Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Caledonia State of Mind

                 Robert Burns
                 CALEDONIA

I.
There was once a day—but old Time then was young—
That brave Caledonia, the chief of her line, 
From some of your northern deities sprung, 
(Who knows not that brave Caledonia’s divine?) 
From Tweed to the Orcades was her domain, 
To hunt, or to pasture, or do what she would:
 Her heav’nly relations there fixed her reign, 
And pledg’d her their godheads to warrant it good.
II.
A lambkin in peace, but a lion in war, 
The pride of her kindred the heroine grew; 
Her grandsire, old Odin, triumphantly swore 
“Whoe’er shall provoke thee, th’ encounter shall rue!” 
With tillage or pasture at times she would sport, 
To feed her fair flocks by her green rustling corn; 
But chiefly the woods were her fav’rite resort, 
Her darling amusement, the hounds and the horn.
III. 
Long quiet she reign’d; till thitherward steers 
A flight of bold eagles from Adria’s strand: 
Repeated, successive, for many long years, 
They darken’d the air, and they plunder’d the land: 
Their pounces were murder, and terror their cry, 
They’d conquer’d and ruin’d a world beside; 
She took to her hills, and her arrows let fly— 
The daring invaders they fled or they died.
IV.
The fell harpy-raven took wing from the north, 
The scourge of the seas, and the dread of the shore; 
The wild Scandinavian boar issu’d forth 
To wanton in carnage, and wallow in gore; 
O’er countries and kingdoms their fury prevail’d, 
No arts could appease them, no arms could repel; 
But brave Caledonia in vain they assail’d, 
As Largs well can witness, and Loncartie tell.
V.
The Cameleon-savage disturbed her repose, 
With tumult, disquiet, rebellion, and strife; 
Provok’d beyond bearing, at last she arose, 
And robb’d him at once of his hope and his life: 
The Anglian lion, the terror of France, 
Oft prowling, ensanguin’d the Tweed’s silver flood: 
But, taught by the bright Caledonian lance, 
He learned to fear in his own native wood.
VI. 
Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free, 
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run: 
For brave Caledonia immortal must be; 
I’ll prove it from Euclid as clear as the sun: 
Rectangle-triangle, the figure we’ll choose, 
The upright is Chance, and old Time is the base; 
But brave Caledonia’s the hypothenuse; 
Then ergo, she’ll match them, and match them always.

******

I missed the Bard's birthday this year.  There was just too much going on.  

I'll be out of pocket all next week.  I'll see if I can set up some posts over the weekend.  I should be back in the real world in ten days or so, until then I hope everyone is well and has a good time.

I would add that this line in particular rings true and convinces me that some of my people are truly children of Duncan: 

But chiefly the woods were her fav’rite resort, 
Her darling amusement, the hounds and the horn.
We work so we can ride, hunt, and fish, and few things stir a Caledonian's blood like the voice of the hound at his quest. 

5 comments:

John Lien said...

That was good. A poem I can understand. Sorry about the Viking raids. No hard feelings? Tribalism runs deep. Things Viking stir me.

Been listening to a podcast series on the history of English, we are in the Indo-European part now. The words that can be traced all the way back to the Indo-European roots stir me as well...sheep, horse, green, corn, bees, milk, cheese.

Tryin' to live the Indo-European lifestyle.

mushroom said...

I imagine there was some mixing, if you know what I mean. Raids I can understand. The English are another story.

Don Johnson said...

Travel well, my friend.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

We will miss you, Dwaine.
Godspeed and safe travel brother.

mushroom said...

Thanks, brothers.