Showing posts with label Ossian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ossian. Show all posts

Sunday 31 May 2020

We must have REAL Scots history our Historic sites

**Can the Scottish Government do more to protect the "REAL Scots history" at our many historic sites?
I read with interest the letter from Rory Bulloch, National 14th May, on how badly Scots history is told at our historic sites.
On a trip last autumn to the Scottish north coast, we stopped at the eerie sight of Culloden moors, which were covered in a layer of crisp snow. I thought of the battlefield sights we’ve lost – where is the real Bannockburn? And I hope there will not be houses built here when Scotland has plenty of land.

One of the guys in his red jacket and blue bonnet was explaining the battle to me, he said kilts we worn on both sides  - he didn't seem to be aware this important Culloden battle was a "religious battle". Or of the Thirty Years religious wars that were raging in Europe at the time etc. etc. There were German, French and Irish troops involved too in this battle. After this crucial battle, prisoners were violently murdered, and the Highland way of life and culture was completely crushed by English redcoats from their huge 18th century Fort George, which is still used as a fortress today, at the entrance to the Moray Firth north of Inverness. They learnt from this how to subjugate the natives for future imperial suppressions. 
To my surprise there were no Professor Tom Devine history books in their bookshop either – and clearly a sanitized version told here by The National Trust for Scotland. PLUS Historic Dunkeld is covered in plaques - we were told by a local that they were put there by one guy and that most of them are historically untrue! 

History is not simply about the past – it informs our present and future and crucially shapes who we are and how we see ourselves. Its important to realise the extent that the British nationalists seek to suppress Scots heritage, which began in earnest after the ’45 and after the union 1707. I strongly dislike calling this supposed partnership a union, because it came about under great duress, riots and blood. 

As professor Alan Raich writes, National May 16, in his article on the works of the poet James MacPherson, ‘Unlocking Ossian’. In 1760 MacPherson travelled north to recover the epic tales of the ancient Gaels where he met local tradition-bearers. He spoke Gaelic and was educated at Aberdeen university. His Ossian works are described as a fraud by British critics. “This itself has been a long-standing hoax of the British establishment, always opposed to the notion of an ancient Scottish Gaelic civilisation predating its own. As always priority is power.”…A reclamation of Gaelic cultural authority writing from antiquity was effectively a Scottish cultural counterpoint to the post Culloden military and social devastation.” 

As a highlander, MacPherson understood the Gaelic traditions and as university educated he aimed to appeal to Hanoverian Britain: and he needed to appeal to his wealthy patrons (as did Burns). He promoted the Gaelic world to international readers. He died 1795 on his estate in the highlands. I read a different story though, at the Uist museum, of their enforced emigration to Canada. 

As I was taught practically no Scots history at school Edinburgh, to my great regret, I am now teaching myself. I have attended three lectures by Professor Tom Devine on the Scottish Enlightenment, the Darien Project and the Lowland Clearances. I have read several of his books – the Scottish Nation: A Modern History, The lowland Clearances and Independence or Union. 

**Can the Scottish Government do more to protect the "REAL Scots history" at our many historic sites? And crucially stop this sanitized whitewash! But rather promote the true Scots history as told by real Scottish Historians such as Professor Tom Devine, linguist Stuart McHardy, lyricist Robert Burns, Professor Alan Raich, or poet Ian Crichton Smith. And not the falsehoods peddled by historical fiction writer John Prebble or archaeologist Neil Oliver. Its well past time all this changed.

 Ossian books – 
1. Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760)
2.  Fingal, an Ancient Epic poem (1761)
3. Temora, an Ancient poem (1763) 
Plus Collected Edition, Works of Ossian, the son of Fingal (1765)

Friday 19 October 2018

PHOTOS V & A Dundee

Kengo Kuma's V & A Dundee

There was a young busker singing in the warm acoustic setting – rich with the river light and wood beams. 

V & A Dundee's Japanese architect Kengo Kuma brings nature’s environment into his buildings, outside the stone cliffs reverberate with movement and water runs underneath. The senses renewal for Dundee – and a new space of confidence and belief. 
And just like a great ship - the outside is cold and grey while inside a golden glow welcomes us. 

Design and Identity 
 Scottish visual identity –
There is a display of the Jacobite allegiance, with tartan, plaid, Celtic design, romance
Centre of skilled craftsmanship, design and of ideas between Scotland and Europe.
From the historic 1480 Book of Hours, The Poetry of Ossian, by James Macpherson.

.Paisley, shawls, Harris tweed, Clyde built ships, distinctive Glasgow style. 

Great Ocean Liners
FRINGE posters

There were interesting posters on display - the Beano, Fringe; Theatre, Slab boys, 
Dundee is the home of Scotland’s vibrant games centre - Lemmings, Mike Daily. Apps, and a hands on creative section.
There is an impressive exhibition of the great age of the Ocean Liners.

Scotland and Asia 1786, where fortunes were made East India trading company.
From1300 – 1707 there were strong links to France, the Baltic and the North Seas. 
There were Churchmen, scholars, merchants, mercenaries, who travelled or settled.

I felt there could have been more focus on Dundee itself and its hugely diverse history. 

Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room
Ossian Poems by James Macpherson

Monday 20 March 2017

Suppression of Scottish Culture - Writers and Artists

Robert Burns statue bottom Leith walk
A recent tv program documented Burns success in American. There are 15 Statues of Burns there, more than to any other writer or musician. Yet in Scotland’s capital, which is covered in unionist statues along its Hanoverian new town streets there is one statue hidden away down the bottom of Leith walk. I was over for the Edinburgh festival and noticed all the George St statues, shockingly there is little on Scotland’s most famous son. 
This happened to the world’s greatest poet who was dismissed as simply a ‘heaven taught ploughman poet’ – when in fact he knew five languages and was a ferocious reader of the classics, philosophers and of the Scottish enlightenment. 

There has been devious, underhand, manipulative moves - not only to ignore the Scottish contributions to the world of the arts, writing, history, and science -.but to whitewash them out of history by those who support the Unionist establishment, the Anglicised Scots of all things English, who see their future in a House of Lords!

**As an example in 1854 the Irish poet Oscar Wilde was born and his mother named him - Oscar Fingal Ossian - ‘Isn’t that grand, misty and Ossianic” she said - yet today who has heard of James MacPherson's Ossian poems? More recently the 1980s there were moves by the English controlled Arts council to close the Scottish National portrait gallery and ignore Scottish art, which was strongly opposed, and thankfully has instead been refurbished and is flourishing today.

Oscar Wilde
This happened in Scotland’s schools where practically no Scottish history was taught until recently – nothing on the Scottish enlightenment, nothing on the great inventions, nothing of great Scottish writers, nothing of the medical inventions.

What I did learn was of Tudor England and of English writers such as Shakespeare, Wilfred Owen and some American writers. My only lessons in Scottish history were a couple of Burns songs with the Primary schools choir – Ca the Knowes, Comin Through the Rye. I was hooked. I feel angry that at school and college in Edinburgh, I learnt of French, American and English writers – but nothing on the great Scottish writers! Hopefully today with Scottish studies at our universities, this has improved in our schools too.

We need to ask - Why have we Scots forgotten? The idea has been to suppress the subordinate cultures such as Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Writers likes Burns and others fought against this in the years after the forced union. I was reading of the origins of Romantic poetry after I picked up a book at the National portrait gallery London on Romantic poets – of the Ossian poems of James MacPherson (read by Napoleon and worldwide), Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Walter Scott, and of course the unparalleled Robert Burns - there was no mention - the international success of Scottish writers has been suppressed.

A few years ago my son graduated at the Royal college of Surgeons Edinburgh, where I was surprised to learn that we have the oldest centre for medicine in the world! There have also been many great Scottish scientific and medical innovations.

Artist and teacher Alexander Moffat and poet and lecturer Alan Raich, write in their informed book, Arts of Independence –“In most countries in their national galleries, half are devote to International Art and the other half to the Art of that nation itself." This is not the case in Scotland where Glasgow artists have been neglected too, as recently as the 1980s and they had to go to New York for recognition.  

I sat beside an Irish woman at a Celtic Connections concert once and I mentioned the wonderful Irish Writers museum in Dublin and by contrast  the tiny Scottish writers museum in Lady Stairs Close. She wondered, perhaps there are only a few great Scottish writers and she may well wonder….where are they and how are they remembered?

“Scots suffer from “virtual universal historical illiteracy’, says historian Tom Devine, “ perhaps that’s why they’ve struggled to engage with the Referendum campaign." 

I believe it is not only very important, but also time we honoured our great Bard, with a statue of him in St Andrews square (and not the other forgotten tyrant Dundas).
And that we also honoured Fergusson (Burn’s muse), Allan Ramsay and the many recent great Scottish writers along with the manygreatrecent authors with a decent Scottish writers museum.

Nationalism understandings matters – it matters to know and understand our roots, heritage and the stories that inform our nation. To understand the places and streets we walk upon. And not in an exclusive way but an inclusive way.
Hugh MacDiarmid
***The great Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid wrote, “To be truly international, you have to be national to begin with, to see the entire Scotland – and not an Anglo-centric or Anglo-American perspective that dominated media and 20th century cultural analysis.“

“The idea that national self-determination can fuse and ignite art, safeguard its provision, be the ground from which self-knowledge, love of others and the optimism of curiosity grows.”

Monday 14 March 2016

Poet James Macpherson & OSSIAN

I read of the Ossian poems and their effect on Robert Burns. When I went to research this blog I was astonished at his story!  The author of the epic poems of Ossian - supposedly about the Celtic hero Fingal (more later). At this time in the late 18th century there was a rebirth in romantic thinking which led to the Romantic movement which has a big impact on all the arts in Europe.  
(1736 – 1796) was a Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician, known for his interpretations of  the Ossian poems. He was the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation.
Macpherson's work - The Highlander (1758); 1760 as Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland; 1761 Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Gaelic Language and written in musical measured prose. 1765 Temora, The Works of Ossian in 1765

When the epic Ossian poems were published by the Scottish poet James MacPherson  in 1760  - a fantasy of a third century Gaelic bard who wrote of a Celtic hero named Fingal - they achieved success  internationally. The general consensus today is that Macpherson was the author and had based them on ancient Gaelic folk tales. According to the clan Donald site Fingal of the Ossian poems was based on the Greatest Hero of the Celtic Race -  (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan.  and not an ancient Irish hero as some made out at all. 

Did Macpherson equate the Scottish hero to Irish legend, in order to have his works published at all? At this time, after the Jacobite 45 wars, Highland culture was being severely repressed (the punishment was Transportation). Poetic license in other words and one of the beauties of poetry - that we can express ideas, concepts and beliefs we cannot so clearly in prose. The Scottish Highlands then became "a place of great beauty and romance - rather than one of wild warriors and hardships." (Tom  Devine).

The Clan Donald site believes Fingal was based on the renowned Celtic warrior king (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan -  who died in Renfrew 1160 fighting the Scots. He was king of Argyle and the Western Isles. They believe the works were poor translations and that Macpherson deliberately wrote under the Ossian name  - as a fantasy to associate the ancient Gaelic poems to Ireland. They believe he did so to protect himself, as after the Jacobite 45 wars the English decided to repress the Highland culture and way of life.  

Herder, Goethe, Napoleon, Diderot, Burns, Scott and Voltaire were great admirers of the poems. Thomas Jefferson thought Ossian "the greatest Poet that has ever existed". They were proclaimed as the Celtic equivalent of the classical writers such as Homer.  Painters and composers chose Ossianic subjects.  The poems also influenced the composers Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn who expressed the freedom of Romanticism. Schubert composed Lieder set to many of Ossian's poems. Mendelssohn was inspired to visit the Hebrides and composed the Hebrides overture, Fingal's Cave.  Poets, Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Yeats were also influenced. Lady Jane Wild named her son Oscar Fingal Wilde (the Irish poet and playwright) after the writer of the romantic Ossian poems....

Robert Burns mentioned Ossian in the footnotes of his first book of poems. He too wished to be a national bard (Poems in mostly in the Scots Dialect 1786). After the success of Burns poems, other nations such as England wished to have their own national bard too.  The Ossian poems were part of the glorification of heroic individuals and artists. By contrast Burns social democratic background was of the people and nature with quite modern and environmental views (like Tolstoy) he understood the importance of valuing all life - from the smallest creature to the highest lord. 

The Clan Donald site believes Fingal was based on the renowned Celtic warrior king (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan -  who died in Renfrew 1160 fighting the Scots. He was King of Argyle and the Western Isles. They believe the works were poor translations and that Macpherson deliberately wrote under the Ossian name  - as a fantasy to associate the ancient Gaelic poems to Ireland. They believe he did so to protect himself from Transportation as after the Jacobite 45 wars, the English repressed the Highland culture and way of life.  

Clan Donald James Macpherson Ossian poems - http://www.clandonald-heritage