19 April 2010

Continuation of Thomas Carlyle poem


Thomas speaks his opening words;
Napoleon opens his regime.

Thomas learns his ABCs;
Jefferson doubles America's extent.

Dundas and Pitt squeeze the reins of Britain
Dumfriesshire sees its taxes go to placemen

Masons and weavers, farmers and tailors
Keep abreast of the times as they can
Seeing their grown sons turn into sailors
Thinking which one could be a great man.


His village schooling done, Edinburgh calls;
The winding road northward beckons.

O city of Hume, Robertson, Scott
Look not unkindly upon a rural lad

May he find his Socrates in your northern Athens,
May he master the knowledge to glorify God.

A dappled sky above, he takes himself to Lockerbie,
With oatcakes and berries for food,
Moving on to Moffat, well-wishing family,
Cleaving the high hills, alights at Holyrood.


Lectures in Latin, street games in broad Scots
Education comes to him in diverse forms.

The law regii Scotorum, materia medica
Both vie for his attention, seek to mold his mind

The land enfolds him, every local mound
Braid, Corstorphine, Calton Hill

Friends progress with their careers,
Set to become quite happy gents;
Thomas is gripped by enfeebling fears
Is the World naught but a floating tuppence?


A Sunday comes when the Spirit comes,
Hovering fiery above Arthur's Seat;

Not one shape in Legendre's Elements
Can define what is happening to him.

Footfalls on Leith Walk, walking to the sea
Christ is here among the merchants and loafers.

The skeptic brain reels at the thought made flesh,
Machine-Man evaporates in the ray of truth.
O there is grain in God's world to thresh,
Wisdom to be found among the uncouth.

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