Traditional Scottish Songs
- Cormac's Cure
This song is by William Ross (1762-1790), the "Bard of Gairloch," and the "Burns of the Gaelic Highlands," who was born at Broadford, in the island of Skye, in 1762. He frequently wrote about a "Mary Ross," a lass from the Hebrides, whose coldness and ultimate desertion may have contributed to his early death. The poem below is a part of Ross' "Lament for his Lost Love" about Cormac, an Irish harper employed by Macleod of Lewis, who fell in love with the chief's daughter. Since he was only a poor harpist, he was told to depart - but decided to slay her father and carry her away. He was stopped and (unusually for such wild times) told to leave and find someone of his own station. Cormac tried to drown his love in his own music. The song then changes to Ross applying the story to his own unrequited love.
Cormac's CureThus sung the minstrel Cormac, his anguish to beguile,
And laid his hand upon his harp, and struck the strings the while —
"Since they have taught my lady fair on her poet's gifts to frown,
In deeper swellings of the lay, I 'll learn my love to drown."
When Colin Cormac's guilty grasp was closing with the spear,
Rush'd in the chieftain's heir, and cried, "What frenzied mood is here!
Sure many a May of ruby ray, as blushful on the brow,
As rosy on the lip, is there—then, why so frantic thou?"
The heart-struck minstrel heard the word; and though his flame, uncured,
Still fired his soul, in haste the shores of danger he abjured:
But aye he rung his harp, though now it knew another strain,
And loud arose its warblings as the sounding of the main.
Yes! 'twas an organ peal that soar'd the vocal lift along,
As chorus'd to the high-strung harp his words of mightier song,
Lest, hapless chance! should rise, above the swelling of the tide,
A remnant of the ambitious love that sought a noble bride.
But I, alas! no language find, of Sassenach or Gael,
Nor note of music in the land, my cureless woe to quail.
And art thou gone, without a word, without a kindly look
Of smiling comfort, on the bard whose life thy beauty shook?
Not so it fared with Cormac; for thus the tale is told,
That never, to the last, he brook'd desertion's bitter cold.
His comrades sorrow'd round him; his dear vouchsafed a kiss -
He almost thought he heard her sigh, "Come back again to bliss!"
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