Samuel Gilliland at Glencoe
Poem

The Last Bard of Scotland

Waters of Irvine and Annock, flow with my tears,

West to the Firth of Clyde and Arran:

Soon, soon, Ayr will be mute and barren.

Flow, waters, flow, like the passing of long, lost years.

 

Gilliland! Singer of moors and the pensive glen,

The muses fade on your final breath,

Love resigns your harp to tender Death,

And my heart weighs heavy, beyond all earthly ken.

 

Your soul in silence moves on the high bonny braes,

As cloud-shadows cross the Lowland plains;

Sweet falls your music, like summer rains,

As if to quell my grief no happiness allays.

 

Great Bard, who tuned my green lyre, my mentor, my guide,

Soft be your sleep on Galloway’s breast,

In your fathers’ plaid, take now your rest,

Your Lallan lays, in Time’s embrace, shall yet abide.

 

Waters of Irvine and Annock, flow with my tears,

West to the Firth of Clyde and Arran:

Soon, soon, Ayr will be mute and barren.

Flow, waters, flow, like the passing of long, lost years.

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).

2 Comments

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Oh yes, and I cannot tell you how vitally important your words are to me at this most sorrowful moment. Each and every place has a special significance, as the world of Ayr, with it’s extremely rich, poetical past and present—one might call it the heartland of Scottish poetry—is where I was able to meet so many fine poets, and most of all the magnificent Gilliland whose place in the history of Scottish verse will be recognized one day for what it is.

      Samuel Gilland’s childhood was spent on the banks of the Irvine, with this river’s main tributary, the Annick (more anciently and hence poetically the Annoch, or Annock) to the north. The Irvine flows through Ayr and then becomes the Firth of Clyde which surrounds the mystical isle of Arran. So the invocation of these waters honours the poet’s birthplace and childhood.

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