I wrote the poem Ingle Ken’lt, which translates into Hearth Rekindled, to salute those Highland Scots who settled in Upper Canada during the infamous Scottish Clearances. Ingle Ken’lt refers to the very old tradition of symbolically lighting the hearth in a new home, a custom which was kept alive by some of the immigrant settlers into the late 1800′s.
The custom was quite poignant and a true Celtic house-warming. At an appropriate time, after a settler’s cabin had been erected and the occupants were ready to move in, neighbours and friends would arrive from the four corners of the compass with both hot coals to light the first fire on the hearth, and food to celebrate the occasion. Of course, whiskey/cawther always played a role in such an event.
Today, many individuals ask if they can use the poem at their own new-house- warming. Of course, my answer is always yes. They are asked to mention who penned the poem. I am in favour of reviving old customs.
The poem Ingle Ken’lt was included in my fifth work of fiction “No Choice But Freedom” as a number of characters in the book are Highland Scots who chose to rekindle their hearth in the western reaches of the Carolinas c1747.
From the northern white of the winter’s snow -
From the eastern blue of the spring’s new moon -
From the western red of the summer’s sun -
From the southern gold of the autumn’s leaves -
Come coals from the hearth’s flame,
Entrusted to the hands of friends.
Though the fire has died in the ancestral home,
Its spirit remains alive.
When touched to wood in the new laid hearth,
The warmth is rekindled again.
For warmth is friendship,
And friendship is love,
And love is bestowed up on all.
Let the door fore’er be open -
Let the cawther run free.
It is sung far and wide,
That this ever may be.
The home is the hearth.
The hearth is the flame.
The flame is the spirit of love.
Let all know, from whence they came,
They are warmed by this hearth and this flame.
(c) Pat Mestern 1985
The poem, “We Are The Forgotten” will eventually be part of my sixth work of fiction Vena Amorus. How many readers are familiar with an old forgotten graveyard?
We are the Forgotten
We are the old, the unremembered dead.
Forgot, we lie in country graveyards high on lonely hills.
We are unwept save by such tears as sheds,
The weeping sky.
Above old huddled graves in city street, sometimes a passer finds,
The time to pause and sigh – remembering.
But none pass by us here,
Above us sigh only the winds.
The hands that laid us here long-long are dust.
The impassioned tears shed then for us are dried.
The faltering feet that followed us in grief have now lain still,
And, strange hand now till the fields we cleared.
Strange voices ring beneath the roofs we raised.
Beneath the trees we planted, strange young lovers make their vows,
Each passing spring.
The alien plow that draws so near, so near disturbs our rest.
Here in our sunken and neglected graves we stir.
Who will protest?
We are unclamoring.
We only ask that we may lie,
Save from the plow that threatens our old graves,
Covered by vines, mourned by the passing winds
Wept by the sky.
(C) Pat Mestern 2008