The weather had been so fine that Algy decided to take a wee trip inland to see the sights. It was always somewhat gloomier there, as the bare, rocky mountains towered high over the deep glen, but the landscape had a certain grandeur, and – like most birds – Algy enjoyed a change of scene from time to time. So he flew all through the morning, and eventually arrived at a spot which he particularly liked, beside a calm, shallow river. Perching on the slender branches of a small tree that had already lost most of its leaves, he watched the dark-and-silver water flowing slowly beneath him on its way towards the great sea loch. It was very different from the bright blue moorland burn he had just left, but it made a fascinating mirror for the woodland that grew all around it. He was reminded of a children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Smooth it slides upon its travel,
 Here a wimple, there a gleam—
     O the clean gravel!
     O the smooth stream!

Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
 Paven pools as clear as air—
     How a child wishes
     To live down there!

We can see our coloured faces
 Floating on the shaken pool
     Down in cool places,
     Dim and very cool;

Till a wind or water wrinkle,
 Dipping marten, plumping trout,
     Spreads in a twinkle
     And blots all out.

See the rings pursue each other;
 All below grows black as night,
     Just as if mother
     Had blown out the light!

Patience, children, just a minute—
 See the spreading circles die;
     The stream and all in it
     Will clear by-and-by.

[Algy is quoting the children’s poem Looking-glass River from the collection A Child’s Garden of Verses by the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.]

Mull was Astern, Rùm on the Port, Eigg on the Starboard Bow

image

Algy sailed his sky boat back to his home in the Sea of the Hebrides. As they sped across the water like a bird on the wing, he sang of another Skye Boat which crossed the same sea.

Algy first learned this song many years ago, when he was just a tiny wee chick. The magical names of the islands remained forever linked in his mind with the haunting Gaelic melody. Little did he realise that one day he would live among those very islands…

As he was so very young at the time, it was the gentler lyrics by Robert Louis Stevenson which he was taught to sing to this famous lament:

          Mull was astern, Rùm on the port,
                Eigg on the starboard bow;
          Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
                Where is that glory now?

          Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
                Say, could that lad be I?
          Merry of soul he sailed on a day
                Over the sea to Skye.
          …

          Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
                Mountains of rain and sun,
          All that was good, all that was fair,
                All that was me is gone.

[Algy is singing Robert Louis Stevenson’s (Scottish) version of the Skye Boat Song: Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone. The more familiar lyrics of this song were written by an Englishman, Sir Harold Boulton. Both versions were composed in the late 19th century, long after the Jacobite Rising which they commemorate, and were set to the tune of a much older Gaelic song. Sometimes the two sets of lyrics are combined.

Listen to a traditional folk version of the Skye Boat Song performed live by The McCalmans at Arisaig, close to Algy’s home, or to a version played on the bagpipes.]

image

Mull was Astern, Rùm on the Port, Eigg on the Starboard Bow

image

Algy sailed his sky boat back to his home in the Sea of the Hebrides. As they sped across the water like a bird on the wing, he sang of another Skye Boat which crossed the same sea.

Algy first learned this song many years ago, when he was just a tiny wee chick. The magical names of the islands remained forever linked in his mind with the haunting Gaelic melody. Little did he realise that one day he would live among those very islands…

As he was so very young at the time, it was the gentler lyrics by Robert Louis Stevenson which he was taught to sing to this famous lament:

          Mull was astern, Rùm on the port,
                Eigg on the starboard bow;
          Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
                Where is that glory now?

          Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
                Say, could that lad be I?
          Merry of soul he sailed on a day
                Over the sea to Skye.
          …

          Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
                Mountains of rain and sun,
          All that was good, all that was fair,
                All that was me is gone.

[Algy is singing Robert Louis Stevenson’s (Scottish) version of the Skye Boat Song: Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone. The more familiar lyrics of this song were written by an Englishman, Sir Harold Boulton. Both versions were composed in the late 19th century, long after the Jacobite Rising which they commemorate, and were set to the tune of a much older Gaelic song. Sometimes the two sets of lyrics are combined.

Listen to a traditional folk version of the Skye Boat Song performed live by The McCalmans at Arisaig, close to Algy’s home, or to a version played on the bagpipes.]

image