2021

BBWB 15: Trenchlives

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 15

Trenchlives


The nightingales are singing near
Convents of the Sacred heart
But miles away, by bombadeer
Two armies blown apart

The 9th (Service) Battalion
Is crunch’d up from the rear
First taste of frontline action
Aface ‘Double Crassier’

Whose heap of spoil symbolical
Transmorphs as armoury;
Devices diabolical,
Devised by Germany

Anxious to slay the Black Watch boys
If ever nappers pry
Above the parapet, employs
Its deadly hue & cry

In murd’rous zeal of steel and lead
Flung cross the narrow strip
Of No-Man’s-Land, where no men tread
The gorge of brinkmanship

Where sniper bullets whizz on by,
Men turn to see their friend –
Brain’s hanging out, blood-gush afly –
Pay the Devil’s dividend

The lucky ones get cushy ones,
The Hindus call them ‘blighties,’
Back hame to mothers, brothers, sons
& lovers in their nighties

For trenchlife wasnae paradise
Meals nastily uneatable
Beds scritch with rats, clothes scratch with lice
Swarms undefeatable

Too hot ! Too cold ! Too wet ! Too bored !
To every nerve-end straining
Together suffer’d in concord
Fraternity sustaining

To be a soldier of the soil
To wear King George’s khaki
With them who see & share your toil
With hubris never narky

To be among beloved mates,
Abroad, for King & nation
Concurs as psyche aggragates
In seraph-wing sensation

Sharing immortal moments, soars
Amang a band of brothers
For they’re the ones who fought our wars
While, nameless, we’re the ‘others’

The drouth of Wullie McIntyre
For sneaky whiskies partial
To frying pan from throat of fire
He’s dragg’d off to court martial

“Please, private, answer to your charge
Of being drunk on duty,”
“Ach! Ya dinnae ken what drunk is, sarge”
Lieutenant Broon, sat snooty,

Listens in silence, sniffs, then deals
Field Punishment Number One
Fetter’d a week up on the wheels
Of mobile carriage gun

Unloos’d only for number twos
& pack drills at the double –
When Mcintyre his post renews
He’s ceas’d to cause more trouble

As on it went, the carousel
Of quarterlives in trenches
Where slaughter thrives, a living hell
Of death & evil stenches,

Cocytus wails; the days, the nights
The sights, the frighten’d screaming,
Patrols of stabbing, throttling fights
Hot balls of death down streaming

Unshaven, crouching, hollow-eyed
Neath everlasting rain
Of shells, men will’d the other side
To come their way again;

To match & meet a fellow man
Or blown to smithereens?
Aye, bloody fights far better than
Invisible machines!

Now Peter Currie finds his boys
He’d join’d a diff’rent unit
Where bored of piping’s unripe noise
He’d switch’d to do his bit

& gazing on George Goldthorpe’s stripes
Quo’ he, “Who made thee sergeant?”
“O buggar me! its Peter Pipes,
From whence have you been sent?”

“I’d heard about the coming push,
Just knew I had to be there,
To listen to ye buggars gush
Back hame wouldnae be fair!

& so I’ve join’d the auld Black Watch
Tis more my fighting mould
This mad, miraculous hotchpotch
Of Scotch lads brave & bold,”

“& English too” “Aye George… ehm… sarge!
I’m glad you’ll be beside us,
When at the Kaiserscum we’ll charge
& scatter frighten’d spiders

Like Jonnie Cope at Prestonpans!”
“Siddoon yon Jacobite!”
“Ach Jock, we are the Clan of Clans
As one we all can fight!”

Then flying dustbin overhead
Sends everyone drop-doggo
No Brodick boys this time are dead
But there’s an awfa’ long way to go

BBWB 14: War Wounds

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 14

War Wounds


O peerless Sarah Fullarton,
That all the islesmen chase
In the world no fairer woman
In converse or embrace

As scarlet locks of knots & curls
Glories to each man’s sight;
Her sparkling eyes, like orient pearls,
Did cast heavenly light.

& blood both sides her elfin nose
Did such a color drive,
As if the lily and the rose
For mastery did strive

But one man only her heart moves
George Goldthorpe’s gone to war
The urge to see him too strong proves
She joins the Nurses’ Corps

Where nearby Wipres, Yipps or Eeps,
In doleful hours of battle-din,
T’where Nightingale her vigil keeps
They’ve brought the wounded in

The Nurses commandeer a train
Stretchers turn to makeshift beds
About, between, white angels reign
Deaconesses with cool heads

In every space the train was pack’d
With death & blood & groaning
Brave young men whom that morn attack’d
Like old men lay down moaning

Whose injuries horrific, new,
From warfare mechanized
The Devil’s handiwork ran through
In Hades halls devised

There’s wounds from shrapnel, mortar, mine,
Grenade, flame thrower, gas,
How could the omnisoul divine
Allow such things to pass

Then thro’ the mess diseases swarm
All yuck & gangrenous
Swelling & swimming, yellow, warm
Under mucky bandages

Arm’d with a pail & dressing tray
Went Sarah’s iron jaw
& banish’d for another day
All horrors there she saw

None ghastlier e’er seen on earth
Nor smelt, nor wonder’d at,
Like growing clawmarks dragging girth
Gor’d by a thundercat

With lysol wounds were swabb’d well clean
Set for the staple dressing
A gauze dipped deep in iodine
Tight bandag’d for compressing

Thro’ fractured spine, pneumonia
Enteric, tetanus
Malignant ankle oedema
& mangl’d pelvises

Her conscious bad ones speak not back
Morosely melancholy
But set, “to have another smack.”
The better ones bounce jolly.

The one outstanding, shining thing
That, working, Sarah struck
Was the lack of all complaining
& the total silent pluck

Of men eas’d out of blood-soaked clothes
Halting each hæmorrhage
Then pander’d into soft repose
With scambl’d eggs & porridge

Now suffers one from shock alone
Can’t tell his name, nor stand
Just shivers, shudder, sits like stone
& only holds her hand

A boy of barely twenty one
With legs shorn at the knees
Goes, ‘thank you nurse, that’s champion,’
When she’ll discomforts ease

& officers’ rightfully pleas’d
To see ‘The Times,’ no matter
How old it was, the sheets were seized
& thro’ the beds did scatter

She tends a soldier from Portree
Who thought she was her mother
Who babbles continuously
Of this, that & the other

Of Germans, ammunition, guns,
Of Jocks, of shells, of rations,
He yells his stories, sighs & stuns
All by him with his passions

With strychnine and morphia
They soothe the worst headcases
Who calling on euphoria
Fall backwards with leadfaces

From hoary ribbon’d officers
To privates at inception
She’d found the British Army was
Polite without exception

Where’er she was, did go, or wait,
They’d always come and ask
To open doors, faciliate
Or plain take on her task

& nothing changes when them led
On stretchers wounded grim
For British men by Grandmas bred
& what they’d think of him

An everpresence in the room
The female spirit flowing
The sacred keeper of the womb
The shield of earth all-knowing

BBWB 8: Peace Rally

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 8

Peace Rally


The fireworks did swoop & soar,
Each spark a supernova,
“’Tis War! War! Glorious War!”
Uproar’d the world all over

“For God, for Kingdom, for Country”
Urge the churches gladly,
“Go sacrifice, win victory!”
The masses clap back madly

A beacon on the edge of night
A lighthouse in rough weather
The fiery cross is burning bright
Across the Scottish heather

On Arran isle the government
Explores the horse resources
Finds eighty’s worth o’ procurement
Their fate the auld arm’d forces

As farmers to the piers convey
This cavalry compile
It felt just like a market day –
The Duchess of Argyle

Fill’d up her decks, the horses hooves
A solemn dirge did beat
With neighs & whinnies in the grooves
Til boarding was complete

Then off they steam’d to fight the Hun
Far from their gentle grazes
To face grim shellfire & the gun
That at their gallop blazes

& Sarah Fullarton was there
Sensing she’d no more see
Those horses roaming here & there
Oer moor, field, glen, freely

& she remembers Sylvermane
From up East Mayish Farm
That took eternal time to time
Thro’ bruise & broken arm

How she stood out, that grey steed scout
With sylver mane down streaming
With bonnie eyes & topaz pout,
& nostrils jazzbeat steaming

Now Sarah caught the next boat out
& eighty minutes later
The Glasgow Central station shout
Sparks movement activator

She sprinted to the meeting place
Dismissing all decorum
& swore & elbow’d thro the race
Not caring if she’d floor ‘em

She reach’d the rooms, but not too late,
She’d even got a greeting,
Then listen’d to the stern debate
Of Suffragettes unmeeting

As Helen Crawford led one side
Claiming war cruel & crude
Tough Helen Fraser signified
A polar attitude

This was no time for calm discourse
The women firm divided
To offer flowers, offer force,
Each others’ cause derided

When Helen Fraser led her half
Out of that bubbling hall
The Suffragette flag, badge & scarf
Were scrunch’d into a ball

To be unfurl’d some future day
When all of this was over
“By Christmas” all the folk would say
Clutching a lucky clover

But Sarah Fullarton remain’d
A friend to Helen Crawford
& thro’ the Glasgow streets explain’d
Alternate visions offer’d

By Glasgow’s Peace Society
Condemning profiteers
Wide posing patriotically
Always stoking pride & fears

For war means money to these men
& loss of life means nothing
(Like Christian & Saracen
Never heard the angels sing)

Five thousand flock to Glasgow Green
At twenty four hours’ notice,
“This war disgusting & obscene!
Vigour not rigor mortis!”

“Imagining’s impossible
The miseries of some
But those we’ll count responsible
Untouchable become

The rally-gather’d all agreed
The people merely pawns
To feed the perfum’d pedigreed
With suppliance & fawns

But as pressmen akin with those
Whom from the wars make fortunes,
Knowing vast sales always arose
From dashing tales of dragoons

The congress ignor’d totally
Its sentiments disregard
Of sharing Earth in harmony
Humanity’s lifeguard

Prefer’d instead to promulgate
Destruction of the species
The foreign friend you’d once call mate
Now hate as stinking faeces

Upon the train to Ardrossan
Sarah flick’d thro the papers
& found no stories, no, not one,
“With gags they’ve tried to tape us!”

BBWB 7: Outbreak

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 7

Outbreak

Gavrilo Princip left the stand
Enraptur’d by the football
The little pistol in his hand
Glew golden with the goal

To slay a Prince of Austria
Whom evil represented
Prime Serbian oppressor!
With independence scented

He rode the railcars to Belgrade
& paid for every ticket
Then waited for the motorcade
In a Sarajevo snicket

Clouds crowd oer Treskavica dark
Thro’ which the day pours burning
When all the world awaits the spark
In seething turmoil churning

Franz Ferdinand & his fair wife
Came trundling to their doom
A bomb was flung to silence life
& then the bomb went BOOM

The Viennese revile in shock
Their brutal ultimatum
To Belgrade sent, who beat the clock,
But not ad verbatim

Unloosing calls to mobilise
Carousel dominoes
Alliances to amitize
Against the common foes

The Kaiser, Wilhelm, rubs his hands,
The test of mettle come
Whose Vaterland sees marching bands
Beat loud the martial drum

Whose echoes drift across the sea
To Britain & her empire
Belgium’s gallant neutrality
The canister in the fire

Exploding as the Hun advance
Beyond the Rhine’s meanders
For practical paths into France
Beforg’d through Belgian Flanders

The Dogs of War unleash’d have been
The Carsija are closing
The Matter of Serbia seen,
All sides, war’s plosive causing

Sir Edward Grey address’d the House
For Liberty’s protection,
These are no days for timid mouse
No tender circumspection

Great Britain could not idly by
Await the wrack of Brussels
& ultimatum sent, hereby,
But Berlin bares its muscles

& sits in silence at the brink
Of European war,
To violence doth slither-sink
Drinks glory from the gore

But Britain stands for moral right
& if ignor’d our protest,
The one recourse must be to fight
With France all strength invest

& so His majesty’s request
Was solemnly rejected,”

A state of war made manifest
As everyone expected

For Europe was a cauldron pot
Of vanity & egos
War fever bubbling far too hot
Over the top it flows

Twas on a bright Bank Holiday
Warm sunshine, skies cloudless
When Britishers found easy play
Mixing with high crisis

Banners & bunting street-to-street
The heat as hot as Dallas
The Monarch duly went to meet
His People at the Palace

Trafalgar Square the news receives
With patriotic roar
But not quite everyone believes
The war’s worth fighting for

A lone voice moved about the crowd
Cried, ‘peace at any price!’
At-spat, thump’d, heckl’d lewd & loud
“Who ask’d for your advice?!’

“We must stand by our Belgian friends!”
Parrots the phrase of statesmen
Sent out by news-stands to all ends
Of ever malleable Britain

Who trust their ‘masters,’ as ingrain’d
Are feudalisms ancient
Who’d happy enter schemes hare-brain’d
If order’d they’ve been sent

The lone voice shrugs the thug-hands off,
“If emperors wish war
Let Kaiser, King & Romanov
Be shown the tyrant’s door

& be replac’d by citizens
Like the Plebiscites of Rome
Thro’ palatial dev’lish denizens
Our chief enemies are at home!”

“SHUT UP” with angry comeuppance,
Crowd drags him to the ground
Kicks of cognitive dissonance
Silence’d his obtuse sound

For they were right & he was wrong
Back’d up by massive numbers
Erewhile DEATH’S DAUGHTER roam’d the throng,
Rose SLAUGHTER from her slumbers

BBWB 5: Suffragettes

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 5

Suffragettes

This was a most ‘immoral’ age
Dancing new-fangl’d tangos
Eliza swearing on the stage
Catwalks of risque clothes

An age it was of civil strife
Trade Unions upstirring
As strikes in every walk of life
Halts empire’s engines’ whirring

& bless the brazen Suffragette
That patriarchy smothers
“We’ll all get to the hustings yet
We sisters, sweethearts, mothers!”

Among whose thriving militants
Stands Sarah Fullarton
Emitting clear omnipotence
Until the vote is won

She was the fairest e’er to walk
The fragrant curves of Brodick
A lily on a fillystalk
But ‘tricky’ as a chopstick

For in an age of man & wife
When wives were more like servants
She’s chose to forge a finer life
‘Spite disapproving parents

In Glasgow there’s a rally sworn
All in Saint Andrew’s Hall
From Brodick, by swift steamer borne,
She’ll answer Pankhurst’s call.

Where if the Police did barge inside
Misusing all their powers
The speaker’s platform fortified
With barbwire mask’d by flowers

The room erupts, queen Emmeline
Captures the room starstatur’d
This is the season aquiline
When hearts by reason raptur’d

“Good morning sisters of the world
For future time each fights
When every little new-born girl
Shall share her brother’s rights

My promise kept, I’m here my friends
Despite our Kingship’s serpentin’d
Government’s inord’nate spends
To silence womenkind

But wit and ingenuities
Of women overcome such
Disgraceful elitist committees
That jaded aegis clutch

& come the change to surely come
That only time hold’s back
We’ll bang the democratic drum
Out of the cul-de-sac

Of our dead nation that ignores
The honest protestations
Of women knocking at all doors
Of legal delegations

Archbishops and the King himself
Dismisses each petition
Places them unread on a shelf
& calls its text sedition

How can one assume seditious
Equality twyx sexes
& socio-political justice –
Instead they avoid or vex us!”

With angry shouts & whistle blows
A storm of surging policemen
Surge thro’ the hall, a pure storm rose
Of women fighting men

Towards the stage the Police advance
With batons drawn for battles
Hail-dodging in a weird wardance
Chairs, boxes, buckets, bottles

A confus’d scene of bloody streams
& violence erupted,
The reckoning of dark regimes
By wickedness corrupted

A tornado’s worth of odium
All round the stage congeal’d
The Policemen reach the podium
Paus’d by barb’d wires conceal’d

Then stabbing pincers crab on crab
Hands lunge at Emmeline
Men drag her to a waiting cab
Some shameful concubine

She’s tossed inside a mouldy cell
Refuses bread & water
For you she’s done it, damoiselle,
For your mother & your daughter

All night the hungerstrike she kept
In noble spirit springing
Erewhile the streets of Glasgow slept
The Suffragettes were singing

Next morning she was roughly strapp’d
To stretcher & then driven
To Central Station, how they clapp’d
Those women who had striven

To line the route from cell to rail
Conjoin’d in common chorus
A movement that must never fail
Against the dinosaurus

That is the patriarchal beast
As down to Holloway
Goes Mrs Pankhurst whose increas’d
Her cause that awful day

When politics & ministers
Spurn basic Human Rights
& sends in strong-arm sinisters
Those ant-farm saprophytes!

BBWB 4: A Fresh Start

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 4

A Fresh Start

George Goldthorpe stroll’d about Carlisle
Last realm of Rome & London
Like Arno, Ganga & the Nile
Glitters the River Eden

By Solway Firth the border cross’d
Thro Gretna Green & Annan
The railcar ran, the day emboss’d
By Destination Arran

Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Kilmarnock
He took the rest on foot
What salve, what trophy & what shock!
When savage Goat Fell cut

A loveshape in his psychic sail
When dreams them night-time drifting
To Arran’s massive massif graal
Outstandingly uplifting

He bought ice-cream, Ardrossan beach
Was ripe with Weegies pink’ning
A new life chapter nigh in reach
A boxer by the ring

The jetty left, a flood of waves,
An island life grows near
Within an hour the gangway paves
A pathway to the pier

This is an ornate stomping ground
For George ‘fresh-starting’ Goldthorpe
Of stunning scenes whose folk redound
Thro’ quaintly queer timewarp

He found a room for seven bob
& settl’d in quite quickly
Then set off searching for a job
With brylcream smoothback slickly

Trekking one day Cnocan Gorge
He met a local cutie,
“Hello there lass, my name is George
& yours, I’ll guess, is Beauty?”

“My name is Sarah, how dya do
& where’s it fae, yer accent?”
“I’m Yorkshire born,” “English?” “That too,
Whose been to Scotland sent

By Destiny, Fate, what you will,
I’ve made it after all,
Now where dwa find the frothing thrill
Of yonder waterfall?”

“Why sir, I’m going there myself!”
So off they went together,
Sat side-by-side on rocky shelf
By cushion moss & heather

Watching whitewaters leap & dash
Like bouncing boiling kettles,
A pool of crystal steals the splash
That in a second settles

Lit by a sunbeam thro the trees
Two sets of eyes meet dreaming
Upon the outside faces freeze
But inside souls were screaming

‘Kiss me!’ ‘Please Kiss me! Kiss my lips’
Each heartbeat brought them closer
He held her gently by the hips
“Come, girl, come stroll Glen Rosa.”

She bounden back, a broken trance,
‘Some other day I might,’
Her head entipsy with romance
She thought of George all night

& so did he, he thought of her
That lovely lass call’d Sarah
With aura soft & floral burr
& auroral eyes none fairer

Dawn broke & George again went out
He’d never been a shirker
Amang all crews & gangs no doubt
He was the hardest worker

The Marchioness of Graham sens’d
The same, thought George first rate,
& so his services dispens’d
All over her estate

Who swept a whistle round the grounds
& up & down the castle
The porter & the postal rounds
& none of it much hassle

With time enough unoccupied
So book’d the village hall
To form a game & vibrant side
To battle at football

As word whirls round the whole estate
‘He’s keen is English George,’
‘Ah ken the lad,’ ‘Aye, he’s mah mate,’
‘Lets help the lad to forge

A decent village football team
To claim the island cup,”
So out came all the local cream,
Old pros to schoolboy pup

William Taylor McIntyre
& John McAllister
Both show’d fine skillsets & desire
Each midfield terrier

Malcolm McArthur chosen too
Of Merkland, & all three
Contracted to the Castle Crew
Less workforce more family

They took the trophy from Pirnmill
A year to rile & rankle
Despite MacArthur – trip & spill –
S’gone over on his ankle

They held the trophy one more year
The next, tho, things were different
As an insidious atmosphere
Crept oer the continent

Lord Byron on Poets & Poetry

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Embedded in canto III of Don Juan – stanzas 78-100 – is what can be consider’d Lord Byron’s ‘Apologie to poetry.’ It is a glorious mix of acute insight & criticism that reads amongst the best of his works. In the middle of the stanzas we can also find one of his most beautful ballads – named ‘The Isles of Greece’ – which invokes & laments the freedom of Greece. The extract begins with Juan & his recently acquired ladyfriend, Haidee, are lavishly entertaining in her father’s house, who they think as actually dead. Among the entertainers there is a famous poet which becomes the mouthpiece for Byron’s panaramic exposition of poetry.


And now they were diverted by their suite,
Dwarfs, dancing girls, black eunuchs, and a poet,
Which made their new establishment complete;
The last was of great fame, and liked to show it:
His verses rarely wanted their due feet;
And for his theme—he seldom sung below it,
He being paid to satirize or flatter,
As the psalm says, ‘inditing a good matter.’

He praised the present, and abused the past,
Reversing the good custom of old days,
An Eastern anti-jacobin at last
He turn’d, preferring pudding to no praise—
For some few years his lot had been o’ercast
By his seeming independent in his lays,
But now he sung the Sultan and the Pacha
With truth like Southey, and with verse like Crashaw.

He was a man who had seen many changes,
And always changed as true as any needle;
His polar star being one which rather ranges,
And not the fix’d—he knew the way to wheedle:
So vile he ‘scaped the doom which oft avenges;
And being fluent (save indeed when fee’d ill),
He lied with such a fervour of intention—
There was no doubt he earn’d his laureate pension.

But he had genius,—when a turncoat has it,
The ‘Vates irritabilis’ takes care
That without notice few full moons shall pass it;
Even good men like to make the public stare:—
But to my subject—let me see—what was it?-
O!—the third canto—and the pretty pair—
Their loves, and feasts, and house, and dress, and mode
Of living in their insular abode.

Their poet, a sad trimmer, but no less
In company a very pleasant fellow,
Had been the favourite of full many a mess
Of men, and made them speeches when half mellow;
And though his meaning they could rarely guess,
Yet still they deign’d to hiccup or to bellow
The glorious meed of popular applause,
Of which the first ne’er knows the second cause.

But now being lifted into high society,
And having pick’d up several odds and ends
Of free thoughts in his travels for variety,
He deem’d, being in a lone isle, among friends,
That, without any danger of a riot, he
Might for long lying make himself amends;
And, singing as he sung in his warm youth,
Agree to a short armistice with truth.

He had travell’d ‘mongst the Arabs, Turks, and Franks,
And knew the self-loves of the different nations;
And having lived with people of all ranks,
Had something ready upon most occasions—
Which got him a few presents and some thanks.
He varied with some skill his adulations;
To ‘do at Rome as Romans do,’ a piece
Of conduct was which he observed in Greece.

Thus, usually, when he was ask’d to sing,
He gave the different nations something national;
‘T was all the same to him—’God save the king,’
Or ‘Ca ira,’ according to the fashion all:
His muse made increment of any thing,
From the high lyric down to the low rational:
If Pindar sang horse-races, what should hinder
Himself from being as pliable as Pindar?

In France, for instance, he would write a chanson;
In England a six canto quarto tale;
In Spain, he’d make a ballad or romance on
The last war—much the same in Portugal;
In Germany, the Pegasus he ‘d prance on
Would be old Goethe’s (see what says De Stael);
In Italy he ‘d ape the ‘Trecentisti;’
In Greece, he sing some sort of hymn like this t’ ye:


THE ISLES OF GREECE.

The isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero’s harp, the lover’s lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse;
Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires’ ‘Islands of the Blest.’

The mountains look on Marathon—
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream’d that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

A king sate on the rocky brow
Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
And men in nations;—all were his!
He counted them at break of day—
And when the sun set where were they?

And where are they? and where art thou,
My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now—
The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?

‘T is something, in the dearth of fame,
Though link’d among a fetter’d race,
To feel at least a patriot’s shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.

Must we but weep o’er days more blest?
Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae!

What, silent still? and silent all?
Ah! no;—the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent’s fall,
And answer, ‘Let one living head,
But one arise,—we come, we come!’
‘T is but the living who are dumb.

In vain—in vain: strike other chords;
Fill high the cup with Samian wine!
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
And shed the blood of Scio’s vine!
Hark! rising to the ignoble call—
How answers each bold Bacchanal!

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave—
Think ye he meant them for a slave?

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
We will not think of themes like these!
It made Anacreon’s song divine:
He served—but served Polycrates—
A tyrant; but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.

The tyrant of the Chersonese
Was freedom’s best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades!
O! that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,
Exists the remnant of a line
Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.

Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
They have a king who buys and sells;
In native swords, and native ranks,
The only hope of courage dwells;
But Turkish force, and Latin fraud,
Would break your shield, however broad.

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
I see their glorious black eyes shine;
But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves

Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swan-like, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine—
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!


Thus sung, or would, or could, or should have sung,
The modern Greek, in tolerable verse;
If not like Orpheus quite, when Greece was young,
Yet in these times he might have done much worse:
His strain display’d some feeling—right or wrong;
And feeling, in a poet, is the source
Of others’ feeling; but they are such liars,
And take all colours—like the hands of dyers.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
‘T is strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper—even a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that ‘s his.

And when his bones are dust, his grave a blank,
His station, generation, even his nation,
Become a thing, or nothing, save to rank
In chronological commemoration,
Some dull MS. oblivion long has sank,
Or graven stone found in a barrack’s station
In digging the foundation of a closet,
May turn his name up, as a rare deposit.

And glory long has made the sages smile;
‘T is something, nothing, words, illusion, wind—
Depending more upon the historian’s style
Than on the name a person leaves behind:
Troy owes to Homer what whist owes to Hoyle:
The present century was growing blind
To the great Marlborough’s skill in giving knocks,
Until his late life by Archdeacon Coxe.

Milton ‘s the prince of poets—so we say;
A little heavy, but no less divine:
An independent being in his day—
Learn’d, pious, temperate in love and wine;
But, his life falling into Johnson’s way,
We ‘re told this great high priest of all the Nine
Was whipt at college—a harsh sire—odd spouse,
For the first Mrs. Milton left his house.

All these are, certes, entertaining facts,
Like Shakspeare’s stealing deer, Lord Bacon’s bribes;
Like Titus’ youth, and Caesar’s earliest acts;
Like Burns (whom Doctor Currie well describes);
Like Cromwell’s pranks;—but although truth exacts
These amiable descriptions from the scribes,
As most essential to their hero’s story,
They do not much contribute to his glory.

All are not moralists, like Southey, when
He prated to the world of ‘Pantisocracy;’
Or Wordsworth unexcised, unhired, who then
Season’d his pedlar poems with democracy;
Or Coleridge, long before his flighty pen
Let to the Morning Post its aristocracy;
When he and Southey, following the same path,
Espoused two partners (milliners of Bath).

Such names at present cut a convict figure,
The very Botany Bay in moral geography;
Their loyal treason, renegado rigour,
Are good manure for their more bare biography.
Wordsworth’s last quarto, by the way, is bigger
Than any since the birthday of typography;
A drowsy frowzy poem, call’d the ‘Excursion.’
Writ in a manner which is my aversion.

He there builds up a formidable dyke
Between his own and others’ intellect;
But Wordsworth’s poem, and his followers, like
Joanna Southcote’s Shiloh, and her sect,
Are things which in this century don’t strike
The public mind,—so few are the elect;
And the new births of both their stale virginities
Have proved but dropsies, taken for divinities.

But let me to my story: I must own,
If I have any fault, it is digression—
Leaving my people to proceed alone,
While I soliloquize beyond expression;
But these are my addresses from the throne,
Which put off business to the ensuing session:
Forgetting each omission is a loss to
The world, not quite so great as Ariosto.

I know that what our neighbours call ‘longueurs’
(We ‘ve not so good a word, but have the thing
In that complete perfection which ensures
An epic from Bob Southey every spring),
Form not the true temptation which allures
The reader; but ‘t would not be hard to bring
Some fine examples of the epopee,
To prove its grand ingredient is ennui.

We learn from Horace, ‘Homer sometimes sleeps;’
We feel without him, Wordsworth sometimes wakes,—
To show with what complacency he creeps,
With his dear ‘Waggoners,’ around his lakes.
He wishes for ‘a boat’ to sail the deeps—
Of ocean?—No, of air; and then he makes
Another outcry for ‘a little boat,’
And drivels seas to set it well afloat.

If he must fain sweep o’er the ethereal plain,
And Pegasus runs restive in his ‘Waggon,’
Could he not beg the loan of Charles’s Wain?
Or pray Medea for a single dragon?
Or if, too classic for his vulgar brain,
He fear’d his neck to venture such a nag on,
And he must needs mount nearer to the moon,
Could not the blockhead ask for a balloon?

‘Pedlars,’ and ‘Boats,’ and ‘Waggons!’ Oh! ye shades
Of Pope and Dryden, are we come to this?
That trash of such sort not alone evades
Contempt, but from the bathos’ vast abyss
Floats scumlike uppermost, and these Jack Cades
Of sense and song above your graves may hiss—
The ‘little boatman’ and his ‘Peter Bell’
Can sneer at him who drew ‘Achitophel’!

The Kilmarnock Burns And Book History

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The Kilmarnock in wrappers (Image by kind permission of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, National Trust for Scotland)

Patrick Scott is Research Fellow for Scottish Collections and Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina. His work on the Kilmarnock Edition is a must read for all fans of Rabbie Burns.


Allan Young and I have just published the first-ever attempt to track down all surviving copies of Burns’s first book, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Kilmarnock: Wilson, 1786), the Kilmarnock Burns (1). Mr Young started working on this project fifteen years ago, and I have been collaborating with him for the past two years. We located just eighty-four surviving copies, which makes Burns’s book three times rarer than the Shakespeare First Folio.

At one level, this project might seem merely antiquarian. As early as 1903, the purchase of a Kilmarnock by the Burns Monument trustees was fiercely denounced in an Aberdeen newspaper:

Really, I think it is absurd for the Burns Trustees to throw away so much money […] Private individuals may spend their thousands on first editions if they choose: but could the memory of Burns not be honoured in a more practical way than by giving £1,000 for a book which is to go in a glass case and be looked at by tourists? (2)

Yet one of the big recent shifts in literary studies has been the growing interest in ‘book history’, and in the material forms in which we encounter literary texts. Mr. Young and I were not just listing the eighty-four copies, but trying to describe them and track their stories. After 230 years, the ravages of time and the pride of former owners have left marks on each surviving copy. Many copies carry ownership inscriptions, annotations, or bookplates. Some include manuscript poems, a few in Burns’s hand. Successive bindings and re-bindings mean that the copies vary quite a bit in size. Some have tears or missing leaves, and even after repair and replacement, most restoration leaves detectable traces. The accumulative of such changes makes every copy distinctive, and through reading these differences one can reconstruct changing attitudes to this book, and to Burns himself.

Like much about Burns, the story is very easy to oversimplify. To its first readers, in July and August 1786, Burns’s book made its appearance in plain blue-gray paper wrappers, with the page edges untrimmed, and it was available chiefly through local distribution to subscribers in Ayrshire itself. The wrappers were fragile, and the paper spine cracked away easily, so few copies survive in this original form, but one is at Alloway, in the Birthplace Museum (the same copy that drew that protest in 1903), and it can be viewed on the RBBM website. (3)

But just as Henry Mackenzie’s ‘Heav’n-taught ploughman’ would morph into the late Victorian National Bard, so the Kilmarnock’s original fragile wrappers would in time typically be replaced by fine bindings in gold-tooled full morocco, from such noted London binders as Bedford or Rivière. The majority of copies now surviving are in a binding from this period, though not all quite as spectacular as the one illustrated below, which Ross Roy used to say was more appropriate for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam than for a Kilmarnock. (4)

The Kilmarnock rebound: full red morocco, gilt, by Rivière, ca. 1900 (Image courtesy of the G. Ross Roy Collection, University of South Carolina / photo: Robert Smith)

Such bindings were not only a statement about the importance of Burns, but also of the owner’s wealth and status, and the best examples are collectible in their own right: indeed, most copies in fine bindings were housed in their own protective morocco slip cases or boxes that to the casual eye look equally impressive. By 1900, Burns was not only a prestige author, but an international one. Both buyers and prices had changed: instead of an Ayrshire farmer the typical early twentieth-century Kilmarnock purchaser might be a Scottish peer or an American railroad baron. Burns’s original subscribers had paid just 3 shillings (15p), but in 1929 a copy sold at auction for £2,550 (£140,000 at current value). In 2017, while there are still six copies in Ayrshire, and twenty-five in Scotland, there are at least forty-eight in the United States.

The contrast seems obvious enough. A Kilmarnock as originally issued was all of a piece with hodden gray, hamely fare, and a’ that. The Kilmarnock as later collected was a precious icon of world literature. Relatively few of the later collectors aimed to build a comprehensive collection of Burns editions. Most of them were adding a Kilmarnock alongside other Great Books. Indeed, part of its prestige in the market was its inclusion in One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature, a collector-list published in 1902 by the Grolier Club of New York.

Both sides of this contrast need more nuance. The original page format and paper show the Kilmarnock was always intended to look superior to John Wilson’s previous books. The distinctive title-page decorations, also used throughout the book, seem to have been specially purchased to reflect this ambition. The paper covers were intended to be temporary, and most purchasers had their copy put in a more serviceable binding; Burns himself told his friend John Richmond ‘you must bind it neatly’. (5)

These early bindings, rather than the copies in wrappers, show best how Burns was read by his Ayrshire contemporaries. Distribution also qualifies too populist a narrative. As Richard Sher has pointed out, the immediate economic success of the volume came more from the backing of a few major supporters than from individual subscribers; over two thirds of the 612 copies were bought by just seven names. (6) In November 1786, when a letter to the Edinburgh Evening Courant complained that ‘not one’ of Ayrshire’s ‘Peers, Nabobs, and wealthy Commoners’ had ‘stepped forth as a patron’ to Burns, Gavin Hamilton fired back that, of the original print run, ‘the greatest part […] were subscribed for, or bought up by, the gentlemen of Airshire’. (7)

On the other side, even in the 1890s and early 1900s, many individual Kilmarnock owners on both sides of the Atlantic have not been people of great wealth. Duncan M’Naught, longtime editor of the Burns Chronicle, was parish schoolmaster of Kilmaurs, but owned two Kilmarnocks. One of the most famous wrappered Kilmarnocks was owned in the 1890s by A. C. Lamb, proprietor of a temperance hotel in Dundee. By 1900, too, many copies had become tatty, and the elaborate bindings played an important role in their survival. Unlike the Shakespeare First Folio, the Kilmarnock Burns is a thin volume that, in an undistinguished early binding or in bad condition, could well be overlooked when an owner dies or a house is cleared. Part C of our book contains several anecdotes of this kind. It was not till the collector generation that the special importance of the surviving wrappered copies was recognized, and the competition between collectors who couldn’t get one put a special premium on other copies with early inscriptions or manuscript material. Once a Burns manuscript had been bound up with a Kilmarnock in red morocco gilt, its survival was ensured. It was many years later before university libraries and other public institutions took over this role to any significant extent.

The Kilmarnock in a contemporary binding: full calf, gilt spine with label, edges trimmed (The Earl of Glencairn’s copy / image courtesy of Dr. William Zachs)

In his own times, Burns’s poetry was disseminated in many different ways, not just in books, from manuscript and oral transmission to newspapers, chapbooks and broadsides. Burns himself wrote a satiric squib about fine bindings and insect damage in an aristocratic library:

Through and through th’inspired leaves,
Ye maggots, make your windings,
But, oh! Respect his lordship’s taste,
And spare his golden bindings.
(8)

Two centuries later, the importance of Burns’s own poems means that all Kilmarnocks, whatever their binding, can be of great research interest as well as of monetary value. Even a copy that is damaged or imperfect tells a story. It is often through the material form in which Burns’s first book has survived, in the ambitious ‘improvements’ made by earlier owners and in the traces of neglect or mishandling, that we can now reconstruct the varied ways in which Burns has been valued.


End Notes
1 – Allan Young and Patrick Scott, The Kilmarnock Burns: A Census (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Libraries, 2017). The discussion here draws from my introductory essay, ‘Describing the Kilmarnock’, pp. xxi-xxxvi, which gives fuller references.
2 – Aberdeen Journal, July 29, 1903, p. 10.
3 – Robert Burns Birthplace Museum object 3:3135
G4 – . Ross Roy, in Burns Chronicle Homecoming 2009, ed. Peter J. Westwood (Dumfries: Burns Federation, 2010), p. 415.
5 – Letters of Robert Burns, ed. G. Ross Roy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), I: 50.
6 – Richard Sher, The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors & Their Publishers in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, & America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 230.
7 – The exchange is reprinted in Donald A. Low, ed., Robert Burns: the Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. 65-66.
8 – Poems and Songs, ed. James Kinsley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), II: 906.

On The Antiquities of Arran (4): Machrie Moor and the Samothrakean Mysteries

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Is it possible, still, that the ancient gods can influence the modern world. Recent investigations of mine have landed my personal supposition on the notion firmly in the YES camp. It all begins with my first glimpse of Samothraki, last summer, about this time of year actually, when I remarked to myself how like Arran the island appear’d – a great mountainous heap on an isolated island, with lower levels spread either side of the peak. Fengari Mountain & Goat Fell are both about the same size & rise like jagged dragonsteeth from the sea & anyone seeing both peaks can only assume they were crafted by the same forces.

On Samothraki is the anciently famous Sanctuary of the Great Gods, which I visited last year & was inspired to recreate the Mysteries once held there – Alexander the Great’s mum & dad were two initiates who met during the ceremony. On visiting the sprawling complex I was inspired to recreate the Mysteries from the scraps of detail recorded millennia ago – the following two posts ( a video) show the idea & its fruition.

Reconstructing the Samothrakian Mysteries

The Samothracian Mysteries

Roll on a year & I am conducting a chispological survey into the antiquities of Arran – see what I can dig up that has been missed. So let us revisit Machrie Moor, an amazing place I was last at a few weeks back. A century ago scholars had decided that because they found sepulchral remains in the circles of Machrie Moor, then this was their main purpose. However, holy sites in Britain have always evolved. It is not uncommon in the south of England especially to find a church built upon the site of a Roman temple, which in turn was erected on some pagan place of worship. It is possible, then, that the Machrie Moor complex had also evolved, from Pagan through Cronos worship into this fresh hyperbasis upon which I shall now attempt to show its one-time relationship with the Great Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothraki.

We begin with a 20th century American author, Jean Stafford, who noticed the connection between Corrie & Cora, inventing a rather spurious story about her being related to Alexander the Great, but adding an interesting detail that her ancestors had migrated from Samothraki to Arran. A strange start, admittedly, but as a Chispologist I see the latent possibility in the village Corrie of being connected to the Goddess Cora, also known as Persophone, the daughter of the great mother nature goddess, Demeter. This leads us then to Strabo, who on discussing the geographical writings of Artemidorus of Ephesus [late second-century BC], we read that, ‘his report about the goddesses Demeter and Core is more credible. He says that there is an island near Britain on which sacrifices are performed like those in Samothrace for Demeter and Core.’

Of course that only narrows the Samothracian mysteries to an island off mainland Britain, but the fact that the rites were performed in this area is both astonishing & also unacknowledged by academia! Those mysteries, by the way, were said to have been founded by two legendary heroes & brothers, Dardanos and Iasion, who became associated with the divine twins known as the Dioscuri. This then leads us to Diodorus Siculus’ discussion of Timaeus [early third century BC];

Historians point out that the Celts who live on the shore of the Ocean honor the Dioscori above other gods. For there is an ancient tradition among them that these gods came to them from the Ocean.

The Sanctuary of the Great Gods
Machrie Moor

One way of looking at that information is to place Dardanos and Iasion voyaging along the fringes of north west Europe, coming across the Samothracian looking Arran & deciding to set up a sister mystery ceremony. Perhaps. But if they did, then it must have been at Machrie Moor, a series of stone circles which seem to mirror the areas at Samothraki thro which the initiation ceremony convey’d. In the following image of Samothraki, the buildings themselves were erected over many centuries but noble patrons, but like I said before, these constructions may have been novel ‘improvements’ on earlier layers, which could well have been stone circles or something akin. This is a quote from my own post on Recreating the Samothrakean Mysteries;

The physical evidence of the Mystery ceremony can be found at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothraki, a sprawling religious pan-centurial site which contains the three sacred precincts which the initiate had to move through in order to complete the Mystery procession. These were the preliminary Myeses, the Telete & the Epopteia. One school of thought states that after a prospective initiate had been prepared in the Sanctuary’s Sacristy, the Myesis took place in the Anaktoron’s main hall, followed by the Telete in the inner adyton at the building’s north end. Once this concluded, the mystai (initiates) could proceed to the Hieron where they acquired the higher degree, the epopteia.

I will leave this post with one last hint at the background to what I now believe is the sacred colony of Samothraki that had been set up on Arran. We begin with a passage from Diodorus Siculus discussing the mysteries;

And Iasion is reputed to have been the first to initiate strangers into them and by this means to bring the initiatory rite to high esteem. And after this Cadmus, the son of Agenor, came in the course of his quest for Europê to the Samothracians, and after participating in the initiation he married Harmonia, who was the sister of Iasion and not, as the Greeks recount in their mythologies, the daughter of Ares.

This wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia was the first, we are told, for which the gods provided the marriage-feast, and Demeter, becoming enamoured of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn, Hermes gave a lyre, Athena the renowned necklace and a robe and a flute, and Electra the sacred rites of the Great Mother of the Gods, as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of her ritual; and Apollo played upon the lyre and the Muses upon their flutes, and the rest of the gods spoke them fair and gave the pair their aid in the celebration of the wedding.

The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioscori, and Heracles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns they undertook, because these gods appeared to them.

The key nugget here is the mention of Agenor, who I believe is present in the Pictish King List as Agam/Agnoiun at the very start of the Pictish arrival in Britain.

The children of Gleoin, son of Ercol, took possession of the islands of Orcc, that is, Historend, son of Historrim, son of Agam, son of Agathirsi


Cruithne, son of Cinge, son of Luctai, son of Parthalan, son of Agnoiun

Which leaves us perfectly poised for the next installment of The Antiquities of Arran, where I shall be associating the island with the Hyksos diaspora…

On the Antiquities of Arran (3) : Sacrifice on Stronach Ridge

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There has been a new development to my time on Arran. But before we step forth upon the evolution, here is one last sonnet from my Sannox explorations, with rather a lovely name I think;


ON LOSING A HAT BELOW THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

Following the bob of the deers’ head guide

I scamper’d up my first Arran hillside

Not quite a goat, not even younger man

But, damn it, let me do the best I can

For I shall dwell the best part of a year

Upon these stones, where bones of mountaineer

Who died a lonely death, a broken pile,

Lies hidden in some crevice peristyle;

On scene-sunk ridge I gulp’d a morsel thrill

But storming midgies meant no standing still

Until I froze, & found I’d lost my hat

A good one, & my only one at that

Destin’d to join the lost lives Arran’s claim’d,

Ungarnish’d & ungarden’d & unnamed.


As for my personal progression, I have found a patron here, who seems a fan of my poetical intellect & historical instincts. One could say Clio & Calliope have gone to work. The gentleman lives in England, but has a holiday home on Arran & after a most serendipitous meeting he has leant me his house &, better, still, his copious cornucopia of archeology books, including many on Arran itself.

A couple of days after we met he took me on a small expedition to the woodlands behind Brodick School, parking the car near the entrance to Glen Rosa. It was not too deep into the forest that we came across certain slanting rocks on which were carved cup marks & some images that looked like circles & keyholes. 

I also noticed certain channels & after a while I I began to get the notion that because there were two channels per circle – the legs of the keyhole so to speak – there might have been some kind of oracular purpose based upon the blood flow of sacrificed animals, or even humans. I.e. putting a bird or a human heart in the circle & seeing where the blood flowed, either the yes or the no channel.

My new friend said he’d never heard that before & a few days later after he’d left for England I began to analyze his library in search of more information on those markings.

In the very famous 2 volume Book Of Arran by J.A. Balfour (volume 1 – archeology 1910), there is a chapter by Fred T Coles entitled ‘Cup & Ring-Marked Rocks: Stronach Ridge, Brodick,’ which immediately gave me the name of the place I had become curious about – Stronach Ridge. In 1910 Mr Coles had made a special examination & drawings of the site for the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which Balfour reprinted.

Of the images, Coles writes;

These designs, though never hitherto noticed in Scotland in anything like the same number, have their cognates elsewhere. For example, on a rockat Gillroannie, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, there occurs just such a plain oval ‘boss’ as is found here on Stronach Ridge… & in Yorkshire, on a stone near the Panorama Stone, & on other surfaces in that neighbourhood, near Ilkley.

In a later book of the 20th century, ‘Exploring Arran’s Past’ Horace Fairhurst adss a little more correlative knowledge;

Examples of comparable decorated surfaces occur notably at Kilmichael Glassary & other sites in Mid-Argyll, & again around Gatehouse of Fleet. Boulders with man-made cup markings on them are common in various parts of Scotland, including Kintyre, but they seem to be scarce on Arran.

As a scholar of Pictish history, I also noticed the similarity between the ring marks & one of the Pictish symbols, monicker’d the ‘Disc & Rectangle.

At this point in my study I would like to bring to your attention a certain passage in Hector Boece’s 16th century history of Scotland. In recent centuries Academia has debated & argued its way through the possible meaning of the Pictish symbols, but perhaps Boece knew the answer all along; 

Those who died fighting the Britons should be honored with conspicuous monuments, and obelisks should be erected over their tombs to match the number of men they had killed. A large quantity of these obelisks can still be seen in the Highlands. In later times the custom arose that the tombs of the most famous and distinguished men were held in veneration like shrines, and men would build cairns of stones and erect large ones on which were inscribed the shapes of fish, snakes, and birds (that age used these instead of letters of the alphabet for writing arcane things), to advise passers-by who they were and what fair things they had achieved in life.

A very early Pictish presence on the island could well be connected to the cairns mentioned by Boece & also Thomas Pennant, who tour’d the Scottish highlands in 1772. Of the cairns, Balfour writes;

The Chambered Cairns of Arran are chiefly distributed over the southern half of the island. It is probable that many examples of this class of monument have disappeared owing to the extension of cultivation. Since the date of Pennant’s tour (1772) a number of great cairns which he describes have wholly vanished.

I shall be analyzing the very early Pictish connection to Arran in the next ‘episode,’ which the cairns might be a relique of. My studies are definitely gonna happen now, I’m sure, for I’ve been bless’d with a sense of security & permanence. My bookshop is up & running, as is the ground coffee beans element which I’ve introduced to my ‘revenue stream.’ Indeed, I feel rather safe, blessed even, to continue my investigations into the Antiquities of Arran.