Canzone 4

For Bob Hunter

I am your eyes now, imaging memories,
Amiens, Ypres, Flanders and the Somme;
And in my secret world the pale dawn holds
Out her hand bearing gifts that sight unfolds;
But you have seen men in the sacred rites
Of death, limbs twisted, bones broken, flesh from
Bodies burnt and blackened, who have come
Out of makeshift shrouds and bitterly cried;
Youths, bloody and sobbing, who wanton died,
Sleep, young lions, in the soft oblivion of time,
Lonely, in valour’s field, as church bells chime.


The Micht O Maikles MacKenzie

On Meeting the American Poet Joseph MacKenzie at Springside, near Kilmarnock

Ah, vagabond of a thousand lovely songs,
Dawn declares of an upstart’s unfettered foot,
Farewell to sleep, and you who blithely uproot
Night Norsemen, come challenging what charm prolongs

Those pert nuances of the dark-drowsing night,
Where trooping gnomes, in garish-coloured bonnets,
Hum in harmony and break into sonnets
Forged from splayed sunbeams, glittering like starlight.

Dusk will find your stealthy footfall silent, gone,
Like a thief of thoughts that shapes, by and by,
Daffodil, rose, snowdrop, the gladioli,
Spring plants at your dancing feet and departs, anon.

And here am I disturbed simply by loss of sleep,
Not by Winter’s frost, or fiercely drumming rain,
But by you, and I know that you had called again
To banish stupor; my song-sourced verse will keep.

Ever gentle jongleur, of the silken voice,
The echo from your harp births a virgin song,
Though silent singing enraptures not the throng,
Strum softly, if you will, let a bard rejoice.


Residing in Scotland, Sam Gilliland is a champion of Lallans (the Scottish language) poetry and a recipient of Sangschaw’s prestigious MacDiarmid Tassie. With three previous collections of poetry published his work in Scots includes A Rickle O Banes (Penny Wheep Press). Founder/Secretary of Ayrshire Writers & Artists Society the organisation became the home of The Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, to which he devoted twenty eight years of his life as co-administrator and judge.

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5 Responses

  1. Bruce E. Wren

    Excellent poetry, that, along with that of MacKenzie’s, are among the best I have read so far on this site. Congrats.

    • Sam Gilliland

      Thank you, Bruce. I’m sorry to be a bit late in responding. Wee bit negative for a while due to personal circumstances. Aye & aye, Sam.

  2. Leo Yankevich

    These are imaginative exceptionally well-made poems, skillfully metred and rhymed.

    • Sam Gilliland

      Sorry to be so late in expressing my gratitude, Leo. Personal circumstances floored me for a while. Aye & aye, Sam.


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