Ode to the Great Highland Pipes

For Bill Horn

Send up on wings of blood our fathers’ cry,
Though the unhearing dead brook not your sound,
And flesh yet binds us to the groaning ground,
Release your paeans to the boundless sky,

And let your vibratory voices fly
Beyond the veils of earth, above, around!
O plaintive Pipes, endearing Drones, resound!
Raise faithful hearts, though brave men break and die!

From Alba’s moors of mist and placid plains,
Blast out the malice of our songless age,
Blow in the praises of transfigured morn!

Your nine proud notes and time-annulling strains,
Shall not be muted by the ocean’s rage,
Nor the sea’s hum, nor Triton’s distant horn.

Author’s Note: The “Ode to the Great Highland Pipes” honors the American pipe major Bill Horn who established the High Desert Pipes and Drums in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1994. In 1997, the band made its first appearance at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Just two years later in 1999, the High Desert Pipes and Drums became the first U.S. pipe band to win the Championship for Grade IV.

Winner of the 2020 Society of Classical Poets Competition (America's highest honor in classical verse), Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet of New Mexico. He is also the only American to have won the Scottish International Poetry Competition (see: Times Literary Supplement, Jan 27, 2017). A Pushcart Prize nominee, MacKenzie's verses have appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), The Telegraph (London), and many other venues. He wirtes primarily for Trinacria (New York) and the Society of Classical Poets (New York).


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