Guard the Gaelic
An Exhortation to the Gael

by Angus McKay (a.k.a. Oscar Dhu)

[section 1]

Is it not our bounden right
To uphold with all our might,
And with tongue and pen to fight
   For our native Gaelic?

Guard the language known to Eve,
Ere the Serpent did deceive--
And the last one we believe,
   Mellow, matchless Gaelic!

Pity the disloyal clown
Who will dwell awhile in Town,
And returning wear a frown
   If he hears the Gaelic.

'Tis amusing to behold
Little misses ten years old,
When they leave the country fold
   How they lose the Gaelic.

Some gay natives of the soil,
Cross "the line" a little while
And returning, deem it "style"
   To deny the Gaelic.

(By Trench and Trail, p. 116)

[section 2]

Lads and lassies in their teens
Wearing airs of kings and queens--
Just a taste of Boston beans
   Makes them lose their Gaelic!

They return with finer clothes,
Speaking "Yankee" through their nose!
That's the way the Gaelic goes ---
   Pop! goes the Gaelic.

Tho' the so-called "tony set"
Teach them quickly to forget,
They will all be loyal yet
   To their mother Gaelic.

Then abjure such silly pride
Cast the ragged thing aside---
Let your mongrel "English" slide
   Rather than the Gaelic.

What a dire calamity
And how lonesome we would be
If our honored Seannachie,
   Failed to charm in Gaelic!

(By Trench and Trail, p. 117)

[section 3]

Better far the "mother tongue"---
Language in which mother sung
Long ago, when we were young
   Ever tender Gaelic!

Findlay's ever ready muse,
Stricken dumb, would soon refuse
People further to enthuse,
   If he lost his Gaelic!

And Buchanan, how could he
Sell his soda or his tea
On this side of "Talamh a righ,"
   If he lost his Gaelic?

Also Merchant Edward Mac
Would not sell so much tomac
If his stock was found to lack
   Lusty Lewis Gaelic!

And Pennoyer, what would you
At the Gould post office do
When you'd hear from not a few
"Ca mar u ha u fean a diubh,"
   If you lost your Gaelic?

(By Trench and Trail, p. 118)

[section 4]

Little Donald with the plaid
O'er his buirdly shoulder laid,
Would go dancing in the shade,
And his glory soon would fade
   If he lost his Gaelic.

From O'Groat's to lands' end, too,
What would brother Scotsmen do ---
All the loyal clansmen who
But a single language know,
   If they lost their Gaelic?

What would then become of those
Poems grand, in rhyme or prose,
Which in stately measure flows
From "Beinn Oran's" spotless snows!
"Chaibar Faidth" --- the best that grows ---
"Fhir a baitha" --- how he rows!
What, I ask, would happen those
   If we lost the Gaelic?

Then uphold the magic tongue
Which through mystic Eden rung
When Creation still was young ---
Language in which Adam sung
To his Eve, Earth's first love song;
When the morning stars were flung
Into space, where since they've clung ---
   Ancient, Glorious Gaelic!

(By Trench and Trail, p. 119)

*This poem is taken from pages 116-119 of By trench and trail in song and story, by Angus MacKay (Oscar Dhu), (Seattle and Vancouver : MacKay Printing and Publishing, 1918) [OCLC 11491844, film OCLC 29783856]

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Last Updated: December 25, 2008