Poetry Corner: The Recruiting Service Drum

On this day 3rd June  1774, Paisley poet, Robert Tannahill, was born.

Portrait of Robert Tannahill in Paisley Museum

By Stephencdickson from Wikimedia Commons

In 1807, Tannahill self published a 175-page volume of his poetry by advance subscription, selling all 900 copies within two weeks. This made him a profit of £20.

However, Tannahill thought seeking subscribers was somehow degrading. For the proposed second edition, he sought to approach publishers directly. Unfortunately publishers in Greenock and Edinburgh turned him down.

On the morning of 17th May, 1810, Tannahill was found drowned in a culvert at the Candren Burn in Paisley’s west end –  only yards from his family home at 11 Queen Street. The cottage, built in 1775, still stands today.

Find out more at: The Robert Tannahill Federation

The Recruiting Service Drum.

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round and round and round;
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glitt’ring arms,
And, when Ambition’s voice commands,
March, fight, and fall in foreign lands.

I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
Parading round and round and round;
To me it talks of ravaged plains,
And burning towns, and ruined swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows’ tears, and orphans’ moans,
And all that Misery’s hand bestows
To swell the list of human woes.


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