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Peer Reviewed

A Scottish Dozen: Uncollected Poems by Marion Bernstein

Linda Fleming and Edward Cohen



Published in the Glasgow Weekly Mail, 27 January 1877, p. 3.
Can it be that he is gone,
Willie of the merry song,
Blooming face, and stalwart form,
And so young, and blithe, and strong?

He was young for wedded ties,
Yet a wife and children four
Looked to him with trusting eyes,
As a guardian strong and sure.

Sadly will the widow weep,
Of his faithful care bereft,
With the little ones to keep
By their loving father left.

Did he feel his coming end,
And for wife and children pray,
Who must lose their truest friend
When his young life ebbed away?

Fear not, Willie! slumber thou,
All life’s cares in peace resign;
Heaven will guard thy loved ones now,
With a mightier arm than thine.
William Penman was, like Marion Bernstein, a regular contributor of verse to the Glasgow Weekly Mail. A working-class poet, who labored as a blacksmith in a foundry, he wrote humorous and occasionally pungent verses in Scots. He published a volume of Echoes from the Ingleside in 1875 and was at work on another collection when he died suddenly, at the age of twenty-eight. His obituary appeared in the Mail on 3 February 1877. Within a week, the paper had received fifty-four poetic tributes to Penman, including works by James Nicholson and Jessie Russell, and within a month the Mail’s readers had donated nearly £100 to a fund for his survivors. Marion Bernstein’s poem—with its attention to Penman’s good nature—signals her participation in the society of Glasgow’s newspaper poets. Her sentiments also reflect her feminine concern for the “widow” and the “little ones.”