the warmth of love’s first virgin dream.

And as for the young god:

     Balder’s loveliness in that bright place
Was as the soft sheen of the summer moon
Arising silvern in the cloudless west
Above the sunset seas of orange gold;
And there was trouble in his human eyes
Most melancholy sweet,—trouble like tears,
Of starlight, or the tremor of the dew.

We view the pale Ydun, ‘with the pallor of wan waters that wash for evermore the cold white feet of spectral polar moons,’ who gives to Balder the mystical apples of the gods, which fill him with a supreme and unfamiliar life. Leaving the 148 grove of the goddesses, he wanders on with Frea to the City of the Gods, far beyond the wastes of the North to the region of the Polar Fires. There, standing on the verge of a vast sea of ice, they espy Asgard:

     Asgard, the great City of the Gods,
For ever burnt to ashes night by night
And dawn by dawn for evermore renew’d.
And mortals when they see from out their caves
The City crumbling with a thousand fires
Cry, ‘Lo, the Sunset!’—and when evermore
They mark it springing up miraculous
From its own ashes strewn beside the sea,
Cry, ‘Lo, the Sunrise!’ There, within its walls
The great gods strive in thickening fumes of fight,
Gathering together bloody ghosts of men;
And when the great towers tremble and the spires
Shoot earthward and the fiery ashes smoke,
The gods exult a little space, and wave
Their brands for all the vales of earth to see;
But when the ashes blacken, and the moon
Shines on the City’s embers, silently
They creep into their starry tents and sleep,—
Till like a rose unfolding leaf by leaf,
The immortal City rises!

Here Balder calls upon his Father, and from out the darkness come thunders from heaven; and following the murmur of the Father’s voice, he proceeds onward, Frea awaiting his return. He comes again, spectral white, and in ‘his eyes a shadowy pain, still divine but sorrowful.’ He has been cast out by the Father and his brethren. He found there ‘no love but protestation absolute,’ and was driven forth, pursued by the lightning darts of the All-Father.

Then Frea wail’d, ‘’Tis o’er! my hope is o’er!
Thy Father loves thee not, but casts thee forth—
Where wilt thou find a place to rest thy feet?’                                        149
But Balder answer’d, ‘Where the cushat builds
Her nest amid green leaves, and where wild roses
Hang lamps to light the dewy feet of dawn,
And where the starlight and the moonlight slumber,
Ev’n there, upon the balmy lap of Earth,
Shall I not sleep again?’

Balder returns to earth, while Frea goes to the feet of the Father to plead for her son, and to claim the godhead for him. While Balder

Walks on the mountains,
     He treads on the snows;
He loosens the fountains
     And quickens the wells;
He is filling the chalice
     Of lily and rose,
He is down in the valleys
     And deep in the dells,—
He smiles, and buds spring to him,
     The bright and the dark;
He speaks, and birds sing to him,
     The finch and the lark—
He is down by the river,
     He is up by the mere,
Woods gladden, leaves quiver,
     For Balder is here.

There is some divine trouble
     On earth and in air—
Trees tremble, brooks bubble,
     Ants loosen the sod;
Warm footfalls awaken
     Whatever is fair;
Sweet rain-dews are shaken
     To quicken each clod.
The wild rainbows o’er him
     Are melted and fade,
The grass runs before him
     Thro’ meadow and glade;
Green branches close round him,
     The leaves whisper near—
‘He is ours—we have found him—
     Bright Balder is here!’
     .         .          .         .          .

He is here, he is moving                                                                       150
     On mountain and dale,
And all things grow loving,
     And all things grow bright:
Buds bloom in the meadows,
     Milk foams in the pail,
There is scent in the shadows,
     And sound in the light:
O listen! he passes
     Thro’ valleys of flowers,
With springing of grasses
     And singing of showers.
Earth wakes—he has called her,
     Whose voice she holds dear;
She was waiting for Balder,
     And Balder is here!

His love for the creatures of earth finds expression in the song of Balder’s return; and as he walks in the forests, with beast and bird administering to him, and as he wanders midst hamlets and huts, and amongst men and women, he declares his allegiance to Earth.

All human eyes to him were sweet,
     He loved the touch of hands,
He kissed the print of human feet
     Upon the soft sea-sands.
     .         .          .         .          .

He raised his eyes to those cold skies
     Which he had left behind,—
And saw the banners of the gods
     Blown back upon the wind.

He watch’d them as they came and fled,
     Then his divine eyes fell.
‘I love the green Earth best,’ he said,
     ‘And I on Earth will dwell!’

He conquers and blesses all the things of earth, and is full of the joy of living things, until upon 151 his ears falls the song whose tidings are that ‘Death makes all things dark.’

‘And blest are children, springing fair of face
Like gentle blossoms in the dwelling-place;
We clasp them close, forgetting for a space
     Death makes the world so dark.

‘And yet though life is glad and love divine,
This Shape we fear is here i’ the summer shine,—
He blights the fruit we pluck, the wreath we twine,
     And soon he leaves us stark.

‘He haunts us fleetly on the snowy steep,
He finds us as we sow and as we reap,
He creepeth in to slay us as we sleep,—
     Ah! Death makes all things dark!’

Now all his peace was poisoned by this cry to the gods for pity, and by this black Shadow which encumbered the earth. His heart grew heavy as he saw how the cold hand sought out all, and how none escaped. He cries to his Father and to the gods to stay the slayer, that the world may rest in peace; but the dark gods only smiled, ‘with smiles like sullen lightning on the lips of tempest.’ Balder cries, ‘What is this thing, and who hath sent it?’

There came a murmur, ‘None can answer thee,
Save him thou followest with weary feet!’
Wherefore he wander’d on, and still in vain
Sought Death the slayer. Into burial-places,
Heapen with stones and seal’d with slime of grass,
He track’d him, found him sitting lonely there
Like one that dreams, his dreadful pitiless eyes
Fix’d on the sunset star. Or oftentimes
Beheld him running swiftly like a wolf
Who scents some stricken prey along the ground.
Or saw him into empty huts crawl slow,
And while the man and woman toiled i’ the field,
Gaze down with stony orbs a little space
Upon the sickly babe, which open’d eyes,                                           152
And laugh’d, and spread its little faded hands
In elfin play. Nay, oft in Balder’s sight
The form seem’d gentle, and the fatal face
Grew beautiful and very strangely fair.
Yet evermore while his swift feet pursued,
Darkling it fled away, and evermore
Most pitiful rose cries of beasts and birds,
Most desolate rose moans of stricken men,
Till Balder wept for sorrow’s sake, and cried,
‘Help me, my Father!’

As he wanders on, he meets many signs of the destroyer, and, overcome by the misery of the terrible scourge, he vows that he will not pause nor sleep till he has held Death by the hand, and gazed into his eyes.
     Here follows Balder’s quest for Death, beginning:

He sought him on the mountains bleak and bare
     And on the windy moors;
He found his secret footprints everywhere,
     Yea, ev’n by human doors.

All round the deerfold on the shrouded height
     The starlight glimmer’d clear;
Therein sat Death, wrapt round with vapours white
     Touching the dove-eyed deer.

He wanders through the world, up to the region of the snows and south into tropic lands. The Shadow passes him at times, but without his being able to hold it. He sees a bloody fight of ships, and more signs of the destroyer’s hands. He meets Ydun, who offers him again the fruits of Immortality, telling Balder that even Death himself

Hath fed from out my hand and from my fruits
Drank immortality; and lo, he walks
Immortal among mortals, on Earth’s ways
Shedding the sad leaves of humanity.

153 Balder promises to eat the fruit if Ydun will lead him to Death, a promise which is readily given. ‘By the gods of Asgard I swear to lead thee to him, and to read a rime which, whispered in his ear, shall make him meek and weak as any lamb to do thy will.’ Balder eats the fruit, and they come to the Altar of Sacrifice, where Death broods over his  dead. Balder speaks to Death and asks him why he slays, and who sent him to kill?—to which Death replies:

‘I know not whence my feet have come,
     Nor whither they must go—
Lonely I wander, dark and dumb,
     In summer and in snow.
     .         .          .         .          .

‘And ever, ever as I pace
     Along my lonely track,
The light retires before my face,
     Advancing at my back!

‘But ever, ever if I turn
 And would my steps retrace,
Close to my back that light doth burn,
     But flies before my face
     .         .          .         .          .

‘I set faint gleams around their lips,
     I smooth their brows and hair,
I place within their clay-cold grips
     The lilies of despair.
     .         .          .         .          .

‘O think of this and blame not me,
     Thou with the eyes divine—
A Shadow creeps from sea to sea,
     Stranger than thine or mine.

‘Who made the white bear and the seal?
     The eagle and the Lamb?
As these am I—I live and feel
     ONE made me, and I am.’

     Balder absolves him, and tells how good he has found the Earth, and that only one thing is 154 bitter—that ‘Eternal Death, which sits by his sad and silent sea of graves, singing a song that slays the hopes of men.’ He prays to God for death, so that his sacrifice may save others; and then, as the gods send their snow to cover him in his sleep, ‘the other,’ who laid down his life for mankind, approaches, and as Balder lies there in his sleep of death, cries to him to awake:

‘I am thine elder Brother
     Come from beyond the sea,
For many a weary night and day
     I have been seeking thee!’

The Christ tells of his own land and his own death, and of the other gentle gods whom he had visited, all of whom had died for men. Amongst these is Prometheus.

‘I wander’d west where eagles soar
     Far o’er the realms of rains,
And there, among pale mountain peaks,
     One hung in iron chains.

‘His head was hoary as the snow
     Of that serene cold clime,
Yet like a child he smiled, and sang
     The cradle-song of Time.

‘And as he sang upon his cross,
     And in no human tones,
The cruel gods who placed him there
     Were shaken on their thrones.

‘I kiss’d him softly on the lips,
     And sighing set him free—
He wanders now in the green world,
     Divine, like thee and me. . . .

Why, asks Balder, should I rise?—

‘O wherefore should I rise at all
     Since all is black above,
And trampled ’neath the feet of gods
     Lie all the shapes I love?
     .         .          .         .          .

And Christ cried, gazing down on Death,                                            155
     Making a mystic sign,
‘Now blessings on my servant Death,
     For he too is divine.

‘O Balder, he who fashion’d us,
     And bade us live and move,
Shall weave for Death’s sad heavenly hair
     Immortal flowers of love.

‘Ah! never fail’d my servant Death,
     Whene’er I named his name,—
But at my bidding he hath flown
     As swift as frost or flame.

‘Yea, as a sleuth-hound tracks a man,
     And finds his form, and springs,
So hath he hunted down the gods
     As well as human things!

‘Yet only thro’ the strength of Death
     A god shall fall or rise—
A thousand lie on the cold snows,
     Stone still, with marble eyes.

‘But whosoe’er shall conquer Death,
     Tho’ mortal man he be,
Shall in his season rise again,
     And live, with thee, and me!

‘And whosoe’er loves mortals most
     Shall conquer Death the best,
Yea, whosoe’er grows beautiful
     Shall grow divinely blest.’

The white Christ raised his shining face
     To that still bright’ning sky.
‘Only the beautiful shall abide,
     Only the base shall die!’

Led by Balder, Christ goes to the City of the Gods, passing up the Bridge of Ghosts.

‘O brother, place thy hand in mine,’
     The gentle Balder said;
The rayless waters roar’d beneath,
     The Bridge flash’d overhead.

Then hand in hand against the wind                                                     156
     They faltered upward slow,
On stairs of crimson and of gold
     Climbing the wondrous Bow.

Like a great rainbow of the earth
     It rose with faint hues seven,
And thro’ the purple of the arch
     Glimmer’d the lights of heaven.

When they had reach’d the midmost height,
     In air they stood so high,
To one beneath they would have seem’d
     As stars upon the sky.

Coming to the footstool of the throne, Balder announces his resurrection:

The rune is woven, the spell is spoken,
And lo! the dream of the gods is broken,
     And each pale throne is shaken.
They rise, they tremble against the sky,
They shriek an answer to Balder’s cry,
     And white as death they waken!
Gods they glimmer in frozen mail,
Their faces are flashing marble pale,
They rise erect, and they wave their hands,
They scatter the shifting snows as sands,
     And gaze in the face of the Father! . . .

. . . Blacker, blacker, the night is growing,
Faster, faster, the snow is snowing—
Silently looking thro’ the storm,
Towers the one gigantic Form,
And all around with a trumpet sound
     The wintry winds are blowing.
The light of doom is in his eyes, his arms spread wide for slaughter,
He sits ’mid gleams of burning skies, and wails of wind-blown water,
Behind the outline of his cheeks the pale aurora flashes,
He broods ’mid moveless mountain peaks and looks thro’ fiery lashes:
On heaven and earth that round him float in whirls of snowy wonder,
He looks, and from his awful throat there comes the cry of thunder!
         ‘BALDER! BALDER!’

157 He learns the hatred of the Gods, their hatred for his summer face, his soft footfall, his earthly love, his heavenly dower, and the rime that was written and read. They had cursed him before, but they curse their deepest now when they read that rime by the light of his love for men. After long pleading between the Father and the two sons, Balder calls upon Death, who has followed them to the City of the Gods, to conquer the Father and take the Throne, all the other gods having flown at the coming of the Christ. Death obeys, and then:

And the hair of Death is golden, the face of Death is glowing,
     While softly around his form he folds his mighty wings,
And vast as the vast blue heavens the fair faint form is growing,
     But the face that all men fear is bright with beautiful things.
Ev’n so the Brethren wait where the darkest snows are drifted,
     Small as two doves that light in a wilderness alone,
While bright on the blood-red skies, with luminous head uplifted,
     In a dream divine upgazing, Death sitteth upon his throne.

And the ‘Song’ ends with the canto ‘From Death to Life.’

‘O Balder, Balder, wherefore hide
     Thy face from the blue sky!’
The voice was music, but it cried
     Like any human cry.

‘O Balder, Balder,’ the white Christ said,
     ‘Look up and answer me,’
Bright Balder raised his golden head,
     Like sunrise on the sea.

‘O Brother, I was weeping then
     For those whom Death o’erthrew.
Shall I, whose eyes have mourn’d for men,
     Not mourn my brethren too?’

The white Christ answered back, and cried,
     Shining under the sky,
‘All that is beautiful shall abide,
     All that is base shall die.

‘And if among thy sleeping kin                                                           158
     One soul divine there be,
That soul shall walk the world and win
     New life, with thee and me.

‘Death shall not harm one holy hair,
     Nor blind one face full sweet;
Death shall not mar what Love made fair;
     Nay, Death shall kiss their feet!’
     .         .          .         .          .         .

In Balder’s hand Christ placed his own,
     And it was golden weather,
And on that berg as on a throne
     The Brethren stood together!

And countless voices far and wide
     Sang sweet beneath the sky—
‘All that is beautiful shall abide,
     All that is base shall die!’

     In 1885 appeared the first volume of ‘The Earthquake,’ or ‘Six Days and a Sabbath’—this volume dealing with the first three days. The main idea of the poem is a kind of New Republic, in which men and women of divers temperaments and views of life are made to express in verse various aspects of their intellectual, moral, and religious points of view. An earthquake is supposed to have taken place in London, and Lady Barbara of Kensington, Flower of Midlothian, the Agnostic queen, full of culture to the finger-tips, and married to a Midas, flies north to her estate on Tweedside, taking with her her Court—the last great traveller, the newest painter and musician, the poet latest found and most divine, scientists, professors of all -ologies and -isms, the favourites of Fashion and the Muse—every male or female wanderer:—

Out of the beaten highway of the creeds                                          159
Was gathered into Barbara’s peaceful fold:
The castaway who had in soul’s despair,
His cassock lost, his prayer-book left i’ the hold,
Plunged overboard from that old ship the Church,
Now tossing water-logg’d amidst the storm.

     We are told that

     When the murmur of the Earthquake came,
The teacup trembled in the scoffer’s hand,
The wise looked foolish, and the lions ran
Lowing together like affrighted stirks.
In that dread moment he who faced the Sphynx
And read annihilation in its eyes,
Who, from the cynosure of mastery,
Survey’d the conflict and the wreck of worlds,
Saw suns grow dark like torches suddenly
Plunged hissing into water, and foretold,
With scientific equanimity,
The sure extinction of the human race,
Became as terrorstricken as a bairn
Who, waking suddenly at dead of night
To find the night-light out, begins to wail.
Then many named God’s Judgment with a sigh
Who thitherto had named it with a smile!

For the reception of the mediæval court of Love and Learning our Lady Barbara makes elaborate arrangement, ‘and since the Priory could not lodge them all, the inns and cottages around about were full of spectacled and bearded men, whose strange ways made the country-people gape in wonder and in awe.’ It is summer-time, and Nature is pluming herself in all her splendour. On the first afternoon everybody is seated out of doors, and Lady Barbara is speaking:

The canker-worm of Ennui gnaws the heart
Of Pleasure’s full-blown rose! Come, who’ll devise
Some sport to fleet away the golden time?
Who’ll lead our drowsy-headed idleness
In flowery fetters of some pleasant toil?

160 Despite the sneers of the comic vivisectionist, Douglas Sutherland, young cynic of the ‘Cynical Review,’ Mr. Spinoza Smith, the plump pantheist, with luminous eye and hanging underlip, loose and lax logic, says:

‘Better to rave like the old oracle
Than, quivering like a restless tadpole, haunt
The muddy shallows of perpetual doubt!’
Turning to Barbara, ‘Since we moderns seek
A summer pastime like those Florentines,
Why let not that same Problem be our theme,
And let each man and woman tell in turn
Some chronicle of those who, quick or dead,
Have wander’d problem-haunted through the world?

This is agreed upon, and Barbara is crowned Queen of the Court of which the poet is appointed laureate, while the cynic is called upon to assume the hood and baldrick of the fool. A tryst is made to meet on the morrow, and the poet wanders off, pondering the green world’s problem with a poet’s heart.

                                               Soft as a leaf
The gloaming fell, and flutter’d like a veil
Over the half-closed eyelids of the world.
Stars glimmer’d faintly, opening one by one
And blossoming above me, while I stole
Through warmly scented shadows till I gained
Dark fern-clad slopes that ran to hills of heather,
And looking heavenward saw a painter’s vision.
There like a naked maiden stood the Moon,
Wading in saffron shallows of the west:
Timidly, with a tender backward glance,
She reach’d a faltering foot to feel the way,
Then, brightly smiling as the lucent waves
Wash’d, tipt with splendour, round her swan-white throat,
Bent forward, cleft the dusk with ivory hands,
And swam in splendour thro’ the seas of night.

The first day opens with a discussion on monks, 161 in the midst of which Miranda tells the remarkable and weird legend of Julia Cytherea—the most strikingly original of the poet’s efforts in this work. It is a tale of a musing monk who, weeding his garden outside Rome, is aroused by the news that Venus herself has been disentombed in Rome ‘By some dark chemic trick of fingers old, embalm’d within that ivory coffin cold, a thousand years in the tomb; her cheek hath kept its bloom, her eyes their glory, and her hair its gold.’ He creeps down to Rome, and there discovers that all Rome is agape at the discovery of the embalmed body of Julia, the child of Claudius.

When thus she turn’d with soft last breath
Into the chilly arms of Death,
She might have seen the happy light
Some sixteen years,—but form so bright
Ne’er trembled between childish glee
And tremulous virginity.
Only a child; yet far too fair
For any child of mortal air,
Since Passion’s fiery flame, it seem’d,
Still play’d about her locks, and stream’d
From ’neath her eyelids; and her limbs
Were amber with such light as swims
Round Love’s own altar; and her lips,
Untouch’d by darkness or eclipse,
Were wonderful and poppy-red
With kisses of a time long dead,—
When Love indeed in naked guise
Still walk’d the world with awful eyes
And flaming hair. So fair she lay,
Burning like amber in the ray,
As burns a lamp with sweet oils fed
Within some shrine no foot may tread,
No hand of any mortal man;
And as men gaze on some new star,
Men marvell’d while they gazed on her.

She is laid in the Capitol, and the world flocks to 162 gaze upon her beauty; Marcus among the rest, who, watching the crystal mirror of her sleep, and gazing on her divine beauty, is fascinated. He hides, and in the dead of night interviews the body alone. He soliloquises the sleeping figure, and calls upon her to awake and save the world for Beauty’s sake, instead of Christ’s. We are told of her beauteous awakening, and of how the two walked in the green land of light and love; the poet picturing for us again the golden days of Paganism. In the midst of their joy the Madonna appears, and calls on the Maiden to follow her to her grave, there to wait with darkened eyes in peace, until the Son shall rise. Marcus tries to save her, but the Madonna, touching her on the forehead, turns her to a corpse of marble; then clasping the marble form with piteous cries, Marcus kisses her on the mouth and eyes, crying, ‘Awake, awake!’ ‘till his heart broke for sorrow’s sake, and heavy as a stone he falls,’ and

     At dawn (as old traditions tell),
When the pale priests and soldiers came
To see once more that shining frame
Within her marble tomb, behold!
Still beautiful, with locks of gold,
Unfaded to the finger-tips,
With faint pink cheeks and rose-red lips,
Her they found softly sleeping on;
And by her, turn’d to senseless stone,
Watching her face with eyes of lead,
Knelt the monk Marcus, cold and dead.

Of other poems that are sung or recited in this court of love, ‘Pan at Hampton Court’ views in a poetic form contemporary life in the light of Pagan 163 characterisation. A striking piece of imagery is worthy of note here:

Slowly, softly, westward flew
Day on wings of gold and blue;
As she faded out of sight
Dark and balmy fell the night.
Silent ’neath the azure cope,
Earth, a naked Ethiope,
Reach’d black arms up through the air,
     Dragging down the branches bright
Of the flowering heavens, where
     Starry fruitage glimmer’d white!
As he drew them gently near,
Dewdrops dim and crystal clear
     Rain’d upon his face and eyes!
Listening, watching, we could hear
     His deep breathing ’neath the skies;
Suddenly, far down the glade,
Startled from some place of shade,
Like an antelope the dim
Moon upsprang, and looked at him!
Panting, trembling, in the dark,
Paused to listen and to mark,
Then with shimmer dimly fair
     On from shade to shade did spring,
Gain’d the fields of heaven, and there
     Wander’d, calmly pasturing!

Of a different nature is the story of ‘Serapion’ put into the mouth of a Bishop, the story of a monk who was infinitely happy in the belief of the existence of a personal God, and who was rendered miserable by wise men arguing him out of his faith. To this category also belongs ‘Ramon Monat,’ whilst we have a foreshadowing of ‘The Wandering Jew’ in the song ‘Storm in the Night.’ ‘The Voyage of Magellan’ is a characteristic piece of Buchananese, and is a spirited and stirring ballad.

O Magellan! lord and leader!—only He whose fingers frame                     164
Twisted thews of pard or panther, knot them round their hearts of flame,
Light the emeralds burning brightly in their eyeballs as they roll,
Could have made that mightier marvel, thine inexorable soul!

O Magellan! mighty Eagle, circling sunward lost in light,
Wafting wings of power and striking meaner things that cross thy flight,
God to such as thee gives never lambkin’s love or dove’s desire—
Nay, but eyes that scatter terror from a ruthless heart of fire!

And the volume closes with the song ‘O Mariners.’


O Mariners, out of the sunlight, and on through the infinite Main,
We have sailed, departing at morning;—and now it is morning again.

Dimly, darkly, and blindly, our life and our journey begun,
Blind and deaf was our sense with the fiery sands of the sun.

Then slowly, grown stronger and stronger, feeling from zone on to zone,
We passed the islands of darkness, and reached the sad Ocean, alone.

But now we pause for a moment, searching the east and the west,
Above and beneath us the waters that mirror our eyes in their breast!

Behind, the dawn and the darkness,— new dawn around and before,—
Ah me, we are weary, and hunger to rest, and to wonder no more.

Yet never, O Mariners, never were we so stately and fair—
The forms of the flood obey us, we are lords of the birds of the air.

And yet as we sail we are weeping, and crying, ‘Although we have ranged
So far over infinite waters, transformed out of darkness and changed,

We know that the Deep beneath us must drink us and wash us away’—
Nay, courage—sail on for a season—on, on to the gateways of Day.

Our voyage is only beginning—its dreariest dangers are done,
We now have a compass to guide us, the Soul, and it points to the Sun!

The stars in their places obey us, the winds are as slaves to our sail—
Be sure that we never had journey’d so far but to perish and fail!

Out of the wonderful sunlight, and on through the infinite Main,
We have sail’d, departing at morning—and now it is morning again!






There are few royal roads in Literature, but there is one door to the public heart which can be opened neither by epic nor ode, but by the simple mediums of song and ballad. Amongst those who use verse, as their soul’s interpreter, the writer of a good song is surest of his immortality, and it may be on this account that lyrical poets are, after all, in closest touch with the human heart; and it is possible that when we are only conserving an academic interest in our Spenser, Wordsworth, Milton, Goethe, and Dante, people will still be singing the songs of Burns, Heine, and Beranger; and perhaps when the ‘Idylls of the King’ is but a volume in a consulting library, ‘Break, Break, Break,’ will still be a living national possession.
     The fate of a great ballad seems none the less sure, and in two hundred years from now Browning may be known only as the writer of ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin,’ Coleridge (fortunate very) as the author of ‘The Ancient Mariner,’ and Longfellow may be a name associated with the ‘Wreck of the Hesperus.’ Even to-day that 167 figment, as Mr. Birrell calls him, the Man in the Street, regards Mr. Browning only as a writer of one or two stirring ballads, Thomas Campbell as the author of ‘Lord Ullin’s Daughter,’ and Tennyson as the writer of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’ Immortality in literature is a vague term embodying a vaguer period of time, but taking the word, even to limit its meaning to a century or two, we may apply it with more ease of conscience to a song or a ballad than we dare to other efforts in poetical construction.
     A music sense, and dramatic action, the essentials of the song and ballad respectively, are capable of rapid appreciation when expressed through these two mediums, the just valuation of the more elaborated qualities of other forms of poetical expression necessitating a training which is not to be found in the greater world. For songs and ballads come not to the people by searching, but are, in a sense, unconsciously absorbed into the current of common thought and feeling.
     To many Mr. Robert Buchanan is known in a poetical sense as the author of ‘Phil Blood’s Leap’ and ‘Fra Giacomo,’ and there are thousands who have never even heard of ‘The City of Dream’ who know by heart ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot.’ A man with the insight and dramatic feeling of Mr. Buchanan could not have avoided becoming a writer of ballads; and more than any other contemporary poet, excepting perhaps Mr. Kipling, he has made the ballad an ever-recurring method of dramatic and poetical expression, 168 and wherever the language is spoken, ‘The Wedding of Shon Maclean’ and ‘The Wake of Tim O’Hara’ are admired and loved for their broad humanity and their humour akin to  tears.
     Before the publication, in 1864, of the poet’s first volume, there had already appeared one of his more famous ballads, that of ‘Fra Giacomo,’ which, from a purely dramatic point of view, must be considered, unless we are much mistaken, the most perfect of the poet’s efforts in this sphere of art. To this period also belongs ‘A Curl,’ one of the lesser known of the poet’s ballads, but none the less striking in the intensity of its passion and the dignity of its theme.
     From the miscellaneous poems published from 1866-70 we extract from that fine piece of vigorous English, ‘The Death of Roland’:

Dead was Gerard the fair, the girl-mouth’d, the gay,
Who jested with the foe he slung his sword to slay;
Dead was the giant Guy, big-hearted, small of brain;
Dead was the hunchback Sanche, his red hunch slit in twain;
Dead was the old hawk Luz, and sleeping by his side
His twin-sons, Charles the fleet, and Pierre the serpent-eyed;
Dead was Antoine, the same who swore to speak no word
Till fivescore heathen heads fell by his single sword;
Dead was the wise Gerin, who gript both spear and pen;
Sansun was dead, Gereir was dead!—dead were the mighty men!
     .         .          .         .          .         .          .         .

Then Turpin dropt the torch, that flamed upon the ground,
But drinking blood and dew, died out with drizzlie sound;
He groped for Roland’s heart, and felt it faintly beat,
And, feeling on the earth, he found the wine-flask sweet,
And, fainting with the toil, slaked not his own great drouth,
But, shivering, held the flask to Roland’s gentle mouth:
E’en then, his Soul shot up, and in its shirt of steel
The Corse sank back, with crash like ice that cracks beneath the heel!
     .         .          .         .          .         .          .         .

‘Now, dead and cold, alas! lieth the noblest wight                                       169
For preaching sermons sweet and wielding sword in fight;
His voice was as a trump that on a mountain blows,
He scatter’d oils of grace and wasted heathen-foes,—
White Mary take his soul, to join our comrades dear,
And let him wear his Bishop’s crown in heaven above, as here!’

     In ‘North Coast, and other Poems’ (1867-68), there are many stirring poems in a ballad metre, of which the most ambitious effort is ‘Meg Blane,’ but the most successful is ‘The Battle of Drumliemoor,’ a ballad of the Covenant Period. If, instead of writing a ballad which conveyed the feeling of that stirring period in Scottish history, the poet had essayed a ballad dealing with an actual historical incident, the success of it would have been assured, if we consider how evidently true to the spirit of the time is the feeling and action of ‘The Battle of Drumliemoor.’ As it is, one feels that if there never was a battle at Drumliemoor, at least there ought to have been. Of Scottish Ballads, Professor Blackie placed this battle- piece of the poet’s very high in the literature of the subject. No extract can convey the unflagging swing of the ballad, the breathless, fiery, fanatical spirit of ecclesiastical soldiery.

Bar the door! put out the light, for it gleams across the night,
     And guides the bloody motion of their feet;
Hush the bairn upon thy breast, lest it guide them in their quest,
     And with water quench the blazing of the peat.
Now, Wife, sit still and hark!—hold my hand amid the dark;
     O Jeanie, we are scattered—e’en as sleet!

It was down on Drumliemoor, where it slopes upon the shore,
     And looks upon the breaking of the bay,
In the kirkyard of the dead, where the heather is thrice red
     With the blood of those asleep beneath the clay;
And the Howiesons were there, and the people of Glen Ayr,
     And we gathered in the gloom o’ night—to pray.

How! Sit at home in fear, when God’s Voice was in mine ear,                      170
     When the priests of Baal were slaughtering His sheep?
Nay! there I took my stand, with my reap-hook in my hand,
     For bloody was the sheaf that I might reap;
And the Lord was in His skies, with a thousand dreadful eyes,
     And His breathing made a trouble on the Deep.

Each mortal of the band brought his weapon in his hand,
     Though the chopper or the spit was all he bare;
And not a man but knew the work he had to do,
     If the Fiend should fall upon us unaware.
And our looks were ghastly white, but it was not affright,—
     The Lord our God was present to our prayer.

Oh, solemn, sad, and slow rose the stern voice of Monroe,
     And he curst the curse of Babylon the Whore;
We could not see his face, but a gleam was in its place,
     Like the phosphor of the foam upon the shore;
And the eyes of all were dim, as they fixed themselves on him,
     And the Sea filled up the pauses with its roar.

     But it is in the volume of ‘Miscellaneous Poems and Ballads’ which grew up between 1878-83, that we find the best- known of the poet’s efforts in this direction. Here are ‘The Strange Country,’ ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot,’ ‘The Lights of Leith,’ ‘The Wedding of Shon Maclean,’ ‘Phil Blood’s Leap,’ ‘O’Connor’s Wake,’ ‘James Avery,’ and other ballads, which have served the purpose of many a reciter, professional and amateur. ‘The Lights of Leith’ and ‘Phil Blood’s Leap’ possess in themselves no special characteristic of the poet’s modes of expression, and despite their popularity, need not concern us here. Of the ‘Ballad of Judas Iscariot’ we can only say that it stands in relation to Mr. Buchanan’s name, in the eye of public estimation and in the public memory, in much the same way as ‘The Ancient 171 Mariner’ stands to Coleridge, and is in many ways constructed on homologous lines. In association with the Vision of the Man Accurst in ‘The Book of Orm,’ it embodies the essence of the ultimate optimism of the poet’s philosophy, ‘God shall cast away no man.’ It is the poem that, probably, has attracted a greater number of readers to Mr. Buchanan’s more ambitious work than any other of his efforts in verse or prose. Its simplicity, its inevitableness, if the word is allowable in this case, command the attention at once, and the sense of mysticism and solemnity draws us with no uncertain hand from the vulgarity of common experiences. The ballad consists of forty-nine stanzas, of which we give twenty.

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
     Lay in the field of Blood;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Beside the body stood.

Black was the earth by night,
     And black was the sky;
Black, black were the broken clouds,
     Tho’ the red Moon went by.
     .         .          .         .          .

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot,
     So grim, and gaunt, and gray,
Raised the body of Judas Iscariot,
     And carried it away.

And as he bare it from the field
     Its touch was cold as ice,
And the ivory teeth within the jaw
     Rattled aloud, like dice.

As the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Carried its load with pain,
The Eye of Heaven, like a lanthorn’s eye,
     Open’d and shut again.

Half he walk’d, and half he seemed                                                 172
     Lifted on the cold wind;
He did not turn, for chilly hands
     Were pushing from behind.
     .         .          .         .          .

For days and nights he wandered on
     Upon an open plain,
And the days went by like blinding mist,
     And the nights like rushing rain.

For days and nights he wandered on,
     All thro’ the Wood of Woe;
And the nights went by like moaning wind,
     And the days like drifting snow.

’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Came with a weary face—
Alone, alone, and all alone,
     Alone in a lonely place!

He wandered east, he wandered west,
     And heard no human sound;
For months and years, in grief and tears,
     He wandered round and round.
     .         .          .         .          .

And the wold was white with snow,
     And his foot-marks black and damp,
And the ghost of the silvern Moon arose,
     Holding her yellow lamp.

And the icicles were on the eaves,
     And the walls were deep with white,
And the shadows of the guests within
     Pass’d on the window light.
     .         .          .         .          .

The body of Judas Iscariot
     Lay stretched along the snow;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Ran swiftly to and fro.

To and fro, and up and down,
     He ran so swiftly there,
As round and round the frozen Pole
     Glideth the lean white bear.

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,                                           173
     And he waved hands still and slow,
And the third time that he waved his hands
     The air was thick with snow.

And of every flake of falling snow,
     Before it touched the ground,
There came a dove, and a thousand doves
     Made sweet sound.

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
     Floated away full fleet,
And the wings of the dove that bare it off,
     Were like its winding-sheet.

’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
     And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Stole in, and fell at his feet.

‘The Holy Supper is spread within,
     And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee,
     Before I poured the wine!’

The supper wine is poured at last,
     The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom’s feet,
     And dries them with his hair.

‘The Strange Country’ is another of Mr. Buchanan’s better-known poems, with the often-quoted opening lines:

I have come from a mystical Land of Light
     To a Strange Country;
The Land I have left is forgotten quite
     In the Land I see.
     .         .          .         .          .

’Tis life, all life, be it pleasure or pain,
     In the Field and the Flood,
In the beating Heart, in the burning Brain,
     In the Flesh and the Blood.
     .         .          .         .          .

Like waves in the cold Moon’s silvern breath                                     174
     They gather and roll,
Each crest of white is a birth or a death,
     Each sound is a Soul.

Oh, whose is the Eye that gleams so bright
     O’er this Strange Country?
It draws us along with a chain of light,
     As the Moon the Sea!

To quite a different tune is the ‘Wedding of Shon Maclean.’ Here we have the poet in his wildest Celtic mood. Here he throws his glamour not on to weary souls and aspiring dreamers, but on to that robust Paganism which finds its truest expression in the unadulterated Celt. It is unnecessary for us to tell the tale again, but the following excerpts will recall the story and the method:

To the wedding of Shon Maclean,
     Twenty Pipers together
Came in the wind and the rain
     Playing across the heather;
Backward their ribbons flew,
Blast upon blast they blew,
Each clad in tartan new,
     Bonnet, and blackcock feather:
And every Piper was fou,
     Twenty Pipers together!
         .          .         .          .         .

Like the whistling of birds, like the humming of bees,
Like the sough of the south-wind in the trees,
Like the singing of angels, the playing of shawms,
Like Ocean itself with its storms and its calms,
Were the strains of Shon, when with cheeks aflame
He blew a blast thro’ the pipes of fame.
         .          .         .          .         .

Then out he slipt, and each man sprang
To his feet, and with ‘hooch’ the chamber rang!
‘Clear the tables!’ shriek’d out one—                                                175
A leap, a scramble,—and it was done!
And then the Pipers all in a row
Tuned their pipes and began to blow,
     While all to dance stood fain:
Sandy of Isla and Earach More,
Dougal Dhu from Kinflannan shore,
Played up the company on the floor
     At the wedding of Shon Maclean.
         .          .         .          .         .

But like an earthquake was the din
When Shon himself led the Duchess in!
And she took her place before him there,
Like a white mouse dancing with a bear!
So trim and tiny, so slim and sweet,
Her blue eyes watching Shon’s great feet,
With a smile that could not be resisted,
She jigged, and jumped, and twirl’d, and twisted!
Sandy of Isla led off the reel,
The Duke began it with toe and heel,
     Then all join’d in amain;
Twenty Pipers ranged in a row,
From squinting Shamus to lame Kilcroe,
Their cheeks like crimson, began to blow,
     At the wedding of Shon Maclean.
         .          .         .          .         .

Till the first faint music began to rise.
Like a thousand laverocks singing in tune,
Like countless corn-craiks under the moon,
Like the smack of kisses, like sweet bells ringing,
Like a mermaid’s harp, or a kelpie singing,
Blew the pipes of Shon; and the witching strain
Was the gathering song of the Clan Maclean!
         .          .         .          .         .

Then (no man knows how the thing befell,
For none was sober enough to tell)
These heavenly Pipers from twenty places
Began disputing with crimson faces;
Each asserting, like one demented,
The claims of the Clan he represented.
In vain grey Sandy of Isla strove
To soothe their struggle with words of love,
Asserting there, like a gentleman,
The superior claims of his own great Clan;
Then, finding to reason is despair,                                                        176
He seizes his pipes and he plays an air—
The gathering tune of his Clan—and tries
To drown in music the shrieks and cries!
Heavens! Every Piper, grown mad with ire,
Seizes his pipes with a fierce desire,
And blowing madly, with skirl and squeak,
Begins his particular tune to shriek!
Up and down the gamut they go,
Twenty Pipers, all in a row,
     Each with a different strain!
Each tries hard to drown the first,
Each blows louder till like to burst.
Thus were the tunes of the Clans rehearst
     At the wedding of Shon Maclean!
         .          .         .          .         .

The small stars twinkled over the heather,
As the pipers wandered away together,
But one by one on the journey dropt,
Clutching his pipes, and there he stopt!
One by one on the dark hillside
Each faint blast of the bagpipes died,
     Amid the wind and the rain!
And the twenty Pipers at break of day
In twenty different bogholes lay,
Serenely sleeping upon their way
     From the wedding of Shon Maclean!

Should any man happen to be in doubt as to his being wholly or partly Celtic, let him read the above ballad, and if his heart does not leave the normal in its general conduct, and if he does not itch to be stepping it on the floor, he may write himself down, once and for all, as a Sassenach.




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The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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