50% Off All Dave Kerzner

Hello! I posted this on my Facebook and I realized it doesn’t always reach everyone. I wanted to make sure everyone knew about this sale I’m doing this weekend. It was for Black Friday but I extended it through Cyber Monday so that no one misses it! This is Squids Saturday (a lesser known holiday) so here’s the info for you. It’s really simple. HALF PRICE ON EVERYTHING! Best deal I’ve ever done on Bandcamp. Enter this code on check out on my Bandcamp page: bf2022

You save 50% off ANYTHING from CDs to downloads to Blu-Rays to box sets to T-shirts to posters to coasters (ok I don’t have coasters… but I should! Traveler coasters would look nice along with a Traveler mug!). Cheap shipping world-wide (often less than the actual cost we pay). Click HERE to have a look at what’s on my Sonic Elements Bandcamp Page!

I know some of you live in different parts of the world and this half off deal might be a good time to buy anything you were thinking about from my solo albums to In Continuum to SOC, Mantra Vega, tribute albums and more!

Special downloadable album only available this weekend!

Speaking of SOC, also just for this weekend only I’ve made disc 10 of the Corners of the Mind 10-disc box set a downloadable album. It’s listed at $20 but with the “bf2022” discount coupon applied it’s only $10! It has brand new previously unreleased recordings of songs I wrote with Sound of Contact like “Closer To You”, “Not Coming Down” and “Realm Of In-Organic Beings” plus songs from Dimensionaut I’ve done live and in the studio on various albums. In addition to those, I included some bonus tracks of alternate versions of songs from The Traveler that were originally worked on around the time of Dimensionaut!

Have a great safe weekend of music and fun! Thanks as always for your support for not only my music but the many progrock music makers, bands and artists that you love so we can keep this ship sailing! – Squids

Galahad News

Hi Everyone,


We know that it’s not been long since the last news update, thus we could be likened to buses (Galabus anyone!?) i.e. nothing for a long while and then a couple in quick succession!


Firstly, we would just like to thank everyone who has supported and shown so much faith in us by purchasing, downloading or streaming our new album. It means so much as it helps to keep us motivated to keep writing, recording and hopefully performing again at some point, once Spencer, our wonderful drummer, has fully recovered from the return of his brain cancer, for which he has had to endure two long rounds of chemo therapy in the last couple of years. Hence why the lack of live activity as a full band on our part.


On a very positive note though, our new album ‘The Last Great Adventurer’ does which seem to be going down very well in ‘prog’ circles and beyond and has garnered some very positive reviews and responses for which we are very thankful. 


Obviously, we’d like to keep up the momentum for as long as we can by trying to increase and maintain a higher profile which isn’t that easy for a smaller band like us with limited financial and marketing resources and no back up from a large record company as such. In fact, after 37 years on the ‘scene’ as it were there a still many prog/music fans who don’t appear to have heard of us at all!!


However, although as a rule we are not really bothered about band polls as such….BUT…because of the timing and the fact that we do have a new album out there we would be incredibly grateful if you were to support us just a little bit more by voting in this year’s annual PROG Magazine readers poll, which means even more as it is voted for by actual fans. This would no doubt help to increase awareness of the band as PROG Magazine is easily the highest profile publication covering our type of music in the UK and maybe even Europe. 


It would be good to give some of the ‘big guns’ of prog a run for their money for a change.


Obviously, it’s up to everyone to decide whether to vote or not and who to vote for if they do but it would be appreciated very, very, very much by the band if you were to vote for us. 


Choices/votes can be sent by email using the subject header ‘Readers’ Poll 2022′ to: prog@futurenet.com. Last day for voting is 28 November.


Thank you so much in advance to those who will support us in this way and please spread the word if you can and feel so inclined.   



Vote In The Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll 2022

It’s time for Prog readers to tell us what progged their word in 2022!




We also have just a couple of other news items:



Karl Groom will shortly commence mixing our next studio album which is provisionally titled  ‘The Long Goodbye’. This was recorded during the same sessions as ’The Last Great Adventurer’ and should be released later in 2023. 



Work is on-going to finalise the LP versions of the new album. We understand from Oskar/Music Mart in Poland that there will be three vinyl versions of this album available, one standard black version plus two limited edition colour versions.


More details will follow on the above as soon as we know, so please keep your eyes peeled on our official band website as well our Facebook page.


I thank that is all for now…..apart from mentioning that we’ve included an MP3 above of a little something that Dean and Stu have put together. J







Is the new iPad lineup confusing? Let’s talk about it.

Last Tuesday, Apple released two new significant updates to its lineup of iPads. First, it brought the M2 chip to the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. Those units also get a new hover mode feature for Apple Pencil. Here’s how Apple describes that feature:

Apple Pencil is now detected up to 12 mm above the display, allowing users to see a preview of their mark before they make it. This also allows users to sketch and illustrate with even greater precision, and makes everything users do with Apple Pencil even more effortless. For example, with Scribble, text fields automatically expand when the pencil gets near the screen, and handwriting converts to text even faster.

In addition, Apple also introduced a new 10th generation iPad (no suffix). This model brings the newer iPad design language to the iPad: uniform bezels and flat edges. As with the iPad Air, the Touch ID sensor has been moved to the Sleep/Wake button. As with all of its no-suffix forebears, the 10th generation iPad is limited to first generation Apple Pencil compatibility. With the 10th generation iPad, Apple also introduced the new Magic Keyboard Folio. Compatible only with the 10th generation iPad, the Magic Keyboard Folio is a two-piece design. It has a back cover with an adjustable stand and a detachable front cover that, on the inside, sports a trackpad and keyboard. In a first for an Apple-branded iPad keyboard case, there’s even a row of function keys. People have accused Apple of copying the Microsoft Surface keyboard case for years, and the Magic Keyboard Folio is certainly the most Surface-y iPad keyboard accessory yet. The 10th generation iPad also moves the front-facing camera to the landscape edge of the iPad, something no other iPad has ever had.
— Read on yourappleupdate.substack.com/p/is-the-new-ipad-lineup-confusing

50 Years of Kansas

KANSAS celebrate their 50th anniversary with release of ‘Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas’KANSAS, America’s legendary progressive rock band, will celebrate their 50thanniversary in 2023. To commemorate this landmark occasion, current label InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce Another Fork In  The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas for release on the 9th December 2022. A career-spanning collection, it features carefully-selected tracks from across the bands sizable discography, as well as a new version of ‘Can I Tell You’. Originally recorded and released on their 1974 debut, the song is updated by the current line-up, providing a full-circle perspective on the band’s long and continuing history that has seen them release 16 studio albums and sell in excess of 30 million albums worldwide.Phil Ehart comments: “We are really honored by the commitment that InsideOut Music has put into ‘Another Fork in the Road.’ This is far more than just another greatest hits album. ‘Another Fork in the Road’ is an in-depth representation of the evolving and winding musical journey of the band KANSAS that’s been 50 years in the making.”Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas will arrive as a 3CD Digipak collection, including extensive liner notes by journalist Jeff Wagner, as well as pictures of rarely-seen memorabilia and archive material, all overseen by founding member Phil Ehart. Pre-order now here: https://kansas.lnk.to/AnotherForkInTheRoad-50YearsOfKansasThe full track-listing is below. Please note, due to licensing restrictions there are minor differences between the European & North American release.

Disc 1:1.Can I Tell You (new 2022 version)2.The Absence of Presence (The Absence of Presence, 2020)3.Throwing Mountains (The Absence of Presence, 2020)4.Crowded Isolation (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)5.Summer (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)6.The Voyage of Eight Eighteen (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)7.Icarus II (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)8.The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis) (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)9.Distant Vision (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)10.The Wall (Always Never the Same, 1998)11.Dust in the Wind (Always Never the Same, 1998)12.Desperate Times (Freaks of Nature, 1995)13.Under The Knife (Freaks of Nature, 1995) North America Version – Disc 2:1.Fight Fire With Fire (Drastic Measures, 1983)2.End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)3.Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)4.Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)5.Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)6.Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)7.Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)8.Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)9.Curtain of Iron (Audio-Visions, 1980)10.No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)11.On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)12.Angels Have Fallen (Monolith, 1979)13.How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)
EU Version – Disc 2:1.House on Fire (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)2.Rainmaker (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)3.Silhouettes in Disguise (Power, 1986)4.Secret Service (Power, 1986)5.Three Pretenders (Power, 1986)6.End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)7.Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)8.Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)9.Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)10.Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)11.Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)12.Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)13.No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)14.On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)15.How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)Disc 3:1.Carry On Wayward Son (Two for the Show, 1978)2.Portrait (He Knew) (Point of Know Return, 1977)3.Sparks of the Tempest (Point of Know Return, 1977)4.Miracles Out of Nowhere (Leftoverture, 1976)5.Magnum Opus (Leftoverture, 1976)6.Icarus – Borne On Wings of Steel (Masque, 1975)7.Child of Innocence (Masque, 1975)8.Down The Road (Song for America, 1975)9.Song For America (Song for America, 1975)10.The Devil Game (Song for America, 1975)11.Death of Mother Nature Suite (Kansas, 1974)12.Belexes (Kansas, 1974)13.Journey From Mariabronn (Kansas, 1974)Kansas will celebrate their 50th anniversary with extensive touring in North America in 2023. The band is currently comprised of original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist/vocalist Billy Greer, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist/vocalist Tom Brislin, and original guitarist Richard Williams.

 For a full list of upcoming dates, head to: https://www.kansasband.com/tour-dates/

With a legendary career spanning five decades, KANSAS has firmly established itself as one of America’s iconic classic rock bands. This “garage band” from Topeka released their debut album in 1974 after being discovered by Wally Gold, who worked for Don Kirshner, and have gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Composing a catalogue that includes sixteen studio albums and five live albums, KANSAS has produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-Platinum albums (Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Best of KANSAS), one platinum live album (Two for the Show), one quadruple-Platinum single ‘Carry On Wayward Son,’ and another triple-Platinum single ‘Dust in the Wind.’ KANSAS appeared on the Billboard charts for over 200 weeks throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and played to sold-out arenas and stadiums throughout North America, Europe and Japan. ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ continues to be one of the top five most played songs on classic rock radio, and ‘Dust In the Wind’ has been played on the radio more than three million times!

The summer of 2020 marked the release of The Absence of Presence,KANSAS’s sixteenth studio album, which debuted at #10 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart.  The wide-ranging progressive rock album, released by InsideOut Music, follows-up 2016’s The Prelude Implicit, which debuted at #14 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. KANSAS online:


What good is poetry? What good are prayers?


by Richard K. Munro

About fifty years ago I heard a concert given by the Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar.    He sang of course, mostly Scottish songs -some were fabulous poems by Burns, Scott, and Byron -others were fun ditties.    But one song he sang I will never forget as it made such an impression on me.  McKellar made some comments on Scots going to sea and ship building and that everyone in the hall probably had an ancestor or relative who was in the Merchant Marine or Navy.   I remembered that my Scottish grandfather had gone to sea himself on a tall ship circa 1895 when he was eight years old.   The song McKellar sang was Sea-Fever by John Masefield (music by Ireland)

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

The first time I heard this song I did not understand it completely. 

 But I did not know that “a trick” was a sailor’s turn at the helm for a few hours.   

Later I realized the “long trick” was life itself and that the “quiet sleep and sweet dream” was death.    

 I have read the poem dozens of times in the last fifty years and heard the song in recordings by McKellar and many other times.   Today I appreciate the lovely imagery of the poem and the lure of adventure and excitement that is the sailor’s life but also how lovely it is to experience nature in person.   I know the word WHETTED means sharpened.   I know the whale’s way is the deep blue ocean. 

Reading the poem, I have some idea of what my grandfather experienced before the mast in the late 19th century. The song is forever linked to memories of my grandfather and to Kenneth McKellar and my parents who took me to see him perform at Kearny High School in Kearney New Jersey so long ago.

Poetry like prayer is important for our inner lives.   We will all have challenges and disappointments in life.  We will all know sickness (how dreary!) and the death of loved ones (how heart breaking!).  We will feel an intense emotion, but we won’t know what to say.  We will be at a loss for words or an explanation.  But the bard and songster can put our feelings into words and provide some consolation. In this poetry comes close to religion.    

Many times, people have come close to Sergeant Death in bombings of cities (I knew people who survived the London Blitz and one who was buried alive for three days).   Many times, in battle under a bombardment men huddled closely and put their hands over the bible in their front pocket or grabbed hold of their rosaries.   It is almost unbelievable to read that regiments like my grandfather’s (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) were under continuous attack for thirty-six days during 2nd Ypres (1915).   The soldiers repeated the Hail Mary and the Our Father over and over and Psalm 23.  The freethinkers among them did not argue, in fact one said “GIE ME THEM BEADS!”.    They repeated together an ancient poem that some had not said since boyhood:

1)The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

And they found great comfort in these words.  I am sure many thought back to their mothers and loved ones and quiet and safe times back home.    Many found comfort in those words as no words of their own could have brought them.  

 I remember the day my mother died at age 86.  On New Year’s Day she unexpectedly had a heart attack.   She lingered a few days in the hospital but before we knew it she was gone.    It was one of the saddest days of my life.

I will never forget when my mother said to us, “This time I don’t think I am going to make it.” 

My immediate reaction was to take her by her hand now cold and weak and say with her the OUR FATHER, the Hail Mary and repeat the 23rd Psalm that she had taught me as a child.   She smiled an angelic smile and was not worried about her death and her parting from this world.   She instead was WORRIED FOR US!    She said she would be waiting on the other side in paradise, but we would suffer many years of separation.   That was my mother all over always concerned for others more than herself!

My mother had a Good Death.  There is such thing as a Good Death.  She did not suffer.  She was not alone when she died, and he lived a long life mostly in good health. 

Before my mother’s death I found it very difficult to deal with the deaths of loved ones but after her death I found a new wisdom and a maturity to endure without losing control.

My mother was very glad to have met and known and loved her three grandchildren and only wished she had more time with them.  But she was happy to know they were safe and in happy homes and had a good start at life.    She was happy they knew their own father. 

My mother never knew her father.  He was killed when she was three years old so she had no memory of him. But she heard stories about him from her mother and aunt.  She had some of his books -one was a book with illustrations of Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures in Africa and South America.   The book had his signature in it ERIC ANDERSON.   She also had his Bible that had some favorite parts starred or underlined in pencil.    She also had some of his record collection -he loved music.   Songs by John McCormack music by Rachmaninoff.   

My mother later saw McCormack and Rachmaninoff perform in person in New York.     She enjoyed the concerts very much and it gave her special pleasure to know her father had appreciated and loved those artists and now she was sharing that appreciation!

We all at some time in the mysterious future may have to endure some experience absolutely outside our present scope.   Many a man has lived happily until something made him for the first time think about committing suicide.  

Such a man or woman might be able to understand himself or herself and rise above such dark thoughts if for example he knows music Rachmaninoff wrote when he too had such self-destructive thoughts and conquered them.   Rachmaninoff had a happy, successful, and prosperous early life but when the Russian Revolution came, he lost all his savings and property and many of his friend were killed in the war or murdered by the Communists.  He came to America as a penniless immigrant without friends or connections.  Then he fell sick with the Spanish Flu and more of his friends and neighbors died including his son-in-law.  He recovered in 1919 and began to earn money as a concert pianist.  And just by dint of hard work and his musical talent he rebuilt his life and gained some financial security.  Before he died, he became a US.  citizen.

Even if we are not called to endure such extremes there are those about us, perhaps very close ,who will face situations: drug abuse, alcoholism, a car crash, mugging, sudden wealth, divorce, sudden unemployment, poverty, old age and humiliations.

  Poetry, I think, teaches wisdom and creates a deeper sympathy in our hearts.  

Poetry, like prayer, has a special power and is something we will need in our lives.   

Poetry, prayers, and songs have always been immensely valuable to me.    It is my antidote to depression, loneliness, and fatigue.  

I have often said the only time I forget that my mother is dead is when I play and sing the songs, she taught me.

We will all suffer personal loses in this life because no man and no woman are mastets of the line of his or her life. 

We are all mortal.  Genesis 3:19

 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,

till thou return unto the ground;

for out of it wast thou taken:

for dust thou art,

and unto dust shalt thou return.

So here’s an idea.  Find a poetry anthology.  Find a poem. Find a quotation.  Perhaps a fragment of a poem or anonymous ballad.   

Any poem.  Any song.  Write it down. Say it.  Memorize it. Then when you feel down in a funk you can say it to yourself or look it up and find it and read it again.  You can say it in your head or on your tongue.   

And you will find that poetry is magic.  It restores love.  It restores joy.  It Connects to memory.  It gives us laughter and tears.   

It reminds us that life and love are just brief moments in time and that one day “the long trick” will be over. But we are not to be afraid for in our final sleep there is no pain or torment only deep peace.

Glass Hammer’s At The Gate


Glass Hammer is set to release the third album in their Skallagrim Trilogy, entitled At The Gate. The first album of the trilogy, 2020’s Dreaming City, heralded a new, much heavier sound for GH, which is continued in At The Gate. The albums chronicle the sword-and-sorcery adventures of a hard-bitten thief named Skallagrim who finds himself locked in a desperate struggle with forces of evil. Through his struggles to find his lost love, he matures and gains much wisdom. In this final installment, Skallagrim has been cursed to live a thousand years seeking his love. When he finally does find her, he ends up sacrificing himself so she can be free.

At The Gate begins with one of Glass Hammer’s finest songs of their long career – the beautiful The Years Roll By. This song is in more of the “classic” prog style long-time GH fans have loved – a keyboards-driven melody with majestic vocals underpinned by Aaron Raulston’s excellent percussion and Steve Babb’s energetic and inventive bass. The inimitable Babb also supplies the pipe organ and keyboards on this one. Vocalist Hannah Pryor really comes into her own on this track, and Fred Schendel is outstanding (as usual!) on guitars.

Savage is up next, and it begins with a spare, unaccompanied guitar riff that soon explodes into a heavy groove. Pryor’s voice is perfect for this crunchy, metallic style, as she can really wail while maintaining a delicate tone.

North of North continues the interesting experiments GH has been doing with their instrumentals in the trilogy. It begins with a propulsive, Tangerine Dream-like synth riff that builds and builds. I hope they continue to explore this style of music!

All Alone begins as another crushing tune reminiscent of King’s X at their heaviest. The style fits the lyrics, as Skallagrim grimly mutters, “The dark is deep and blood runs cold, so cold. Don’t leave her there all alone.” The mood lightens when the melody transforms into a bluesy riff and Pryor sings, “Think how good you’ll feel when the battle’s won, no need to roam, you’ll take her home to stay.” I like the tension between the dark and light moods in this track.

All For Love is the most “proggy” song on the album, with lots of time changes, switching from major to minor keys, and furious guitar work from Reese Boyd. From the beginning, the tempo gallops along, leaving the listener feeling like he or she has run a marathon!

Snowblind Girl keeps the up the fast and furious pace, and Raulston really shines on this track. It also creates tension between the melodic passages sung by Pryor and the dark, chaotic instrumental responses.

Standing At The Gate is the most “difficult” song on the album, with discordant organ chords opening it and the rapid tempos continuing. GH alum Jon Davison has a nice cameo here on vocals.

After four heavy, blistering songs, the last two provide some welcome relief. In The Shadows and It’s Love are combined into a single track, and they contain some of the most beautiful music Glass Hammer has produced. In The Shadows evokes Radiohead at its most gentle and melodic. It’s a terrific song with simple instrumentation that like a balm after the frenetic and dense activity of the previous four. In it, Skallagrim has vowed to sacrifice himself for the sake of his love, and he is at peace with it: “There’s no life without you, there’s no life. If I walk this life alone, if I never find a home, there’s no life without you.”

In The Shadows segues seamlessly into It’s Love with some majestic organ work by Babb and the trebly, melodic bass that he is so good at. The production is open and inviting, as Pryor sings, “What you’re longing for is waiting in Heaven up above. There is no greater act then when one lays down his life, down for love.” It’s a truly beautiful moment, and one of Glass Hammer’s career highlights. The song ends with a coda that recalls the riff from Dreaming City’s A Desperate Man, which is nice way to tie the trilogy together into a unified work.

So, to sum up, At The Gate contains some of Glass Hammer’s most ambitious and challenging music. It is a tribute to their skill and talent that they pull it off so successfully. The album opens and closes with songs that sound like classic Glass Hammer, but with a contemporary feel. Looking back over their career, it is astonishing to me that a group of musicians are able to compose and perform such consistently excellent music over such a long period. Glass Hammer never fails to satisfy discerning prog fans, while exploring new and fascinating styles of music. They never stop evolving – here’s to hoping they continue for another 20 years!

You can order At The Gate here.

Here’s the video for The Years Roll By:


By Richard K. Munro


I was surprised to see a piece on Robert Burns who is one of my favorite poets. He was also, as H.W. Brands probably knows, a favorite poet of Abraham Lincoln. Some people, if they think of him at all remember Burns as an author of romantic lyrical poems which he was.

But as you have pointed out Burns was much more. Burns was a great and original thinker who lived on the cusp of the modern age (he once took a trip on a steam powered boat) but who lived with a close tie to the Iron Age of Scotland which ended abruptly on April 16, 1746 as Toynbee pointed out some years ago. The history of Scotland that Burns knew was a series of disasters and defeats punctuated by some extraordinary victories. He was aware that some secured much less of the world’s material goods and security and others secured more than, perhaps their respective merit deserved. Burns may not have known of so-called White Privilege but he did know the privilege of rank.

“The rank is but the guinea’s stamp, the man’s the gowd (gold) for a’ that. “

Burns lived on the edge of poverty and saw sickness and early death all around him. Mary Morison, “the toast of the town” was known to be among the most beautiful women in Mauchline, Scotland from age 16 to 20.

Yestreen when to the trembling string

The dance gaed thro’ the lighted ha’

To thee my fancy took its wing,

I sat, but neither heard nor saw:

Tho’ this was fair, and that was braw,

And yon the toast of a’ the town,

I sigh’d, and said amang them a’,

“Ye are na Mary Morison.”

O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,

Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?

Or canst thou break that heart of his,

Whase only faut is loving thee?

If love for love thou wilt na gie

At least be pity to me shown:

A thought ungentle canna be

The thought o’ Mary Morison.

Mary Morison died at age 20 she had the gift of beauty but not health or longevity.

Burns was wise but the power of his poetry is in its absolute truthfulness. Wordsworth recognized that Burn’s leading characteristic was his utter sincerity and almost absolute truthfulness. Wordsworth acknowledged few masters but of Burns he said:

Whose light I hailed when it first shone

and showed my youth

How verse may build a princely throne

On humble truth.

Burns was the son of workers from the lower levels of society and through education and talent made a name for himself. He commented on Society -both high and low-on Nature homely or beautiful with the clearest eye and the warmest Scottish heart. Burns touched life at myriad points seeing the pretence of hollowness of the men and women he met and also the sterling core of their virtues

Yes once upon a time, there was a lad born in Ayr: Robert Burns.

To go to that rude cottage of Ayr the birthplace of Burns so near the Brig o’ Doon, is to experience a secular epiphany as to the essential equality of all humanity. It is to experience awe at the true mystery of talent and genius. It is an affirmation at what secret treasures can be found hidden anywhere among any class, gender or race IF individuals are given a a proper upbringing and decent education and chance to develop, discover and explore their God-given gifts.

As Burns’ father knew it is hard to be poor . At the age of 19 Burns’ father was a homeless migrant farm laborer but he was proud he could read, write and cipher and always carried the Old Book with him. But Agnes Brown (Mrs. Burns) and her husband kept their entire family of seven under one roof and surrounded the children’s lives with care and tender love. Both mother and father displayed a piety that was neither excessive nor harsh unlike the extreme Calvinism that was the mode of the established clergy of his time. In Burn’s house physical labor was incessant, food and fuel were scarce. But education and religion were not neglected; they were held rather by the Burns family as an essential, sacred duty. And Mrs. Burns “sang so sweet” Rab oft “couldna” sleep as she crooned “the Auld Scots sangs” to him. Burns had no shame of his very humble origin:

From scenes like these old Scotia’s grandeur springs

That makes her loved at home, revered abroad

Princes and lords are but the breath of kings

An honest man’s the noblest work of God.

As John Masefield has written

I have seen flowers in stony places

and kindness done by men with ugly faces

and the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races;

So I trust too.

Sir Walter Scott, who met Burns as a boy at Adam Fergusson’s home in Edinburgh said meeting Burns was like meeting Vergil in person. He described Burns as a man of “dignified plainness and simplicity…his person was strong and robust…there was a strong expression of sense and shrewdness ..his eye was large and of a dark cast, which glowed (I say literally glowed)…when he spoke with feeling or interest. I never saw such another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men of my time.”

Burns had no Gaelic but he read McPherson’s translations and adaptations . In addition to writing his own lyrics, Burns was a preserver, without pay, of ancient airs and songs of Scotland. Burns heard Gaelic song in the Highlands and no doubt at Ferguson’s Edinburgh home These ancient rhapsodies were interpreted for him and brought him into contact with centuries of verses praising the country, the mist-covered mountains, the flowers the birds…

Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale…

…..flow gently sweet Afton, among they green braes, flow gently, I’ll sing a song in thy praise…

{Och} But pleasures are like poppies spread, you seize the flower, its bloom is shed

or like the snow-fall in the river a moment white then melts forever..”

In a sense Burns is a Scottish Hemingway literary but appealing to men.

Unlike Hemingway however, Burns is equally appealing to women whom Burns did not recognize as inferior to men or merely sex objects but something complementary. If not as physically strong they were if anything, worthier in some ways than men and worthy of love, protection and sacrifice:

For you sae douce ye sneer at this

ye’re nought but senseless asses, O

the wisest man the warl’ e’er saw

he dearly lov’d the lasses, O

Auld Nature swear, the lovely dears

Her noblest works she classes, O

Her prentice han’ she try’d on man

and THEN she made the lasses, O.!

Green grow the rashes, O

Green grow the rashes O

The sweetest hours that e’er I spend

Are spent among the lasses, O!

The Regiment and male bonding was great but family life, led by a good woman was the center of all that was good and clean:

To make a happy fireside clime

To weans and wife

That is the true pathos sublime

Of human life.

Burns looks firmly towards the future and democracy but he never forgot his own and his people’s past. Had he lived he might well have emigrated to America as did his direct descendants. (Filmmakers Ric and Ken Burns are direct descendants of Robert Burns. ) Burns speaks to the world, if they would hear, about the true meaning of liberty and the nobility of man -an woman too- who dwell in every land and every walk of life.

Burns suffered with the poor and oppressed be they colonials , blacks slaves from Senegal , Scots, Chinese or English or French or American factory workers.

“Man’s inhumanity to man”, he wrote , “makes countless thousands mourn”.

Wrote Burns: “Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others, this is my criterion of goodness; and whatever injures society at large, or an individual in it, this is my measure of iniquity.”

Burns preaches not irreligion but tolerance for skeptics as well as for all faiths and denominations. Burns sings not just of woman’s beauty but of her rights and of her mind and the equality of these tender souls created in the image of God.

All that Scotland had done and suffered, the memory of her heroic but disastrous history, the heads bloodied but unbowed, the strong valiant, manhood of her Highland men, the deep sonsie lyric womanhood and pragmatism of her lassies, the memory of dualchas araid, the splendid ancient Gaelic heritage, the songs of the Hebrides, the beauty of Scotland’s nature and her scenery -of Highlands, lowlands and Islands, may have vanished without trace without the unconquerable spirit of Robert Burns.

And the British people and people ‘round the world would have been for the poorer.

Yes, all this could have been utterly destroyed by mindless uniformity, the depressing deracination of the urban poor, the manufactured ugliness of slum upon slum and a numb proletarian anomie, had Scotland been left without the Scottish and Celtic renaissance led by Burns.

Truly the pen and the heart and the lips are mightier than the sword! NE OBLIVISCARIS do not forget the poet.

Do not forget ROBERT BURNS.


Music, Books, Poetry, Film

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