David Lewis Paget
The Heart of the Black Douglas
‘Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye
The Black Douglas shall not get ye’
(Northern English lullaby)
The Scottish records call him ‘The Good’
The English call him ‘The Black’,
They never knew just where he was hid
Before he would launch his attack,
He stood alongside Robert the Bruce
And they learned from their defeats,
Hit hard and fast with a mobile force
And be swift in their retreats.
They captured Roxburgh Castle at last
To the ire of Edward’s spleen,
Disguised as cows so they wouldn’t arouse,
They scaled the walls unseen.
And so the English called him ‘The Black’
For his many heinous deeds,
But he saw them off at Bannockburn,
When his spearmen killed their steeds.
The Bruce was weary and short his breath
With his soul bowed down by sin,
He told of his need to atone the death
Of his rival, ‘The Red’ John Comyn.
They’d come together at Greyfriar’s Kirk
And had fought, they’d both be king,
And there in front of the altar, Bruce
Had murdered his rival, Comyn.
‘So take my heart from my Scottish shores
To the Holy Land, to atone,
My heart will help you defeat the Moors
And my soul may then come home.’
The Black Douglas took on the task
And he went to fight the Moors,
But Alfonzo held his army back
And the Douglas fell from his horse.
They took his flesh and they boiled his bones
But they first embalmed his heart,
Then sent them back to his Scottish home
Though they somehow came apart.
The heart was found in the Douglas vault
In the ancient Kirk St. Bride,
But when they opened the old stone vault
His bones were not inside.
Perhaps they wander the Holy Land
In a search for the heart of Bruce,
He’d flung it at the advancing Moors
Before he fell off his horse.
But Melrose Abbey has Bruce’s heart
So his wanderings are in vain,
Though his soul will search ‘til his bones are found
For the sake of the Douglas name.
13 October 2013
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