Loved land of my kindred, farewell – and forever!
Oh! what can relief to the bosom impart;
When fated with each fond endearment to sever,
And hope its sweet sunshine withholds from the heart!
Farewell, thou fair land! which, till life’s pulse shall perish,
Though doom’d to forego, I shall never forget;
Wherever I wander, for thee will I cherish
The dearest regard and the deepest regret.
Farewell, ye great Grampians, cloud-robed and crested!
Like your mists in the sunbeam ye melt in my sight;
Your peaks are the king-eagle’s thrones – where have rested
The snow-falls of ages – eternally white.
Ah! never gain shall the falls of your fountains
Their wild murmur’d music awake on mine ear;
No more the lake’s lustre that mirrors your mountains,
I’ll pore on with pleasure – deep, lonely, yet dear.
Yet — yet Caledonia! when slumber comes o’er me,
Oh! oft will I dream of thee, far away;
But vain are the visions that rapture restore me,
To waken and weep at the dawn of the day.
Ere gone the last glimpse, faint and far o’er the ocean,
Where yet my heart dwells — where it ever shall dwell,
While tongue, sigh, and tear, speak my spirit’s emotion,
My country – my kindred — farewell, oh, farewell!
John Imlach (1799-1846) was a fore-bear of one of the most popular singers and entertainers in the Scottish Folk Revival, the late Hamish Imlach. He was born in Aberdeen, seventh successive son of a country innkeeper, whose family had been farmers for many generations in the parish of Fyvie. He became a skilled piano tuner who worked for six months each year in London and then the next six months travelling around Scotland. There was hardly a town between Edinburgh and Inverness, where he did not have a circle of friends. In 1845, he travelled to visit two of his brothers in Nova Scotia and then moved on to Jamaica. He contracted a tropical disease and died in Jamaica in January 1846.
While he never emigrated from Scotland, he must have often felt the emotions of those who left the country every time he travelled back to London.