Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Ballad of Ferniehirst Castle

You stand there silent witness, stones,
to fabled past and pain;
you tell no-one, but if you would,
in language known to men,

you'd tell us walls of Ferniehirst,
your nature was to hold
and standing still in Borderlands,
you've outlived men of old.

In minstrel's lays on ballad nights
by Jed there's Laidlaw's verse,
where once the Reivers led a dance
at odds with peaceful Merse,

where fiddlers' sets aye stir a few,
recall the din o' war

and hint at front o' battle lour
wi' skirling pipes an' a',

tell Jethart's tales of storied fame,
who fought at Flodden Field
with pike and sword, where Flowering knights
were forced by death to yield;

a ring of steel, the clash of arms,
the chords of life unchained
and rendered dumb, the sons of men
who'd gathered for King James.

When he returned, the canny Dand
designed the lingling stairs
and trained to fight with left-hand blade,
the pride of corry Kerrs.

The forest oaks of Jed were once
your cloak, concealing  frieze
your hidden strength where winds defiled
down Fernie Bank through trees.

They dug no moat in Ferniehirst,
your curtain walls were bare,
repelling foes from Scotland's gate
the task for Lords of Kerr.

The Earl of Surrey's ordnance shot
once rained on castle walls,
where ragged Jethart flag was torn
by English cannon balls,

though Jeddart justice resonates
in how they celebrate;
the severed heads were gruesome, but
the ba' game marks their fate.

Your scowling walls and turrets stand,
between your bones, the seams,
the pointer's veins where blood of Kerrs
has flowed for centuries,

where whimseys walk, my Lady's seen
at times in faerie ring,
there keens a voice that sounds a hymn
the De'il alone maun sing

and while you cannot raise a voice
in strains o' Jethart's Here,
though seven hundred years a mute,
your stones can shed a tear.

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