Sheena Blackhall

Gold Star - 5,284 Points (18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

Lament For The Raj: 20 Plus Poems In Scots - Poem by Sheena Blackhall


Mither's Uncle Dougie, an faither's Cousin John ¬
Ane vrocht in Kuala Lumpar -the tither in Ceylon;
Twa hin-hochs 0 the Raj's - rump... the tail-eyn 0 its reign
Milkin siller ooto rubber trees -the Fite Man's gravy-train.

Atap ma mither's mantle (Dougie's gift frae Singapore)
An ebon elephant wad raxx its muckle chouks an roar.
Three monkeys cocked abune the press: ane's lugs frae lees war stappit;
Anither's mou wis steekt frae ill; the hinmaist's een war happit;
An ben the hearth, on box 0 braisse, far granny's coal wis keepit, Emblazoned wis a tiger, creepin forrit, fly an sleekit.

Johnny's keepsake? Twa braid oxen rugged a braisse cairt wi a reef
As princely's a pagoda, fit fur Rajah or Caliph.
In the firelicht 0 an evenin, foo yon oriental breets
Wided ben a bairnie's fancies, far the Real an Unreal meets!

Mither's Uncle Dougie, an faither's Cousin John
o Aiberdeenshire fairmin stock, war eident an won on;
Twa sahibs brocht up on sowens, cheengin kail fur vindaloo,
Spikkin Hindi melled wi Doric on the roads frae Katmandu ¬

Oh, the schule buiks fu 0 mahouts an mongooses that I read!
Foo I yearned tae cross the coolie lines far Jumbos trumpeted!
Tae converse wi haly Saddhus, dusky Brahmins, warlike Sikhs
In the jungles an the temples far the slit-ee'd cobra keeks!

Mither's Uncle Dougie. an faither's Cousin John ¬
The nearest tae their Eastern airts I reached wis Foggieloan.
Noo my quinie's pulse is quickened bi the TV's trashy trock ¬
Foo she yearns tae gyang tae Disneyland (the thocht o't gars me bock) Viewin Mickey Moose an Donald, ettin Super Macs an Cokes
Or tae traivel tae Australia, the surf-Ian 0 the Soaps!


Yahweh an Kali ¬
Hell's richt up their alley;
Like them I canna... My deid-end's Nirvana

Krishna an Allah –
Twa wheels, the same barra;
Foo pit a face on
Cosmic creation?
I force-feed
Nae Godheid
Gie my seed
Nae wersh creed

Nae deus
In my hoose
Nae papoose
In guilt's noose

Karma an Dhyana
(Born ootside the toga)
Are my moral guidelines
As siccar as tramlines.

Buddhist is best!

3. Some Scots owersettins 0 poems taen frae the Hong Kong anthology ¬
100 Tang poems (Bruce Wilson and Zhang Ting Ching)

Langlyin in Spring,
I tint the dawn;
Noo, birdsang's aawye soundin,

Tulzie 0 win and rain blattert the nicht.
Foo mony blossoms fell mids the stramash?


Blae Bens at gloamin seem tae raxx for aye.
A fite hoose -even peely-wallier wi cauld.
At nicht, I heard a tyke bowf at the ice-clad yett
My host tcyauves hame, in wind an snaw.


First sklents 0 mornin sunlicht
Poor throw heich bamboo.
I enter the auld temple, haudin teetle the path
Tae far the meditation haa
Is hidden under the flooerin trees.

Braes an Bens invite the sang 0 trees.
Images in the puil teem the human mind

Aathin's vanished noo, inno the hairt 0 the quate,
Barrin the chingaling 0 bell an chime.


Aawye's quate. Lowes burn i' the lan.
The falcon-fleggit pheasant
Rins tae grun again.

As the tinchel slawly narras
Lookers-on draa tee.

That his pouer micht bumbaze aa
The general reins in his shelt
Raxxes his bow... haudin back the shot.

The pheasant flees.
The sturdy arra strikks it.
Up it soars, heich, heich, abeen the watchers
Till its reid finery an the fite arra shaft
Arc doon

Reezed oot bi his fiers
The general tosses back his heid an lauchs.
A toozle 0 skyrie feathers
Dunts doon before the hooves.

A Scots version 0 the poem bi Zhang Ro-Xu (666-720)

In Spring the river swalls abreist the sea.
The fair meen rises, striddlin the tide;
Watters bleeze furth the nivver-endin licht
Far on the spring river, is there nae bricht meen?

The river furls ben fragrant flooery parks,
Skinklin wi draps 0 meen, like beads 0 ice.
Fa sees the rime alicht
Or kens the isle's fite san, frae meen's fite lowe?

The lift, the river. Aa's ae perfect hue ¬
Bricht, bricht thon lanely circle in the lift!

Fan did the meen first glimmer ower fowk?
Fa first espied the meen, frae river's bank?
Bluidline follaes bluidline wi'oot en,
Seein the same river, keekin at thon same meen.

Dis onybody ken fa the meen wytes fur?
We anely spy the river, lang an ripplin...
A skirp 0 cloud is dauchlin in the lift.

Fit hame this nicht his tint a gangrel,
Lowsed upon the tide?
Upon fit lanely wummin's reef
Dis the meen shine ower?

Peetifu, the licht playin on the hoose,
Meevin ower the dresser 0 ane left ahin.
Eesless, tae caa it aff the washin
Or switch it aff bi rollin doon the blinds.

Noo, we jist trace ain anither's
Likeness in the rain.
Gin I cud stream doon on ye, in the meenlicht
Or sen a message wi the fish
That, lowpin frae the watter, plunges tae the founs
¬Or wi the wild, wild geese
That soarin heich intae the lift
Bide ay inbye yon brichtness!

Yestreen, I dreamt 0 petals faain
Inno the quate 0 the puil.
A peety, hauf the Spring's gaen by
An we twa pairtit.

Spring's near foonert, catched awa wi the river's watters.
Noo, dwinin, hapt in a sea 0 liftin haar
The meen slants wast ower river an ower puil;
Enless, yon road.

Foo mony return bi meenlicht?
Settin, the meenlicht seems tae shakk the flooerin trees
Alang the river, thrang wi unquate thochts.

[Owersettins in Scots frae An Anthology of Mexican Poetry (Indiana Press 1958) ]

Altho he niver steers frae hame
The tortoise, like a flittin,
Styters doon the pathie.

Dauds 0 dubs, the taeds
In the shady sheugh

The dragonflee, tcyaavin eident
Tae preen its transparent cross
On the bare an trimmlin bough.

Aneth ma windae, the meen on the reef,
The bawdrons' silhouettes
An their Chinee tunes.

5. OOR LIVES ARE BURNIES: (Scots owerset o a poem bi LUIS GURBINA (1868-1934)

I anely hid ae notion: a pleisunt dwaum
Yon 0 the burnie drawin near the sea
An yearnin tae be cheenged inno a puil,
A meenit tae devaul
In some auld palm tree's shade.

For, quo rna soul: 'I gyang tribbled an trauchelt
Wi reengin plains an owerloupin dykes.
Noo the storm's dane, I fain wad rest
Blue as afore, an wheeplin a sang'.

I anely hid ae notion, sae serene
It sained ma sairs, an gleddened aa ma waes
Wi the bricht lowe o a fire in the hearth

Bit Life quo: 'Soul, gyang tribbled an alane
Nae iris on yer bank,
Nae starnie in yer wave.
Reenge ye the plains
Syne vanish in the sea'.

6. OWERSETTINS IN SCOTS 0 twa POEMS FRAE: MARILYN MONROE AND OTHER POEMS (publ Search Press 1975) bi Ernesto Cardenai 1925)


Ahin the monastery, doon bi the road,
There's a kirkyaird 0 connached ferlies.
Yonner lies brukken cheena, roosty metal,
Crackit pipes an furled dauds 0 wire;
Teem fag packets, wid-stoor,
Runkled iron, auld plastic, tyres ayont remeid:
Aa wytin the Crack 0 Doom
Somelike wirsels.


There's a birr 0 tractors in the parks
The geans are pink wi flooer:
Tak tent -the aipple tree his blossomed.
This, ma jo, is The Sizzen 0 Luv.

The starlins cheep in the sycamore,
The roads yoam 0 fresh tar
An cars gyaun by
Are cairryin lauchin quines.

Luik ye: The Sizzen 0 Luv his briered:
Ilkie fleein bird Has ain gyaun efter't.


A jet in the gloamin lift
Rikk like a threid,
As the sun sets, gowden.
The plane's ower faist tae see,
The gowd threid dauchles...

8. MEY
In Mey, the trees staun like young brides.
Their coronets are sprigs 0 green;
The air is rich in merle's chant ¬
Winged clarsach 'mangst the fragrant gean.

Smaa shooeries weet, in sun replete,
The gowden-crested clouds are skiffin;
Sangs, saft as oo, plump cushies croo,
Fine feathered joes, the doos are gliffin.

The vauntie birk shakks doun her braids,
Her marra's in the widlan puil;
Yon keekin-glaiss, like burnished braisse,
Far drappin, dusky blossoms sweel.

Hill watters clash, in wud stramash.
Sic tulzies! Ilkie burn is reamin;
In Spring's swack thaa, ice castles faa
Like fleein hordes, the braes doon-streamin.

The wins are lowpin -swippert troot
The mirled mavis gyangs a-biggin;
Tae keep her nyaakit cheepers snod
Her nest wi foggy girse she's thiggin.

The Beltane dyew's a magic drap
That swalls intae a linn 0 wine;
Mey caa's her cairt, wi flooeries girt
Throw winter's yett, the sonsie quine!


The UFO cam furlin doon
We're sure that it hailed frae Mars
Tho Davie said twis a Northern Licht
Or ain 0 thon sheetin stars.

It hovered atap the cloud awhile
Abeen the steeple an kirk
Syne hyne ootower the clouds it flew
Ayont the nicht's pit-mirk.

Hard teetle the Milky Way it gaed
Far aa the sternies steer
Ahin the meen an anent the sun
Awa frae the Eird's mineer.

Yonner it bedd fur a meenit or twa
Bit fegs, it cudna sattle!
Ootby the meen wi its space debris
(A meteor, shuttle, an rockets three)
It drapped like a bairnie's rattle.

Forrit it breenged, alang an ben,
Throw the riggin 0 the nicht
Its lichts blinked aff an its lichts blinked on
Twis seen frae Venus an throw Strathdon
In the mids 0 Saturn it briered an shone
An heich ower the glacks 0 Gight.

Doon it fussled aneth a loch
Ablow derk pike an troot
It lay at the fit 0 the murky waves
Like a muckle fat cheroot.

Laigh at the boddom it wadna bide
Bit inno the tide it sprang
Upwirds ooto the dubby loch
It floatit abeen the stirkie's troch
As licht as a fite meringue.

Aside the playgrun, astride the schule,
Inbye the classies it wannert
Inower the jannie's gairden shed
It dauchled an it dannert.

Wi'in wir hoose we watched it gang
As inno a waa it traivelled
An Mary rubbit her een at yon
An swore her wits wis raivelled.

Ontil a doontoun cafe it dowped
An plunkit itsel at the foun
Syne twa green men cam steppin ben
An luikit roon an roon.

They birled their lugs an they flashed their een
An gibbered a wheen 0 styte
An Davie said they war frienly-kind
Bit Mary thocht them gyte.

Backwise inno their craft they gaed ¬
Twa wee men gyaun haikin
Back tae the sterny firmament
An their interstellar traikin.

Morag spied the ram
The upwird raxxin hoof
Wis thon 0 a dauncer
Caad tae smush on stane
Catched in the lilt
o a genteel, slaw Strathspey.

Drappit lace its fleece. Its ribs
War strung like a clarsach
The win blew coronachs
Tween ilkie singin bane
A requiem fur ae breet life at peace.

Niall spied the ram
The horn, hoof an hide
A cuttit knot o ripe reid ochre, cream,
An ratten grey
A glut 0 hues... Mortality's bricht palette
The rich an reekin tapestry 0 rot
Far peat an sinew mells
The hinged skull
Wi'ts crannies, neuks an furls
A sculptor's challenge
The horns war hard as shells.

Murchadh spied the ram
A smuggler's coggie
Caad tae crocanation in the snaw
The precious wine
Scaled doon the peat's dry thrapple
The plappin pulse wis still
Twis an auld kill
Puir scrats 0 flesh an skin
Far wyvin mists
Crept sleekit oot an in
Pot scapins, fit fur a craw
Murchadh turned on his heel
An strode awa.

Ceit spied the ram
The quaet ram, fur naethin's quaet as death
Far hid the bleat gaen
An the glimmerin ee?
The warmth, the leevin braith?
Fit did it mean, tae dee?
Like a shipwracked boatie
Ooto the warld's steer
Its anchor lowsed an sinnert.
Ceit spied the ram
At the hairt 0 the winblawn muir
An winnert.


Gotta hae a TV
Gotta hae a phone
Gotta hae a holiday
In Greece or Rome

Gotta hae a motor
Gotta hae a shooer
Gotta hae a ghettoblaster
On full pooer

Gimme a jacuzzi Da, if ye can
Fur it's buy buy buy
In the consumer clan.
Ye winna? Och, ye're eesless
A scunner 0 a da. I'd kill fur a computer
Gonna get ain, ma?

[Pollerttia, a Roman town built in Alcudia, Majorca, in 123 BC by Quito Cecilio Metelo]

Haein daundered yonner in the steps
0 the auncients
I dowpit doon on a bleezin hett
Slab 0 a steen
Bigged wi a wheen ithers
Inno a semi-circle.

Jist ane 0 a raw 0 tiers
Gaithered twa thoosan years
Ago or mair, wi Roman virr
In yon sun-birsslit place (A richt geometric race)
In open air.

Thon Tiber fowk
Warna acquant wi sleet an smirr
They didna bigg fur comfort, bit fur grace.

Masel an a Moorish lizard
(Twa daft gangrel gowks) shunned the siesta,
Glowered doon inno the teem stage
At the heicht 0 the sun's rage
Wytin fur a happenin tae happen.
There wis anely a cricket, cricketin.
Weel, ye ken fit Theatre's like...
Pure magic or a pain in the erse.
An fit wis even wirse
Than missin the Grand Finale,
Bein a Doric pleb,
I'd tint the suncream
Sae I brunt ma neb.


Mrs McBride telt Sadie Broon
‘Jessie MacAndrew's haein a loon.’
Ma sez, 'Faith, it micht be a quine'.

'As lang's the littlin's hale an fine
Fit dis it maitter either wye? '
Spiered Mrs Mckay.


Spring, the postie, cam yestreen
Wi parcels fur the trees
o leafy duds, rowed up in buds
Tae waucht on ilkie breeze.

Spring, the postie, cam yestreen
At ilkie door he chappit
A pyock 0 sunshine on his back
His heid wi shouers tappit.

Spring, the postie, cam yestreen
Noo, breengin bawds rin gyte
Lythe lammies lowp; plash! puddocks plowp
An luvsick doos cheep styte.


Her lugs lie flat.
Her snoot's lirked in a gurl;
A nicht-shift wirker nears.
She backs awa ¬

Quick as a blink she's gaen.
An interloper,
Scraunin fur scraps, her littlins need them aa.

Ahin lace curtains, mugs 0 tea are teemed
Curtains are steeked. Fowk slump in TV's thrall;
Gardens are tombsteen-quate. Street lichts wheek on:
A shadda, she lowps by the shoppin mall.

Dossers in doorwyes glower. She hashes on,
Back 0 the Chinee, cowpin backets ower;
Powkin her fremmit neb mangst human soss,
Stappin her kyte, for she maun ett fur fower.

Man's orrals feed her cubs. Their den's a drain ¬
Nae mair the sweet, cweel earth, bi fairmer's puil.
Her mate lies hyne awa. Last Winter's cull
A Trojan horse 0 pyson his last meal.

Catched in cars' heidlights, see her een bleeze fire!
Her hackles rise, her curved incisors gant:
Tod in the Toun -nae pampered hearth fur her
Bit kick an curse -a hounded immigrant.

[for Sgt. Arthur Middleton,51st Highland Division; Ballater banker, b.l919; d.l947. Buried New Cemetery, Aboyne, His name is included in the North East's Roll of Honour]

Fit campaign did he fecht, far thoosans fell?
I dinna ken, it wis afore my time.
Far war his leaders? History buiks micht tell;
Sune there'll be nane alive that even myne.

Faither's wee brither, mither reminisced,
Wis musical, wis coortin,
An wis quate -Thon twa three bars wis aa she iver said...
Backwird at comin forrit,
My uncle Arthur... studious, an blate.

Guns an guts an gore
The coffin nails that haimmered Hitler's door
Are roosty memories noo
A fyew grey hairs explore.

This unkent sodjer-banker.
Wis he braw? A warrior, braid-backit and weel-faired?
His lugs cocked oot. His heid wis hudderie,
A hame-ower loon, wi shanks as thin's a straa.
An did this Scottish sodjer choose tae craw
o martial strife, wi deeds 0 glory tapped?

He'd nae pech left in his scarred lungs tae blaw
Fur Afrik's desert sans his oor-glaiss cracked.
An aa the fiers that micht hae telt his tale
Lie hyne awa, bi girse an heidstanes happed.

Shipped hame tae dee. Fit kinno victory yon?
'He aye kept cheerie, even near the end, '
Ma faither said.
Bit mither catched his greetin unawares
Crushed bi his weird, ower coorsely smashed tae mend.
She crept awa... didna invade his grief ¬
Teem platitudes bring sorra, nae relief.

'A roch hurl tae yer ward, ' ma faither myned.
Ma uncle lauched, kennin ma birth wis near.
'Ca-cannie ower the rig-back 0 the road
Ye dinna wint the bairnie born here'.
Ane deed. Syne ane wis born -Noo he's a name~
A book wis Victory's wages. Tint generation, in a rowth 0 pages.
'The Lord God gies, the Lord God takks, ' mither wad mummle.
'Snuffed Arthur's spunk oot, kinnelt yer wee caunle'.

A faimly poppy... sacrificial lamb;
The airmy pyed his cross. Fit price, a man?


The Wee Fowk peinted the roses reid
The pheasant's lugs an the cockerel's heid

They peinted the skyrie sunbeams gowd
They splytered broon far the brackens showd.

They steered the fite in the calfie's cream
They darted yalla ower the meen

Siller they set on the snailie's back
An a daud 0 blaik on the hoodie's back.

They mirled the mavis, they strippit the brock
They skirpit green ower knowe an knock

Pit blae on the sclate wi a doughty dicht
The Wee Fowk, makkin the warld bricht.


Soo-moued, ringle-eed Jock McBride
Is socht bi polismen far an wide
An identikit 0 his coorse physog 's
Bin sent frae Turra tae Auchenshog.

His teeth are nesty's a nettle's nip
His pow is huddry's a scaffy's skip
His neb is brukken (a caber bowed)
His lugs are thirled tae the clink 0 gowd.

His broo is gurly, his mowser's jobby
His neive strikks fear in the boldest bobby
His thrapple's knotty... a rinnin noose
He'd stert a fecht in an empty hoose.

McBride is hard as Barlinnie rock
He'd gie Count Dracula's bairns a shock
His fingers, crannies an thoombs are tarry
His claes fell aff the back 0 a larry.

His harns are crookit's a shepherd's cromack
Hate in his hairt an a big Kilmarnock
Stapped on his heid like a baker's bap
He's a blicht on the Lan, frae taes tae tap.

His showders are braid as the Forth Road Brig
His shanks are heich as a Nor Sea rig
His oxters are blaik's twa bats frae Hell
It's sure he's sib tae the deil himsel.

Wi his elbucks sherp an his ragnails teuch
He'd howk a canyon ooto a sheuch
His kyte's as lean as a Heilan stirk
An he picks yer lock wi a rooshty dirk.

His dowp, behouchie, his dock or hurdies
Are twa roon meens ower grim fur wirdies:
Wanted McBride. Alive or Deid!
Reward -Twa Tinnies 0 Best Shortbreid


The burns in Mey will sweesh an swey
(Peat watter's sweet, mo ghradh,
Fur lowpin troot an swackenin shoot)
The Braes 0 Mar, gu bradh!

The Beltane dyew gars aathin grow
(Birds, buds an breets, mo ghradh,
Baith larick green an flooerin gean)
The Braes 0 Mar, gu bradh!

Ower Coilacreich hings Samhuinn dreich
(The burn's a shroud, mo ghradh,
Loud keens the win, the mist creeps blin)
The Braes 0 Mar, gu bradh!

Winter's a knife, a carlin wife
(The bluid rins cauld, mo ghradh,
The skreichin craw craiks oweraa)
The Braes 0 Mar, gu bradh!

20. The Back o Beyont

The breets are breengin inno the Ark
The muckle, the braid, the sma;
Twa bi twa they're treetlin in
Tae the Back 0 Beyont, awa.

Lowpity lowp comes the teenie flech,
The puddock, the taed, the bawd,
Scooshlin alang wi the strippit brock
The mowdie, tyke an bawd.

Sleekit an sly the sliddery wye
Comes the aidder, saftly creepin;
Flappin awa, the erne, the craw,
Wi the doos an peesies cheepin.

Teenie an wee, the bummer, the flee,
The emmack, the gleg, the moch;
The dyeuk, the coo an the snochrin soo,
The troot frae the skinklin loch.

The breets are breengin inno the ark
The muckle, the braid, the sma;
Twa bi twa they're treetlin in
Tae the Back 0 Beyont awa.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 18, 2013

Poem Edited: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

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