Scottish Poetry Selection
- A Sough o' War

Charles Murray (1864-1941) was born and raised in Alford in north east Scotland. He published his first volume of poetry in 1893 but it was his second volume "Hamewith" (Homewards) published in 1900 for which he is most remembered. Charles Murray served in the Armed Forces during the Second Boer War and the First World War and in 1917 produced a volume of poetry entitled "The Sough o' War" (The Sigh of War).

For those not familiar with some Scots words, there is a glossary at the end of the poem.

      A Sough o' War

The corn was turnin', hairst was near,
    But lang afore the scythes could start
A sough o' war gaed through the land
    An' stirred it to its benmost heart.
Nae ours the blame, but when it came
    We couldna pass the challenge by,
For credit o' our honest name
    There could be but one reply.
An' buirdly men, fae strath an' glen
    An' shepherds fae the bucht an' hill,
Will show them a', whate'er befa',
    Auld Scotland counts for something still.

Half-mast the castle banner droops,
    The Laird's lament was played yestreen,
An' mony a widowed cottar wife
    Is greetin' at her shank aleen.
In Freedom's cause, for ane that fa's,
    We'll gleen the glens a' send them three
To clip the reivin' eagle's claws,
    An' drook his feathers i' the sea.
For gallant loons, in brochs an' toons,
    Are leavin' shop an' yard an' mill,
A keen to show baith friend an' foe
    Auld Scotland counts for something still.

The grim, grey fathers, bent wi' years,
    Come stridin' through the muirland mist,
Wi' beardless lads scarce by wi' school
    But eager as the lave to list.
We've fleshed o' yore the brave claymore
    On mony a bloody field afar,
But ne'er did skirlin' pipes afore
    Cry on sae urgently tae war.
Gin danger's there, we'll thole our share,
    Gie's but the weapons, we've the will,
Ayont the main, to prove again
    Auld Scotland counts for something still.

Meaning of unusual words:
hairst = harvest
sough o' war = sigh of war
benmost = inner
buirdly = stalwart
fae strath an' glen = from river valley and mountain valley
bucht = sheep pastures
shank aleen = knitting alone
reivin' = thieving
drook = drown
loons = young lads
brochs = burghs
lave = the rest
skirlin' = shrill
thole = endure
Ayont the main = beyond the sea

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