Patrick McKommie: I Have Outlived My Chief

Judith McCombs Click to

jmccombs-222Judith McCombs is the winner of Shenandoah‘s 2012 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets.  Her work has appeared in Poetry, Measure, Poetry Northwest and Prairie Schooner, as well as five of her own collections, most recently The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New.  She teaches workshops in Bethesda and arranges a reading series in Kensington, MD.

M’Comie Mor, 7th Chief of Clan MacThomas, Perthshire, died in 1674, after his heir
and next-best son were  killed in a skirmish with Airlie’s Royalist allies.


Say he outlived his earthly rising stars:
Ascendant when he rode in Montrose’ wars;
Yet brighter blazed in Cromwell’s glory years

When he bought Lord Airlie’s lands and Barony.
Then the lintel stone on M’Comie’s manse vowed he
With God’s prized help would overcome envy—

Not his, but that in rival Airlie’s eyes.
Did God withdraw His aid, when Cromwell died?
Twelve years M’Comie Mor fought Royalist fines

And raids that bled our clan.
                                                   Oh I have seen
The mightiest stag, the lord of swords and glens,
Now slashed, now bled by weasel-snouted men!

As we grapple stones from broken castle walls
To build for meaner needs, so let me haul
This lesser net of rhyme: our clan was small;
Great M’Comie made us great; with him we fall.