Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More about that poem....

First of all, I completely and unreservedly recommend the version by Eddi Reader...she's got the right accent for this, and she sings it in a properly passionate, melancholy, and authentic voice.

The poem is by Robert Burns. I may have read a poem or two of his in high school; I don't remember now. But once I heard that song I couldn't stop listening to it. The structure of the poem, the modulation of the imagery (sounds really pretentious, doesn't it?)...the only thought in my head was a quote from Woody Allen on Kierkegaard: "and I have trouble writing two sentences on my day at the zoo."

The history behind the song is remarkable, and oh, so relevant to the history of the United States...

Although the conventional narrative from the right is often "the Puritans were fleeing persecution," and indeed there was great intolerance and prejudice, it's also clear that what Burns wrote about, peace, was something that was sorely needed at the time...

Jacobitism was the political movement dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland (and after 1707, Great Britain). The movement took its name from the Latin form Jacobus of the name of King James II and VII.

Jacobitism was a response to the deposition of James II and VII in 1688 when he was replaced by his daughter Mary II jointly with her husband William of Orange. The Stuarts lived on the European continent after that, occasionally attempting to regain the throne with the aid of France or Spain. Within the British Isles, the primary seats of Jacobitism were Ireland and (especially Highland) Scotland. There was also some support in England and Wales, particularly in Northern England. Royalists supported Jacobitism because they believed that Parliament had no authority to interfere with the Royal succession, and many Catholics looked to it to restore their preeminence, but people became involved in the military campaigns for all sorts of allegiances and motives. In Scotland the Jacobite cause became entangled in the last throes of the warrior Clan system, and became a lasting romantic memory.

Absolutist monarchs. Religious intolerance. Marx was wrong: we are not living through a farce.

No comments: