Saturday, April 12, 2008
To Toast the Scots
Beneath the glass table, under the glass of Talisker, you can see a Cauri shell from Mombasa, a Kenyan elephant hair bracelet that was momentarily owned by Swami Muktanada, my father's cap badge from his days in the Black Watch, the Royal Highland Regiment, and also Dad's officers skien dhub, his sock dagger.
The dedication to the book I am writing called "The Thistle and The Silver Fern" is this poem. The book is about our family heritage, and tells the tale of the hardship of life in the Clan Lands of Coigach and the emigration by sea to New Zealand in the 1870's. It is the sort of story that legends are made from, the type of story you shell out when sitting with friends with a drink in hand when the memory of myth is toasted, and you feel the spine of worthiness, something worth living for and worth remembering.
So as a sat gabbing with Mike Mills and Al Ramseyer, Mike, who is never short of a tale himself, mentions Randall Wallace who of course he knows. I wanted to put my two bits in and recalled when the post "Braveheart" celebrations were being held at the Bel Air Hotel, and the Clan MacLeod Dancers were asked to provide entertainment at a very swank reception. It was there that I first recited this poem for Randall and the gathering. I offer it now for those with whom I share a dram, and all my Scottish friends.
for Roddy, Maran and Oliver
To all my Scottish friends I lift a glass,
To you, who've kept alive in song and rhyme
The memory of our ancient heroes past,
Across the dark and misty moors of time.
To you who know this simple truth so well
And show it where you live both near and far,
It is the tales we tell about ourselves
That carves the myth and makes us who we are.
So let us drink a toast to Scotland fair
Let us recall its sorrow and its solace,
And let us lift our glasses in the air
To all our kin, to you, to Bruce and Wallace.
And to the clan I love whose name I bear,
My parents, and my sisters and my brothers,
I'd rather be a man in your eyes there
Than be a king in any of the others.
A parody on Randall Wallace's poem 1994