Mostly Bollogs, I'm afraid

But occasionally, a glimmer of truth.
If you find one, please let me know.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Chill November

A poem.

I've got until tomorrow night to learn a poem. And it's written is bloody Scottish dialect, so I won't even understand it. And I don't do poetry.

"When chill November's surly blast ..." oh, here we go, it's a dirge. It's the Son of Ancient Mariner, written in Scottish, by a bloke who died 200 years ago and of whom nobody south of Hadrian's Wall would have heard, if someone hadn't named a day after him and filled the shops with haggis.

Eleven verses of it. And you have to look up words, like Lordling. Lordling. An immature or insignificant lord. Surprise, surprise. But hold on - it used to mean, especially in Government or Politics, a young lord.

I do some research. Rabbie was writing about the scumbags in power even then!

I read on. Gets better.

Seventh verse has this "man's inhumanity to man" bit - I always thought that was the English bloke, Shakespeare, but no.

And then verse eight - this is the tear-jerker: lordling doesn't really give a bollocks as long as his nest is feathered, the working man can't afford to treat his wife and kids properly.

Verse nine is the nub: if we were born to be free, and not to be enslaved, why are we working for these shysters?

Verse ten then offers hope. Things will get better.

Verse eleven drops you right back in it. I'll let you read it for yourself, it's at the end of this post.

But it made me think. It made me think "stuff it, my kids aren't going to be the next in a long line of poor sods who are, if they're lucky, going to work their butts off for this sponging, thieving, pile of crooks. They're not going to get brainwashed at school then shoved into the next bit of the social engineering production line so some fat bankers and big company fat cats can fill their boots."

I've had enough.

Here's the poem. It really is rather good. Please let me know what you think after reading it (probably several times).

When chill November's surly blast
Made fields and forest bare,
One ev'ning, as I wand'red forth
Along the banks of Ayr,
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seem'd weary, worn with care,
His face was furrow'd o'er with years,
And hoary was his hair.

'Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?'
Began the rev'rend Sage,
'Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure's rage?
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou hast began
To wander forth, with me to mourn
The miseries of Man.

The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Out-spreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labour to support
A haughty lordling's pride:
I've seen yon weary winter-sun
Twice forty times return;
And ev'ry time has added proofs,
That man was made to mourn.

'O Man! while in thy early years,
How prodigal of time!
Mis-spending all thy precious hours,
Thy glorious, youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the sway,
Licentious passions burn:
Which tenfold force gives Nature's law,
That Man was made to mourn.

Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood's active might;
Man then is useful to his kind,
Supported is his right:
But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn;
Then Age and Want - O ill match'd pair! --
Shew Man was made to mourn.

'A few seem favourites of Fate,
In Pleasure's lap carest;
Yet think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest:
But oh! what crowds in ev'ry land,
All wretched and forlorn,
Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
That Man was made to mourn.

'Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,--
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

'See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.

'If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave--
By Nature's law design'd--
Why was an independent wish
E'er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty, or scorn?
Or why has Man the will and pow'r
To make his fellow mourn?

'Yet let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast:
This partial view of human-kind
Is surely not the last!
The poor, oppressed, honest man,
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!

'O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn,
But, oh! a blest relief to those
That weary-laden mourn!'


Captain Ranty said...

I like it!

Probably 'cause I don't have less than 36 hours to learn it by heart....

Enjoy your haggis, neeps and tatties! I last went to a Burns Supper in 2003. I found the kilt to be quite comfy.


Anonymous said...

The message is one that is also very common in (what used to be called) Negro Spirituals (I don't know what they are called now), e.g. 'Old Zion's Children Marching Along'

Cynarae said...

Most people who has read Of mice and men should know about Burns.