Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Ballad of Hugh the Pict

With painted face above the dyke,
he surveyed Roman fort.
Hugh thought, “We'll draw 'em out to fight,
we're not the foolish sort!

We're not the type to rush headlong
against the might of Rome.
Guerilla tactics are the norm;
they'll wish they were back home.

Their conscripts make a powerful force,
with Tungrians from Gaul
and men from where the Rhine spills out,
Batavians who'd brawl.

But lure them out we will, my lads,
we'll trap Centurion's men;
he'll take his Cohorts out to fight

and march them through our glen.”

With whistling arrows flying 'round,
Hugh pestered them like bees;
he said, “Come oot, your Legion's damned;
oor Fletchers a' hae fleas!”

And when the Roman bailiwick
convulsed in scratching farce,
Hugh made it worse by lifting kilt
and mooning them his arse!

His mocking gesture drew them out;
those mad, impatient foes,
but Hugh was quick, he sprinted off,
quite nimble on his toes.

The leader of the Romans shook
his fist and said to Hugh,
“Come back and fight, you scabby Pict,
we'll be the end of you.”

As Hugh ran on, he stopped and waved,
to make sure he was seen;
he made a gesture known world-wide--
you know the one I mean.

Their honour mocked, they upped the pace,
red faced from more than toil;
all patience spent, in fuming wrath
they reached Blairgowrie soil.

They marched in time with sword and shield,
with men in triple file,
while savage Picts prepared to pounce--
Hugh wore an evil smile.

He'd led them such a merry dance,
through forest and its aisles,
where Picts were painted top to toe
in frightful, warlike styles.

While Sennachie rehearsed his rhymes;
his songs of ancient feats,
Hugh's Picts were hid behind the trees
in filibegs and pleats.

With trap well set, Centurion led
his Cohorts, now dead beat,
between the banks that lined the path,
Hugh's ambush laid so neat.

“Prepare to meet your doom,” yelled Hugh.
“You might hae tamed thae Gauls,
but we'll bide free us Picts, you'll see,
despite Agricola's walls.”

And to a soundtrack o' the pipes,
a pibroch made in Hell,
he led his men oot ow'r the banks,
and gave MacGibson's yell.

“For freedom, men; a death tae foes
wha'd see us Picts enslaved!”
Their onslaught left no Legionnaire
but in red blood was bathed.

They died a soldier's death far from
their homelands and their beds,
and on the trees near Inchtuthil,
Hugh's men strung up their heads.

Their bodies bled out in the woods,
their names on no one's list;
the Legion of the Ninth was lost
in Caledonian mist.

The moral of this ballad, folks,
is don't stir up the Gaels,
for if you do, your fate's assured,
you'll feature in their tales.

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