Monday, March 31, 2008

Baa Baa Black Sheep, it's a wee black Tup!

My only black ewe that is half Jacob, half Scottish Blackface had a nice ram lamb this afternoon.  The ewes seem to be in good rig.  No one looks thin.  Tomorrow is going to be above average in temperature so at least I don't have to worry about the other ewes having problems lambing in the bitter cold.  It seems its in like a lion and out like a lamb for real this March! Tup is a term used by Scots and folks in northern England for a ram.

Mae is no April Fool, Baaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha!

Mae had a nice little ewe lamb last night.   Mazzie is her name.

Lambs soon to be........

Finally I can say for sure my ewes are bred.  I was getting a little worried.  I am using a ram I have not used before and this is pretty late but Maggie is making an udder and Nora looks like she is a listing barge with an over sized load.  I think the ewes are all bred.  Three of the four I bred this year are first time mothers so they probably will have singles while Nora will have twins or triplets. I hope that of all them go in a cluster other wise it may not be possible for me to go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year.  The Fest. is the first weekend in May. I don't like to leave the very young lambs nor would I ever leave someone else on watch with a pending birth.  If I have to stay home my daughter will go with my husband to man the booth.  One good thing is as we enter April the weather should be better for lambing.  My first lambs last year were born on the 27th of Feb. and the last on the 3rd of April. It looks like I will be starting where I left off last year!  Old Murdo did his job so I am pleased now I can see what this nice young ram can produce!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Soay Sheep on Hirta

Beth Maxwell Boyle took this video of Saint Kilda's Soay Sheep in August of 2007. This is a brief clip of Soay sheep grazing around Village Bay on the Island of Hirta the main island. St Kilda is an isolated archipelago 64 kilometres (40 mi) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
For more on Soay Sheep follow this link:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

THE LAMB by William Blake

Little Lamb, who make thee
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee;
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake
( 1757 – 1827)


William Blake was both a print maker and poet the graphic here was drawn by him.

Young Lambs

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two - till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill, and wags his tail to meet the yoe;
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead - and lets me go
Close by, and never stirs, but basking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

John Clare

Monday, March 24, 2008

To an Early Daffodil

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer's myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers
Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;
To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold
To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April's sun, for thou hast caught his gold.

Amy Lowell ( 1874 -1925)

Grant us peace (Lamb of God)

Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

Women at The Grave
by Adolphe Bouguereau
1825 – 1905

Matt 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Christ remained in the tomb ....

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
The Entombment of Christ

Christ remained in the tomb on Friday and Saturday. On the third day, Sunday, He arose, just as He said. (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-9)

Just as I Am, Without One Plea By: Charlotte Elliott

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just a I am; thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Text: Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868
Tune: WOODWORTH, Meter: LM

1st Published in: 1836


Ad regias agni dupes.

Now at the Lamb's high royal feast
In robes of saintly white we sing,
Through the Red Sea in safety brought
By Jesus our immortal King.
O depth of love ! for us He drains
The chalice of his agony ;
For us a Victim on the Cross
He meekly lays Him down to die.
And as the avenging Angel pass'd
Of old the blood-besprinkled door ;
As the cleft sea a passage gave,
Then closed to whelm th' Egyptians o'er
So Christ, our Paschal Sacrifice,
Has brought us safe all perils through ;
While for unleaven'd bread He asks
But heart sincere and purpose true.
Hail, purest Victim Heav'n could find,
The powers of Hell to overthrow !
Who didst the bonds of Death unbind ;
Who dost the prize of Life bestow

Friday, March 21, 2008

Throned Upon the Awful Tree


Throned upon the awful tree,
Lamb of God, Your grief I see.
Darkness veils Your anguished face;
None its lines of woe can trace.
None can tell what pangs unknown
Hold You silent and alone.

Silent through those three dread hours,
Wrestling with the evil powers,
Left alone with human sin,
Gloom around You and within,
Till the appointed time is nigh,
Til the Lamb of God may die.

Hark, that cry that peals aloud
Upward through the whelming cloud!
You, the Father’s only Son,
You, His own anointed One,
You are asking “can it be”
“Why have You forsaken Me?”

Lord, should fear and anguish roll,
Darkly o’er my sinful soul,
You, who once were thus bereft
That Your own might ne’er be left,
Teach me by that bitter cry
In the gloom to know You nigh.

John Ellerton, 1875



5 lb. leg of lamb
3 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. oregano
1 lemon
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. water

Wash meat well; pat dry and set on rack in roasting pan. Mix slivered garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Make incisions in lamb with sharp knife; insert seasoned garlic slivers which have been dipped in olive oil and melted butter mixture. Rub remaining butter and oil mixture over surface of lamb.

Pour juice of lemon over it. Cover pan and cook at 325 degrees for 3 hours. During roasting period add 1 cup water to liquid in pan; baste often until meat is browned and done to taste. Halfway through cooking period, small peeled potatoes or small onions may be placed in pan around the lamb. Yield 10 generous servings.

An Easter Blessing by J S Bach

Bless this day the joy of life,
The revelation of the flesh,
The paradise of man and wife
Joined to share the gift of bliss.

Bless this day the pain of life,
The passion that redeems the flesh,
The love between a man and wife
Beyond all agony and bliss.

Bless this day the end of life,
The peace within the dying flesh,
The bond between a man and wife
That long outlasts their bit of bliss.

Bless this day the whole of life,
The grace of being more than flesh,
The voyage of a man and wife
Across the mystery of bliss.

Antique Easter Card

Good Friday Hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

The hymn is based on a long medieval Latin poem, Salve mundi salutare, with stanzas addressing the various parts of Christ's body hanging on the Cross. The last part of the poem, from which the hymn is taken, is addressed to Christ's head, and begins "Salve caput cruentatum." The poem is often attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), but it first appears in the 14th century.

Eastertide Poem, Sheep and Lambs

All in the April morning,
April airs were abroad;
The sheep with their little lambs
Pass'd me by on the road.
The sheep with their little lambs
Pass'd me by on the road;
All in an April evening
I thought on the Lamb of God.
The lambs were weary, and crying
With a weak human cry;
I thought on the Lamb of God
Going meekly to die.
Up in the blue, blue mountains
Dewy pastures are sweet:
Rest for the little bodies,
Rest for the little feet.
Rest for the Lamb of God
Up on the hill-top green;
Only a cross of shame
Two stark crosses between.
All in the April evening,
April airs were abroad;
I saw the sheep with their lambs,
And thought on the Lamb of God.

Katharine Tynan Hinkson. 1861–1931

The Gospel in Scots

1. And sae it cam to pass, that whan Jesus had made an end o' thae sayins, he said till his disciples
2. "Ye ken that twa days mair, and the Pasche comes ; and the Son o' Man is deliver't up to be crucify't."
3. Than forgather't the Heid-priests and the Elders o' the nation intil the palace o' the Heigh-priest - the ane ca'd Caiaphas.
4. And coonsell't thegither that they micht tak Jesus hidlins, and slay him.
5. "But," quo' they, "no at the Feast-time ; or thar wad be a stramash amang the people."
6. Noo, whan Jesus was in Bethanie, i' the hoose o' Simon the leper,
7. Thar cam till him a wummam wi' an alabaster box o' unco precious perfume ; and she teemed it on his heid as he was at meat.
8. And the disciples, seein it, war put aboot, and quo' they "For what is siccan a wastrie ?
9. "For this micht hae been sell't for muckle, and gien to the puir."
10. But Jesus takin tent, says to them, "Why fash ye the wumman? For a wark that is bonnie has she wrocht on me.
11. "For ye aye hae the puir w'ye ; but ye hae-na me aye !
12. "For she, strinklin this perfume on my heid, did it for my burial.
13. "Truely say I t'ye, Whaursoe'er thir Gude-tidins sal be made kent i' the hail warld, this too o' what she has dune sal be tell't for a memorial o' her.
Matthew Chaiptir Twintie-Sax, verses 1 - 13 frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith
1, And at the hinner-end o' the Sabbath, as it begude to break to the first day o' the week, cam Mary the Magdalene, and the ither Mary, to see the tomb.
2. And see ! a great yirdin ! for an Angel o' the Lord cam doon frae Heeven and cam and row't awa the stane, and sat on't.
3. To look at him he was like the fire-flaught, and his cleedin was white as the snaw ;
4. And, cuisten doon afore him, the gaird did trimmle, and war as deid men.
5. But the angel, speaking to the weemen said, " Be-na ye fley't ! For I ken ye are seekin Jesus, the crucify't.
6. " He isna here ! for he is risen, e'en as he said ! Come, see the bit whaur the Lord was lyin.
7. " And gae quickly, and say ye till his disciples, " He is risen frae the deid ! And mark ! he gangs afore ye intil Galilee. Thar sal ye see him. See ! I hae tell't ye ! "
8. And quickly lea'in the tomb, in muckle fear and muckle joy, they ran to tak word to the disciples.
9. And look ! Jesus met them, and says, " All hail ! " And they cam forrit, and grippit him by the feet, and worshipp't him.
10. Than says Jesus to them, " Fear-na ! But gae tell my brethern, sae as they may gang intil Galilee ; thar sal they see me.
11. Noo, e'en while they war gaun, some o' the gaird cam intil the citie, and tell't to the Heid-priests a' that had been dune.
12. And whan they had foregather't wi' the Elders, and coonsell't thegither, they gied a rowth o' siller to the sodgers ;
13. And quo' they, " Say ye, ' His disciples cam in the nicht, and slippit awa wi' him whan we war sleepin. '
14. " And aiblins gin this come afore the Governor, we wull cajole him, and mak it siccar for ye ! "
15. Sae they liftit the siller, and did as they war tell't ; and this tale was spread abreid amang the Jews - ay, e'en to this day.
16. And the eleeven disciples gaed awa intil Galilee, to a mountain whaur Jesus had trystit them.
17. And, seein him, they adored him ; hoobeit, some swither't.
18. And Jesus, drawin nar, spak to them, sayin, " Thar has been gien to me a' pooer in Heeven, and on yirth !
19. " Gang ye tharfor, and mak ye disciples o' a' the nations, bapteezin them intil the name o' the Faither, and o' the Son, and o' the Holie Spirit ;
20. " Schawin them hoo till observe a' things, e'en as mony as I hae commandit ye. And tent ye ! I am wi' ye a' the days; e'en till a' time ! "
Matthew Chaiptir Twintie- Aucht frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The First Day of Spring 2008

Mint-Rubbed Leg of Lamb

Though lamb is often paired with mint jelly, this roasted leg lets you leave the jelly jar in the pantry. Serve the roast medium-rare to medium, in its own juices, with a simple arrangement of spring vegetables.

5-pound whole leg of lamb (bone in)
8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried mint, crushed
1 tablespoon coarse-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Cooked herbed new potatoes (optional)
Steamed baby carrots (optional)
Steamed asparagus (optional)

Trim excess fat from meat. Cut 1/2-inch-wide slits into lamb leg in 16 different places. Cut garlic cloves in half lengthwise and insert each half-clove deep into each slit.

Combine dried mint, pepper, and salt; rub mixture over entire surface of lamb leg. Drizzle honey over lamb leg and rub to coat. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cover lamb loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 2 hours.

Remove plastic wrap. Insert a meat thermometer into thickest part of meat without touching bone. Roast, uncovered, in a 325 degree F oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until thermometer registers 140 degrees F for medium-rare doneness or 155 degrees F for medium doneness. Remove from oven.

Cover meat loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve with cooked herbed new potatoes, steamed baby carrots, and steamed asparagus, if desired.

Makes about 10 to 12 servings.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

The Shepherd o' Kiltyrie by C M H Gemmell

Robert Watson

O the Shepherd o' Kiltyrie
He's the shyest o' the men,
But the Shepherd o' Kiltyrie
Is the hero of the glen;
He's come hame frae a' the fechtin'
Wi' a Military Cross,
An' there's nae a lad sae modest
In the bonnie shire o' Ross.
He's been offered grand positions
That wud gar yer hert tae leap;
But he winna leave the Hie'lands
And his flocks o' canny sheep;
For among the misty mountains
He forgets the roar o' guns,
And the hours o' deadly combat
Wi' the Japs and 'gin the huns.
Aye, he dwells in yonder sheiling,
On the Braes o' Ben-y-More,
He can see the salmon leapin'
Frae the dyke ayont his door;
Tho' he's nae got muckle siller,
He's the richest chiel o' a',
For the hale o' Scotland's treasure
Lies out-by, within his ca'.

C M H Gemmell

Dandie by W. D. Cocker

Come in ahint, ye wan’erin’ tyke!
Did ever a body see yer like?
Wha learnt ye a’ thae poacher habits?
Come in ahint, ne’er heed the rabbits!
Noo bide there, or I’ll warm yer lug!
My certie! ca’ yersel’ a doug?
Noo ower the dyke all’ through the park:
Let’s see if ye can dae some wark.
Way wide there, fetch them tae the fank!
Way wide there, ‘yont the burn’s bank!
Get roon’ aboot them! Watch the gap!
Hey, Dandie, haud them frae the slap!
Ye’ve got them noo, that’s no sae bad:
Noo bring them in, guid lad! guid lad!
Noo tak’ them canny ower the knowe —
Hey, Dandie, kep that mawkit yowe!
The tither ane, hey’, lowse yer grip!
The yowe, ye foumart, no’ the tip!
Ay, that’s the ane, guid doug! guid doug!
Noo haud her canny, dinna teug!
She’s mawkit bad; ay, shair’s I’m born
We’ll hae tae dip a wheen the morn.
Noo haud yer wheesht, ye yelpin’ randie,
An’ dinna fricht them, daft doug Dandie!
He’s ower the dyke — the de’il be in’t!
Ye wan’erin’ tyke, come in ahint!

W. D. Cocker (1882- 1970)
He was born in Glasgow and worked there as a journalist on the Daily Record, but his poems mostly evoke the Stirlingshire farms of his mother’s family.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Islanders Poem from Lewis, Shiants

The basking islands. The rocks
like sails or fins or teeth.

High wings are black blades
as the barnacle geese pass.

The blue men from narrations
are the grey seals, treading water.

Our cleated and welted movements go
by beaked clowns, lambing ewes.

Ian Stephen (1955-     )
© 1983

from Malin, Hebrides, Minches (Dangaroo Press 1983)

In memory of Anna Rutherford, publisher, Dangaroo Press

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

A leprechaun is small and green
He hides where he cannot be seen.
But if you catch one on this day,
He must give his gold away.

A Joyous Palm Sunday to you!

Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday in Lent and the Sunday before Easter. It is celebrated in all major Christian churches - Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. In popular parlance it is called Palm Sunday because it commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The Gospels describe how the crowds lined the route, spread palm branches on the road and waved palm leaves in their hands enthusiastically as Jesus rode in on his donkey. Hence, the name Palm Sunday. I wish you all a joyous Palm Sunday in 2008

The Spinning Wheel and Irish Poem

Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning,
Close by the window young Eileen is spinning ;
Bent o'er the fire her blind grandmother, sitting,
Is crooning, and moaning, and drowsily knitting :— '
Eileen, achora, I hear some one tapping.' ' '
Tis the ivy, dear mother, against the glass flapping.' '
Eily, I surely hear somebody sighing.' "
Tis the sound, mother dear, of the summer wind dying.'
Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring,
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel, while the foot's stirring ;
Sprightly, and brightly, and airily ringing
Thrills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing. '
What's that noise that I hear at the window, I wonder?' ' '
Tis the little birds chirping the holly-bush under.' •
What makes you be shoving and moving your stool on,
And singing, all wrong, that old song of "The Coolun " ?'
There's a form at the casement—the form of her true love—
And he whispers, with face bent, ' I'm waiting for you, love ;
Get up on the stool, through the lattice step lightly,
We'll rove in the grove while the moon's shining brightly
Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring, &c.


BORN in Limerick in 1809, and graduated LL.D. at Trinity
College, Dublin, in 1852.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My reponce to Air America's Mr. Greg Palast

Reporting for Air America Radio’s Clout, Palast wrote on March 14th, The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

I say, yes Mr. Plast only what the Governor did was worse for America than the bail-out.

It's sort of silly to compare anything to Eliot's fall from grace. You really can't compare it to any other situation because Spitzer was (very loudly) claiming to be cleaning up corruption and had the trust of underdogs everywhere. I can remember nothing in my lifetime as stunning and bizarre as this fall from Grace. I am so glad this was found out before any more time had passed with him in Albany. I'm a life long Democrat and New Yorker but refuse to put this in any context other than the one it really belongs in. This is a case of a government official who was an enormous fraud. No one becomes like this over night. He just got arrogant enough to get caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Bush and his creeps have done all these things you mentioned, Mr. Greg Palast, and many more. Destroying all the safety checks for the environment comes to mind immediately and yes these things are pure evil. Eliot Spitzer's betrayal of public trust, however stands to be worse than any I have known because he claimed to cleaning up the corruption and we are all are feeling hopeless under the Bush cloud. This fall by Spitzer is almost Biblical in proportions and to all of us who still believe in the system it is a blow that can't be matched. It's the hypocrisy and betrayal of trust not the fact he broke some laws that makes this so devastating. The saddest part of all for those of us living in western NY which is so deeply hurting, is many here had pinned their hopes to his administration because he promised money to us out here for the failed economy.

Buffalo is reeling since the news broke and that city is in its death throws quite frankly. Spitzer always made me uneasy and it seems my intuition was right on the mark. Your piece rings hollow for me, Mr.Palast.

An Australian Poem, The Shearers

No church-bell rings them from the Track,
No pulpit lights their blindness –
'Tis hardship, drought and homelessness
That teach those Bushmen kindness:
The mateship born of barren lands,
Of toil and thirst and danger –
The camp-fare for the stranger set,
The first place to the stranger.

They do the best they can to-day –
Take no thought of the morrow;
Their way is not the old-world way –
They live to lend and borrow.
When shearing's done and cheque's gone wrong,
They call it "time to slither" –
They saddle up and say "So-long!"
And ride – the Lord knows whither.

And though he may be brown or black,
Or wrong man there or right man,
The mate that's honest to his mates
they call that man a "white man!"
They tramp in mateship side by side –
The Protestant and "Roman" –
They call no biped lord or "sir",
And touch their hat to no man!

They carry in their swags, perhaps,
A portrait and a letter –
And, maybe, deep down in their hearts,
The hope of "something better".
Where lonely miles are long to ride,
And all days seem recurrent,
There's lots of time to think of men
They might have been – but weren't,

They turn their faces to the west
And leave the world behind them –
(The drought-dried graves are seldom green
Where even mates can find them).
They know too little of the world
To rise to wealth or greatness:
But in this book of mine I pay
My tribute to their straightness.

Henry Lawson


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The faster they rise, the harder they fall.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who rose to power as a fierce enforcer of ethics in public life, was undone by revelations of his own involvement with prostitutes. What a story. I have to say I never was an admirer of Gov. Spitzer. He always struck me as an incredibly arrogant person and I have said many times he talked like a seedy accident lawyer. I am so sorry for his family but have to admit I am just a little bit relieved Patterson will be taking his place. A blind, Black man will be a refreshing change in that office and is bound to bring a new approach to the state house. Spitzer made many enemies in his short tenure as governor of NY. Allot of people in his own party have turned on him in his 14 months in office. Just because the mad dog approach works prosecuting crime does not necessarily mean it works in governing a state. He called himself the steamroller and it seems the steamroller is now going to have to be sold as scrap metal.

My feelings are he was failing as a governor and we are lucky to have gotten rid of him so  easily. It's a great time for some uplifting Bach.  
I am playing the Easter Oratorio and Magnificat!


The green east flows with the tides of the rose Between the bars of night, half-drawn.
The moon shines cold and faint on the fold
Where sheep glimmer, gray in the dawn.
Oh, thin like a dream their sad cries seem,
Caught high above time and space;
And old as the world, from out fleece dew-pearled, •
Gazes each meek sheep-face.
Dazed with sleep, and numb, the sheep-women come,
And open the field gate wide.
The sheep surge out in an idiot rout,
Like gray foam swept on a tide.
Keep steady, move slow, we've three miles to go
To Grantchester from Chalk Field pen.
Herd them up all the way, lest some go astray,
Of our imbecile two score and ten.
Unreasoning, blind, each poor unhinged mind
Takes its thought from the sheep next ahead.
Through each hedge gate (if you reach it too late)
They charge, wild and pale, like the dead.
Their lilting bleat, their sharp, scuttling feet,
Are strange, strange as dreams before day,
And . . . counting the sheep ... we sway . . . into sleep
And trail along . . . foolish as they.
The wide tides of gold surge, quiet and cold;
The green west turns deep blue;
The moon's worn slip very soon will dip,
Like a pale night-bird, from view.
There seems no sound in the world all round
But of horn feet and quavering cries
In the young, cold hour. . . . Like flame, like a flower,
The sun springs, huge with surprise.

by Rose Macaulay  ( 1881 - 1958)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Poem by Robert Frost, Two Tramps In Mud Time

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose to my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
They judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay

And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

- Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Laird o' Drum

I would like to dedicate this wee sang to my friend Terry in Edinburgh toon.  I am about to add this to my Shepherds Songbook.
Terry gave me a recording of this by Ian Benzie.

The Laird o' Drum

The laird o Drum's a-huntin gane
All in a mornin early,
An' there he spied a weel-faur'd maid
A-shearin her father's barley.

"O will ye fancy me, fair maid,
Or will ye marry me, O,
An' gang an' be the leddy o Drum
An' lat your shearin be, O?"

"O I maunna fancy you, kind sir,
Nor lat my shearin be, O,
For I'm ower low to be leddy o' Drum,
An' your miss I would scorn to be, O.

"My father he's an auld shepherd man,
Keeps hoggs on yonder hill, O,
An' ilka thing he bids me do,
I'm always at his will, O."

"But ye'll pit aff the gowns o grey,
Pit on the silk an' scarlet,
An' come an' be the leddy o Drum,
An' ye'll neither be miss nor harlot."

"I canna wear your gowns o' silk,
They wid harrel at my heel, O,
But weel can I wear the colour o' the ewe,
It becomes my body weel O."

Now he has to her father gane
Keepin hoggs on yonder hill, O:
"I'm come to marry your ae dachter,
If ye'll gie your good will, O."

"My dachter can neither read nor write,
She was never taught at school, O,
But weel can she milk baith cows an' ewes,
For I learned the lassie mysel, O.

"She'll work in your barn, she'll winnie your corn
She'll gang to mill or kill, O;
In time o' need she'll saddle your steed,
An' draw your boots hersel, O."

"I'll learn the lassie to read an' write,
I'll pit her to the school, O,
An' she'll never need to saddle my steed,
Nor draw my boots hersel, O.

"But fa will bake my bridal breid,
Or fa will brew my ale, O,
An' fa will welcome the leddy o' Drum,
Is mair than I can tell, O."

There was four an' twenty gentlemen
Stood at the gates o' Drum, O,
But neer a een pit his han' till his hat
When the leddy o Drum cam in, O.

But he has taen her by the han',
An' led her but an' ben, O,
Says, "Ye're welcome hame, my Leddy Drum,
For this is a' your ain, O."

An' he has taen her by the han'
An' led her through the ha', O,
Says, "Ye're welcome hame, my Leddy Drum,
To your bowers een an' a', O."

Then up an' spak his ae brither,
"Ye've deen us muckle wrang, O;
Ye've marriet a wife neath your degree,
A disgrace to a' oor kin, O.

"It's Peggy Coutts is a bonnie bride,
An' Drum is big an' gaucey,
But he micht hae chosen a higher match
Than just a shepherd's lassie."

Out then spak the laird o' Drum,
Says, "I've done ye nae wrang, O,
For I've marriet a wife to work an' win,
An' ye've marriet een to spen', O.

"The firstan wife that I did wed,
She was far abune my degree, O,
I durstna gang in the room she was in
But my hat low by my knee, O.

"For the first wife that I did wed,
She lookit doon on me, O;
She widna walk to the gates o' Drum,
But the pearlins abune her bree O.

"An' she was adored but for her gold,
An' Peggy for her beauty, O,
An' she micht walk to the gates o' Drum
In as good company, O."

Yet four an' twenty gentle knights
Stood at the gates o' Drum, O,
An' there wasna een amang them a'
Wid welcome Peggy in, O.

But he has taen her by the han',
An' led her in himsel, O,
An' pit the keys into her lap,
An' styled her Leddy Drum, O.

An' twice he kissed her cherry cheek,
An' thrice her cherry chin, O,
An' twenty times her comely mou,
Said, "You're welcome, Leddy Drum, O .

When they they had eaten an' drunken weel,
An' a' were bound for bed, O
The Laird o' Drum an' the shepherd's dachter
In ae bed they were laid, O.

"Gin ye had been o' as high kin
As ye're o' low degree, O,
We might hae baith gane doon the street
Amang the best o' company, O.

"An' o' a' yon four an' twenty knights
That gaed in at the yett o' Drum, O,
There ne'er was een but wid lifted his hat
When the leddy o Drum cam in, O."

"I tell't ye weel ere we were wed,
Ye was far abune my degree, O,
But noo I'm wed an' in your bed laid,
I'd scorn to carry your keys, O.

I tell't ye weel ere we were wed,
Ye was far too high for me, O,
But noo I'm wed an' in your bed laid,
An' I'm just as good as ye, O.

When I am deid an you are deid,
An' baith in ae grave laid, O
They wid need to look wi' very clear een
To ken your mould by mine, O"

Child #236

The shepherd's biggest fear!

I experienced something this week for the first time that all shepherds dread. Dogs attacked my sheep on Thursday and it was a day long nightmare. I first heard frantic barking while in my house in the back bedroom at a little after 11:00. I quickly acted and took my sheepdog Whisky with me to the sheep paddock behind the house. What did I confront but the neighbor's two huge, black dogs that had managed to jump the woven-wire fence? I was shocked to see they were leaping on the backs of the pregnant ewes! My own dog barked frantically at them and the fearful intruders jumped back out of the enclosure like deer. It amazed me that my own dog's barking frightened the attacking pair into leaving the so abruptly! I am so grateful as I have no idea how I would have wrestled two dogs off the backs of the sheep in the enclosure. The next thing I knew the rogue dogs had rounded the back of the horse paddock behind the sheep shed and had fled to the front of my property. They then very suddenly crossed the main road. The pair ran down the other neighbor's drive to their sheep barn and were barking frantically at the flock of Jacob sheep penned there.

I turned around and quickly ran back inside my house and called 911. The dispatcher had me call the local town building which I did before going back outside. The clerk asked me to try to catch the dogs so I then pursued the dogs onto the neighbor's farm but they fled again right past me and back across the road and up my drive. I was finally able to corner them against a gate and catch the shaggy, smaller one. Then the broad-headed ,bigger dog surrendered and let me take him by the collar. I took the heavy chain hanging from the bigger dog's neck and threaded it though both dog's collars and then dragged them inside my enclosed poultry yard. By this time I was really exhausted. I tied them to a fence post with the chain and went in to call the township again as I had been instructed to do if I got the dogs. I somehow managed to force the dogs into big wire crates I use to move lambs and then let the town know they were ready to be taken away. After some time passed the assistant animal control officer finally called me but only to tell me it simply was not convenient for him to come out right now. He told me that since I had the dogs trapped and the sheep were not dead I should hold the dogs until late in the day when the main dog catcher got off work! Now I was really getting upset because I wanted the dogs off my property and the situation resolved. 

Now these mixed breed dogs that got in with the sheep were very young. They were no older than 9 months in age. They were probably too young and silly to really understand they could bring down a sheep and tear it apart. The real danger to my sheep was them being so frightened and upset they would spontaneously abort their lambs. The other main risk was that the ewes would injure themselves trying to escape the attack by trying to get out of the fenced yard. Heavily pregnant sheep can go into shock under situations like this. I can tell you had I not been here I am almost certainly would have had dead sheep to deal with on returning home. As it turned out, this women who owned the dogs latter admitted to the Humane society she had not been out to feed or water the dogs for over 12 hours and that she was not staying in this residence right now. Those poor dogs huddled day after day on one chain joining their heads tightly together in a small, un-insulated doghouse in the worst weather with no food or water most of the time.

-So back to the story, I was not getting the help from the township and I really needed to talk to someone and find out what my rights as a farmer were as well as where I stood on prosecuting the owners of the dogs which had been allowed to run loose by the owner on many occasions before this. My husband was out of town and it was no use to contact him. So another hour or so latter in disgust I called and asked for help from the local sheriffs dept. They referred me to the Humane society and put in the call for me to the person who followed up on complaints. Then I had to wait some more before the Humane Society could respond. It was frustrating because as the day warmed the snow all thawed and melted away and then most of the tracks left by the dogs were obliterated. Most of the evidence of the attack was now gone. My sheep had now calmed down after 6 hours and it was simply hard to make anyone see what a frightening situation I had been in.

The Humane Society sent out a representative to talk to me about the situation at about 3:00 in the afternoon to see if they could pursue prosecuting the case as an animal cruelty situation. My only other recourse in getting the problem solved so the dogs would not be back over here would have been to have a dangerous dog case brought against the owner in town court as there is not a leash law in this rural township. At last the dog catcher came out after 5:00 and the owner was traced and came around as well.  The situation was tense and I went in my house to let the town and Humane Society work out with the owner what would then happen. With a lot of push from the Humane Society the owner agreed to surrender the dogs to the Humane society rather than pay fines for the dogs not being licensed or inoculated for rabies.

I will put up some wire above the current fence soon so no other dogs will be able to get over my sheep fence. Twentythree years I have kept sheep here and never have I had dogs get in with the sheep. I do have guard donkeys but they do not stay with the sheep at lambing time. For now I can relax and know the intruding dogs are being fed at the shelter and that they will never return to my area to worry my sheep again. Tonight the snow is falling in large flakes and its very quiet and the wood stove burns bright. I will have a another cup of tea and go back out to check on the ewes one more time and then turn in.

Friday, March 7, 2008

At the Fank, a poem in Gaelic

Aig an Fhaing

Nam sheasamh thall aig geat a’ phreiridh,
feur glan fom bhotannan,
lamhan fuar nam phocaidean,
faileadh an dup
gu fann
gu neo-chinnteach
a’ nochdadh mu mo chuinnlean

’s mi a’ coimhead cach cruinn
lachanaich le cheile
timcheall air an fhaing:
a’ bruthadh nan caorach,
guthan ard ag eigheachd
’s a’ gearain, ’s a’ gaireachdainn
’s gach druim thugams’
gam ghlasadh a-mach.

Mi seasamh, ’s a’ coimhead
’s a’ feitheamh airson facal
mo ghluasad gu feum.

Mi siubhal gu slaodach
a’ cruinneachadh nan uan
’s gan ruagadh romham
a-steach gu cach;
uain a’ ruith
gu meulaich math’r.
Boinneagan uisge
mar mhillean mialan
a’ leum as an dup,
agus crathadh cinn nan adharcan
fliuch, fuar, feagalach
a’ deanamh as.

Ceum no dha eile
’s chi mi aodannan nan gair’.
Mo lamhan fhin a’ breith air cloimh,
faileadh an dup air mo chorragan,
peant a’ camharradh mo chasan,
poll dubh bog air mo bhotannan
’s mo chanan fhin nam bheul.

At the Fank

Standing over by the prairie gate
with clean grass under my wellies,
cold hands in my pockets,
the smell of the sheep dip
coming to my nostrils

as I watch the others gathered
around the fank
and laughing with each other:
pushing the sheep,
loud voices shouting
and moaning, and laughing
and all with their backs to me
shutting me out.

I stand and watch
and wait for a word
to move me to usefulness.

Moving slowly
gathering the lambs
and driving them before me
in towards the others;
lambs running
to a mother’s bleat.
Drops of water
jump from the sheep dip
like millions of fleas
and the horns’ head-shaking,
wet, cold, fearful
running off.

Another step or two
and I can see the laughing faces.
My own hands holding wool,
the smell of sheep dip on my fingers.
Paint marking my legs,
soft black mud on my wellies
and my own language on my tongue.

Anne Frater. (1967-       )

Aig an Fhaing / At the Fank copyright © Anne Frater. First published in Gairm magazine

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Twentythird Psalm in Scots

The Lord's my herd, I'll want for nocht,
He gars me tae lie doon
In girsie howes, an syne I'm brocht
Faar wimplin burnies croon.

An fan for ither joys I craik,
An wanner faur frae God,
He airts me, for His ain Name's sake,
Intil his ain richt road.

Ay, an I gang throwe yon dark glen
Faar waesome shadows faa
He'll keep near-haun me, and I ken
I'll hae nae fear ava.

Tho mony faes aroon me staun
His kindness nivver fails;
He spreads my table, an his haun
Fills my cup till it skails.

Een sae, gweed guidin an gweed-gree
Gang wi me ilka day;
And in God's Hoose faur up on hie
I fain wad bide for aye.

This translation of the 23rd Psalm comes from the Order for the Lord's Supper in the Book of Common Order introduced to Scotland from Geneva in 1560. The liturgy was prescribed by the General Assemblies of 1562 and 1564. It came to be known as Knox's Liturgy, named for John Knox, the minister most responsible for introducing Presbyterianism to Scotland.

23:1 A Psalm of David. the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.

23:3 He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name's sake.

23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

'Glen', A Sheep-Dog

I ken there isna a p'int in yer heid,
I ken that ye're auld an' ill,
An' the dogs ye focht in yer day are deid,
An' I doot that ye've focht yer fill;
Ye're the dourest deevil in Lothian land,
But, man, the he'rt o' ye's simply grand;
Ye're done an' doited, but gie's yer hand
An' we'll thole ye a whilie still.
A daft-like character aye ye've been
Sin the day I brocht ye hame
When I bocht ye doon on the Caddens green
An' gi'ed ye a guid Scots name;
Ye've spiled the sheep an' ye've chased the stirk,
An' rabbits was mair tae yer mind not work,
An' ye've left i' the morn an' stopped till mirk,
But I've keepit ye a' the same.
Mebbe ye're failin' an' mebbe I'm weak,
An' there's younger dogs tae fee,
But I doot that a new freen's ill tae seek,
An' I'm thinkin' I'll let them be;
Ye've whiles been richt whaur I've thocht wrang,
Ye've liked me weel an ye've liked me lang,
An' when there's ane o' us got tae gang -
May the guid Lord mak' it me.

-Hilton Brown (1890-1961)

Canty and Couthie: familiar and forgotten traditional Scots poems (Scottish Cultural Press, 2001).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Easter Lamb

Lamb has been an integral part of the Easter feast. In many homes, a lamb-shaped cake decorates the table. Chocolate lambs are not uncommon and are often given to children in their Easter baskets. Roast lamb has been the main feature of the Pope's Easter dinner for many centuries. After the tenth century, in place of the whole lamb, smaller pieces of meat were used. In some Benedictine monasteries, however, even today whole lambs are still blessed with the ancient prayers.

 This panel from the Baptismal font in the Abbey on Iona shows Christ as the lamb of God

The ancient tradition of the Pasch lamb inspired among the Christians the use of lamb meat as a popular food at Easter time. Nowadays, however, little figures of a lamb made of butter, pastry, or sugar have been substituted for the meat, forming Easter table centerpieces.  We sometimes eat lamb at Easter in our household but we do not eat a young lamb we celebrate with a roasted leg of lamb or hogget. Hogget is the meat from the ovine that is one to two years old. It has a more intense flavour than lamb, low to medium in internal and external fat. It requires longer cooking times than lamb and is more suited to roasting, stewing and braising. A little closer to Easter Sunday I will post some recipes for leg of lamb on this blog.

At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing,
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his piercèd side;
Praise we Him, whose love divine
Gives His sacred blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.

Where the Paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dark angel sheathes his sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.
Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed,
Paschal Victim, paschal Bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we Manna from above.

Mighty Victim from the sky,
Hell’s fierce powers beneath Thee lie;
Thou hast conquered in the fight,
Thou hast brought us life and light;
Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall;
Thou hast opened Paradise,
And in Thee Thy saints shall rise.

Paschal triumph, Easter joy,
Only sin can this destroy;
From sin’s death do Thou set free
Souls reborn, O Lord, in Thee.
Hymns of glory and of praise,
Father, to Thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
Ever with the Spirit be.

Unknown author, probably 6th Century (Ad regias Agni dapes); translated from Latin to English by Robert Campbell, 1849

An Early Easter in 2008

Traditional Scottish Saying

First comes Candlemass,
Syne the new mune;
The neist Tyseday aifter that
Is aye Fester Een.
That mune oot
An the neist mune fou,
The neist mune aifter that
Is aye Pasch true.

The EnglishTranslation is

First comes 2 February
And after that the new moon,
The First Tuesday after that
Is Shrove Tuesday.
That moon passes,
And the next full moon,
On the first Sunday after that
Is Easter by rights.

Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify pass over, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives. Only the most elderly of us have ever seen it this early, only those who are 95 years old or older. No one under 95 has ever, or will ever, see Easter a day earlier than this year.

The next time Easter will be this early, March 23,  will be the year 2228, 220 years from now. The last time it was this early was 1913 , so if you're 95 or older you are the only ones living  that celebrated Pasch any earlier in the year.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Scottish World by Billy Kay

Just a nice old postcard

Billy Kay is going to bring out a new paper back edition of "The Scottish World" in August in the USA.  I think this will be a must have for most Scottish Americans.  I look forward to getting a copy myself.  Here is an excerpt from the book that fits well with the theme of shepherds and sheep:

here is the relevant extract from The Scottish World....

"Recently for Radio Scotland I made programmes celebrating the culture of Border shepherds, Gentle Shepherds and the Herd’s Lament. Many shepherds of course emmigrated to Canada, New Zealand and Australia, while shepherds from Caithness and Lewis went as far afield as Patagonia in Argentina. One of the most moving stories in the programme though was told to me by Walter Elliot fae Selkirk, who tells the world he is an honest and simple fencer. Honest, definitely, simple, definitely not….as archaeologist who pioneered the excavation of the Roman camp at Newstead, as translator of the Latin protocol books of Selkirk’s medieval history, as exponent of and expert in Border Scots, Walter is simply one of the great Border tradition bearers of the present day, as well as being an honest wuidcutter! On making these programmes though, I discovered Walter’s family connection with one of Scotland’s and Canada’s great songs of exile, the song about Ontario called ‘The Scarboro Settlers Lament’….which is beautifully sung to the tune of Burns’s ‘O Aw the Airts’ by the great Canadian singer Stanley Rogers. Here is how Walter describes the song’s connection to his great, great grandfather:

‘In the 1820s, Sandy Glendinning, shepherd in Eskdalemuir was wont to meet Walter Elliot, shepherd in Ettrick at the Steps of Glen-dearg on the watershed between the valleys. In 1824, Sandy had decided to emigrate to Canada. Meeting his friend for the last time before he left, they scratched 'Thir Ir The Steps of Glendearg' on the rock, adding their initials and the date. However they kept in touch by letter for the rest of their lives, often writing their letters in verse. Sandy never lost his love for the Border hills as the poem 'Awa wi Scarboro's Muddy Creeks' in his book of 'Rhymes', clearly shows.’

Awa wi Canada's muddy creeks

And Canada's fields o pine;

Your land o wheat's a goodly land,

But oh, it isna mine.

The heathy hill, the grassie dale,

The daisie-spangled lea,

The purlin burn and craggie lin,

Auld Scotia's glens gie me.

O, I wad like tae hear again

The lark on Tinnis Hill

And see the wee bit gowanie

That blooms aside the rill.

Like banished Swiss, who views afar

His Alps wi langin ee

I gaze upon the mornin star

That shines on my countrie

Nae mair I'll win by Eskdale Pen,

Or Pentland's craggy cone;

The days can ne'er come back again

Of thirty years that's gone.

But fancy oft, at midnight hour,

Will steal across the sea;

Yestreen amid a pleasin dream

I saw the auld countrie.

Each well-known scene that met my view

Brocht childhood's joys to mind

The blackbird sang in Fushie Lin

The sang he sang langsyne.

But like a dream, time flees away;

Again the morning came,

And I awoke in Canada,

Three thousand miles frae hame.

In the 19th century, being three thousan mile frae hame in the middle of Canada, meant you were unlikely ever to see hame again, so the poignancy of the words and the haunting beauty of the air, make a powerful emotive whole. Interestingly, the song expresses an aching longing which we do not have a single word for but which the Portuguese call saudade and pour out in their ballads of the fado, while the German word Sehnsucht also comes close to expressing the feeling as well. In the novel Women in Love, D H Lawrence sets a scene in a small Alpine hotel, where Ursula is persuaded by the German hosts to sing ‘Annie Lawrie’. Ursula is powerfully aware of the effect of her voice and the song on those present. Most of them cannot understand the words, but the emotion tied up in the song reaches everyone.

At the end, the Germans were all touched with admiring, delicious melancholy, they praised her in soft, reverent voices, they could not say too much.

‘Wie schön, wir rührend" Ach, die scottishcen Lieder, sie haben so viel Stimmung!

[ How beautiful, how moving. Oh, the Scots songs are so atmospheric.]"

Copyright Billy Kay, All Rights Reserved

Something a little lighter before I sleep.....


Though Phyllis was fair, she was strangely capricious,
As she sat with her love 'neath the trees, "
In exchange you must give," said the maid avaricious "
Thirty sheep for one kiss, if you please !"

But the very next day things were vastly improving,
On our shepherd her gifts fortune rain'd—
For he, murmuring the tale of his passionate loving,
For one sheep thirty kisses obtain'd.

The third day she feared lest they might be denied her,
Those dainties for which her heart burn'd,
So, raising her face to her lover beside her,
For one kiss all his sheep she return'd.

Next day she'd have given up all she possess'd
(When had pride such a terrible fall ?),
Her sheep, dog, and crook, for the kiss the rogue press'd
On Lisette's lips for nothing at all!

Wm Wilde 

A contemporary poem in Scots, ´Lambing in Easter Ross´ by Billy Kay


Anither day´s dawin
on the stibbled parks
abuin Dornoch´s caller watters.
In the park o the new born,
brockie faced lambkins
lowp, stacher an totter
ahint the buirdly shanks
o hooseproud yowes
playin an soukin.

Glisked abuin the
muirlan braes o Struie
a formation
o seagulls
splicin white stucco
in the mornin blue o the lift.

The faa wes free
the wings wes swept
an the crack
o the brockie´s craig
wes quaet
in a forlorn frisk
that landit
wi the ruggin
o six beaks,
fleain awa
in a flauchter
o reid, white an yella.
Twa scarlet trails
belly an thrapple,
efterbirth, efterlife.

In the park o the unborn
aa is still.

Billy Kay (1951-     )

caller; fresh
brockie faced; black and white
lift;sky claught;gripped

From the anthology Scottish Literature in the Twentieth Century, (Scottish Cultural Press) edited by David McCordick. Copyright Billy Kay, All Rights Reserved

Spring Song, Meirionydd

A white combustion rules these fields,
and testifies to men, and rams;
the mind of winter thaws, and yields--
Great God, the world is drunk with lambs.

The high grey stone is clean of snows,
the streams come tumbling, far from dams;
the wind is green, the day's eye grows--
Great God, the world is drunk with lambs.

The heart, gone light as all the ewes,
redounds with milk, and epigrams
that make no sense; except their news--
Great God, the world is drunk with lambs.

In gold October, grown to size,
they'll know the hook, and hang with hams,
but March is all their enterprise--
Great God, the world is drunk with lambs.

John Dressel

Sunday, March 2, 2008

From The Shepherd's Calendar, March

March month of 'many weathers' wildly comes
In hail and snow and rain and threatning hums
And floods: while often at his cottage door
The shepherd stands to hear the distant roar
Loosd from the rushing mills and river locks
Wi thundering sound and over powering shocks
And headlong hurry thro the meadow brigs
Brushing the leaning sallows fingering twigs
In feathery foam and eddy hissing chase
Rolling a storm oertaken travellers pace
From bank to bank along the meadow leas
Spreading and shining like to little seas
While in the pale sunlight a watery brood
Of swopping white birds flock about the flood
Yet winter seems half weary of its toil
And round the ploughman on the elting soil
Will thread a minutes sunshine wild and warm
Thro the raggd places of the swimming storm
And oft the shepherd in his path will spye
The little daisey in the wet grass lye
That to the peeping sun enlivens gay
Like Labour smiling on an holiday
And where the stunt bank fronts the southern sky
By lanes or brooks where sunbeams love to lye
A cowslip peep will open faintly coy
Soon seen and gatherd by a wandering boy
A tale of spring around the distant haze
Seems muttering pleasures wi the lengthening days
Morn wakens mottld oft wi may day stains
And shower drops hang the grassy sprouting plains
And on the naked thorns of brassy hue
Drip glistning like a summer dream of dew
While from the hill side freshing forest drops
As one might walk upon their thickening tops
And buds wi young hopes promise seemly swells
Where woodman that in wild seclusion dwells
Wi chopping toil the coming spring decieves
Of many dancing shadows flowers and leaves
And in his pathway down the mossy wood
Crushes wi hasty feet full many a bud
Of early primrose yet if timely spied
Shelterd some old half rotten stump beside
The sight will cheer his solitery hour
And urge his feet to stride and save the flower
Muffld in baffles leathern coat and gloves
The hedger toils oft scaring rustling doves
From out the hedgrows who in hunger browze
The chockolate berrys on the ivy boughs
And flocking field fares speckld like the thrush
Picking the red awe from the sweeing bush
That come and go on winters chilling wing
And seem to share no sympathy wi spring
The stooping ditcher in the water stands
Letting the furrowd lakes from off the lands
Or splashing cleans the pasture brooks of mud
Where many a wild weed freshens into bud
And sprouting from the bottom purply green
The water cresses neath the wave is seen
Which the old woman gladly drags to land
Wi reaching long rake in her tottering hand
The ploughman mawls along the doughy sloughs
And often stop their songs to clean their ploughs
From teazing twitch that in the spongy soil
Clings round the colter terryfying toil
The sower striding oer his dirty way
Sinks anckle deep in pudgy sloughs and clay
And oer his heavy hopper stoutly leans
Strewing wi swinging arms the pattering beans
Which soon as aprils milder weather gleams
Will shoot up green between the furroed seams
The driving boy glad when his steps can trace
The swelling edding as a resting place
Slings from his clotted shoes the dirt around
And feign woud rest him on the solid ground
And sings when he can meet the parting green
Of rushy balks that bend the lands between
While close behind em struts the nauntling crow
And daws whose heads seem powderd oer wi snow
To seek the worms-and rooks a noisey guest
That on the wind rockd elms prepares her nest
On the fresh furrow often drops to pull
The twitching roots and gathering sticks and wool
Neath trees whose dead twigs litter to the wind
And gaps where stray sheep left their coats behind
While ground larks on a sweeing clump of rushes
Or on the top twigs of the oddling bushes
Chirp their 'cree creeing' note that sounds of spring
And sky larks meet the sun wi flittering wing
Soon as the morning opes its brightning eye
Large clouds of sturnels blacken thro the sky
From oizer holts about the rushy fen
And reedshaw borders by the river Nen
And wild geese regiments now agen repair
To the wet bosom of broad marshes there
In marching coloms and attention all
Listning and following their ringleaders call
The shepherd boy that hastens now and then
From hail and snow beneath his sheltering den
Of flags or file leavd sedges tyd in sheaves
Or stubble shocks oft as his eye percieves
Sun threads struck out wi momentery smiles
Wi fancy thoughts his lonliness beguiles
Thinking the struggling winter hourly bye
As down the edges of the distant sky
The hailstorm sweeps-and while he stops to strip
The stooping hedgbriar of its lingering hip
He hears the wild geese gabble oer his head
And pleasd wi fancys in his musings bred
He marks the figurd forms in which they flye
And pausing follows wi a wandering eye
Likening their curious march in curves or rows
To every letter which his memory knows
While far above the solitary crane
Swings lonly to unfrozen dykes again
Cranking a jarring mellancholy cry
Thro the wild journey of the cheerless sky
Full oft at early seasons mild and fair
March bids farewell wi garlands in her hair
Of hazzel tassles woodbines hairy sprout
And sloe and wild plumb blossoms peeping out
In thickset knotts of flowers preparing gay
For aprils reign a mockery of may
That soon will glisten on the earnest eye
Like snow white cloaths hung in the sun to drye
The old dame often stills her burring wheel
When the bright sun will thro the window steal
And gleam upon her face and dancing fall
In diamond shadows on the picturd wall
While the white butterflye as in amaze
Will settle on the glossy glass to gaze
And oddling bee oft patting passing bye
As if they care to tell her spring was nigh
And smiling glad to see such things once more
Up she will get and potter to the door
And look upon the trees beneath the eves
Sweet briar and ladslove swelling into leaves
And damsin trees thick notting into bloom
And goosberry blossoms on the bushes come
And stooping down oft views her garden beds
To see the spring flowers pricking out their heads
And from her apron strings she'll often pull
Her sissars out an early bunch to cull
For flower pots on the window board to stand
Where the old hour glass spins its thread of sand
And maids will often mark wi laughing eye
In elder where they hang their cloaths to drye
The sharp eyd robin hop from grain to grain
Singing its little summer notes again
As a sweet pledge of Spring the little lambs
Bleat in the varied weather round their dams
Or hugh molehill or roman mound behind
Like spots of snow lye shelterd from the wind
While the old yoes bold wi paternal cares
Looses their fears and every danger dares
Who if the shepherds dog but turns his eye
And stops behind a moment passing bye
Will stamp draw back and then their threats repeat
Urging defiance wi their stamping feet
And stung wi cares hopes cannot recconsile
They stamp and follow till he leaps a stile
Or skulking from their threats betakes to flight
And wi the master lessens out of sight
Clowns mark the threatning rage of march pass bye
And clouds wear thin and ragged in the sky
While wi less sudden and more lasting smiles
The growing sun their hopes of spring beguiles
Who often at its end remark wi pride
Days lengthen in their visits a 'cocks stride'
Dames clean their candlesticks and set them bye
Glad of the makeshift light that eves supply
The boy returning home at night from toil
Down lane and close oer footbrig gate and style1
Oft trembles into fear and stands to hark
The waking fox renew his short gruff bark
While badgers eccho their dread evening shrieks
And to his thrilling thoughts in terror speaks
And shepherds that wi in their hulks remain
Night after night upon the chilly plain
To watch the dropping lambs that at all hours
Come in the quaking blast like early flowers
Demanding all the shepherds care who find
Warm hedge side spots and take them from the wind
And round their necks in wary caution tyes
Long shreds of rags in red or purple dyes
Thats meant in danger as a safty spell
Like the old yoe that wears a tinkling bell
The sneaking foxes from his thefts to fright
That often seizes the young lambs at night
These when they in their nightly watchings hear
The badgers shrieks can hardly stifle fear
They list the noise from woodlands dark recess
Like helpless shrieking woman in distress
And oft as such fears fancying mystery
Believes the dismal yelling sounds to be
For superstition hath its thousand tales
To people all his midnight woods and vales
And the dread spot from whence the dismal noise
Mars the night musings of their dark employs
Owns its sad tale to realize their fear
At which their hearts in boyhood achd to hear
A maid at night by treacherous love decoyd
Was in that shrieking wood years past destroyd
She went twas said to meet the waiting swain
And home and friends ne'er saw her face again
Mid brakes and thorns that crowded round the dell
And matting weeds that had no tongues to tell
He murderd her alone at dead midnight
While the pale moon threw round her sickly light
And loud shrieks left the thickets slumbers deep
That only scard the little birds from sleep
When the pale murderers terror frowning eye
Told its dread errand that the maid shoud dye
Mid thick black thorns her secret grave was made
And there ere night the murderd girl was laid
When no one saw the deed but god and he
And moonlight sparkling thro the sleeping tree
Around-the red breast might at morning steel
There for the worm to meet his morning meal
In fresh turnd moulds that first beheld the sun
Nor knew the deed that dismal night had done
Such is the tale that superstition gives
And in her midnight memory ever lives
That makes the boy run by wi wild affright
And shepherds startle on their rounds at night
Now love teazd maidens from their droning wheel
At the red hour of sunset sliving steals
From scolding dames to meet their swains agen
Tho water checks their visits oer the plain
They slive where no one sees some wall behind
Or orchard apple trees that stops the wind
To talk about springs pleasures hoveing nigh
And happy rambles when the roads get dry
The insect world now sunbeams higher climb
Oft dream of spring and wake before their time
Blue flyes from straw stacks crawling scarce alive
And bees peep out on slabs before the hive
Stroaking their little legs across their wings
And venturing short flight where the snow drop hings
Its silver bell-and winter aconite
Wi buttercup like flowers that shut at night
And green leaf frilling round their cups of gold
Like tender maiden muffld from the cold
They sip and find their honey dreams are vain
And feebly hasten to their hives again
And butterflys by eager hopes undone
Glad as a child come out to greet the sun
Lost neath the shadow of a sudden shower
Nor left to see tomorrows april flower.

by John Clare
1793 – 1864

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Nod, by Walter de la Mare, 1873-1956

Softly along the road of evening,
In a twilight dim with rose,
Wrinkled with age, and drenched with dew,
Old Nod the shepherd goes.

His drowsy flock streams on before him,
Their fleeces charged with gold,
To where the sun's last beam leans low
On Nod the the shepherds fold.

The hedge is quick and green with brier,
From their sand the conies creep;
And all the birds that fly in heaven
Flock singing home to sleep.

His lambs outnumber a noon's roses,
Yet, when night shadows fall,
His blind old sheep-dog, Slumber-soon,
Misses not one of all.

His are the quiet steps of dreamland,
The waters of no more pain,
His ram's bell rings 'neath an arch of stars,
"Rest, Rest, and rest again."

Robert L. Alexander R.S.A., R.S.W, (Scottish, 1840 -1923 )

The Shepherd's Dog by Mary Darby Robinson


A Shepherd's Dog there was; and he
Was faithful to his master's will,
For well he lov'd his company,
Along the plain or up the hill;
All Seasons were, to him, the same
Beneath the Sun's meridian flame;
Or, when the wintry wind blew shrill and keen,
Still the Old Shepherd's Dog, was with his Master seen.


His form was shaggy clothed; yet he
Was of a bold and faithful breed;
And kept his master company
In smiling days, and days of need;
When the long Ev'ning slowly clos'd,
When ev'ry living thing repos'd,
When e'en the breeze slept on the woodlands round,
The Shepherd's watchful Dog, was ever waking found.


All night, upon the cold turf he
Contented lay, with list'ning care;
And though no stranger company,
Or lonely traveller rested there;
Old Trim was pleas'd to guard it still,
For 'twas his aged master's will;--
And so pass'd on the chearful night and day,
'Till the poor Shepherd's Dog, was very old, and grey.


Among the villagers was he
Belov'd by all the young and old,
For he was chearful company,
When the north-wind blew keen and cold;
And when the cottage scarce was warm,
While round it flew, the midnight storm,
When loudly, fiercely roll'd the swelling tide--
The Shepherd's faithful Dog, crept closely by his side.


When Spring in gaudy dress would be,
Sporting across the meadows green,
He kept his master company,
And all amid the flow'rs was seen;
Now barking loud, now pacing fast,
Now, backward he a look would cast,
And now, subdu'd and weak, with wanton play,
Amid the waving grass, the Shepherd's Dog would stay.


Now, up the rugged path would he
The steep hill's summit slowly gain,
And still be chearful company,
Though shiv'ring in the pelting rain;
And when the brook was frozen o'er,
Or the deep snow conceal'd the moor,
When the pale moon-beams scarcely shed a ray,
The Shepherd's faithful Dog, would mark the dang'rous way.


On Sunday, at the old Yew Tree,
Which canopies the church-yard stile,
Forc'd from his master's company,
The faithful TRIM would mope awhile;
For then his master's only care
Was the loud Psalm, or fervent Pray'r,
And, 'till the throng the church-yard path retrod,
The Shepherd's patient guard, lay silent on the sod.


Near their small hovel stood a tree,
Where TRIM was ev'ry morning found--
Waiting his master's company,
And looking wistfully around;
And if, along the upland mead,
He heard him tune the merry reed,
O, then ! o'er hedge and ditch, thro' brake and briar,
The Shepherd's dog would haste, with eyes that seem'd on fire.


And now he pac'd the valley, free,
And now he bounded o'er the dew,
For well his master's company
Would recompence his toil he knew;
And where a rippling rill was seen
Flashing the woody brakes between,
Fearless of danger, thro' the lucid tide,
The Shepherd's eager dog, yelping with joy, would glide.


Full many a year, the same was he
His love still stronger every day,
For, in his master's company,
He had grown old, and very grey;
And now his sight grew dim: and slow
Up the rough mountain he would go,
And his loud bark, which all the village knew,
With ev'ry wasting hour, more faint, and peevish grew.


One morn, to the low mead went he,
Rous'd from his threshold-bed to meet
A gay and lordly company!
The Sun was bright, the air was sweet;
Old TRIM was watchful of his care,
His master's flocks were feeding there,
And, fearful of the hounds, he yelping stood
Beneath a willow Tree, that wav'd across the flood.


Old TRIM was urg'd to wrath; for he
Was guardian of the meadow bounds;
And, heedless of the company,
With angry snarl attack'd the hounds!
Some felt his teeth, though they were old,
For still his ire was fierce and bold,
And ne'er did valiant chieftain feel more strong
Than the Old Shepherd's dog, when daring foes among.


The Sun was setting o'er the Sea
The breezes murmuring sad, and slow,
When a gay lordly company,
Came to the Shepherd's hovel low;
Their arm'd associates stood around
The sheep-cote fence's narrow bound,
While its poor master heard, with fix'd despair,
That TRIM, his friend, deem'd MAD, was doom'd to perish there!


The kind old Shepherd wept, for he
Had no such guide, to mark his way,
And kneeling pray'd the company,
To let him live, his little day !
"For many a year my Dog has been
"The only friend these eyes have seen,
"We both are old and feeble, he and I--
"Together we have liv'd, together let us die!


"Behold his dim, yet speaking eye!
"Which ill befits his visage grim
"He cannot from your anger fly,
"For slow and feeble is old TRIM!
"He looks, as though he fain would speak,
"His beard is white--his voice is weak--
"He IS NOT MAD! O! then, in pity spare
"The only watchful friend, of my small fleecy care!"


The Shepherd ceas'd to speak, for He
Leant on his maple staff, subdu'd;
While pity touch'd the company,
And all, poor TRIM with sorrow view'd:
Nine days upon a willow bed
Old TRIM was doom'd to lay his head,
Oppress'd and sever'd from his master's door,
Enough to make him MAD--were he not so before!


But not forsaken yet, was he,
For ev'ry morn, at peep of day,
To keep his old friend company,
The lonely Shepherd bent his way:
A little boat, across the stream,
Which glitter'd in the sunny beam,
Bore him, where foes no longer could annoy,
Where TRIM stood yelping loud, and ALMOST MAD with joy!


Six days had pass'd and still was he
Upon the island left to roam,
When on the stream a wither'd tree
Was gliding rapid midst the foam!
The little Boat now onward prest,
Danc'd o'er the river's bounding breast,
Till dash'd impetuous, 'gainst the old tree's side,
The Shepherd plung'd and groan'd, then sunk amid the tide.


Old TRIM, now doom'd his friend to see
Beating the foam with wasted breath,
Resolv'd to bear him company,
E'en in the icy arms of death;
Soon with exulting cries he bore
His feeble master to the shore,
And, standing o'er him, howl'd in cadence sad,
For, fear and fondness, now, had nearly made him MAD.


Together, still their flocks they tend,
More happy than the proudly great;
The Shepherd has no other friend--
No Lordly home, no bed of state!
But on a pallet, clean and low,
They hear, unmov'd, the wild winds blow,
And though they ne'er another spring may see;
The Shepherd, and his Dog, are chearful company.

Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)

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