BBWB 19: Over The Top

Posted on Updated on


THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 19

Over The Top


The greatest battle of the Scots
Lurches towards its breaking
Thoughts clawing stomach pits in knots
How long’s the twilight taking?

Dawnlight like water struggles in,
Rain promising, as lads
From heaps of limbs sleep-snuggl’d in
Cast off the cloaks of nomads

Puffing under the parapet’s
Immovable rampart,
One hundred thousand cigarettes
Await the gig to start

As teas brew’d up, as hot soup pour’d,
As razors smooth the cheek,
The army’s like a pirate moor’d
Ready to raid & wreak.

Ready to slay Les Boches today
Most pleasurable of pursuits
To fetch back home a coat of grey
& a pair of marching boots

A helmet & a mauser too,
But first they’ll have to bag one…
When such a vast hullabaloo
Exploded gun on gun

Howitzers, eighteen pounders sound
Symphonies of flying fish
Like shrieking birds shells shook the ground
In smoke the Hun’s lines vanish

Time passes porous with suspense
Drags on or rushes by
Awaiting evanescence
When the days solidify

As to them zero hour doth sweep
On hooves of adamant
Captain’s read out, with vocals deep,
To every regiment

“All ranks will prove to Scotland, we
Were able to uphold
Traditions of the north contree
Most glorious of auld!

For Highlanders have ever been
The finest of all fighters
Whether fae chieftain, prince, or queen
No force could e’er outmight us

As for the Black Watch, we shall go
Most fast, most firm, most far,”

A former brawler from Glasgow
Slow finger’d his cheek’s scar

An Airdrie lad bless’d Him above
For steeling him undaunted
While some feel for their ladylove
Like George Goldthorpe, thought-chaunted;

O gentle wind that blows from south
To where my love repaireth
Convey a kiss to her dear mouth
& ask her how she faireth

For evermair shall Sarah be
My one, my true desire
,’
In such diffus’d tranquility
Mus’d Wullie Mcintyre

To do one’s duty must be done!’
Whose nerves had turn’d to stone,
That tighter gripp’d his rifle gun
With heighten’d muscle tone

McAllister spat, sung, touch’d wood,
Besides him young Pete Currie
Did calculate the likelihood
Of deaths for those that worry

Cautious or brave, which course is best?
Thought he, ‘should I be hero?
Or canny crawl from crest to crest?…
…Lang time deid
‘… hand struck zero

The barrage halts, the silence sets
The seconds overloaded
“Company – fix bayonets,”
Throughout the front line order’d

As sharpen’d spikes were firmly fix’d
A sudden infestation
Of polarised emotions mix’d
Hysteria, exultation

Is everybody ready,” “Sir”
As back hairs, neck hairs bristle
At last the drastic brainwaves’ blur,
Attacks the straining whistle

Up, up, the ladders & over the top
Up over the top they went,
The finest chop of the Highland crop
To ever represent

Up over the top with the best of luck
Up over the top they sped
The first man up by a bullet struck
& dropped down dead

Up over the top, & onto the plain,
Then over the grain them borne
Where barb’d wire bush in a bramble bane
Spread like the low lean thorn

The Black Watch pipers struck the chords
Play’d ‘Heilan laddie’ loudly,
Uprousing hearted march towards
Their enemies, most proudly

Were heads held high, no craven host
Eyes firmly forging forth
Craving to do their uttermost
For the honour of the North

When sighting Hohenzollorn mound
Ahead, men caught their breath,
Amang that slag heap battleground,
They’ll jest at the dawn with death

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s