Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mair Scottish Obsessions

The Douglas in Spain

(After Bruce’s death, Sir James Douglas led a small battle hardened
party of Scottish knights on crusade, bearing the dead King’s heart.
He got no further than Spain, dying before the Castle of
the Stars in battle against the Moors. The villagers of the nearby village of Teba celebrate 'Douglas Day' in early August each year in memory of Douglas and his comrades.)

When we came, pale light
was a shield on the bay,
the sea bracketed by cliffs
hung in haze.

The breeze brought us scent
of olive, oleander, pine.
A crowd met us, warriors
and their ladies, dark and quick eyed.

We were tanned too,
but by bad weather, moss
and heather, grim catarans
from the nib of the North

who’d brought England to its knees,
and our Lord, the Finest Knight
in Christendom they said.
We were flattered. The girls thought

our mission devout,
but romantic most of all.
Our heads sang with wine and heat.
We stayed too long.

After all these years,
who could blame us?


Susan said...

I often think that the best stories are the ones happening after the famous ones. We hear of the battles and victories and great events, but then I wonder what happened afterward, to the people those events shaped or sharpened or crushed? I always want to follow after the people, after the history books finish their chapter.

So, thanks for this post. I love to hear there's a 'Douglas Day' there.

hope said...

Susan and I are both "rest of the story" people. ;)

I liked the last line most of all. As always, a visit here is food for the brain.

Sorlil said...

Shug, are any of your other poetry collections still available to buy?

shug said...

Thanks folks. Must stop writing about 700 year old things. Just finished one about Robert the Bruce's spider, though!

Marion: You can get the last 2: Strange Bamboo /Aphrodite's Anorak from Amazon, or:

For the Anorak and
for the strange Bimbo

The others are all out of print/buried in landslides/sold out/dropped overboard etc etc. If you come across the first- Tramontana (Dog and Bone)- it'll be worth something, not, of course, for the rubbish inside, but for the splendid Alasdair Gray artwork.

the broken down barman said...

strange bimbo?? could do with one of those

Colin Will said...

I have Tramontana. Not selling - it's a keeper.

Sorlil said...

Great, thanks for that.

Eleanor said...

Ah, for the tales of battles long gone and heroes old! They are so much easier to bear than the real wars/genocides raging around us! I suppose one day the tragedy of Zimbabwe and the war in the Congo will also become the stuff of tales and legends! The terrible massacres of lesser tribes conducted by King Shaka of the Zulus in southern Africa are now contained in illustrated story books.

I like the bit in your profile about 'teaching but wanting/being a writer' (my paraphrase). I can identify with that. I have never wanted to make a movies but write a novel, oh, yes!

Roxana said...

thank you for commenting on my blog, shug, and sorry for the belated reply. but most of all, thank you for the poem you gave me, I like it so much. especially the ending, so simple and powerful.
"I will set foot in Mull tonight
and they will be waiting for me
by the tree-line at twilight,
wearing the faces I had,
dark, fine and hard."