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The Poet and His Lass

The Poor Poet, by Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885)

Poetry Reading Day

Apr 28

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"You have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a coward in the fight."

~ You Have No Enemies, Charles MacKay (1814-1889)

Share a favourite poem or favourite poet today for Poetry Reading Day! Or alternatively, wax poetic with this tribute strathspey devised by John Drewry for a poetic member of the Scottish Country Dancing Community! Regarding the poem above, Charles Mackay was a Scottish poet, journalist, and songwriter, born on March 27, 1814, in Perth, Scotland. He was educated at the Caledonian Asylum in London and at Brussels, but spent much of his early life in France. Mackay’s mother died shortly after his birth, and his father was a naval officer and a foot soldier. He began his career as a journalist and published his first book of poems, “Songs and Poems”, in 1834. Mackay is also known for his book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, which explores the psychology of crowds and popular delusions. He wrote many poems, including “No Enemies”, which explores the idea that one who has not made enemies has not lived a full life. Mackay’s poetry often deals with themes of duty, courage, and the human condition. ✍️

The Poet and His Lass

Scottish poetry has a rich and varied history, marked by distinctive voices that have echoed through the ages. From the medieval bards to the Renaissance makars, poets like William Dunbar and Robert Henryson crafted works in Scots and Latin, intertwining humor and moral reflection. The tradition flourished with Robert Burns in the 18th century, whose lyrical poems and songs in Scots and English captured the heart of Scottish identity and are celebrated worldwide. In the 20th century, Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Morgan rejuvenated Scottish poetry, experimenting with language and form to express the complexities of modern Scotland.

In the past, poets held a revered and influential status in society, akin to the celebrities of today. They were the voices of their cultures, expressing the collective emotions, challenges, and beliefs of their times. Figures like Homer in ancient Greece, or later, Dante in medieval Italy, were not merely writers but were considered custodians of their civilizations' wisdom and values. Their gatherings were events, their words discussed and debated among the elite and common folk alike.

In the 19th century, Britain was home to several celebrity poets who captured the imagination of the public and influenced literary tastes across Europe and beyond. Lord Byron, with his flamboyant lifestyle and scandalous reputation, embodied the romantic spirit of the era, his works and persona attracting a massive following. Percy Bysshe Shelley, known for his radical political ideas and lyrical poetry, alongside his wife Mary Shelley, were celebrated figures in literary circles. John Keats, though less recognized during his lifetime, posthumously became one of the most beloved English poets, admired for his sensual imagery and profound exploration of beauty and mortality. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, appointed Poet Laureate, gained widespread popularity for his poignant representation of Victorian sensibilities in works like "In Memoriam." These poets became the celebrities of their day, their lives and works subjects of public fascination and critical acclaim.

For a wonderful resource for poetry of all kinds, click the portrait of poet Charles Mackay below.

The Poet and His Lass

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Poet and His Lass

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