BBWB 27: The Undying Dead

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 27

The Undying Dead


A new day dawns, Pete Piper skips
To Sarah, says, “Lets walk…”
She, somewhat alter’d, halts his lips
With salty, “yes, to talk.”

They took a lunch up Sannox Glen
With sandwiches from Corrie
Where, sat among the burn & ben,
“Pete Currie, I’m so sorry,

For complex is life’s chemistry
When feelings in confusion
Feed off familiarity
Then delve into delusion

I was, I am, I’ll always love
Another in my heart,”
With gentle squeeze she eas’d her glove
From Peter’s hand apart

He understood & watch’d her go
Away with gracious gait
All slow with woe, a sad widow
Resign’d to scything fate

How Peter weeps so sadly-soul’d
From first true love was shorn
With wiser vein his brain install’d
He rose the morrow morn

Which was a Sunday, wintery,
With promises of storms
When prayers, transcendentally,
Each minister performs

Today a special service held
When elegies fair spoken
When all the village felt compell’d
Attending faith or token

It was the least that some could do
For grief did swell communal
With people squeez’d in every pew
Like a papal funeral

The Minister took up his place
The organ pipes upstarted
With tenor, baritone & bass
The men sung open-hearted

The women with a higher range
Did harmonize like choirboys
A most melodic interchange
Floats notes in wholesome noise

The singing done, the hymnary
Wide closed, all took their seats,
The Lord’s Prayer, mnemonically,
Each mellowly repeats

As under St Bride’s polish’d wood
Like Lao-Tze Tung teaching the tao
The Minister remain’d upstood
To pledge an everliving vow

“Dear Christ, who reignst above the flood
A weary road these men have trod:
Of human tears and human blood,
O house them in the home of God

We mourn our dead across the sea
Flesh of our flesh there fallen
In vital struggle for the free
Whose liberties were stolen

Always, always remember them
Those who shall grow not old
Nor passing years their deeds condemn
Only honours uphold

As stars yet bright when we are dust
To the end we’ll know each name
Of our glorious dead, & keep in trust
Immemorial fame!

Now let us sing the twenty-third
Psalm, ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd,’”
It was the proudest ever heard
With sobs & sniffles pepper’d

Pro patria moves all within
Who beg the dead forgive
Their beating hearts, while kith & kin
Have died so they might live

A veteran of Sevastapol
The ‘Last Post’ bugles soft
From start to finish beautiful..
Breaks tension, someone’s cough’d…

The service ends, Pete doffs his cap
Snook out like subterfuge
Just as a viscious thunderclap
Bursts in delicious deluge

He harks not home but treks instead
Thro’ the barren hinterland
Of Arran’s rising highlands spread
Like Zarafshan Samarkand

Doom-laden moors & gloomy glens
When flay’d by the Atlantic
Were nothing to those nights near Lens
& Loos in battle frantic

As soggy drew his soldier’s shoes
As sopping drench’d his jacket
Solidity of strength renews
He knew that he could hack it

For live he did when friends did not
They’d love to get a soakin’
Out visiting each scenic spot
With Jock on point with joking

With Wullie passing round the nips
& George with all his stories…
Oer Machrie Moor a moon eclipse
The bloody chore that war is

Snaps Peter Currie from his trance
Him standing all alane
While best pals rot in a box in France
He’s alive in the diamond rain

THE END

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