Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Nativity of Our Scot-Irish Forbearers.

The Statue of Rabbie Burns
"The McPherson Legacy"

I can remember when I was young, my mother took me to the Robert Burns Statue in Washington Park in downtown Albany. I don't know what I thought about it at the time, but I do remember being impressed by the shear size of it. Recently as my interest in Burns and the Weaver Poets of Antrim and Down has awakened, the memory of that day returned. So I visited there with my girlfriend and her youngest son, and I looked up on the net the history of how it came to be there. (There is actually an online digital copy
of the book all about it, available through Google.)

Me, Cam, and the Rabbie Burns Statue
in Albany's Washington Park.

It seems that the Statue was erected and dedicated on September 30th 1888, and was a Gift to the City, as a last dieing bequest of Miss Mary McPherson as: "a fitting testimonial of the love and pride which Scot-Americans of the city and country cherish for the land of their nativity."

Most recently the Burns Statue, has become the sight of gatherings, involving Dan Wilcox
and the Albany Poets Scene. These Guys are a bit more virulent than we are out here in the burbs, but it warms my heart to think of the Burns Statue as a centerpiece of post-modern verse. This at least, is not habitual.

I live in the Town of "New Scotland", Each year I attend the Scottish Games at the Altamont Fairgrounds, but I can't say that I, or the majority of the 21st century population who live here, are consciously aware of the historic nature of our local Scot heritage, in the same way in which the population of this area was aware in the 1800s. We have become blended, melded, and habituated to our surroundings.

The following is a poem by William Weaver Christman published in 1926, in his book of poems titled "Songs of the Helderhills". Christman is a favorite of one of my fellow "Thursday Night Bards" Alan Casline (with whom I trade bantering verse) Alan has been championing the resurrection of Christman's reputation and contribution to the local area. Christman was, in the tradition of the Weaver Bards, in contact with contemporary's of his day, traded verse with them, was home schooled and wrote in the vernacular. He lived the majority of his life on his land eeking out a living as a "Hardscrabble" farmer. His farm is one of the oldest local Nature Preserves in the country.

He was also obviously aware of the of his Poetical Scot-Nativity as is evidenced by the following two poems:

Page 42 a poem dedicated to "'Rabbie Burns"

Page 43 in memory of Bannockburn,
(June 24, 1314)

If you click in these images, you should be able to view and read them in more detail. These two pieces are of a historic and native patriotic nature. The majority of the poems included in this volume speak of his day to day life, his surroundings, and the natural world that he was drawn to record in his vernacular.

I had not heard of Christman before Alan brought him to my attention. I was habituated to the knowledge of his existence, he was there all along and I was not yet aware. Thank-you Alan for the enrichment of my experience.

So, my Mom always had "The Selkirk Grace" hanging on the wall in our dinning room. Her median name was Burns. Could we be related? ...Who knows. More than likely not. But I couldn't help joking about it in this latest feeble attempt at the Hamley Tongue.

Tha Verdict o tha Court o Common Reason:

Altho A aim inspired, by tha Gilmour's ana Glenn's

an mayhaps Rabbie Burns Bluid rins throo mae Pen

Family myth claims "Rabbie" bot canna proove it

despite mae best effets, nither cood A doo it

A like tae read o Coopers an Weavers

ana try ta qhurit aboot Patriots an Dreamers

A tried mae ain han larning mae Muther's

and Fether's, Fether's, Fether's tongue

An now A ken reed mae Habbie Standart

bot A canna qhurit it spectacular

Sae A shood lave it tae tha Braid Bards

tae speak an qhurit in vernacular

Freens an Nybers, neist ye herd it

Tha Court o Common Reason ha a Verdict

qhuriting in Ullans wae fun whilest it lasted

bot A kin only speek it quhen A'm "Blasted"!

obeedude 11/july/07

I am more aware of my surroundings now, less habituated, and I hope more reverent of my Fowkgates. I love my History, I am proud to continue that history, and though I play with my verse, and I continue in its traditions, a minor poet, among his betters. I'm Happy to be here, to revel in the fondements of the provenance of others.



  1. Thanks for the information, Mark - excellent job. I've been to the statue several times, myself, with the Albany poets. In fact, my first open mic was on those grounds.....

  2. As always, Mark, very informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing your stories and your creativity.
    mike b.

  3. First the clan and then the caper
    First the word then the whatfer
    River Source a resource
    Poet mystery more than history

    ---Alan Casline