Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets
Niles, John D.
The piper's triumph, p. 45
The Piper's Triumph When I play the flame of wrath there is no tuft of grass from Islay to Ardnamurchan that is not left smoking. If there are twins in the womb they are at one another's throat. When I play the notes of joy every spider perched in the rafters claps its small hands in delight. Even the witch of Ulva hums a tune as she stalks about. When I play the notes of noy Christ hides his face, angels in heaven howl. Dogs snap at their own tails and old scars spout new blood. When I play the good old gabber reel water leaps up from the bucket, stars jump down from the sky. Mice dance on the kitchen table and crabs pirouette in the sea. Now shall I begin? John D. Niles Poet's Statement The great highland pipes are more than a musical instrument. They are a force of nature harnessed to human ends. Depending on the circumstances, the piper can set the pace for a stately march or can bring a crowd of celebrants to break out into a highland fling. The piper can also attack a mortal enemy in a kind of shamanistic warfare. The pipes can also be contemplative. If you have ever been in a small room where a master piper is playing a piobaireachd (pibroch)-a leisurely tune not unlike an Indian raga, often in the form of a lament-it can do more than raise the hair on the back of your neck. It can lift the skin off, too. So the pipes have this tremendous range of function and feeling, as I've tried to suggest in this poem. This is from an unpublished set of poems on Scottish themes. Since my wife is from Scotland, we go there when we can, and I've spent a lot of time recording traditional singers, storytellers, and musicians. 45
Copyright 2006 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright