Macfadden And Macfee.

David Rorie 1867 – 1946

[This ballad is of great interest, and, as far as we know, has not hitherto appeared in print. It is certainly not in Child's Collection. It was taken down from the singing of an aged man of 105 years, in Glen Kennaquhair. Internal evidence would tend to show that the incidents recorded in the ballad occurred in the seventeenth century, and that Sir Walter Scott had heard at least one verse of it. The aged singer-now, alas! no more-sang it to the air of "Barbara Allen."]
It was an' aboot the Lammas time,
In sixteen forty-three, sirs,
That there fell oot the awfu' fecht
'Twixt Macfadden an' Macfee, sirs.
Macfadden, wha was gaun to kirk
Upon the morn's morn,
Had washed his kilt an' cleaned his dirk
An' combed his Sabbath sporran.
An' bein' for the time o' year
Remarkably fine weather,
These articles o' dress were laid
To air upon the heather.
Waes me! Macfee, while dandrin' owre
The bonnie braes o' Lorne,
Maun gang an' pit his muckle fit
Upon Macfadden's sporran.
A piece o' carelessness like this
The brichtest heart would sadden,
An' when he saw the caitiff deed
It fair gaed owre Macfadden.
For he was shavin' at the time,
An' when the sicht he saw, sir,
Wi' rage he shook an' nearly took
His neb aff wi' his raazor.
A while he swore and staunched the gore
An' ere Macfee got ae lick,
Macfadden cursed him heid an' heels
In comprehensive Gaelic.
Syne when his breath was a' but gane,
An' when he couldna say more,
He lat a muckle Heelant yell
An' at him wi' his claymore.
What sweeter sound could warrior hear
Unless it was the daddin'
That echoed oot when'er Macfee
Got hame upon Macfadden?
Nae sweeter soond I weel could ween,
Exceppin' it micht be, sirs,
The soond that hurtled oot when'er
Macfadden hit Macfee, sirs.
An awfu' fecht it was to see,
A fecht baith fell an' dour, sirs,
For ere the tuilzie weel began
The glen was fu' o' stour, sirs.
An awfu' fecht, again I say't,
And on each auld clay biggin',
The freends o' baith, like hoodie craws,
Were roostin' on the riggin'.
And aye they buckled till't wi' birr;
In combat sair an' grievous,
They glanced like lightnin' up Strathyre
An' thundered doon Ben Nevis.
Wha won the fecht, or whilk ane lost,
Was hid frae mortal e'e, sirs,
Nane saw the fearsome end o' baith
Macfadden an' Macfee, sirs.
But still they say, at break o' day,
Upon the braes o' Lorne,
Ye'll hear the ghaistly rustlin' o'
Macfadden's Sabbath sporran.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:18 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,379
Words 452
Stanzas 16
Stanza Lengths 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

David Rorie

David Rorie, MDCM, DPH (1867 – 18 February 1946) was a doctor, folklorist and poet writing in his native language, Scots. As a poet he is known chiefly for his authorship of the well-known song, 'The Lum Hat wantin' the Croon', (sung in Ladysmith during the siege, and widely amongst Scots troops in the Great War) and a volume of collected poems which appeared under that title in 1935. Educated at Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities, where he gained an MD in 1908, he was for some years joint Editor of the Caledonian Medical Journal, contributing numerous articles to that journal as well as to the Edinburgh Medical Journal and the British Medical Journal, and becoming a well-known authority on matters of public health in Scotland. As an enthusiastic collector and editor of Scottish folklore he is known for his interest in folk-medicine and his authorship of Folklore of the Mining Folk of Fife (Folklore Society, 1912) - this last stemming no doubt from his period as a busy doctor in Bowhill (Cardenden), FifeDr Rorie served in the RAMC during the 1914-18 War, attained the rank of colonel, and was awarded the DSO and Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.  more…

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