Faeries and Fyre

Dancing and piping, singing the old songs

With faeries, dryads and all the lesser spirits,

Telling ancient tales passed hand to hand,

Fathers to sons, mothers to daughters

All the village bairns seated at their knee.

Hearken to tales that came from beyond the sea

Hearken to stories that speak to me now.

Sail back cross the ocean to hillside and home

Over hills, by lochside and braes I would walk

As generations before trod among gorse and bracken,

Tasted the scent of heather and of foaming salty sea.

They worked the mines, tilled the soil,

Fishers sailed from the docks to farm the endless seas,

Herders of sheep and drovers of cattle that fed their folk,

Neither reivers nor brigands

But simple folk, simple trades, simple fare were their lot

Pledged to Family, Clan Church and Country.

Peat fires warmed the hearth, boiled the tea

Brought to the pit head to fathers and sons

Who laboured deep within the earth

To power the age of steam and industry,

Gathering when mine’s whistle sounded disaster

To comfort the stricken and bereaved.

Simple dignity and pride were all they sought

Held high with traditions steeped in ancient lore

Passed hand to hand, mouth to mouth like those before.

An unbroken river that ties this place,

Here and now, to that place there and then.

From triumph at Stirling Bridge to tragedy at Culloden

Of Wallace, Roy and the sad, sad Prince

Told and retold to children’s children’s children

Passing on that sense of pride and lasting grief

That haunt the great diaspora born of the clearances

And desire to live free of landlord and desperate poverty

Offering prayers to Seonaidh for a blessing on their crossing.

And so, deep in the dark when such things are possible,

Sailing from old Glasgow’s soot-clad port

Selkies rise from the sea to enchant

The unwary in gossamer nets of sweet promise

And will’o-the-whisps and faeries dance about the fyre

Like ancient Druids come to pay homage to ancient Gods

Voices raised as pipers stretch out their piobaireachd.

It stirs a thing in me to join them,

Calling out across the water,

“Come home. Come home”.

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