THE TARTAN  (Contributed by Ann McKeon to the MacKenzie Society News - Sept, 1985)

A traveller stopped at a farmhouse, on a lonely Scottish moor.
Lost and seeking direction, he knocked at the wooden door.
So the farmer bade him welcome and led him to his hearth.
"Tis cold and dark", said the friendly Scot, "tomorrow I'll show you the path".

As they sat in the flickering firelight the farmer's wife came in,
Took up her basket of coloured thread and sat down at the loom to spin.
With skilful fingers she guided woollen threads of every hue
Carefully blending a pattern of yellow and white and blue.

And when the stranger asked of the weaver, as she added the red and the green
Where she had learned the pattern and what did the colours mean.
"This is the blue from a shady glen" came the weaver's soft reply
"Or sometimes I take a darker hue, from out of the twilight sky".

"And this is the yellow of buttercups growing wild for all to admire
Or the warm rich glow of the morning sun and the flickering gold of my fire
This is the white of my own wee house, the clouds and deep winter snows
Or the colour of sheep on the hillside, where the beautiful white heather grows."

"And I add the green of my highland hills, or the meadow grass so sweet.
The shadowy blanket of moss that forms a carpet for children's' feet
And for the days when the hills we love, with Scottish blood ran red,
I take up this final colour and weave in the scarlet thread".

Now because the stranger admired the work that the woman had done,
She took from her loom a piece of the cloth, the Tartan she had spun
And the stranger thanked her warmly, "This gift I will treasure" he said
"You see I too am a weaver, but I use a different thread".

"You take the blue from a highland sky, or the shade of a quiet glen,
But I weave a pattern that also needs a touch of Truth in all men.
Then you take the colour of golden flowers and the warmth of the morning sun
But I add devotion and constancy before my pattern is done".

"And when you weave the scarlet that means courage and pride,
I also see love that is deep, strong and wide".
Then with the coming of dawn, the stranger took his leave.
And once again gave his thanks for the gift of the Scottish weave.

In strong gentle hands he held the cloth and His Presence filled the room,
It seemed that these hands could have held a staff, or a hammer, as well an a loom
And the stranger answered the question, in the eyes of the farmer's wife
"The Tartan I weave is the soul of Man .... and my loom is the Loom of Life."