24 September 2007

Too Late To Die (At Culloden)


If ye’ll nae fight ye’re nae a man they
say shot to shreds from their graves
from the mud where they lay at Culloden;
the brave, the hardy, all dead at the hands
of he named ‘the Butcher’, ‘Wee German Lairdy’,
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.

I stood in the same field, aimed a musket
with shaking hands their ranks standing
massed forty paces away, saw through
starved eyes the Hanover artillery blow
my comrades to pieces – felt the scourge
of exhaustion, fell to my knees.

In 60 minutes were beaten and bleeding,
killed where we lay in total defeat, killed
for beliefs courted as treason, killed just
for being of the true Highland Clans.
And Bonnie Prince Charlie
he got up and ran.

If ye’ll nae fight ye’re nae a man they
say from their graves; and I stood
where they lie on that bleak moor,
welcome home sonny they cried, but heed,
ye’re a bit late f’ the fight. Too late to die
I agreed – but I ken ye’re still right.
© 10 September 2007, I.D. Carswell