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McAllister Dances Before the King
Clansmen, the peats are
Sit round them in a ring,
And I will tell of that great night
I danced before the king!
a dancer in my youth,
So great was my renown,
The king himself invited me,
To visit London town.
brand new presentation kilt
And ornaments I wore;
And with my skein dhu,
I rapped upon the door.
heard a Lord or Duke
Come running down the stairs,
And to the keyhole put his mouth,
Demanding who was there!
the door" I sternly cried,
"As quickly as you can.
Is this the way that you receive
A Scottish gentleman?"
door was opened; word went round,
"McAllister is here."
And with the news, the palace rang
With one tremendous cheer.
King was sitting on his throne,
But down the steps he came.
Immediately the waiting Lord,
Pronounced my magic name.
all the ladies of the court
With pearls and jewels bedecked,
Did blush and tremble as I
Bowed to them with due respect.
at first with hands on hips,
I danced with ease and grace.
Then raised my hands above my head,
And swifter grew my pace.
last no human eye could see
My step so light and quick.
And from the floor great clouds of dust
Came rising fast and thick.
King was greatly moved,
And shook my hand in friendship true.
"Alas," he said, "Although a king,
I cannot dance like you."
then the gracious queen herself
Came shyly o'er to me,
And pinned a medal on my breast,
For everyone to see.
whisper I shall n'er forget,
Nor how her eyes grew dim.
"Ach, where were you, McAllister,
The day I married him!"
skein dhu = short knife, usually worn in the stocking.
Incident at Stirling Castle
MacKim an I stuid furth
in tairtan bleck an green;
the Bleckwatch baund begaud tae play
God Sauf oor Gracious Quean.
rade throu the yett,
a gret lord by her side.
"Which heroes do we decorate?"
she askit, an he replied
wi a hauty glence at me an MacKim,
"Your Highness, these are they."
"How odd a phrase," she says tae him,
"Whose English is it, pray?"
"Madam, it's Your Majesty's'."
"Not ours, my lord. We'd say
not 'these are they,' but they are these
we honour as best we may.
Let each be made a captain, please,
and paid a captain's pay. "
Sae lown a quean, sae strang a wit,
the strangest o thaim aw;
MacKim an I wad ser her yit
gin muntains aw doun faw.
(in order of appearance in the poem)
quean=young woman or girl (a sort of pun on queen)
strang, strangest=strong, strongest
gin=if, even if
Author’s note: Though called highlanders, the "gallant forty-twa" recruited from all over Scotland. At the time of the 1842 royal visit the regiment was established at a strength of 1,200 rank and file, 45 officers, 67 sergeants and 25 drummers! However, they had to take in more than 400 men, recruits or transferees from other regiments, to come up to authorized strength.
There's a very spirited song about the gallant forty-twa. Doubtless you have heard it. Funny thing is, the lyric is mostly standard English.
The Bagpipe Maker
D. L. Grothaus
In a tiny shop at the alley door, amidst the shadows deep.
A craftsman works a magic spell, a history to repeat.
With darkened wood and elephant tooth and skin and reed and twine.
He carves and turns and binds and sews, with stitches strong and fine.
Each drone is turned and combed and smoothed, and checked for proper height.
The chanter carved of finest wood, and trimmed with silver, bright.
When all is done, the pipes are one, but one task left, is all.
He places in the bagpipe's heart, a piece of his own soul.
When the pipes then call, to a widow's heart, the tears give rise, then fall.
When the pipes give call, to the clansmen swords, with honor, they give all.
When the pipes give wail, at their maker's pall, his breath has rattled last.
His soul still lives in the piper's call, alive, and safe, and fast.
Mercifully, the following wretched doggerel is in a category all by itself. It is in fact a clever, intentional revision of an infamous “poem” (we use the term loosely) by a fellow who was, in his time, himself a walking parody of a serious poet -- the (almost) inimitable William Topaz McGonagall.
Oh! Beautiful City of Edinburgh,
There, one may drown their sorrow.
Viewing monuments and statues rare,
basking in the sun of summer fair.
I'm sure it wills the spirit to cheer,
Sir Walter Scott's monument is near.
Standing tall, on East Prince Street,
Amidst flowery gardens, color replete.
Edinburgh Castle is magnificent to see,
It’s beautiful walks and trees esprit.
Below rocky basement, like a fairy dell,
There’s our favorite, St. Margaret’s Well.
Where tourists may drink when feeling dry,
Have fish and chip dinners or a special meat pie.
Try a tour of the castle, from bottom to high,
It appears so lofty straight up to the sky.
Nelson's Monument stands there on Calton Hill.
With great esteem, your heart will fill.
Salisbury Crags most beautifully seen,
Especially in June when grasses are, green.
To the south of Salisbury Crags below,
Is beautiful scenery from the valley below?
Observant, the little loch beneath they sight,
Wild ducks about and beautiful swans white.
Arthur's Seat, must surely be seen,
With rugged rocks and pastures green.
Wooly sheep grazing around all sides
lazily walking with leisurely strides.
Oh! Beautiful City of Edinburgh
There, one may drown their sorrow,
You bask in the sun of summer fair.
Proudest city in Scotland, we do declare!
“This beautiful city was defiled and thrown onto a rubbish heap by the Baird of Rubbish, William McGonagall, Scotland’s worst poet.”
“McAllister Dances before the King,” by the late D.M Mackenzie, is now in the public domain. All other poems are © 2004 by the various authors of the poems, reproduction prohibited.