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The Disgruntled Wife
by Barbara McPhail
2003

Why must they always be fighting?
Why canít they stay at home?
The cold and the frost is biting.
Why must they always roam?

The Gordons, McDonalds, Clan Chattan,
The McIntosh, Campbells, McLeans?
Why must they always be fighting?
The Camerons, McGregors, McBeans?

Why must they always be fighting?
Why canít they mend the old wall?
Why arenít they doing the planting?
Why donít they come when I call?

Iím tired of spinning and knitting,
Of sitting alone by the fire.
Why must they always be fighting
Instead of attending the byre?

Lame Dougalís no use on the hillside,
At ninety heís nearly half dead,
Annieís no hand at the milking
And Willie has taken to bed.

When last my loved ones came home here
They didnít wait a minute to parley Ė
ďIíll remount my horse and re-set my course
And go now and fight for Prince Charlie!Ē

I know they think their cause righteous,
I know they must follow their chief,
But I wish they would all stop their fighting
And causing their countrymen grief.

The food store is all running low now,
Weíre living on nothing but oats.
We fear for our kith and our kindred
At the hands of the cruel Red Coats.

Iím tired of digging and hoeing,
Iím forced to do all of the work
While theyíre away killing each other
With musket and broadsword and dirk.    

Why must they always be fighting  -
My father, my husband, my brother,
If they are not here by December
Iím going back home to my mother!

Editor's Notes:  This poem by Ms. McPhail, of Wanganui, New Zealand was runner up for the 2003 Cameron Prize for Best Original Poem.