Queen Mary’s Clarsach

Rarest rowan frae singin greenwood growes
an bends tae gie her bounty fine.
Ah tak the best frae yonder faerie tree,
then tae a sauchie place ah dauner doon.

Frae willow sweet, an fragrant yit
frae quickenin beuchs o’ forest green,
ah cairve in jist yae piece tae mak the soon’
cam ringin lang an clair an high. 

Ah seal the soondbit weel nou at the back
wi shilpie sliver o’ the faerie wuid.
A bit o’ plane tree fir the neck ah tak,
sae strang and pale; it taks decorement weel. 

Then fir the pillar that’s the spine o’ it,
ah cairve alang the grain o’ aiplewuid.
An last, wi linseed an wi beeswax ah preser’
ma airt an fantoush cairvin on ye nou.

A clarsach fir a lass sae sweet an fair,
lang schuiled in Fraunce in notes
sae doucely played – huntin, hawkin,
rinnin free, smirtlin and lauchin 

wi a’ the bairns o’ the forest  ­-
she was a bairn hersel tae but yestreen,
that’s nou oor swank an luesome Queen.
She spies ye. An wi a yowt o’ pleisur rins:

a clarsach glazie, bricht an new,
untae hersel she clesps ye ticht;
an thair ye bide. An ye becam the singer
o’ a’ the lass’s thochts and words.

Her robe, a skein o whitest muslin pirrs
an flows, tae kiver herp an lass’s saicrets baith:
a clarsach finely pierced bi hooks
o’ gowd an bress an siller.

On baith a gowden chord is strung,
her sang jowes oot sae high and clair,
her thochts they ring sae true. But then:
nae mair o’ singin.
Fir tae an English Queen’s domeenion
she maun yield. Ma Celtic cross, cairved deep
wi dule; ma draigons an ma lions  - 
they bide here yit – but on a clarsach ratchit nou.

Yer singin greenwood’s pit tae final rest.
But cairvin’s ayeweys wi the timmer.
Wi a’ yer chords lang lost, ye lie sae quiet.
But in ma dreams ah hear ye. Ah hear ye yit ma lass.

© Aileen Ballantyne 2009