Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 36: Bennachie

The Sang o the Saracen Maid
For oor asylum seekers and traivellers o a sorts

I hae left my land o the Orient
And traivelled the warld wide
Tae find the faither o my bairn
And rest there by his side.

I found him in the desert sand
Sare woundit fae the fray
I bore him tae my faither’s tent
To tend him monies the day.

His wounds wi silk I bandaged roon
Wi ointment rich and rare
I washed them daily wi my tears
And dried them wi my hair.

My hips were girdled wi tinkling coins
My breists wi the jasmine flooer
As we lay in a silken desert tent
For monies the lovin hour.

And the crescent moon filled the desert sky
Like the crest on a Saracen shield
And the stars o the east sang, “Bismillah!”
Ower the lovers’ silken bield.

But I left the palms and the desert sands
For the pines o Benachie
For the sake o the luve o a Templar lad
Wha has cruelly dealt wi me.

Now I shiver in the blast o the cauld, cauld wind
At the back o Benachie
And I greet at the grave o my bonnie, bonnie bairn
Wha ne’er again I’ll see.

So sing the sang o Persephon
Wha traivelled this warld wide
Wha set her bearings for the North
Wi the lodestone o luve as her guide.

And when simmer comes to the Garioch-o
Of an evening you may sense
A zephyr blaw ower Benachie
Cairryin the fragrance o frankinsence.

Craig Smillie
("A tale told to me by the great Scottish Traveller, Stanley Robertson")

Ricky Ross has written music for the poem and recorded it on his recent album Trouble came looking. You can see him performing it at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZhNCqW93Fw

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