This week I happened to hear this song, “Both Sides the Tweed”. It was written in 1979 after the vote for a separate Scottish Parliament was vetoed. I have heard it before, but this was the first time I really listened. I was very moved by the lyrics and am now determined to learn this on piano.
I am sharing it now not only for its beauty, but because the Scottish nation shares a with Canada’s Indigenous people the struggle for freedom under a long history of colonialist oppression, cultural prejudice, as well a deep and sacred tie to their land. All around Canada we are witnessing the Idle No More movement. While this struggle is not mine, I stand in solidarity with this movement. As Scots and we have suffered genocide, deforestation, and the betrayal of leaders who “bartered their freedom for gain.”
Whether you are Scottish, Anishinaabe, Syrian–or merely a bystander to the oppression that happens all around the world in the biggest and smallest of ways, it is time indeed to be Idle No More. We are rich who dare to be free.
Here are the lyrics:
What’s the spring-breathing jasmine and rose ?
What’s the summer with all its gay train
Or the splendour of autumn to those
Who’ve bartered their freedom for gain?
Let the love of our land’s sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.
No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness that gloom can e’er clear
For honour’s the sum of the mind
Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free