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The Sherramuir Fight

  • (Trad / Robert Burns)

    O cam' ye here the fight tae shun, or herd the sheep wi' me, man
    Or were ye at the Sherra-moor, or did the battle see, man
    I saw the battle sair and teuch, and reekin' red ran many a sheugh
    My heart for fear gae'd sough for sough
    Tae hear the thuds and see the cluds
    O' Clans frae woods in tartan duds
    Wha glaum'd at kingdoms three man

    The red-coat lads wi' black cockauds to meet them werenae slow, man
    They rush'd and push'd and blood outgush'd, and many a bouk did fa', man
    The great Argyle led on his files, I wat they glanc'd for twenty miles
    They hough'd the Clans like nine-pin kyles
    They hack'd and hash'd while braid swords clash'd
    And thro' they dash'd and hew'd and smash'd
    Till fey men died awa', man

    Had ye seen the philibegs wi' skyrin tartan trews, man
    When in the teeth they dar'd our Whigs and covenant Trueblues, man
    Lines extended lang and large, bayonets o'erpower'd the targe
    Thousands hasten'd to the charge
    Wi' Highland wrath they frae the sheath
    Drew blades o' death till out o' breath
    They fled like frighted dows, man

    They've lost some gallant gentlemen amang the Hieland clans, man
    I fear my Lord Panmuir is slain or in his en'mies' hands, man
    Now wad ye sing this double flight, some cried for wrang and some for right
    And many bade the warld gudenight
    Sae pell, sae mell, wi' muskets knell
    Tories fell and Whigs to hell
    Flew off in frighted bands, man

    (as sung by The Corries)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1986:] There is some doubt as to who actually won the battle, as the old ballad suggests. [...] Many of the participants fled the field, and in The Battle of Sherramoor by Burns, the men of Dundee and Angus appear to have been the fastest runners:

    My sister Kate cam' up the gate wi' crowdie unto me, man
    She swore she saw some rebels run to Perth and to Dundee, man
    Their left-hand general had nae skill, the Angus lads had nae gude will
    That day their neebour's blude to spill
    For fear by foes that they should lose their cogs o' brose, they scar'd at blows
    And hameward fast did flee, man
    (Gatherer 34)

  • [1988:] Volume three of the '[Scots Musical] Museum' contains [Burns's] brilliant re-working of the Sheriffmuir broadside Dialogue between Will Lick-Ladle and Tom Clean-Cogue [part two of the above, different words in Donaldson]. The original is a fairly leaden affair in which two countrymen debate the outcome of the battle with typical broadside prolixity. It is transformed in Burns's hands into a genuinely humorous exchange full of comic exaggeration and knock-about technical display. The almost indecently complicated verse-form was probably suggested by the melodic pattern of the original tune, that 'vain carnal spring, called the Cameronian Rant' with its two extra bars mischieviously slipped into the second measure. Despite the intricate structure, however, Burns sustains a narrative of breathless pace, a headlong torrent of alliteration, assonance and internal rhyme. [...] This amazing verbal tour de force has many admirable qualities: the effortlessly sustained illusion of eye- witness contemporaneity (we have to force ourselves to remember that the events described happened more than thirty years before the poet was born); the concentration upon the common man and the human fallibility of the participants; the way in which the conventionally heroic is both indulged and debunked throughout.

    This essentially reductive technique is seen at its clearest in the fifth verse [quoted by Gatherer], where the timely retreat of the Angus lads is attributed not only to the absence of military appetite, but to the presence of an appetite of a ridiculously different kind. Despite the dreadful strokes and rivers of blood, the overall effect is deeply comic.

    Burns's power of characterisation produces a picture rooted in everyday realities, where the epic and mundane are ludicrously entangled and the proverbial cast of common speech is wielded with ruthless deflationary effect. The Battle of Sherramoor is a burlesque of the conventionally heroic, which, in its refusal to consider men in the mass, dehumanised by uniforms or warlike array is fundamentally humane. (Donaldson, Song 83f)

  • Historical notes see Sheriff Muir

Quelle: Scotland

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