sheena blackhall (18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)
15 Selected Love Poems in Scots
Oh cauld's the doonrush o a burn
In winter's iron thraa,
Bit caulder still's a merriage bed
Fin luv has stolen awa.
Far niver gowden sun luiks doon,
Sae derk's the gairden booer¬
Bit derker yet's the hairt o man
Far skaith an sorra cooer.
Oh deep's a dreich an dowie loch
Far salmon niver sweems,
Bit deeper still's the cruel mire
That smores a bairn's dreams.
Oh I wad don the goun sae green,
Wi lilies hap ma head
An like Tam Lin the elfin knicht,
Step ower the burn o bluid
That rins between this eirdly warld
An kingdom o the fay,
Far niver mortal feet may gyang,
Nor mortal thochts bring wae.
Bird o Paradise,
Spirk o Original sin,
A rib o the yird
Rowed up in a cutty claith;
A wanton, a limmer,
The hurly-gush o the river's
Nae fur ye.
Strae-dallie, a peach, a leech,
Ye're the stank o a gairden puil!
Quine, ye're a chaip bawbee,
A vessel, a vassal haudin the
Wine o yer Lord's creation.
Spunk that kinnelt temptation,
Ye war framed fur the fire,
Fur the Fa,
Frae the verra first.
Ye an the serpent
for the late Charles Middleton (1907-88)
Fin I wis wee, wi leaward lug,
Ma faither's Scots wis branch an bouer;
An ower ma bairnhood, like an aik,
His thochts an wirds war leaf an flouer.
Far ither's een turned soor an blear
On dubby park or dreepin Ben,
Settin their sichts on gowd or gear,
Priceless, he caad the Tullich glen.
Fowk's mortal reets rin strang an deep,
Sae, at the hinmaist o his span,
I laid him in his last, lang sleep
Near far his warldly ploys began.
Beeriet the bane, bit nae the virr,
Langsyne it fand anither reest¬
Gin I draw nigh tae Lochnagar,
A deid man's hairt lowps in ma breist.
4.A Drap o Bluid Faas in the Wine
The bairnie at its mither's breist
Bides in a beild it sune maun tyne¬
A gorblie, cowpit frae its reest¬
A drap o bluid faas in the wine.
The halflin cairries at his core
The mortal guff will gar him dwine¬
A ratten chitters at his door
A drap o bluid faas in the wine.
A lass pits on a gowden ring,
A may, becam a merriet quine¬
A lintie clippit i' the wing
A drap o bluid faas in the wine.
5.The Halflin's Jo
His hairt's an aipple ony Eve micht pu;
Gin I cud wyle fur him a quine,
I'd pyke him ane fa's kisses brimmed the mou¬
Lang, sweet, an slokin as the pearly dyew.
Her spik wad be a madrigal o spring;
She'd seem mair magical nur ony Beltane meen,
Makkin his noons rejoice, his sleep-rowed midnichts reem
Wi secret pleisurs, rich delichts
That ony prince wad teem his rarest kist tae pree.
Fur she wad be a marble temple in a dwaumin sea
The sweeshlin tides keep fite
Aroon the idol keepit at her core,
She'd be his acolyte...
Syne, in his inmaist breist-bane,
I'd cut strang, agin the time
Fin cynic age the pith frae life has dung:
Aince, he wis bonnie, weel-beluved, an young.
6.A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever
Birse farmer, circa 1963
Heich simmer makks the hochs a love-juice cauldron.
Dauchlin astride a sunshine-drookit dyke,
I heard an engine purr, an iron bawdron,
The bowfin o a coo's-lick touslie tyke.
Syne suddent, frae ayont deep-shaddaed trees,
A fairm-chiel drave his combine ower the Ian–
The jetty curls upon his broo ableeze
Wi sun, as ony bonnie Grecian Pan.
Braid showders, glistenin broon, the loon, bare-backit
Sat squar abune the corn, like a young God
Ridin alang the barley-rigs half-nyaakit,
Watched bi a lustfu virgin an a bawd.
Reid kerchief lichtly wippit neth his chin,
A mou wad sook the hinney frae a bee,
Sweet fusslin, ower the birrin chariot's din;
He smiled full on me, wi a bull-black ee.
Twa birdies flichtered, coortin ben the corn,
Syne drappt tae couple, as pretensions tirred¬
Their birdsang like the sounin o a horn,
Biddin me cast ma bairnhood tae the yird.
He raisse tae cry his tyke, the stoot claith held
The fite swan o his secret manhood trussed
As faist's a muir-fire wi a breem is melled;
I kent the gnaawin thorn-stob o lust.
7.Heich Fur Houghmagandie!
The makk o man is richt designed
A wummin's pud tae pleisur
Gin he's weel-hung, she'll draa the bung
Tae praise him in guid meisur,
An he may chap his tirlin-pin
Her yett tae caa ajee,
Fur ilkie merry maid maun hae
A jo tae birzel wi.
The mount o Venus boos tae grip
A stick o Adam's stock;
The tappit hen lies doon afore
The crawin o the cock.
In mony's the hame at dawn o day,
The spurtle bangs the coggie,
An gin it winna, wives will gie
The guidman's cod a shoggie.
Sae shortsome, shortsome is the nicht,
Warmed bi anither's shanks
Weel leeze-ye `tween the snawy sheets
Fin luv kicks aff the branks.
Some worship lear, an ithers gear,
Gie me a rousin randy
A brawny back tae stap a crack,
Syne heich fur houghmagandie!
8.In Flagrante Delicto
Twa baas cam chappin at ma yett¬
The glory o the spheres!
9.Sang till the Unborn Bairn
Ye slippit aneth ma breist;
Murmerin thrum o life,
Soomin in secret watter,
Kittle an blythe.
I maun cairry an keep ye—
Bairn i the bane,
Trimmilin sap i' the leaf,
Wecht i the wame.
Ye are the lichtenin faa,
Stag-bolt deep i the derk;
The lowe that ma laddie gaed me,
The reid man-sperk.
Ye are a lichtsome creel,
The pledge he canna brak,
A brierin seed i the dreel,
He'll nae win back!
10.The Serpent's Sang
for A Makar
Gin I wis ivy, I wid twine
Yon lang, lean limbs, unyieldin's stane,
Sear laggard thocht; a kinnelt vine,
Wi leaves o langin fill his een.
He'd learn tae loe me quick eneuch,
Gin he war bane, an I war bluid¬
A flytin tide, I'd draw awa,
Leavin him pale, as I am reid.
I am the serpent in the stoor;
Though lower than the dust I lie,
I haud the knowledge o delicht,
O fa daur pass me by?
A thoosand-fauld they crush my heid,
I hissin rise an multiply.
Smoorichin saftly throw the fir,
A wooer in a silken veil
Is the sleety smirr;
The doon-scud i the burnie's dreel,
Dird-dirlin roon frae tap till tail
Is the fiddler's reel.
The birks staun ootlinned, chitterin cauld¬
Quines clad in cassen claes
At a Ne'erday ball.
The blinterin, blichtit sun's a faithless lad,
Fas fickle favour blears ower hoose an ha;
Bracken's a glekit, feckless, tummelt lass,
Cowpt ower, roch-wooed, amang the secret sna.
O love's a bigsie burn that's naething blate¬
Wormin its viper's wye till the brae's briest,
Or wild an wanton, terrible in spate,
Wad wed withoot the blessin o a priest.
As ice crack tinkles sherp afore the thaw,
So cauldrife winter brakks the simmer's lyre,
The clook within the eagle's sweengin claw;
Love's but a yowie, sneck't on barbit wire.
12.The Slichtit Lassie's Sang
Hard an sudden, as the huntsman's shot
Sinks i' the safteness o the snawy dove,
Deep as the dirk on its derk business quests
I' the gralloch o the stag,
Sae wad I loue ye, love.
I'd mak my skin as firm's a coral bed
Far on fite flesh ye'd slip like ony eel;
I'd be the sea-anemone, that's poised
Tae clook, an claw, an steal
The smaaest pleisur, frae the gangrel faem,
Till, lang an slow the shuddrin tide draws back,
A sated eagle, glutted o her prey,
Syne wad my talons slack.
I'd be the yird, an ye wad be the tree
Sae straucht an siccar, raxxin fur the lift.
The cloud may haud the leaf — an I'd agree
Tae grip the reet, sae ticht ye'd niver shift.
Gin thochts be lochan's waves, it's hairmless thinkin;
The watter seeks the san, an haps it roun.
The fish may loup the linn, as swack as jinkin,
An niver droon.
Bit ay I wauken, like a hungry ghaist
That's traivelled ower a brae o barren stane,
Kent anely consummation o the mist,
Swickit o warmth, ma bonnie lover gaen.
Twa lovers trysted bi the birk,
The lass had munelicht in her een¬
Bit creepin saftly throw the mirk,
The waukrife lad had nane.
Warm was his kiss an strang his airm,
The blin-sicht mowdie turned awa,
Nae lad sae fine could mean her hairm,
Her bridal guest, the hoodie craw.
A lass gaed up the ferny hill,
A gowk came back wi feint a word;
The cankered worm wis on its broo
And in its wame, the yird.
The wids are wide, the heather's thick–
It wraps her roon, a bonnie plaidie;
The bracken widna clype nor cheep,
The lea-lang nicht, he held her steady.
An fin auld age creeps in twa-fauld,
Makks o a maid a dottled deem
She'll hug It tae her like a shawl,
Yon nichts she beddit i' the breem.
Buik learnin's gran – a puckle lear
Pits pith an pouer in yer pow;
The lips were vrocht for kittler cheer–
Set on anither's, cracks a lowe,
Caa's caution rikkin ower the whin;
The bluid gangs soondin like a drum,
Braith braks on braith, a boundin linn,
An searin hett's the brand's owercome.
Love sunders lad an lass in turn,
Can ne'er be brukk, nor broukit;
Aince pree the wave, yer doon the burn,
Yer ower the heid, an drookit.
15. Lot's Wife
Luikin back, she saw her maiden-sel
Her sma breist, warm
In the palm o his langin,
The sliddery girse, the broon yird
Movin aneth them.
Twa in ain,
A Beltane jinin,
Makkin a wummin
Oot o a trimmilin quine;
An wee an far abeen
The branchin wid,
Booin its airms in blessin.
The waddin ring held constant;
Time didna twist the circle,
Naething cud grind it doon,
Lord, it wis sweir tae shift.
Ye wid hae thocht twa fowk,
Wi the early pech o passion spent,
Cud still luik at the road afore,
An nae tak scunner.
She swithered, luikit back.
Aathin she did, gaun forrit,
Wid be a faat.
Sae wis't a winner,
The first steen tear
Frae her hardenin hairt,
He wid neither heed, nur need,
Hid the taste o satt?
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