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Culloden
by Stuart McFarlane


I

Well now, Charlie, look on this.
A fine day’s work indeed.
But no, you can’t, of course,
for you have fled the field.

On the field the dead and dying
are heaped high now in the mud.
They, who have paid for your lying,
who have paid for it with their blood.

Who gathered here just hours ago,
just hours ago this day.
And how could they ever know
it would end like this, end this way?

Who fell for you charm, fell for your lies,
fell here upon this brutal field.
Now only their despairing cries,
their senseless sacrifice revealed.

Who fought in the rain, died in the rain,
common man and nobility,
never to see their wives again,
an act of heroic futility


II

And as if this dreadful sight
was not enough, as if this wouldn’t do,
the carnage went on through the night,
before butcher Cumberland was through.

Wounded, bayonted where they lay,
their screams a torment to the very air.
For the redcoats merely ‘orders of the day’,
but they knew, they knew it wasn’t fair.

And to the villages the killers came
in a frenzy, in a savage slaughter,
women, children, cruelly slain,
a mother, son, a daughter.

And in this destruction ,in this vile night,
your absurd creation was born,
so today on plates and mugs might
we see your romantic image adorned.

On tartan towels, on shortbread tins
and all along the whisky trails,
your legend filters down the glens,
a fruity blend of unlikely tales.


III

But on Culloden the blood will never dry,
it runs bright red, it soaks the ground.
And, at night, they say, you’ll hear a cry,
a far off, unearthly sound.

At midnight, maybe, will you recoil
from an icy wailing, cold and shrill,
for, though, now buried deep in soil,
their spirits roam the moor still.

Roam the moor still, clansman and chief,
who, believing in you, could not know,
as well as pretender, you were a thief
sent to rob them of their souls.

And for them today is ‘forty-six’,
never can they leave this field,
it will never be right, never be fixed,
the wounds will never be healed.

Again they curse Cumberland, again,
-his black deeds still they recall -
but remembering, now, the mud and the rain,
curse you, bonnie prince, most of all.

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