Sunday, July 24, 2005

Meanings Forgotten; Meanings Remembered

Many memorable songs have been sung over the centuries. Some are more memorable than others while losing little of their meaning. Others become part of the human experience losing the original meaning altogether.

Loch Lomond is one of those songs. In America, we remember the song from innumerable movies and television programs. Who can forget Lucille Ball in episode 144, "Lucy Goes to Scotland" of "I Love Lucy" in 1956? Or the Three Stooges in the haunted Scottish castle? This was funny stuff. The reality, however, was anything but funny.

"Loch Lomond"

By yon bonnie banks, and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
There me and my true love spent mony happy days
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

Oh, ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak' the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye
But trouble it is there, and mony hearts are sair
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted in yon bonnie glen
On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond
Where in purple hue the Highland hills we view
And the moon glints out in the gloamin'.

Oh ye'll tak the high road and I'll tak the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond

There the wild flowers spring and the wee birdies sing
And in sunshine the waters are sleepin'
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again
Though resigned we may be while we're greetin'.

On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond are the moors of Culloden where the final battle between Scotland and England took place in the snow and rain, April 16, 1746.

The Scottish Jacobins were attempting to return Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne of Scotland. Under the leadership of William Wallace (played sprightly by Mel Gibson), the brave hearted Scotsmen would have won the battle and their freedom had it not been for treachery on the part of some Scottish clansmen. Prince Charles faced not only 5000 English, Dutch, and German troops, but also over 4000 Scotsmen; more Scotsmen than Charles had standing in his army of Scots and Irish. The Highlanders lost several thousand dead, decimating the Jacobite army.

Adding to the devestation, the English began a campaign of indiscriminate, wholesale slaughter of the Highlanders known as the 'clearances'. Killing men, women, children, the elderly and crippled, from the moors of Culloden to Inverness, English troops left a trail of death and destruction, genocide and ethnic cleansing on par with anything done in the 20th Century.

After killing all the survivors they could find, the English rounded-up the suspected ringleaders of the rebellion and transported them to London for grand show trials. The English used the High Roads to reach London whilst the Clans and friends of the prisoners used the Low Roads.

Class consciousness in England was of utmost import and in many respects remains so to this day. The high roads were reserved for the high born nobles. The low roads were for everyone else – the people of the lower classes.

At the end of the show-trials, the prisoners were sentenced to death in the most horrific manner conceivable. The bodies were then chopped into pieces while the heads were placed on pikes. Then a grisly procession was mounted throughout the English and Scottish countryside to display the heads of the rebels – a gross and graphic warning to would be future rebels and terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Clans and friends returned by the low roads to the heathered glens of Scotland. Having no displays or warnings, they walked home peacefully arriving afore their executed brethren, sons, husbands, and lovers.

The What's in a Song series is produced by Taki Telonidis and Hal Cannon for National Public Radio, broadcast on Weekend Edition Sunday, July 24,2005.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Don said...

If the Brits would use a little of that treatment on the Muslim enclaves they've allowed to flourish, they would be a lot better off.

YellowRose said...

Very interesting...gruesome...but interesting. I find this stuff fascinating. I just love your blog!!

Tom C said...

Thats it, I'm giving my kilt away And yes I have pants.

dcat said...

MR. dcat has a kilt. :) He only wares it in the summer and sitting on the deck with Glen Levits and a cigar :)


You are good! Love the read!

atheling2 said...

Took a tour of the Highlands and saw the route Bonny Prince Charley took to escape from the English. He was heading towards the Isle of Skye, and to buy him time, a cousin of his (who resembled him) stayed behind with some of his men and fought with the English army in pursuit.

They cut off his head and threw his body into a stream. Thinking they had the Prince's head, they gave up the chase. They found out later that they had been duped.

Villagers took the body of the Prince's cousin and buried it near the stream where he fought to protect his Prince. The grave is still there. Very moving.

Sylvana said...

Culloden is not on the banks of Loch Lommond, nor is it really near Loch Lommond. It is a few hours north of it by train. It is near the shore of the Moray Firth. That is where the battle took place.

Indigo Red said...

Sylvana is absolutely correct. But, since when does a conservative have to let facts get in the way of a good tale.

Let's try out Moray Firth:

Oh ye'll tak the high road and I'll tak the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Moray Firth.

I'm not a poet, but I'm pretty sure Moray Firth doesn't work. I'll tak the Loch Lomond.

Note: My family clan participated in the Battle of Culloden...on both sides. My ancesters were with the English.