Background: Many years ago in Lanarkshire we had a young girl Nancy Rioch who was heading for the top in the swimming world, breaking records all over the place. Tragically, she became a victim of the Polio germ. At that time it was rife. This poem was written in her honour.


Unconquered, feared and hated germ
Nae worth tae man, but daein’ herm
ln league wae death, at your ain term,
Thou dread disease,
Ye prance thro’ gilded Ha’ an’ ferm
Wi’ cursed ease.

There’s nane can tell where next ye be
A terror baith tae big an’ wee
Folks helpless, wait thy next decree
Thou deadly scourge
Ye scorn a’ science an’ wander free
Wi’ aimless purge.

Frae strongest man tae weakest wean
Ye take them in your ghastly reign
But noo ye’ve got your biggest gain
Curst be your fancy
Cry “Triumph” germ, for you hae ta’en
Oor darlin’ Nancy.

She must hae stung your foul conceit
An record after record beat
Here was a worthy foe an’ mete
Tae try your mettle
An’ in this lass, wi’ health surfeit
Ye dared tae settle.

Or, maybe, ’twas your right tae fame
Was second tae oor lassie’s name
Ye thought tae spite us in your shame
An’ score your rival
Ye took nae chance for she was game
E’en for your evil.

Ye kenned, had you but touched her light
She wad hae fought wi’ a’ her might
Ye feared she’d reach a greater height
So, true ye aimed
But when your just a conquered blight
She’ll still be fame

Ye thought, when she was gone ye’d rule
The headlines poor deluded fool
For fate just used ye as a tool
Tae maker her famous
Tae honour her – a swimmin’ pool
Oor Nation’s aim is.

Wise Providence kens best tae hide
Why Evil’s on the sinnin’ side.
Tho’ often we wad like tae chide
He has his reason.
But, takin’ aff oor Country’s pride
Was well-nigh treason.

Then, murd’rous microbe dinna boast
Withoot His Will your pow’r is lost
You’re just allowed, tho’ great the cost
Tae prove tae man
The best are ta’en up tae His host
Wi’ shortened span.

Tho’ ye hae made the Nations mourn
An’ her bewildered fam’ly torn
Her name, on every heart, is worn
Where we’ve entwined her
Your mem’ry when your sting is shorn
Twas You enshrined her.

John Mallaghan