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David’s Story: ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’ Thursday, 4 February 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Stories.

I remember this particular poem by Hamish Henderson for two reasons – it is one of the first poems that I learned in Scots, and because of the anti-apartheid reference in the last verse.  Nyanga is one of the townships of Cape Town, and it is right on the Atlantic.   The only thing “frae yont Nyanga” is Robben Island.  

from “The Freedom Come All Ye.”

When Maclean’s wi’ his frens in Springburn
A’ the roses and geans shall turn to bloom
And the black boy frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o’ the burghers doon.

David Kenvyn is Assistant Manager of Community Libraries at East Dunbartonshire Council.


1. Tricia Gray - Friday, 5 February 2010

‘In yer hous aa the bairns o Aidam
Will fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room…’

I love these two lines of Freedom Come All Ye, they give me a lump in my throat, but alas poverty is growing not disappearing.

I also like this line: ‘Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare…’ but with Iraq and Afghanistan this seems unlikely at present.

For a special treat check the Chinese–Scottish singer Andy Chung singing this song! If you haven’t heard of him Google him. If you would like to hear it sung after a few beers, round a bonfire, under the stars. go to Auchtermuchty Folk Festival in August.

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