Angus MacPhail: paying tribute to a great man

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On December 6, one of the most respected men in Argyll was laid to rest.

Murdo MacLeod and his construction company, formed in partnership with his brother Kenny, was one of the county’s biggest employers and his positive effect on the area went well beyond the direct impact of providing jobs and housing.

I have written about Murdo in this column more than once, and I have covered the subject of mortality many times. There will almost certainly be a full obituary dedicated to this very significant figure and details of his life and achievements will be contained in that.

Instead, I would like to dedicate the following poem to him. As we stood at Kilevin Cemetery as Murdo was laid to rest, his identical twin Kenny at the head of the grave, there was strong atmosphere indicating clearly to those present that a mass of great energy had left the world.

What was also felt was that being buried was a man who, despite adversity and setbacks, had run his chosen race and won, had lived his dreams and had left his mark.

Run The Race

by Angus MacPhail

I will not hold the sorrow for the race I didn’t run,

For shying from the starting blocks and cowering from the gun.

The shame to fall a thousand times will never match the pain

The harrowed fret and deep regret of impotent refrain.

All, we have a race to run, for each it can be found

The ones I’ll try before I die, I’ll know once in the ground;

But try I will to climb life’s hill, and if I stumble down

Back up I’ll get and onward set, despite the laughing crowd.

The choice we have to run or watch is not a simple call

To watch the race go by is safe and easy for us all;

You’ll never lose if you refuse to make yourself join in

The penance though, you’ll always know you’re never going to win.

To stand upon the sidelines is the often taken choice;

To make some fun of those who run with narrow sneering voice;

Or even worse, the twisted curse that in mankind is found

The secret want, for those in front to fall and hit the ground.

The race it brings on many things that make life more extreme

But depths of low they better show success’s golden gleam

To not retreat when nearly beat then fight to reach the front

It gives the soul the furnace coal to flourish in the hunt.

To climb the hill with morals ill, you haven’t climbed at all

And further on by ways of wrong, the further you will fall;

Attain your goal with truthful soul, integrity and trust

For peace within the life you win, the road it need be just.

Think of those who’ve made no mark, upon the world we know

Who never grasped or followed dreams and have no dreams to show.

When comes their way the final day, and death they know they’ll face –

Every one will wish they’d run and not just watched the race.

Compare now those who shaped the world and strived to run the race

Who grew to steer their ship of life, their destiny and place;

When they look back along their track, upon their dying day

These giant ones again would run along their chosen way.

So follow dreams and see the world, and grab life by the throat

Don’t live by dull convention or your life will miss the boat.

Live for love and friendships’ glow and chase ambition’s taste

We only get one shot at this – don’t let it go to waste.