Tenant Farmers

From the stony barrenness
of northern Scottish soil
its young landless sons
signed on for mercenaries’
wages in neighbouring
Europe’s frequent summers
of hand fought battles.

Until the fateful 1850’s when
Europe stayed home each
summer except on distant
Russian borders. The landless
sons now brought no wages
into Scotland but looted
tenants’ subsistence farms,
such as remained after
landowners’ clearances.

Family men went down onto
mines until depleted seams
closed down. Starving
highlanders crammed into
rundown tenements seeking
desperate sparse employment.

One by one Agnes and her
five sisters with husbands
and children crammed into
sailing ships for three
months, started life again
toiling on the distant soil.

Previously posted September 2017

Tenant Farmers

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