Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Emigrant's Farewell

The Emigrant's Farewell.

Farewell to bonnie Scotland! to the mountains and the glen,
The land of love and freedom of fair women and brave men.
The good ship now outspreads her wings to bear us o'er the foam
Far, far from Caledonia and our Native Highland home.

Farewell to him who served me well with famous boots and shoes
A parting word of gratitiude to him we can't refuse
His boots through many changing years have well adorned our feet
Enabling old and young to walk in ease and comfort sweet.

Farewell to friends and kinsfolk - shall we ever see them more?
Or shall our bones be laid to rest on yonder far off shore?
We know not - but we hope and trust we shall not seek in vain
For Scottish hearts both leal and true across th' atlantic main.

Farewell Auld Scotland it may prove a long and last adieu;
But though the glistening tear should dint our last fond look at you
Our heads are cool, are hearts are firm and we have for our feet
A stack of LECKIE'S BOOTS AND SHOES FROM 50 COCKBURN STREET.

***

This poem was originally published in an advertisement on the front page of The Scotsman, June 5th 1882. It's blatantly commercial, of course. But somehow, I fell in love with it for its peculiarly Scottish mix of sentimentality and practicality.

My Scottish ancestors set out for New Zealand, and their siblings and cousins to many other countries, in the 19th century, and may well have been shod in Leckie's boots and shoes. And no doubt there was a glistening tear or two on their cheeks when they left their friends and relatives behind.

I like the fact that advertisements back then didn't have to grab the attention quite so quickly as they seem to nowadays, leaving room for a four stanza poem, instead of a quick sound bite slogan.

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4 comments:

Gerry Snape said...

I wonder did my great uncle Cochrane who left Scotland for Texas have his feet well shod? I should think so...he ended up in the oil business!

AJ Ponder said...

Thanks for that I got to the end and had a right old chuckle. Nice. If only more advertising could run so merry,we should all go dancing in comfortable shoes.

Helen Lowe said...

Nice to know that a poem can also be a 'jingle.' :)

Sarah Salway said...

Aw, I found this really moving too. I used to write for the Scotsman, but sadly not in verse!!!