Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Massacre of Glencoe

Here are two poems written, one after the other in February 2012, commemorating the Massacre of Glencoe, about which you can read here. You can also read about it on Wikipedia and in John Prebble's seminal book, available on Amazon and elsewhere. I'm not sure which is the better poem, I like them both, so perhaps you'll let me know via the comments.

Mort Ghlinne Comhann


A sad emotive soundtrack brings
This poem about our ears
As strains of ancient pibroch sound
Upon the winds of fears

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies of our fellows, man
Cast down by redcoats' blows

And sadder still reverberates
All down throughout the years
A story all MacDonald knows
That's carried forth in tears

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies of their fellows, man
Cast down by redcoats' blows

The Devil Stair he'd made the case
For murder under trust
When Orange Willem signed the bond
With quill like fatal thrust

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies that they'd penned there, man
Cast down by redcoats' blows.

The welcome of the Highlands scorned
Argyll's own Foot the foes
Who took a dram the night before
And slept in peace; who knows

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies of their fellow man
Cast down by redcoats' blows

MacIain cut down before his cot
Where his last mortal sighs
The Ensign and Lieutenant must
Have heard to mock their lies

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies that they'd felled there, man
Cast down by redcoats' blows

Nigh eighty of the Clan lay dead
And half, the bairns and wives
Who huddled frozen still in death
With hypothermic eyes

Gleann Comhann of the massacre
Where red upon the snows
Lay bodies that were broken, man
Cast down by redcoats' blows.

Glencoe's greetin'


They rose to death
that's met aghast and all unwilling
“...at fyve of the clock...”
The instrument of their blood
spilling
a friend now foe
they thought they knew.

Betrayed by men they'd kept and fed
who “tarried not”
and “fell on” by order,
bloodied there amongst the shielin's
cut from the cot
laid stark on the stones
and red in the snow.

Men of the Clan
with women and bairns
once kinsfolk of theirs
now bleeding red seeping
on the floor of Gleann Comhann
where musket and sword
met brisket and brawn.

O Glorious Revolution
what did you bring to our glen that morning?
Unfettered in hate by yon Sasunnach Stair
leaving William of Orange
blood, red on his hands.
O King of false glory
You've sullied your honour.

A smirr of fresh snow covers the crime
and a grey curtain hides the patchwork of blood
thrown carelessly down
in Gleann Comhann still
and weepin'.

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