Today’s war poems are from J. McDonald, stationmaster in Dalguise, Perth & Kinross. His collection was published during 1918 to raise funds for the Red Cross. Unlike most of the poets we are finding, he wrote in both Gaelic and English. One of his Gaelic poems (a prayer?) is extracted below – anyone reading this with Gaelic, we’d love help with a translation, please get in touch! ¬†Several poems commemorate friends and fellow-workers, and one poem is titled ‘To My Only Son, On Enlisting.’ From this collection, it does not seem that his son survived.

McDonald was one of two stationmaster poets whose works are in Perth’s A. K. Bell Library. Photos here are from my own copy.

To the late Peter Grant, Tyneside Scottish

Where art thou sleeping, assistant dear;
Where are the hands that supported thy bier;
Is there a mark to distinguish that spot;
Art thou in exile, or what is thy lot?
Posted as missing for over a year,
Thou must have fallen and sleepest I fear;
And of thy praises my pen would fain write
How thou so bravely took part in that fight.

Years have passed by since I bade thee adieu,
Others have come and gone, few like to you –
Honest, devoted, and trustworthy friend,
Faithful, obliging, and true to the end.
Priceless we value each sacrificed son
Placed on the Roll, of which now thou art one,
Who for the Motherland left each loved home,
To sleep on the Marne, Neuve-Chapelle, or the Somme.

Oh, would on the wings of the morn I could fly
And ‘light o’er the spot where you peacefully lie,
I’d write o’er thy bosom, that now lies so cold,
“Stand Fast, Craigellachie!” lettered in gold,
That so thy brave kinsmen when passing it by
Might see where a promising Duthil boy lie,
Or mayhap drop over thy grave a long tear
For the price that you paid, my assistant dear.

Poems by a Roadside Stationmaster (Coupar Angus: William Culross, 1918), pp.75, below p.65.



Categories: Blog