The Lament of Wallace

After the Battle of Falkirk

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Melody - "Maids of Arrochar"
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Robert Tannahill

Thou dark winding Carron, once pleasing to see,
To me thou can'st never give pleasure again;
My brave Caledonians lie low on the lea,
And thy streams are deep-ting'd with the blood of the slain,
Ah! base-hearted treachery has doom'd our undoing,--
My poor bleeding country, what more can I do?
Even valour looks pale o'er the red field of ruin,
And Freedom beholds her best warriors laid low.

2. Farewell, ye dear partners of peril! farewell!
Though buried ye lie in one wide bloody grave,
Your deeds shall ennoble the place where ye fell,
And your names be enroll'd with the sons of the brave.
But I, a poor outcast, in exile must wander,
Perhaps, like a traitor, ignobly must die!
On thy wrongs, O my country! indignant I ponder--
Ah! woe to the hour when thy Wallace must fly!


Tannahill had his own misgivings as to his success in this effort. It seems that he had written other verses, to accompany the same beautiful and plaintive air, but which not pleasing himself, he had substituted the above. In a letter to James Barr, 19th July, 1806, he says: "According to promise, I send you two verses for the 'Maids of Arrochar;' perhaps they are little better than the last. I believe the language is too weak for the subject; however, they possess the advantage over the others of being founded on a real occurrence. The battle of Falkirk was Wallace's last, in which he was defeated with the loss of almost his whole army. I am sensible that to give words suitable to the poignancy of his grief, on such a trying reverse of fortune, would require all the fire and soul-melting energy of a Campbell, or a Burns." In the opinion thus modestly expressed, Tannahill was right. Besides, the utterance, even in that dark hour, of language so feeble and desponding, is not consistent with the stern and unyielding character of the indomitable assertor of our country's independence.-- Editor.

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