Palest is his face to me
Tis a tint
Of the overcook of mil’.
All hint of heat
Has left it.
Here ran his horse and hied through the heather
and ran a pretty mile from the brink o’ the river.
The eddies are ruddy and dark in the gloamin’
the laverock sighs amid the river a-foamin’.
The heather was hewed in at the hoo’
purple hued in scarlet cut in the roo’
coarse is the line run by the horse
A meander of many which crushes the gorse.
And hewed was his frame as it lay by the byrne
by axe and by claymore and by rude Englishmen
and dark lay his locks, the rings of his hair
black as the mail-coat he suffered to wear.
Like t’ bite of the spider that comes not to heal
the break of the body will ne’er be weal.
The tale of his flesh lay open to wonder
the smile of his wounds tore our dreams asunder.
For we hoped he would gang as he was when he left
with bright mail-coat shining and standard aloft
our spirits would lift in the burn of his gaze
and the darkness would wilt for the smile of his face.
So Our Laird returns from over the main
and the pibroch rejoices to hear him again.
Of green soil a barrow his sins will atone
that our Laird of Barra may never leave home.