BBWB 9: Enlisting

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 9

Enlisting


Well… never since Napoleon
Were days seen such as these
With all of Europe fallen in
To warfare, by degrees

Defiant pledge from the Kaiser
Of triumph before the leaves
Fall from the trees, Lord Kitchener
Such prospects disbelieves

& tells Great Britain’s cabinet
This will be a long, long war
As when Rome battl’d Mohammet
& a million men & more

We’ll need at once, at least three years
But probably much longer,
The Empire shall shed blood & tears
But end the war much stronger

The Cabinet, tho shock’d, agreed
& off the posters printed
That every street became a seed
For patriots unstinted

Kitchener’s finger pointed down
Accusing catalyst
“Your Country needs you” every town
Made ready to enlist

& Arran witness’d posters splash’d
On walls urging the same
Where many to the colours dash’d
From routine, on to fame

By Brodick castle oer the bay
Beneath the forest groves
By barns of rafters fill’d with hay
The ‘staters shar’d their loaves

By Autumn fruits flared up, alive
Where once was wither’d, barren,
On thorny branches brambles thrive
Those juicy jewels of Arran

The older sort prefer to bake
A pie, but then the younger
Potent potions prefer to slake
Itchy, drunken fun-hunger

Malcolm McArthur pour’d the brew
While it was still fermenting
A captain to a pirate crew
He stood up life lamenting

“A month, a month we’ve been at war
While over there in France
Braw lads o’ Scotland stand tae fore
Abar the Bosche advance.

So shame on you, on me, on us
For sittin’ on us arses
The coward waits while brave man does
Lets be a Paul of Tarsus

For in the name of Jesus Christ
We’ll fight for truth & goodness
Halting the Kaiser’s unwise heist
That curse on honour is

Those cruel ghouls gather’d at the gates
They call apalling Huns
Lets halt for all our childrens fates!”
“They’re even raping nuns!”

Shouted William McIntyre
“Let us no deaf ear turn
To Liberty! In their own fire
We’ll make those bastards burn.

The company was quaffing hard
& so, inebriated
Like school pals huddl’d in the yard
They chose the game ill-fated

When side-by-side; the same, same day
They’d go & join the army
Some said them heroes – old cliché –
While vet’rans call’d them barmy

“For if the Boers & Dervishers
With weapons primitive
Fought so long, fought so tenacious
How could anybody live

Thro’ war made by industrial
& mighty global empires”
To Arran came an Azrael
Inspecting Brodick’s pyres

Dreamt George until his shoulder shook
By hand mair white than milk
His heart there stolen by one look
From Sarah, soft as silk

My love, she sighs, they kiss, embrace
But something’s up she senses
That nervous palour in his face
Reflects psyche’s defenses

“What is it doll?” she purr’d, a pause,
A cough… “I’m off t’ Black Watch!”
“You’ve what! but George, what pain you’ll cause,
Ya numpty, lumbering sasquatch”

“The Germans are a splendid lot,
The Austrians gave Mozart
& all for what, if you get shot
You’ll break my bloody heart!”

“My love, you know I have to leave,
For Liberty, for Belgium,
As I for proper right believe,
Improving antebellum

We’ll put down Prussian milit’rists
With crested retribution
So future anthropologists
Conclude with one compution

This war was good!” Sarah gave in,
She lov’d her man so much
& hugg’d him, kiss’d him, fondl’d skin
With the want of a lover’s touch

END OF BOOK ONE

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