Author Topic: Scottish Poetry  (Read 232158 times)

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2008, 05:41:29 AM »
Something a bit more contemporary from the Scottish Poetry Library website. This poem is all about the lesser watercourses of the Upper Tweed.

Stream Rhythm by Valerie Gillies from 'Tweed Journey' (Canongate, 1989)

The Powskein, the knife-slash,
then Cor Water, the long marsh,
Badlieu, all mossy-grey,
a wet spot through the day,
Smid Hope, the blacksmith’s yards,
Glencraigie, rock-hard,
Fingland, with white gravel,
shining on bright pebbles,
and Hawkshaw, if it could talk,
the haunt of the hunting hawk.
Fruid water, the running one,
swift flow in shallow current,
Glenbreck, in speckled folds,
Glenwhappen, the whaup calls.
Menzion, at the standing stones,
Talla, the waterfall foams
Gameshope, a winter month,
back of the wind, a shivery one,
Glencotho where the cuckoo’s heard,
Glenrusco whose skin is fair,
bark from wood, the stripping-bare,
Kirk Burn of the grouse hen,
the hare’s stone at Hearthstane,
Glenheurie has the yew wood.
The wolfhunt land is a Polmood
where Kings came to hold assize,
every kind of fruit tree thrives.
Kingledores, the champion’s gateway,
Holms’ meadows, islands of greenery.
Hopecarton, old fort in the midden,
Drumelzier, Medlar’s dun is hidden.
The Scrape burn, the gash in the hill,
a rough scart, see it you will,
the little Louran, a chatterbox burn,
the loud voice, the shouting one.
Manor’s stony settlements rise,
Posso the pleasance, earthly paradise,
Hundleshope and Waddenhope,
a man’s name in hollow court.

Time passing, blooms in places,
people there tell differences
on the ground by a tributary,
name a feature, give stability.
It’s for a man who’s not yet born,
it’s a place for a future dawn.

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2008, 07:46:19 AM »
Summer's nearly gone... then the Autumn with final burst of color... and then...

Scotland's Winter by Edwin Muir

Now the ice lays its smooth claws on the sill,
The sun looks from the hill
Helmed in his winter casket,
And sweeps his arctic sword across the sky.
The water at the mill
Sounds more hoarse and dull.
The miller's daughter walking by
With frozen fingers soldered to her basket
Seems to be knocking
Upon a hundred leagues of floor
With her light heels, and mocking
Percy and Douglas dead,
And Bruce on his burial bed,
Where he lies white as may
With wars and leprosy,
And all the kings before
This land was kingless,
And all the singers before
This land was songless,
This land that with its dead and living waits the Judgement Day.
But they, the powerless dead,
Listening can hear no more
Than a hard tapping on the floor
A little overhead
Of common heels that do not know
Whence they come or where they go
And are content
With their poor frozen life and shallow banishment.
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2008, 07:16:03 AM »
Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott

O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm'd, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp'd not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter'd the Netherby Hall,
Among bride's-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
"O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?"

"I long woo'd your daughter, my suit you denied; --
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide --
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar."

The bride kiss'd the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff'd off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, --
"Now tread we a measure!" said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper'd, "'twere better by far
To have match'd our fair cousin with young Lochinvar."

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting 'mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2008, 07:17:46 AM »
From the Scottish Poetry website...

The Bridge at Breich

Big, black stain,
in once buff stone,
symbol of an age;
stark ingrained reminder
of a time long gone,
when iron horse
with belching breath
galloped along
the iron road
beneath the arch.
Back and forth
it daily strode
with wagons’-worth
of deep-earth lode,
to feed the fire
that made the smoke
that stained the stone
that built the bridge
that carries cows
across the road
whereon once strode
the iron horse,
with the belching breath
and the sparks that flew,
the clouds of steam,
the clank of wheels,
the squeal of brakes,
the last big gasp
at the end of the day
as the daylight died
like the men who toiled
to mine the coal
that fed the boiler
on the train
that caused the stain
on the bridge at Breich.


Copyright © Donnie MacNeill 2008

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2008, 08:14:05 PM »
Love the poetry here everyone, thanks.

"Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2008, 09:26:04 AM »
Hills of Heather by Raymond A. Foss

A long way from home,
My own home,
Back in the Highlands,
Once walked by my kin
Before they came to this place.
Returning, heading out
From the cities,
Out into the Highlands
Hills, shades of rust,
Of plumb, of heather
In full flower. Heather, that
Set Burns’ pen to writing,
Like the thistle, a part of me,
Echoing in my sight,
My history
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2008, 08:35:46 AM »
Today is the birthday of the Scottish poet James Thomson!

Thomson, James, 1700–1748, Scottish poet. Educated at Edinburgh, he went to London, took a post as tutor, and became acquainted with such literary celebrities as Gay, Arbuthnot, and Pope. His most famous poem, The Seasons, was published in four parts, beginning with “Winter” (1726), which achieved an immediate success. “Summer” (1727) was followed by “Spring” (1728) and then “Autumn” in the first collected edition (1730); a revised edition appeared in 1744. In The Seasons, Thomson's faithful, sensitive descriptions of external nature were a direct challenge to the urban and artificial school of Pope and influenced the forerunners of romanticism, such as Gray and Cowper. His other important poems are Liberty (1735–36), a tribute to Britain, and The Castle of Indolence (1748), written in imitation of Spenser and reflecting the poet's delight in idleness. Thomson also wrote a series of tragedies along classical lines, with a strong political flavor. The most notable were Sophonisba (1730); Edward and Eleanora (1739), which was banned for political reasons; and Tancred and Sigismunda (1745). In 1740 he collaborated with his friend David Mallet on a masque, Alfred, which contains his famous ode “Rule Britannia.”

Rule Britannia by James Thomson

When Britain first, at Heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung this strain:
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall:
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown'd,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves."

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Ernest Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2008, 04:55:49 PM »
43 years after the death of James Thomson a monument was erected in his honour at Ednam, Roxburghshire(just north of Kelso) and Robert Burns was called upon to give the address:

While virgin Spring by Eden's flood,
Unfolds her tender mantle green,
Or pranks the sod in frolic mood,
Or tunes Eolian strains between.

While Summer, with a matron grace,
Retreats to Dryburgh's cooling shade,
Yet oft, delighted, stops to trace
The progress of the spiky blade.

While Autumn, benefactor kind,
By Tweed ercts his aged head,
And sees, with self-approving mind,
Each creature on his bounty fed.

While maniac Winter rages o'er
The hills whence classic Yarrow flows,
Rousing the turbid torrent's roar,
Or sweeping, wild, a waste of snows.

So long, sweet Poet of the year!
Shall bloom that wreath thou well hast won;

While Scotia, with exulting tear,
Proclaims that Thomson was her son.

Robert Burns 1791


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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2008, 07:03:40 PM »
Wow.......somehow, I've missed reading that one, I think.

It's surprising how many memorials of various kinds there are to Thom(p)sons all around the world.

Ernest Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2008, 12:17:05 AM »
I forgot to mention the inscription on his monument, it reads;

"Erected in Memory of James Thomson, Author of the Seasons,
Born at Ednam 11 Sep 1700".
His most famous piece being "Land of Hope and Glory".

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #40 on: September 17, 2008, 06:30:29 AM »
From a younger Scottish poet...

The Clydeside Highlander
 My folks are from here;
I have travelled South as
They once travelled North
To find...something.

My ma never got used to Highland ways,
Her thinly veiled scorn poured through me,
Indentity becoming a giant blotch,
As I dreamed of the big city
In all its delirious splendour.

Now I am here I know
That I am a Highlander,
And I lament my earlier lack
Of pride in this fact.

This city is beautiful,
Its vibrancy shudders through my bones,
To be in Glasgow is to feel
The constant breath of life and change
Laughing through your hair.

It is different.
The tongue, the sights,
The men, the women -
These ways are not my ways.

Hollywood never gets it right.
We are a tiny country, yes.
But myriad cultures lie
And stand and narrate
Within our border.
I love them all.

But home is always best loved
From a distance.
Glasgow was fashioned by
A people full of warmth
And a drive to make the most.
The Highlands were fashioned
By the hands of God.

Anna Russell

More of her work can be found here:
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #41 on: September 18, 2008, 07:25:03 AM »
The poem is named after a deserted township located on the south-eastern corner of the Hebridean island of Raasay, the poet's birthplace. It is a reflection on the nature of time and the historical impact of the Highland Clearances, leaving an empty landscape populated only by the ghosts of the evicted and those forced to emigrate.

Hallaig by Sorley MacLean, translated by Seamus Heaney

Time, the deer, is in Hallaig Wood

There's a board nailed across the window
I looked through to see the west
And my love is a birch forever
By Hallaig Stream, at her tryst

Between Inver and Milk Hollow,
somewhere around Baile-chuirn,
A flickering birch, a hazel,
A trim, straight sapling rowan.

In Screapadal, where my people
Hail from, the seed and breed
Of Hector Mor and Norman
By the banks of the stream are a wood.

To-night the pine-cocks crowing
On Cnoc an Ra, there above,
And the trees standing tall in moonlight -
They are not the wood I love.

I will wait for the birches to move,
The wood to come up past the cairn
Until it has veiled the mountain
Down from Beinn na Lice in shade.

If it doesn't, I'll go to Hallaig,
To the sabbath of the dead,
Down to where each departed
Generation has gathered.

Hallaig is where they survive,
All the MacLeans and MacLeads
Who were there in the time of Mac Gille Chaluim:
The dead have been seen alive,

The men at their length on the grass
At the gable of every house,
The girls a wood of birch trees
Standing tall, with their heads bowed.

Between The Leac and Fearns
The road is plush with moss
And the girls in a noiseless procession
Going to Clachan as always

And coming boack from Clachan
And Suisnish, their land of the living,
Still lightsome and unheartbroken,
Their stories only beginning.

From Fearns Burn to the raised beach
Showing clear in the shrouded hills
There are only girls congregating,
Endlessly walking along

Back through the gloaming to Hallaig
Through the vivid speechless air,
Pouring down the steep slopes,
Their laughter misting my ear

And their beauty a glaze on my heart.
Then as the kyles go dim
And the sun sets behind Dun Cana
Love's loaded gun will take aim.

It will bring down the lightheaded deer
As he sniffs the grass round the wallsteads
And his eye will freeze: while I live,
His blood won't be traced in the woods.
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2008, 11:54:43 AM »
To A Highland Girl
William Wordsworth

(At Inversneyde, upon Loch Lomond)

  Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head:
And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay; a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy Abode—
In truth together do ye seem
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such Forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
But, O fair Creature! in the light
Of common day, so heavenly bright,
I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart;
God shield thee to thy latest years!
Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

      With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien, or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered, like a random seed,
Remote from men, Thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress,
And maidenly shamefacedness:
Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a Mountaineer:
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind—
Thus beating up against the wind.

      What hand but would a garland cull
For thee who art so beautiful?
O happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:
Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea; and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!
Thy elder Brother I would be,
Thy Father—anything to thee!

      Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize
Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And thee, the spirit of them all!
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2008, 12:05:20 PM »
I can't even look at this poem without wiping away tears. Since I was looking at Wordsworth I thought I'd post this one as well. Not Scottish... but it could be.

We Are Seven
William Wordsworth

       —A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
—Her beauty made me glad.

“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”

“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.

“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!—I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side.

“My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

“And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

“The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

“So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”

“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!

Ernest Thompson

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Re: Scottish Poetry
« Reply #44 on: September 19, 2008, 04:52:25 PM »