Thursday, 20 September 2012

What Matters in the End

"Scots Wha Hae" Reflection

     Oh, those wild and patriotic people who are called Scots: Theirs is a history of inspiration and endurance.  Fighting for individual freedom and for the freedom of their sons and daughters since the beginning, the Scots are a symbol of independence, stubbornness, and bravery; attributes that should be respected.
     One of the most famous Scotsmen is Robert the Bruce (not to be confused with the equally celebrated William Wallace remembered in the Mel Gibson film Braveheart). While Wallace was a lesser lord, Robert the Bruce was the rightful king of Scotland.  From the late 1200’s and into the early 1300’s, Wallace fought against Edward I until he was betrayed and executed.  After the horrible event, Robert the Bruce (as legend has it) spurned his troops on to battle the English with a morale boosting speech.  Years later, the story so affected a certain poet that he wrote what could verily well have been the lyrics of the marching tune.  The poet?  His first name was identical to that of Bruce, but his surname was Burns.
     Born in 1759 to a farmer in Ayrshire, the southern area of Scotland, Robert Burns was encouraged by his father to attend school.  However, Burns himself was responsible for nearly all of his education including literature, politics, philosophy, and theology (NAEL,165).  Most famous for his poem “Auld Lang Syne”, Burns wrote extensively of love as well as patriotism for Scotland.  This patriotism is most evident in the poem entitled “Scots Wha Hae” (Scots Who Have), or “Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn”.
     Written by Robert Burns in 1793, the purpose of “Scots Wha Hae” was to look at the way Robert the Bruce, the rightful King of Scotland, encouraged and elevated the morale of the Scotsmen persisting in the resistance against Edward I of England.  They had fought numerous battles, had witnessed the brutal death of their leader William Wallace, and were more than ever in danger of losing not only their lives but the hope that they and their children would be free.  As a Scotsman, Burns felt this, and writing in the Scottish dialect, penned a passionate poem.
     The poem begins by presenting that the Scots who fought with Wallace were later led by Bruce, and it summarizes the clear reasons why they were fighting: To escape “Chains and Slaverie” as well as “Oppressions, woes and pains”, and their goal, if necessary, was to “drain their dearest veins” so their children would be free from the stated oppression. (NAEL, 180). This hope was not for the said first generation, but the second and third as well. The highlanders were going to have their way; they were going to do or die.
     The piece may surprise readers, as Burns wasted no time in exposing that this was definitely not the story of a little skirmish. The struggle spanned quite a lengthy period of years. However, the Scots who had with Wallace bled and afterwords by Bruce been led knew full well that a gory bed would most likely come before “victorie” (NAEL180). The first stanza is almost a wake-up call: As I read it for the first, second and third time, I could imagine the masses of men with hard set, emotionless faces worn with circumstances unavoidable. These were no ordinary men, and Burns saturated his poem with this fact. Determined to “lay the proud Usurpers low”, the Scotsmen were not fighting for naught, but for Liberty, which was in their every blow (NAEL, 181).
     Aside from the words and rhyme schemes used in “Scots Wha Hae”, Burns employed his own technique: He used the old Scottish dialect to show another picture of the Scots, that is, by offering a taste of the culture in order to move the reader closer to the thought and message of the poem. Words such as wham for whom, or sae for so. In this way, Burns assists readers in personally discovering that though the Scots were a wild and frightening people with a strange way of speech, deep down they had the same feelings and inner yearnings for liberty as anyone else has or will ever have.
     After reading the poem, a reader aught to honor the love, respect, faithfulness, and raw courage the Scotsmen had. They were defiant of death, a feeling one can sense instantly while reading over the poem. This attribute, which the Scots shared, was probably what irritated the Englishmen to such an extent. It is an important theme to Burns' poem, as each stanza rings with a obstreperous call of what they believed. They could not be swayed, because they were not fighting for power, but for individuality, freedom, and love. 
     “Scots Wha Hae” is so much more than simple lyrics of a battle hymn used to encourage Scotsmen. This poem is a display of the passion every single Scotsman possessed despite the fact that death was leering its ugly head in their faces at every turn. “Scots Wha Hae” can surprise a reader who simply expects the normal flowery pieces of the Romantic era, while the written dialect in context of the poem endears the fighters of freedom to other readers. However, in the end, Robert Burns' poem is a passionate declaration of what these brave men were fighting for, and respect should be given not only to the message of the poem, but the men as well. The highlanders were not wild compatriots fighting solely for their country or revolutionists who were greedy for power. No, theirs is a story of fighting for not only their own freedom, but that of their sons and daughters. The men endured because they were not fighting for their own means, but for Scotland, for respect, their fellow countrymen, and the love of their families, which is what truly matters in the end.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

And In the End...

"In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king..."  Once upon a time, I wrote a story.  Well, actually I wrote a story ending.

Read The Lady or the Tiger here before continuing to my post.

     Out sprang the tiger, and Aeneas turned to face the ravenous beast.  Clytaemnestra had made secret arrangements to discover which door held which, but someone had interfered, switching the latter.  Aeneas rushed at the tiger, grasping its head in a head-lock.  Falling to the ground, they rolled around in the dust while the tiger clawed at his back.  Though he had given the tiger a surprise, the heat of the day and the ferocity of the beast was too much for the brave man.  He had acquired numerous wounds in a matter of seconds, and he was becoming weaker.  As her lover was being tortured before her eyes, Clytaemnestra felt helpless.  She looked down from the balcony and saw Aeneas, distorted, covered in blood and the dirt from the arena.  He was almost unrecognizable: He had been slain by the monster of semi-barbaric judgment.

     The princess (like most princesses at such points in a story) could bear it no longer.  Weeping, like any stereotypical princess would, she knelt at her father's side and pleaded to have the armed guard remove Aeneas' body before the tiger completely destroyed it.  The king was shocked and taken aback by this request: After all, wasn't she his semi-barbaric daughter?  This was true; but she was young, and she had loved.

     Deeply moved, he ordered the guards to carry out her request and make the body ready for burial.  Clytaemnestra's father was troubled; had he just destroyed his relationship with his daughter?  The king pulled the dramatic princess to her feet and looked at her through anxious eyes.

          "I don't know what I have been doing..." he stated. "I must discontinue this practice at once." The last sentence came heavily, as if he had just seen a revelation, or some vision showing him how wrong he had been all these long, busy years.

     Clytaemnestra was amazed.  Revoke his system of judgement and set another in its place?!  Was it possible?  Yes - it was- and because no one wanted to throw any of his little orbs out of their orbits, the council and senate readily obeyed the order.

     Clytaemnestra was never, as one might suspect, quite the same after Aeneas' death.  She and Lavinia, her previous rival, became fast friends who aided one another in any and every way possible  The country was better off because if the new system put in place; the economy thrived, and the people were joyous once again.

     When her father died many years later, she (as most princesses do) inherited the throne.  In short, after many complications she married an elegant ambassador from a faraway country, and Lavinia married a man from the east.  No second thought for either of the couples, however, as both were content.

     The country had learned a valuable lesson, and a hard one at that.  One must never become demoralized or desensitized, or semi-barbaric for that matter; as one never knows how deeply circumstances will affect other people.

It's not the best, actually quite pathetic in its own little way, but this story has a back story to it.
I was on top of this assignment, it was all typed up two days in advance, ready to go, cleansed of errors.  (Basically, the first version was fine.)  The problem, however, was that I did not think it to have enough thought or feeling. 
So the night before the assignment was due, I wrote this version.  In twenty minutes.  While listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.  The result was much better than the "Oh, he didn't die..." version, because the system of the country changed and was set on the right track.
In the end, I had learned to follow my writer's intuition, and to simply write what I thought.  Who cares about feelings; the thoughts were what mattered.  

Monday, 10 September 2012

Scots Wha Hae

(Scots, Who Have, or Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn) by Robert Burns

I am writing a poetical analysis on this poem, because it captured my attention so.  The analysis will be up in a week or so, but here's the poem to whet your anticipation! 

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to Victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power
Chains and Slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
Let him turn and flie:

Wha for Scotland's King and Law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa',
Let him follow me.

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us Do- or Die!!!

"Robert the Bruce Receiving the Wallace Sword before the Battle of Bannockburn from the Spirit of Scotland 
in the Guise of the Lady of the Lake with Stirling Castle in the Background" by Stewart Carmichael, 1943.
(Oil on canvas; The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum)

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print. (pg. 180-81)
"Your Paintings." BBC News. BBC, 2000. Web. 10 Sept. 2012.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

And Hence We Shot...

An evening photo shoot; the musical partiality of our family (shines...) through even our photos.
This photo remains my favorite, a perfect treble, our scraggly tree, and the rising moon.  The only element not present is the laughter and joy of family that so impressed the night.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Amateur's Musing

Quiet is the house; work and learn do I,
Records of music are not playing
Joyful am I, my mind's not straying
The world is fall; varied is the sky.

In my work mindset I do reside
Courses, classes, schedules and all else
Are piled 'round waiting for results
I wonder how they're to be applied.

To interrupt is detrimental;
Spoken words are altered so.
Let man finish his oratory...
But why be very sentimental?

In missing language, friends are not forgot;
The struggles and all the worried nights
Oft spent in hasty, nervous fright
Though in the end we were well taught.

The paintings of then are studied naught 
Famed artists who've etched their hearts upon
Canvas and hist'ry, on and on.
Favorites are instead earnestly sought.

The scripting never runs away,
It's captured in the deepest part
Held close, expressive in the heart.
Inspired writing, day after day.

When it seems all is taking its leave,
Music and notes remind one of all
If only to walk down mem'ry's hall
Where thoughts and notes are slowly weaved.

Still and quiet does the house remain
Records of music are not playing
Joyful am I, though my mind's been straying,
God does not give us mem'ries in vain.