Last Monday

The following poem is addressed to Robert Hepburn who died in Temple, 1798.  It is based on a  stone gateway that has out-survived the house that it long since introduced.

[Necessary wider context to my poem is shared in the footnotes]


Last Monday

The only surviving son of Baad, you did guid.
Jist a bairn you lost yer faither.
It wis yer mither that you followed
through this gateway.

Summer 1786:
and a June day that you naiver forgot!
Appointed Scotland’s new Commisioner fae Customs:
arrivals and exits wer noo yer aivery-day!

Whit a summer that wis!
Aye Herschel wis far seeing
Maister, ye wer guid tae me. I will naiver forget that.

Maister, you died afae young and I miss you!
Yer hoose is noo lang gan,
but yer mither’s gateway
still stands in a muddy field *

that you raised in this field wis a’ sold
aifter yer daith.

[Oh, I shud hae said, this is William, yer gairdener spakin’. Nae doot you recognise my voice]


TWO CENTURIES later [somewhere beyond a pause]
Peter walked though this gateway.

*Nan Shepherd

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