Amongst the dusty rubble desert stands a ragged, rusting, remnant made to last,
a rugged loyal sentinel it guards.. the lost traditions of our past.
The foundry’s fiery, sparking, furnace so proudly gave it birth….
within that flaming cauldron its molten embryo was cast….
Born to prop the mighty crane its chore it proudly bore,.
abiding neath the swinging jib, faithful service to the fore.
It mourns its erstwhile comrades.. battered to their deaths,
to satiate so-called ‘improvement’ were their final sad bequeaths.
against such ends it valiantly fights.. foiling urban clean sing’s cruel demands,
and struggles on imperviously.. through Time’s, ebbing, shifting sands.
Surrounded by wild docken leaves and fag-ends of welding rods,
where once stood the fabricated altar which ascended to the gods.
No cutting torch or wrecking ball could uproot its stubborn stance,
as it battled against those mighty strokes and deflected the burning lance.
Throughout the Hungry Thirties as a Queen rusted in the stocks,
it held its post determinedly against poverty’s cruel mocks.
It withstood destruction yet again in ‘41, when Teutonic Valkyries from Hell,
released a torrential Blitzkrieg rain of murderous lethal shell.
But alas, more destructful yet.. than the screaming, bombing Fokkers,
Were the economic planners with deadly blueprints in their lockers.
It stood with regal fortitude through the following thirty years,
As it witnessed a noble ‘Right to Work’ which allayed our greatest fears.
Through this testament of struggle our shipyard battled on,
But alas cold Progress cruelly turned ’lame duck’ to ‘dying swan’
Bold economic promises of a future Shangri La.. demanded costly sacrifice,
Till finally our Mother of the Clyde met her final sad demise.
That Maritime Metropolis of brick and towering steel,
now entombing for eternity, a myriad of ghosts, who flit by ethereal.
Those spectral shapes of yesteryear drift o’er once hallowed ground,
shrouded in a Hellish panoply of flashing light, midst a cacophony of sound.
Where are they now? Where did they go? Those hardy wraith-like toilers?
Where now the mighty ships, with gleaming engines and spitting, hissing boilers?
Those artificers and artisans who expressed their craft through minds and hands,
erecting Cathedrals of the Sea, that sailed to far off foreign lands.
I view askance through chain link fence, to where the bustling yard should be,
but what I espy ‘neath a leaden sky so deeply hurts and saddens me.
Akin to muddy Passchendaele, as far as the eye can see,
Deserted, pock-marked, barren land devoid of empathy.
The yellow scuttling dogs of war wielding their theodolites of doom,
survey across the scarred terrain, amid the dusky evening gloom.
Signalling abstract shapes in surveyors semaphore..,to conceive their Brave New World,
whilst into the jaws of JCBs and empty lorries, our industrial heritage is hurled.
They wrench and tear with teeth of steel this Apocalyptic band,
And as I view Armageddon before me, the less I understand.
Am I a Luddite dinasaur? A blinkered, wistful, maudlin fool?
I know we need new housing, health centre and swimming pool.
But flooding waves of sentiment I now painfully endure,
When I watch the bold destroyer tramping victoriously through the glaur,
Can I be sure this mass of mire once held such a proud visage?
Or has my longing for the past produced a cruel mirage?
Was it ever there at all ? ..Or is this just.. a figment of cognitive confusion?
Did I imagine that Golden Age.. or is it all.. retrospective cruel delusion?
How do we gauge that which has gone? To translate our glorious tale?
How can we convey heartache and loss, when empty words must fail?
what of we who are left behind, bereft and labour free?
Our skills redundant as our dreams, to what ends our destiny?
With passing years come nostalgic tears and memories which last,
Perhaps its time to soldier on and free ourselves.. from our musings on the past.
But still our doughty steel stanchion stands on the Isle of Memory,
Surrounded by a Sea of Change that drowns lost souls like me.
But strive we must and in Hope entrust to set our lives in order,
And pray at length for likewise strength of that sturdy shipyard girder.
by Hugh McLellan.