A bonnie lad

Kim Il-sungThis Friday will mark one month after the 97th birthday of Kim Il-sung, which is a good enough excuse for me to post something that’s been sitting on my computer for some time.

It is an ode to Kim Il-sung written in the style of Robert Burns, with apologies in advance for any true speakers of Scots. I’ll admit I can’t remember the precise reason that I decided to compose such an ode, but here it is.

For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the hagiography of the DPRK, here is some background information:

The poem refers to the log cabin on Mt. Paektu, the place of the mythical origin of the Korean people, in which Kim Jong-il had his equally mythical birth. That birth, on February 16, 1942, is said to have been accompanied by a double rainbow and the appearance of a new star in the sky. The cabin stands today and is something of destination for pilgrims in the DPRK — it’s also filled with numerological significance, including being 216 meters (as in 02/16) from the base of a nearby cliff.

Juche is the principle of self-reliance that is the foundation of North Korean ideology. Arirang is the name of a famous Korean song, sometimes sung as an ode to reunification, and has also been used as the name of the Mass Games held in Pyongyang.

And now, the poem:

On seeing his cabin on Mt. Paektu
Abune a cauld and mirky brae,
o’ Paektu’s snaw, aneath the skies,
whar Kim Jong-il th’ bairn is frae,
a cozie, hamely haddin’ lies.

It hears at dawe the birdie’s sang,
tha’ echoes ben the gracefu’ morn.
Sae hinny as he flees amang,
Th’ pine, th’ larch, th’ spruce
– th’ thorn.

O haddin’! Bigg’t by daddie Kim!
Frae timmer made: Ye stand sae straught!
Me heart’s astir wi’ thoughts o’ him,
Wha me to grit Pyongyang hae brought.

But now, waesacks! His banes gae stiff!
An’ cauld as airn; He’s here nae more!
I’m wearie, fill’t with dool an’ grief!
Me fiere, me daddie’s, left the shore!

O! Kim Il-sung, I’m fidgin-fain
For ye! An’ though ye’ve now passed on,
I’ll see your haddin’ when ye’re gaen,
And ken tha’ Juche isna faun.

And sae, thegither, teuhgly stan’
a-fiel’! We, wi’ blithe spirits all!
For bonnie is the Arirang,
O! Kim Il-sung! We hear your call!