Poem: A Winter’s Challenge / Frae Winter’s Quest

A Winter’s Challenge

If once you’d ask from all half-hearted men,

What way their thoughts would turn, and turn again,

Before they knew which way that wind would blow,

There’d be no wonder left beyond the melting snow –

So few alone keep faith.


Though English gales reach round with icy blast,

With demon blizzards, figures from our past

To make us cringe, as once at Fawdoun’s ghost,

And take away what, in our hearts, we’ve wanted most –

There’s more might yet keep faith.


And fluttering snows, that masters whom we know

Call down, will pummel us with tales of woe;

If through that whirling spind-drift snow of fear

We dare, through lightning’s light, to grasp what’s been most dear –

Then more will yet keep faith.


Yet once our sun their frozen drifts dispel

And myths of poverty with pride we tell

To think again – then ‘neath our saltire sky,

We’ll see once more our land, its winters long gone by,

And with ourselves keep faith.


(Lines concerning the start of the debate on Scotland’s Independence 14th January, 2012)

Frae Winter’s Quest


Gif aince you’d spier frae aw hauf-herted men,

Whit wey their thochts maun birl, an’ birl again,

Fornent they kent whit wey thon wind maun blaw,

There’d be nae wunner left ayont the meltin’ snaw –

Sae few alane stey leal.


Tho’ Southron gales rax roun’ wi’ icy blast,

Wi’ bogle blizzards, figures frae oor past

Tae mak us cringe, as aince at Fawdoun’s ghaist,

An’ tak awa’ whit, in oor herts, we’ve wantit maist –

There’s mair micht yit stey leal.


An’ switherin’ snaws, that maisters o oor ain

Ca’ doon, ’ll whummle us wi’ spiels o pain;

Gif thro’ thon flicht’rin’ floichan-drift o fear

We daur, thro’ levin’s licht, to grip whit’s bin maist dear –

Syne muckle mair stey leal.


Yit aince oor sun thair yowdendrift hae skailt,

An’ myths o poverty by pride are telt

Tae think again – then, ’neath oor saltire sky,

We’ll see aince mair oor land, its winters lang gaed by,

An’ tae oorsels be leal.


(Lines anent the start of the debate on Scotland’s Independence 14th January, 2012)


Nigel Stuart


About Nigel Stuart

Nigel Stuart is a poet, who also writes under his own name as a modern historian and as a translator of much earlier verse. His next publication is a full English translation of The Wallace. Some of his political verse can be found at (www.warpoetryimprintco.uk). He is based in the Borders and in Italy.