Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Freedom Come Aa Ye (Hamish Henderson)

Roch the win i the clear day's dawin
Blaws the clouds heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But thair's mair nor a roch win blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warl the day
It's a thocht that wad gar our rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war whan our braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Murn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimilies in launs we've hairriet
Will curse 'Scotlan the Brave' nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hous aa the bairns o Aidam
Will fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room
Whan MacLean meets wi's friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geeans will turn tae blume
An a black laud frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.

This song is full of strong imagery. Henderson writes against imperialism with the recognition of the part that Scots have played in the conquest of parts of the British Empire, and with  the anticipation of the day when all peoples are free and can meet in peace and friendship.

The "more than a rough wind"  -- the first to Harold MacMillan's remarkable "Winds of Change" speech about Africa in the early 1960s, and the second as a riposte to the "all the answers are blowing in the wind" pessimism of the "protest song" purveyors.
The title is towards the genre of songs known as "Come all ye's", the kind of song which begins with a call to listen -- "Come all ye (sons of liberty/ good people/ tramps and hawkers etc) and listen to my song"