Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Dunstaffnage Castle

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

By Cora Kennedy Aitken

BROKEN Dunstaffnage by the western sea,

Thou art as dark as any old misdeed

Committed in thy lonely towers could be!

Thou ’rt like a life too gloomy to succeed,

That preys upon itself and dies of need.

Yet thou wert born in History’s early dawn,

Of warlike race and brood, a stately thing

Created strong and fearless to adorn

The vales that wooed thee for thy sheltering.

To-day what valley of them all takes heed

Of thee? They smile and dance beneath the corn—

E’en the great ocean flaunts thee with its scorn!

Now hath a new-born babe more power than thou,

For it hath life,—thine perished long ago.

And yet, Dunstaffnage, I should do thee wrong,

Thou, who hast held great Scotland in amaze,

To image piteous these later days

And leave thy glorious memories unsung!

Within thee when the Christian world was young,

Twelve centuries ago, fame’s minstrels sang,

Whispered thy name and victory’s bugles rang!

Great kings anointed here with blast of song,

With trumpets blowing and with clash of spears

Knelt to the patriarch of their royal years,

The holy stone, that Scone deprived thee of

When first men ceased to fear thee and to love!

Thou great Dunstaffnage, though we cannot save

Thy life, we may at least revere thy grave!