IN July 2013 at Nigg Energy Park on the Cromarty Firth Alex Salmond spoke passionately about the group of unions with the rest of the UK that would remain intact following Scottish independence. He identified them as the European Union; the Defence Union through Nato; the Currency Union and the union of the crowns. He also spoke eloquently about the Social Union “between the peoples of these islands”.

He could also have mentioned the sacred canon of English and Scottish literature which has continued to enrich the lives of citizens from either side of the Border. One of my favourite works is the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by the great English Lake Poet, Samuel Coleridge, a fellow whose affection for Scotland is well-documented.

This was beautifully chronicled in Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, a travel memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, the sister of his great friend and fellow Lake Poet, William Wordsworth. This travelogue faithfully records the details of a six-week journey through the Highlands in the late summer of 1803 that the three undertook.

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Now I am delighted to inform you that a manuscript has fallen into my hands which some experts are saying might have been written by the great Englishman himself. It is written in the style of Coleridge’s great masterpiece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I’ve asked Professor Tom Devine to check its historicity while Professor Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow is also scrutinising its authenticity.

Some of these poetic types often existed on a different plane from the rest of us and were thought to possess prophetic gifts. If this newly discovered work is by Coleridge then it seems to predict events that have come to pass many years after his lifetime.

I’m delighted to share it with you.

In it Coleridge also, and rather movingly, pays homage to his contemporary, Robert Burns. It’s called The Rime of the Ancient Brexiteer.


It is an ancient Brexiteer,

The foppish one of three

with tousl’d locks and wand’ring eye

He sighed these words to me


‘Twas late one fell portentous night

When’ figs grew upon thorns’

With Michael and Lady Macbeth

That baleful plan was born


‘Ah, Michael, bonny naïve Gove

E’en now you scarce can know

How the flights of vile ambition

Have made us Europe’s foe


‘At nights I wake midst terrors dark

That cold, remember’d shock

The time that I was near done by

A little sweaty sock


He holds me with his putty hand

‘He was a shit,’ quoth he

‘Hold off! Unhand me, flop-haired loon’

Eftsoons his hand drop’t he


Lo now his mind has wandr’d aft

Held lock’d in a mirage

His voice grew low and fingers trembl’d

As he spat out ‘Farage!’


‘O curses be upon that braggart

Who made us all like zombies,

He whipp’d up fear of immigrants,

Suspected by los hombres


‘Draw close that ye might see my face

Though now grown rough with wine,

With Dave I played at Bullingdon

And with the mouths of swines


‘Gove’s plan was cute, impure and simple

‘We must sack Dave,’ quoth he

‘We’ll hold an EU referendum

UKIP will help; you’ll see’


‘Said I “Be careful what you wish for,

In Europe’s heart we dwell.

For paved with good intentions

Is the wretch’d road to hell”


“Fear not,” said Gove, “be of stout heart

The punters aren’t that daft,

Only bams will vote to Leave

And Cameron we’ll shaft.”


‘E’en now though gone three score and ten

I scarce can stop a tear:

At the shrill fanaticism

Of that bright-eyed Brexiteer


‘That fateful night before Midsummer

Yet stalks my consciousness

That sophistry of migrants wild

Those lies on the NHS


‘That chib beneath assassin’s cloak

Gove shouted: “it’s all mine.”

“Et tu Brutus,” my broken cry

Betrayed by Sarah Vine


‘But Lo, what’s that: a symphony

Of musket, pipe and drum,

The traitor undone at last by

Fate’s fickle pendulum


‘Then midst the fog of war appeared

The one they called Theresa,

And then ensued cacophony of

Chaos and hysteria


‘Racists, cow’rds and xenophobes

All gathered at the feast

And at their head, sat Rab Burns’ wraith,

“Auld Nick in shape o’ beast”


A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,

To gie them music was his charge;

He screw’d the pipes and gart them skirl,

Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl—

offins stood round like open presses,

That shaw’d the dead in their last dresses


‘As England’s green and pleasant land

Consumed itself with fear

A shout in Scotland loud and proud;

The anti-Brexiteers


‘Ah, Scots you kept your sanity

Land of art and science

Your European bonds are strong

And your auld alliance


‘Ye Land of mountains and of floods,

Your chief in Louboutins

“Give us all your waifs and strangers

The poor of distant lands”


And now the STORM-BLAST came, and she

Was chivalrous and strong:

“Freedom come all ye,” she called,

“Let’s right an ancient wrong”


“Not now,” cried the m’luds of May

With voices sharp and sleekit ,

“For we are trying to have our cake,

And also trying to eat it.”


“We’ll have our trade deals fair and good

For we are mighty Brit’n

These twenty seven wretched states

Well know all what’s good for ‘em.”


“A curse upon your workers’ rights;

Your protests and your rage;

Your talk of human dignity

And that silly Living Wage.”


‘But overhead dark clouds did gather

Forth came a mighty roar

Those EU states that once we spurn’d

Turned round and yelled: “No More!”


“Cease now all your wars and bluster

Perfidious and malign

You can stick your tea and your rosbif too

Where le soleil don’t shine


‘Two score years and five have passed since

We were left bereft,

Reduced and kept afloat by

Loans from the IMF.’


That’s how with shame it came to pass

That Albion’s grip did falter;

Farewell to Caledonia

And adios Gibraltar!