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Poetry
Sergeant of Pikes
by Neil Munro


When I sat in the service o' foreign commanders,
Selling a sword for a beggar man's fee,
Learning the trade o' the warrior who wanders,
To mak' ilka stranger a sworn enemie;
There was ae thought that nerved me, and brawly it served me.
With pith to the claymore wherever I won, -
'Twas the auld sodger's story, that, gallows or glory,
The Hielan's, the Hielan's were crying me on!

I tossed upon swinging seas, spashed to my kilted knees,
Ocean or ditch, it was ever the same;
In leaguer or sally, tattoo or revally,
The message on every pibroch that came,
Was "Cruachan, Cruachan, O son remember us,
Think o' your fathers and never be slack!"
Blade and buckler together, though far off the heather,
The Hielan's, the Hielan's were all at my back!

The ram to the gateway, the torch to the tower,
We rifled the kist, and the cattle we maimed;
Outr dirks stabbed at guess through the leaves o' the bower,
And crimes we committed that needna be named:
Moonlight or dawning grey, Lammas or Lady-day,
Donald maun dabble his plaid in the gore;
He maun hough and maun harry, or should he miscarry,
The Hielan's, the Hielan's will own him no more!

And still, O strange Providence! mirk is your mystery,
Whatever the country that charred our steel
Because o' the valiant repute o' our history,
The love o' our ain land we maistly did feel;
Many a misty glen, many a sheilling pen,
Rose to our vision when slogans rang high;
And this was the solace bright came to our starkest fight,
A' for the Hielan's, the Hielan's we die!

A Sergeant o' Pikes, I have pushed and have parried O
(My heart still at tether in bonny Glenshee);
Weary the marches made, sad the towns harried O,
But in fancy the heather was aye at my knee:
The hill-berry mellowing, stag o' ten bellowing,
The song o' the fold and the tale by the hearth,
Bairns at the crying and auld folks a-dying,
The Hielan's sent wi' me to fight round the earth!

O the Hielan's, the Hielan's, praise God for His favour,
That ane sae unworthy should heir sic estate,
That gie'd me the zest o' the sword, and the savour
That lies in the loving as well as the hate.
Auld age may subdue me, a grim death be due me,
For even a Sergeant o' Pikes maun depart,
But I'll never complain o't, whatever the pain o't,
The Hielan's, the Hielan's were aye at my heart!


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