Friday, August 2, 2013

Fireblossom Friday: a poem within a poem

It gets a little complicated, and I haven't made it any clearer by my choice, which is written in English with a dash of auld Scots, but no Gaelic. However, my friend Fireblossom, one of the better poets I know, has asked us to write a story within a poem, with reference to a favourite poem by someone else.
Of course, certainly, very simple when you put it that way.

So I have chosen one of my favourite poets, Robbie Burns, and, foregoing the temptations of mouses and louses, I have chosen something that became a rallying call and the party song of the Scottish National Party. It is sung at the close of their annual national conference each year.
Wikimedia Commons
And, for The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, here is my attempt at a poem-story containing more than one reference to a favourite of mine.

We were sitting on the
dock of the bay one day,
my friend and I,
and he asked if I
had ever played a musical instrument.

I tried, said I,
but failed, you see
because I could not learn to read
the music.
I thought I’d be
a piper once, and
joined a pipe band, yes, I did,
but failed because
I could not read
the music.
Robert the Bruce
(with axe)
from Wikipedia

However, I
could salve my pride,
because I was the only one
who’d memorized the title of
the first tune in the songbook:
Scots Wha Hae wi’ Wallace Bled or Bruce’s
Address to his Troops at Bannockburn.
“What?” asked my friend, sitting up,
“what in the world did you just say?”

“Scots wha hae...”
I slowly said,
“er, Scots who Have with Wallace Bled,
which Robbie Burns wrote to represent
Robert-the-Bruce’s speech to his troops
before the Battle of Bannockburn.”
“Robert the who? Battle of what?”
“Scottish history,”
This depiction from the
Scotichronicon (c.1440)
is the earliest known image
 of (Bannockburn).
Robert wielding an axe
 and Edward II fleeing
toward Stirling.
I replied patiently,
“in 1314, although Robbie Burns
 wrote it in 1793.”

“More than 400 years later?”
exclaimed my friend,
“why did he care by then?”

“Why did he care?”
said I, aghast,
“It was Scotland.
And they still care now.”

(“Really? Sort of like 1812?”
“Sort of, but more important.”
“More important than beating
the US of A?”
“There wasn’t any US of A in 1314,
or any Canada, either,
for that matter.”)

“Well, what else did Robbie Burns
say that Robert-the-Bruce said?
And who was Robert-the-Bruce, anyway?”

“He was King of Scotland
in the thirteen-hundreds,
and a hero to Scots forever
after defeating the English at Bannockburn.”

'Wha, for Scotland's king and law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.

'Lay the proud usurpers low,
William Wallace
from Wikipedia
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Libertie's in every blow! 
Let us do or dee.'

For poetic purists, and I'm not naming any names, you can also find it in Scots Gaelic HERE, but truly, Burns wrote it in auld Scots and not in Gaelic at a' at a' ...and if you're wondering who Wallace was, he died before Bannockburn, and you can read about that here.


Mama Zen said...

"Why did he care by then?" That cracked me up, Kay! Nice job.

Helen said...

The good Mr. Burns is smiling down (or up) at you!! Delightful, Kay.

Maggie Grace said...

Ahs wuh ah mean! Was in Scotland and that's the one thing that stayed with me. One teen to another ;-O Fun read.

Kay said...

This is Mel Gibson's Braveheart, right? Great job, Kay! said...

Kay, I loved this take on the prompt. Ah dunnut hahv th burrrrr because I'm Irish, but I love stories about the Celts in general. William Wallace, what a hero, even though Mel Gibson sort of hammed him up a bit. And what can one say about Robbie Burns tha' ha' nut bin sed alrrrrreddy? ha ha Amy

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Kay — I didn't see "Braveheart" — didn't want to see my ancestors with their faces painted blue, making fools of themselves. I did see "Dragonheart" where the dragon sounded a lot (and looked, a little) like Sean Connery. It was delightful.
But no, this is just the Battle of Bannockburn, battle which Robbie Burns wrote about and which appeared in the book for the girls' pipe band I flunked out of.

Susie Clevenger said...

I love this...I am such a fan of Scottish heritage and writing. Somewhere in my ancestry there is Scottish blood...

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have no doubt that you do have conversations like this one, Kay!

Oh, Scotland, the Brave!!

Joyful said...

Well done Kay!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
Ceud mille failte Kay!! This is a wonderfully fun take on oor Rabbie's scri't and it is clear your Scots heritage runs strong in your veins &*> It is true that Burns wrote in Auld Scots, which is actually related more to the Brythonic languages from which arise the Northumbrian, Cornish and, indeed, the Welsh. The Gaelidh was spoken only in the Highlands and Islands, hence the divide between Teuchtar and Sassanach...

But you didn't need to know all that - sorry, it stirred the inner Celt! Hugs, YAM xx

hedgewitch said...

People are so ignorant of what has made us who we are, ie, the FULL RANGE of history, not just the little bits and pieces of the last hundred years. I too find reading music baffling, but the sense of the Auld Scots in Burns or old English in Shakespeare is never hard for me to follow. We just have verbal brains, I guess, Kay. I enjoyed this, for being longer than your usual, and also full of wry observations and, of course, history, especially medieval history, one of my very favorite things.

Weekend-Windup said...

Good one...

Lolamouse said...

This was a joy to read, Kay! I love your humor and I learned a little history as well!

Sam Edge said...

A great mixture of poetry and history here. All these poems are making feel poorly read - I need to go find some Rob Burns now!

Fireblossom said...

I knew this guy, back when I was in my 20s, and one of his heroes was Robert the Bruce, so I had to study up. This guy was ten years older than me, and was a teacher (but not MY teacher, at least not formally!) and to me, he seemed to know everything about everything. He also used to watch over me in my drinking days and undoubtedly kept a lot of trouble from happening to me. We were not bf/gf, but if one of us showed up alone, everyone would ask where the other one was. Anyway, I still can't hear Robert the Bruce mentioned without thinking of my friend. We stayed friends for twenty years, and visited each other all over the U.S. and even overseas. Then he disappeared. Even his family couldn't find him. They finally did locate him, working at a gas station in San Diego, but he made it clear he hadn't wanted to be found. I found it hard to accept that he wouldn't have told me why, but I only had contact with him one more time. he called the house and my son answered, but by the time i got to the phone he had hung up. I'll always wonder about it.

Anyway, thanks so much for being part of my challenge, dear Kay, and sorry for the long comment.