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Graham Donachie's Stories
The Battle of Branxton Hill


This poem is written to commemorate the Battle of Flodden..
September 9th..1513..

The fatal charge in which James IV died, was made from Branxton Hill.


The Battle of Branxton Hill.
................

The lad he sat upon a stane
an’ looked upon the muir,
He cryed for faither lost amang
the swirlin’ battle stoor...
Whaur is my sire ?..he cryed aloud,
Whaur does he lie in death ?
But nae answer reached his simple self
Upon this bludie heath.

Whaur is my canny brither Wull ?
Whaur does he cauldly lie ?
Whaur on this accursed mossy field,
Did my canny brither die ?
The weepin’ o’ this stricken loon,
His grief it gaed unheard
By deaf dead ears o’ fallen men
Wha’s vacant een uncared.
.........

The ca’ it cam tae fairming lads
tae put aside their toil,
an’ leave their fields o’ harvest crop
tae rot in sweet rich soil.
An leave the howe, the lads did gang
tae jine the swarming host,
tae fecht for Royal Jamie Stuart
an staun at the warrior post.

The faither tae the ca’ did rise
likewise the aulder brither,
left greetin womenfowk tae mourn
an’ broken hearted mither.
They left the fields o’ Angus glens,
they left the warm luve bed,
they left the cherub laughing bairns..
an’ tae Hell were foolish led.

Tae soothlands far, they a’ did march
ower strange roads did they gang
an’ met wi’ strange tongue’d red hair’d men..
the westryn gaelic thrang.
An marched alang wi’ Lallan lads,
danced wi’ the Lallan lass..
howled the Northmans blue faced joy
What ever may cam’ tae pass.

Drank the danger o’ things tae cam,
vowed their strang Angus airms..
Pledged their lives upon a laugh,
whit care o’ the morns hairms.
Bleak an’ misty dreich dark morn,
clutching blade in shakin’ fist,
sweat smell o’ stinkin’ fartin’ men
the steamy stench o’ fear.. fresh pished.

The rowan berry mixed wi’ sharn
an’ spread on bodies bared.
The auld Pict gods prevailed that day
an’ Angus men they dared......
remember Dunnichen.
When their forefathers won the day
upon that far forgotten howe,
Whaur cold and slain Northumbrians lay
in silence.....until now..

The faither looked on elder son
an’ loo’ed the sicht o’ him.
A warrior o’ ancient Pictish land
cam tae feed the auld fecht whim.
The gither they ran in screamin’ joy
the gither wi’ bluid lust red
the gither they fought the enemy
the gither they bluid red bled ..

They died on that cauld bluidie day
cleav’d frae their ancient warld
by blades much keener than their ain
O’ the michty southern Carl.
Doon in death the Picts they fell
in Northumbrian field o’ fear..
Perhaps the price they had tae pay
for long ago ...Nechtansmere ?.

...................

Tha border men in steel point ranks
kept the English host at length,
until the lads wi’ the bill hook’d spear,
showed them wha had the strength
tae lop the points o’ their lang Scots pikes
and drive them back until..
their skulls asunder well nigh rent,
by the stronger English bill.

The fecht was lang and unco sair,
Saxon victorie was near,
Crawfurd, Errol and the great Montrose
fell in their autumn year.
Likewise Lennox and Argyle
wi’ their screaming westryn host,
cut down by pouring steel tipped shafts
'midst war cry Celtic boast

Noo Jamie Stuart in armour shone
thocht he cad win this fecht,
an’ ordering his heavy horse
to charge.. and show his micht....
Doon aff Branxton the charging horse,
doon frae their lofty peak,
doon intae bog and mire they rode
The Saxon foe tae seek.

The deadly whistles niver heard
by ears wha did’na ken
the soond.. o’ deadly clothyard storm
o’ the English Longbowmen.
Their chargers clogged in sucking ooze
the screaming o’ their doom.
Too late for thochts o’ chivalry
their honour a’ sae toom.

The bluid, the gore, the screams o’ men
when steel cuts through the flesh.
The vomit o’ the fallen foe
when lyfe an’ death doth mesh.
The hacking o’ the slashing sword,
the spear tip in the belly.
The eye, gouged by an dagger point
amidst the bluidie melee.

The stink an’ slippery smell o’ shite
when fresh fae severed gut
by lance point...in a deep embrace
wi’ open flowered cut.
An’ horses sliced in gutted slash
Knights falling in fear.
Their throats the willing offering,
o’ sharp an’ deadly spear..

An' constant shot frae culverin
that mowed the Scots doon low.
The roar o’ angry cannon belching
death tae row on row
to the charging sreaming wild eyed Picts
wha failed tae win the day,
an’ payed wi’ weeping deathly wounds
in that foul and bitter fray.

.........................

Nae metter that Royal blude was skelt,
Nae metter the slain Knights,
Nae metter the deid an Blessed Priests,
Nae metter their Royal rights.
Nae metter they fell in battle hot,
Nae metter that they should dee,
They had nae honour tae spak aboot,
Their honour was but a lee..

.......

The auld man sat upon a stane
and grat in his despair,
for the laird had cam an’ telt him tae
get ready.. his strang young pair
o’ sturdy sons...
for Battle.

...........................................................

And now I sit upon this stane..
in my wild wynd Pictish hame
an’ I look upon my twa strang lads
wha share my...Duncan..Donnachaidh name..

Graham..October..2002


Read other stories from Graham Donachie

 


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