Tag Archives: Byron

POEM: LOCH NA GARR

Lord Byron (1788–1824).  Poetry of Byron.  1881.
 
I. Personal, Lyric, and Elegiac
Loch Na Garr essentially about childhood, what the Gael calls ancestry (dualchas), heritage (dualchas) sense of place (duthchas).
Byron contrasts the green landscaped civilized fields of southern England, with the wild, windswept craggy East Highlands
Byron himself wrote:
“I allude here to my maternal ancestors, “the Gordons,” many of whom fought for the unfortunate Prince Charles, better known by the name of the Pretender. This branch was nearly allied by blood, as well as attachment, to the Stuarts. George, the second Earl of Huntley, married the Princess Annabella Stuart, daughter of James I. of Scotland. By her he left four sons: the third, Sir William Gordon, I have the honour to claim as one of my progenitors.”
Byron also referred to  Lochnagar in The Island:

The infant rapture still survivied the boy,
And Loch-na-gar with Ida looked o’er Troy.[7]
— The Island: Canto II, stanza XII, lines 290-291

As the Penguin Book of Scottish Verse says:
“There are few major English poets who can be heard sung in peasant bothies among the more native fare, but Byron’s Lachin A Gair is a popular favourite, and those sophisticated critics who sneer at the poem but don’t know the tune should hear it sung by a farm-labourer’s ‘tenore robusto. “

Or I daresay David Solley or Kenneth McKellar
 AWAY, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses!  
In you let the minions of luxury rove;
Restore me the rocks, where the snow-flake reposes,  
Though still they are sacred to freedom and love:
Yet, Caledonia, beloved are thy mountains,       
 5  Round their white summits though elements war;
Though cataracts foam ’stead of smooth-flowing fountains, 
 I sigh for the valley of dark Loch na Garr. 

Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy wander’d;  
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid;       
 10On chieftains long perish’d my memory ponder’d, 
 As daily I strode through the pine-cover’d glade:I
sought not my home till the day’s dying glory 
 Gave place to the rays of the bright polar star
;For fancy was cheer’d by traditional story,        
15  Disclosed by the natives of dark Loch na Garr.

 “Shades of the dead! have I not heard your voices  
Rise on the night-rolling breath of the gale?”
Surely the soul of the hero rejoices,  
And rides on the wind o’er his own Highland vale.        
20Round Loch na Garr while the stormy mist gathers, 
 Winter presides in his cold icy car:
Clouds there encircle the forms of my fathers;  
They dwell in the tempests of dark Loch na Garr. 

“Illstarr’d, though brave, did no visions foreboding        
25  Tell you that fate had forsaken your cause?”
Ah! were you destined to die at Culloden,  
Victory crown’d not your fall with applause:
Still were you happy in death’s earthy slumber,  
You rest with your clan in the caves of Braemar;      
  30The pibroch resounds, to the piper’s loud number, 
 Your deeds on the echoes of dark Loch na Garr. 

Years have roll’d on, Loch na Garr, since I left you,  Years must elapse ere I tread you again:
Nature of verdure and flow’rs has bereft you,       
 35  Yet still are you dearer than Albion’s plain.
England! thy beauties are tame and domestic  
To one who has roved on the mountains afar:
Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic!  
The steep frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr!        40