Bidean nam Bian

On Saturday, 25th January, I’ll be heading off with my better half, to some friends in Ayr, to celebrate the annual homage to Rabbie Burns. Each of us has a part to play. This year I’ll be opening the singing and poems with a rendition of Ae Fond Kiss. Everyone will, thereafter, take turns at singing traditional Scottish songs or reciting poetry. The whisky will flow and, before we know it, even the shy folk will be clamouring to start another, with cries of, ‘Who knows this wan?’ 

My contribution will be this song I’ve written, about, possibly, my most favourite place on earth. I started singing the first verse last week while driving home from work then left it. Two successive 4.01a.m. rises, these last two mornings, insisted on the rest.


My heart’s in the heilins fae dusk untae dawn

My soul’s bidin’ wi’ it; it’s where I belong

Where three sisters are guardin’ their people below

Heart and soul in the heilins; in the wilds ae Glencoe.


The mountains, they measure the years that amass

As history’s sentinels, none can surpass

Testifying to troubles as clouds frame their peaks

Witnessing joys, have their lessons to teach.


While wind whips the weather, they stand for us aw

Against all adversity; backs to the wa’

They’re stalwart and strengthened, determined to rise

Fae the soil, wi’ good reason, they reach for the skies.


The streets ae the city seem uncouth an’ unclean

Hashin’ an’ bashin’ and fashin’ ma dreams

Ma soul wants tae be where the air’s fresh and free

Bidean nam Bian calls, ‘Come thee tae me’


The sisters, they beckon, ‘Come, feel what we feel

The spirit ae freedom, untarnished and real

We thrive where we’re planted tho’ folk trespass our paths

Formidable, fantastic and we have the last laugh.


The brave and the stupid, we’ve seen them a’ here

Cautious and careless, some showin’ nae fear

We wait an’ we watch while they navigate steps

One at a time till they’re out ae their depths.’


The mountains remember each climber, each fa’

They know who has loved them when none cared at a’

Respect is their due while they lend us their land

They’ll lead us tae skyline if we take their hand


Who can negate them, who ignore what they’ve seen

Who disnae listen tae their hopes and their dreams

While they push against gravity, reveal hidden glens

The mountains of Glencoe hold truth’s treasured gems


They’ve watched as their weans fought ower cattle an’ grass

Wept at the massacre there in the Pass

Whistled the wind while it whispered their tales

And when no one listened, regaled them in gales


Remember their hist’ry, absorb what they feel

Filter through cloud’s fog, clear the mists tae what’s real

When I’m in the heilins I’m hame and I’m free

An’ the path tae the heilins hauds its haun oot tae me.


Aye, ma heart’s in the heilins fae dusk untae dawn

My soul’s bidin’ wi’ it; it’s where I belong

Where Bidean nam Bian hums, ‘Know what we know,

Come, find yersel’ in the soul of Glencoe.’

Aw, Rabbie

Later today, I’ll be heading, with my better half, to Burns’ country, to meet up with some old friends and celebrate a Burns’ Supper. The invite included instructions to prepare a song or poem for the company. I decided to pen my own ode to Burns.

(picture source)

Aw, Rabbie, did ye know ye wid be famous

An’ aw ye did and said wid come tae be

The talk ae aw the closes an’ the places

Fae Ayr tae pairts ye never got tae see


An’ dae ye think ye’d huv done it ony diff’rent

Reined it in a bit so’s fowk wid think

That ye wur jist a poet, no’ a man wi’

Loadsa nibs, an’ aw ae them chock fu’ a’ ink!


Did ye think ye’d ever grace the tables

Ae lords an’ ladies an’ the likes ye sconced

Wid ye join them noo or wid ye banish, tae hell an’ back

The same wans, as then, that widnae gie response


Ye were mair than poet, ye were human

An’ fashions chainge, they come an’ gang, it’s true

Bit the likes ae you, that said and did it aw wi’ flair, yer ain wey

Never age or dee, mibbe this ye knew


We haver noo, we’re aw pc an’ pish talk

An’ the wans that struttet then still govern noo

Ye’d still be pennin’ poems, walkin’ yer ain walk

Revealin’ rotten eggs, an’ flingin’ mair than jist a few


Bugger aw the ilk that squaash crea’ive

An’ hell mend aw the fowk that pit oan airs

Here’s tae wan that lived and dee’d wi’ passion

Lang life, in death, guid man, lang syne, in suppers, everywhere