Poetry Corner

Today I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting The Kelpies, wow.

The Kelpies

Photo H Armet

The Kelpie: A Scottish Legend. (By J.S.)

Kelpie’s a river demon or a god,”
Thus say the lexicons; I’ll not belie ’em,
For though I mind not in the least the nod
Of these same critics, still I’ll not defy ’em;
But that you may know more of this same god,
(Though I can’t sing as Homer sung of Priam,)
I’ll write a very pretty little poem,
Of which this present stanza’s but the proem.

But to begin, for though ’tis rather long,
My poem I’ll comprise into twelve stanzas,
Or fourteen at the furthest, if my song
Don’t run to twenty—I’ll offend no man, sirs,
If I can help it. So now I’m along
The road, and beg you’ll notice these two lancers,
Who, on the backs of horses full of mettle
Hold a dispute, which we’ll leave them to settle,

While you go with me, reader, kind and good,
To a small tributary stream from Tweed,
Which, if you don’t know, as I’m in the mood,
I’ll do my best to teach you, if you’ll read;
I’ll introduce you to the stream Glenrude—
This name will do—’twas in a glen—indeed,
‘Twas not its proper name—’twill do quite well,
Why I choose so to call it I shan’t tell,

But still it was a very pretty river,
Or rather stream, as ever could be seen—
If not so wide as the great Guadalquiver,
Its banks were nearly always clothed in green,
(Save when in winter the winds made you shiver,)
While the waves, bickering so bright and sheen,
Put you in mind of Avon, Rhine, or Hellespont,
Or any other stream to admire you’re wont.

And round about the stream there were huge hillocks,
And firs and mountains, houses too and farms;
A maid lay on the grass—her light and fair locks
Were gently wound around her folded arms,
While softly grazing near there stood a huge ox,
And o’er her head an old oak threw its arms.
She was asleep, when, lo! the sound of horses’
Feet woke her, and, behold, she saw two corses.

At least she thought so—but at last thought better
‘Twould be for her to get up and go home;
She got up quickly, and would soon have made her
Way home, but that the men who had just come
Spurr’d past her, and alighted when they met her,
While she with her surprise was almost dumb;
But soon spoke she, and bade them both disclose
Their names—to which one said, “I’m Richard Groze.”

The next spoke not at first, but soon replied,
“Pray wherefore are you so surprised, my dear?
And wherefore, likewise, have you not complied
With my request, which I have sent in near
Some good score letters? which you did deride,
When they were forwarded by this man here.”
He pointed then to Groze, and then he sighed,
“My dear, dear Jeannie, will you be my bride?”

The which words when our Jeannie heard, she stared,
And said, “What do you mean, John Fitzadree?
You talk of letters, but of them the laird
Has never brought a single one to me;
But when I’ve seen him I have never cared
How soon he went, for he told me that ye
Were either dead or faithless—so he said
I’d better wed the live, than mourn the dead.

“And then he promis’d I should have six horses,
Besides a coach, if I would be his bride;
But I refus’d—and he swore all his crosses
Should soon be o’er, and something else beside
And that’s the reason why I thought ye corses,
When o’er the green this way I saw ye ride.
But now I see you’ve both served in the Lancers,
Though on my word you look much more like dancers.”

To which John answer’d, “Oh, the filthy fellow,
I gave him letters to you, which he said
He would deliver, were you ill or well. Oh!
How I should like to knock him on the head,
And would, but that would show I was quite mellow—
Besides, I see the coward has just fled,
Has ta’en to horse, and got across the ford—
Hang him, that I should with him be so bored!”

But Jeannie said, “John, thou shall do no murder.”
To which he answer’d, “I will not do so;”
Then bounded off as though he had not heard her,
And reached a fording-place, but not so low
As where Groze cross’d, and who had now got further
Than John would have thought possible, although
He’d a good-horse, and nearly half an hour
In start—but now the clouds began to lower.

Now Fitzadree’s good charger was all mettle,
And soon won to the middle of the stream—
But then the sky grew black as a tea kettle;
It rained, too, quite as fast as ever steam
Rose. But the thing which did at last unsettle
The balance of John’s steed, was what you’ll deem
A being that was nearly supernatural—
But here the waves John’s clothes began to spatter all.

A form rose up from out the waves’ abyss—
A monstrous little man with a black hide,
Scarce four feet high, yet he was not remiss,
But dash’d the waves about—and then he cried,
With a demoniac laugh, or rather hiss,
“Die, mortal, die!” and John sank down and died,
The which, when Jeannie saw, she only sigh’d,
“I come, my John, I come, to be thy bride.”

The figure was the Kelpie—that she knew,
And madly she rush’d on towards the shore;
The Kelpie roar’d, “Come, mortal, come thou too.”
Ere he’d done speaking, Jeannie was no more;
She’d dash’d into the waves, and left no clue,
More than a steamer leaves just left the Nore,
By which you might discover where she lay,
And drag her upwards to the realms of day.

But what befel the cause of all these woes?
That’s what I never heard, so cannot tell;
But this I know, that this same Richard Groze
Return’d no more to bonnie Scotland. Well,
I only hope he may in bed repose,
And that he may at last escape from hell.
And this I know, that if you do not smother
This poem, when I choose I’ll write another.

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