A Poem to Save a Tree

This is another piece from Highways & Byways in Northumbria

The Keyheugh Scars are a lie over the moors in a wild and beautiful district where the Grasslees, Darden and Keenshaw burns run riding places for badger, fox and otter. In the sandstone cliffs or scars the raven and falcon are said to nest. The inaccessibility of these ravines can be gathered fro the fact that in smuggling days an illicit still used to flourish up the Keenshaw burn. The three burns unite and make the Swindon burn, which runs past a small hamlet of that name, where once lived a Coquetdale poet called Lewis Proudlock who died in 1826. An elegy he wrote on a dee that grew in front of his cottage is still remembered. The sooty ones mentioned were the pitmen who then worked for coal on Hopple moors:

Lament ye, Swindon sooty thrang

Lament it sairly, loud and lang;

Alas! a muckle, waefu’ wrang

Ye not maun dree!

For handsomeness, it sure did bang

Maist every tree.

It was by movie a sangster haunted

Oft linnets thro’ tis leaves have chanted,

Oft round its roots hae tinklers ranted

In merry key.

It was the loveliest e’re was planted,

My favourite tree.

It is perhaps the usual poetic plaint for wanton destruction of the “Woodman, spare that tree” variety. But the jolly tinkers and sooty pitmen have passed away for her from Swindon. where boisterous crowds once gathered twitch a main of cocks or a badger-baiting there is now a population of quiet rustics.

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