Winners of the 2013 Arkansas Scottish Festival Poetry Contest

 

Third Prize -

The Brave Heart of Scotland
by Dr. Dee McGarrity

The country screams as it's torn apart
The people pull it one way or another
The rebels cry and the loyalists pray
And the rest call out to the Mother

The heroes are made as their blood is shed
The wind will carry their deeds
The clouds loom over the good and the bad
And the blood gives life to the seeds

It rings from the hills to the valleys low
It resonates to the sky
As the men and the children raise their eyes
And wait by the river's flow

Make Scotland free and set us forth
Raise our hearts on Scotlands flag
As we look to the future with our freedom intact
Cause Scotland will always be

Second Prize -

Aife  
by Teresa Burns Murphy

Aife turned away from the messenger
who brought the news that her only child, 
Connla, was dead, run through by his father’s sword.
Cuchilain fatally mistook his son for a foe. 
Forever destined to battle the deep, Cuchilain raged
against the waves. Aife grieved like a woman warrior. 
She built a fire in her round house of wattle and daub.
All night she stoked the blaze and watched
the smoke escape through a hole in the roof.
At dawn, draped in Connla’s cloak,
she rose to ride her horse to the base of the sacred 
oak where she had taught her boy 
the art of self-defense. Connla’s spirit 
lingered in the stinging nettle and stayed
close to Aife long after the earth was turned
and the strong-headed yarrow bloomed above her grave.
 

 

First Prize -

The Ladies’ Knight
by Kenton Adler 

Noble knight, The Hawk of May,
proud and tall, and fair of skin.
Steady, piercing eyes of gray.
A prize for any maid to win.

Yet, for all that, he stood alone,                                     5
bent on strength and feats of arms.
Thoughts of metal cleaving bone,
far from courtly ladies’ charms.

Prince of Lothian, new-made knight,
sun gleamed in his copper hair.                                      10
Armor polished clean and bright.
Still, no esteem for damsels fair.

At King Arthur’s wedding feast,
the peak of chivalry in flower,
by surprise a questing beast                                           15
appeared to test their skill and power.

To Gawain fell the task, soon fateful,
as his mettle need be tried.
For the boon, he truly grateful,
gave thanks and would not be denied.                            20

Into the wood the hart went bounding,
white and pure as new-laid snow.
Gawain with his young heart pounding,
on hunting horn a hearty blow.

Long the dogs and new knight followed,                         25
crashing through the growth and fall.
By the forest they were swallowed
as the chase consumed them all.

Then ahead he spied a clearing.
At the baying of the hounds,                                           30
thought the lad as he was nearing
that the stag was dragged to ground.

A castle rose from out of nowhere.
Through the gate the buck had raced.
His hounds close on, and he would go there,                   35
hoping thus to end the chase.

In the courtyard, bathed in blood,
Gawain found his deer hounds slain.
Over them a warrior stood,
blade unsheathed and deathly stained.                             40

Blinded by a mindless fury
Gawain fell about that lord.
Driven not by fame or glory,
but revenge to guide his sword.

Long the pair engaged each other                                    45
‘til advantage Gawain won.
“Mercy!” cried the vanquished brother,
but the young knight would have none.

The master’s lady begged and pleaded.
For her love she vainly spoke.                                         50
She cast herself between, unheeded,
and lost her head to Gawain’s stroke.

From within four knights emerged,
then surrounded Gawain there.
Forced to yield as they converged,                                  55
he succumbed in plain despair.

Back to Arthur he was ordered.
To the members of the court,
how his madness led to murder,
bound by honor to report.                                               60

Downcast rode the youth from battle,
lady’s head hung from his neck.
Her body slung across his saddle,
marked his shame and disrespect.

Guenevere, in matters feminine,                                        65
sitting judgment of his plight,
decreed that hence he’d honor women.
Thus he became, “The Ladies’ Knight.”