The Ballad of the Corrievreckan

The Ballad of the Corrievreckan

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Behind the hills of Craignish
Look westward to the sea
Where cruel Corrievreckan
Shrouds many an argosy
Within its rocky caverns
Full twenty fathom deep
The silent grave of sailors
Resting in endless sleep.

The emerald hills of Jura
Watch o'er the foaming tide
Swirling and eddying ever
Around the ships that ride
Toward the fatal vortex,
Vigilant for its prey;
Little they heed the sea-god's boast
"Ye shall not pass this way.

"Ye'll have to steer by Scarba
If ye want East or West,
Or through the Sound of Islay;
But hearken our behest:
Ye're not to seek a sail-way
By Corrievreckan's Flow;
And if your craft deride us
We'll draw them down below.

"Hark to the voices crying
To warn ye of your fate;
The sea-birds round ye flying
Scream ‘Turn, ere ‘tis too late':
Hark to the sound that surges
In ominous refrain,
The litanies and dirges
From souls beneath the main":

"There is death and woe
In this blood-stained Flow:
Let every stranger
Beware the danger
That lurks in the tide
And on either side.

"For your lives' sake flee
This jeopardy:
By Christ his rood
And your souls' good
Return ye hame
The way ye came."

The shores of Corrievreckan
Are guarded sure and fast
By sentinels invisible
So long as time shall last.
They hold the fearful sea-pass
With lightning at command,
They speed death-dealing thunderbolts
On all who dare the land.

And, when the day has darkened
Into the sable night,
They flame a watch-fire signal
From either beacon height;
Bold sailors steer between them,
All heedless of their doom,
And sink into the cauldron
Of Corrievreckan's tomb.

"Thus perish all invaders
From Eirin or from Fyne;
Nor mariners nor traders
Have passed our mystic line
Since ancient law and custom
Gave us that ocean mile
To watch and ward for ever,
The door to Mid-Argyll."

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