Balmoral: Lays of the Highlands and Other Poems
- Maclagan, Alexander

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Commentary

With photographic illustrations by George Washington Wilson, Alexander Maclagan’s celebration of the Queen’s Scottish residence takes Balmoral as its point of departure for an exploration of Scotland, ‘the land of “the mountain and the flood,”’ as Maclagan writes in his Preface. As one might expect, there is a strong patriotic flavour to the volume, and Maclagan concludes his Preface by exclaiming, ‘[A]nd if I have struck one spark of patriotic fire in the breasts of my countrymen, I may feel that I have not touched the harp of my country in vain.’ The eight illustrations are used predominantly as frontispieces for the poems, and provide visual settings for the ensuing verse. Maclagan’s verse is, as suggested, heavily patriotic while displaying various images and themes that root it very much within a pastoral tradition. While Maclagan’s poetry is by no means terrible, this is very much the collection of a minor poet, publishable mainly through its historical interest with both the monarchy and the Scottish Highlands. Poems from the section ‘Scenes Among the Mountains’ engage with the strong pastoral overtones and embrace a more romantic sensibility – heightened by the photograph of ‘Lochnagar’ that prefaces the section – how ‘the soul with rapture … worship[s] gentleness in dewdrops’, and other such interactions with nature.

Photographs: ‘Highland Bard,’ frontispiece; ‘Balmoral,’ p.1; ‘Lochnagar,’ p.13; ‘Charge of Highland Deer,’ p.21; ‘The Princess,’ p.46; ‘Linn o’ Dee,’ p.70; ‘Loch Dhue,’ p.91; ‘Abergeldie,’ p.124; ‘Highland Funeral,’ p.176.

Book Details

Author: Maclagan, Alexander
Title: Balmoral: Lays of the Highlands and Other Poems
Publication Year: 1871
Poets Featured: Maclagan, Alexander
Photographers Featured: Wilson, George Washington
Subjects: Scottish poetry, Scotland
Photographic process: Photogravures

This book can be found in the University of St Andrews Library catalogue HERE

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