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Kirk o Beath Brae by Ian W King

7th April 2014

A poem about freedom and hope, though using the subject of a graveyard in typically Fife Scots manner. Coming from a coal mining background the poet realises that what he wants is what every generation has wanted: hope for the bairns.

Ian King's first pamphlet of poetry, The Deid Sheep oan Lumphinans Bing, was published in London when he was 18, and he says he's been trying to live it down ever since. This was followed by other pamphlets, including an edition of Proceedings of a Craw Court in the Woods of Pittencrieff, a longstanding Dunfermline poetic tradition. Latterly he has been mainly known as a publisher and bookbinder.

Kirk o' Beath Brae

Ah'll lie wi the auld Kelty banes

Aye, here's anither yin, th'll say, let's place ye
yer Rab King's lauddie, Wull owre thonder'll be yer Di?
Did ye no get the education, did ye no get away?
Aye, the pits shut doun an Ah got away
did ye no get faur? Whye no?

Ah thocht owre lang oan freedom

A thinker wis ye?
Ah wis a fiddler ti ma trade, bit nae guid cam o thon
Ah'd bairns tae feed, so at the hinner-end
Ah jist glued books.
Did ye pit yer bairns tae the university?
Then th'll no laund up here, so thons sumhun.

S'no much tho, no when ye think oan freedom.

An whits this freedom? Wi us it wis the socialism,
an the votes fir women, an they auld banes
owre thonder, it wis the Charter,
an afore thm, – see thon auld souls?
Culloden – hou faur back ir we gaun?

so whits this freedom?
We dinna ken. We honestly dinna ken.
We niver hud it, so we dinna ken.
We think it's hope.
Hope fir the yung yins
We ask the yung yins, an they say it's hope.
They want Hope.

Aye, son, then rest yer wearie banes
hope's aw thir is, an iver wis,
it gauns bi mony names
ye dared tae cry it freedom,
an wrocht-oan fir the bairns.

Ian W King