Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Celt and the Stranger

William Ross, known as the "Bard of Gairloch," and the "Burns of the Gaelic Highlands," was born at Broadford, in the island of Skye, in 1762. He qualified as a teacher and obtained a post as school-master in Gairloch. But he had an even shorter life than Burns as he died in 1790 at the age of 28.
This short song will strike a chord with all those who have to move from their native heath, whether to another part of the same country or abroad.

   The Celt and the Stranger

The dawn it is breaking; but lonesome and eerie
   Is the hour of my waking, afar from the glen.
Alas! that I ever came a wanderer hither,
   Where the tongue of the stranger is racking my brain!

Cleft in twain is my heart, all my pleasure betraying;
   The half is behind, but the better is straying
The shade of the hills and the copses away in,
   And the truant I call to the Lowlands in vain.

I know why it wanders, - it is to be treading
   Where long I frequented the haunts of my dear,
The meadow so dewy, the glades so o'erspreading,
   With the gowans to lean on, the mavis to cheer.

It is to be tending where heifers are wending,
   And the birds, with the music of love, are contending;
And rapture, its passion to innocence lending,
   Is a dance in my soul, and a song in my ear.

Meaning of unusual words:
gowans = mountain daisy
mavis = song thrush

Return to the Index of Traditional Scottish Songs

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