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Scots Poems In Skin

A Wheen Owersettins

Owersett o Testament by Mikhail Lermontov
I think I'd like tae be alane
wi ye, frien, gin ye'll bide:
ma time on the eirde is nearly gaen;
at least thon's fit they say.
An ye'll be gaun hame on leave:
mind ye…fit dae ye say? I jelouse,
to tell the truith, nae mony
will gie a fleein fart.

Gin onybody speir o ye…
weel, onybody at aa…
ye tell them far that bullet flew
richt ben the briest, ae baa:
'He deed wi honour fur the Tsar'
- an say foo bad oor sawbanes are -
'an tae his hame
he sent his greetins.'

Ye'll likely fin that ma auld dad
an mither baith are deid…
I widnae wint tae makk them waesome
or sen them tears tae greet;
bit gin ye fin that they're aa richt,
jist say I hinna time tae screive,
the regiment is fechtin
an there's nae eese in girnin.

They've got a wumman neebour noo?
Gweed kens foo hynie back
we pairted! … She'll hardly sikk
tae speir.. Lat it gae,
tell her the truith, leave oot nae pairt,
nae need tae spare a teem hairt;
she'll drap a tear or twa syne…
bit it means naethin tae her!


Owersett o Bonnie Rohtraut: bi Eduard Möricke
Fit is the nemme o King Ringang's dother?
Rohtraut, Bonnie Rohtraut!
An fit dis she dae the leelang day,
Since she daurna wyve an spin aywyes?
O huntin an fishin is aywis her gemme!
An, och! that her huntsman I micht be!
I'd hunt an fish richt blythely!
Be seelent, hairt!

An it chaunced that, efter a whylie, -
Rohtraut, Bonnie Rohtraut, -
The loon in the Castle has gotten in,
An a shelt he has gotten an a huntsman's rigoot,
Tae hunt an tae fish wi the blythe Princess;
An, O! that a king's loon I micht be!
Bonnie Rohtraut I luve sae doucely.
Wheesht! Wheesht! ma hairt.

Aneth a grey auld aik they sat,
Bonnie, Bonnie Rohtraut!
She lauchs: 'Foo keek sae sleekit at me?
Gin ye hae hairt eneuch, cam, kiss me.'
Cried the breathless laddie, 'kiss ye? '
Bit he thinks, gweed luck has smiled on youth;
An thrice he kissed Bonnie Rohtraut's mooth.
Doon! doon! wud hairt.


Syne slawly an seelent they rade hame, -
Rohtraut, Bonnie Rohtraut!
The loon wis tint in his delicht:
'An, wir ye Empress this verra nicht,
I widnae heed or feel the blicht;
Ye thoosan leaves o the wud wid ken
Foo Bonnie Rohtraut's moo I kiss'd.
Wheesht! Wheesht! wud hairt.'


Owersett o Rain & the Tyrants bi Jules Supervielle
I staun an watch the rain
Faain in puils that makk makk
Oor dreich auld warld glimmer;
The caller rain faain, jist the same
As thon that drappt in Homer's time
An thon that fell in Villon's day
Dreepin on mither an on bairn
An on the passive backs o yowes;
Rain sayin aa it has tae say
Ower an ower again, an yet
Wioot the pouer tae makk less hard
The timmer heids o tyrants or
Tae saften their stane hairts,
An pouerless tae makk them feel
Bumbazement as they ocht;
A mizzlin rain that faas
Ootower aa Europe's map,
Rowin aa leevin chiels
In the same weet envelope;
‘Spite o the sodjers loading airms,
‘Spite o the newspapers' stammygasters,
‘Spite o aa thon, aa this
A shouer o mizzlin rain
Makkin the flags hing weet.


Owersett o Innokenty Annensky: Blaik Spring
A hauf-holiday fur the beerial. Of coorse, they punish
the kintra copper bells fur oors;
terrible the neb cocks up like a tallow caunle
frae the kist. Dis it wint tae draw breathe
frae its corp in a mournin suit? The hinmaist snaa
drappt dowie — fite, syne the roads wir breid-crummles
wi stanes.

Puir winter, hinneycaimbed wi debts,
poored tae crocanation. Noo the dumb, blaik springtime
maun luik inno the jeelin ee... frae unner the fogg
on the reef-shingles, the wattery aetmeal
o the roads, the green stibble o life
on oor faces! Heich in the riven elm,
skreich the annual gorblies wi their jaggy thrapples.
They say tae man that his road is dubs,
his luck is wrunkled — there's naethin
sorrier than the mairriage o twa daiths.


Owersett o Innokenty Annensky: Buddhist Mass in Paris
The columns, rowed in yalla silk,
The peachy an mauve dresses, wi the slichtly
Skyry frills, amang the swyin
O burnin iles an liltin peals,
An the rhythms o thoosan-year-auld wirds,
A thochtie saftened bi the autumn gowd —
Ye'll cam tae life in ma myndin.

A basalt Mongol wis owerluikin maitters,
As the secret verb thawed
In the unca-vrocht shrine
At the hairt o the museum, sae that the weemen
Wid ficher wi their blaik fans an, fremmit
Tae the secret as their fleur-de-lis,
Wid repon anely tae the interpreter's ‘Leddy'.
The silken swatches straiked ma skittered glisk,
In this mystery, anely the music wis clear tae me,
Fas harmony I tuik tent o,
Breathin wi its rhythms, as wi the waves
O censers, an felt afffrontit bi the peely wally wirds,
Aidin this mystic an musical dwaum.
The service eyndit, an the haa waukened,
The Mongol gaed tae us his flooers
Wi a smile, an inhalin the exotic
Fragrances, the singers, weemen, — cannily
Haudin their traînes — an diplomats hashed
Tae the exit, tae hear the gloamin's
La mascotte or Carmen.
A fremmit phrase bedd in the air,
Born ooto the sowel an ecstatic torments,
Sae that pure hairts could sup the gweedness
Frae it… An it wis fey an jeelin
Tae see the veils cam doon upon the smiles,
The saftsome fingers drap the flooers o the gods.


Owersettin o Innokenty Annensky: Notturno
Wyle a derk nicht an in a park, wiooten fowk, nyaakit,
tiptae inno gray gloamin.... May the air, haein steered, becalm,
May the starnies, winkin, in the cauld lift slummer on....
Tell the hairt nae tae coont its dunts....
Devaul mid-step an lippen! Ye're nae alane... The wings
o a birdie, wechty, sypin, waucht ben the haar.
Lippen…. it's the flicht o a predator, a birdie king,
They caa thon birdie Ti me, an on its wings is yer smeddum,
A passin dwaum o blytheness, hope's gowden rags

Yuan Chen An Elegy
I) O youngest, best-lued dother o Hsieh,
Fa, unchauncy, mairriet this puir scholar,
Ye darned ma claes frae yer ain wicker creel,
An I priggit aff yer hairpreens o gowd, tae buy wine wi;
Fur denner we'd tae pu wud herbs -
An tae makk eese o dry locust-leaves fur oor kinnlin.
... The day they are pyin me a hunner thoosan-
An aa that I can bring tae ye is a temple o sacrifice.

II) We leuch, langsyne, aboot ane o us deein,
Bit o a suddenty, afore ma ee, ye are gaen.
Near aa yer claes hae bin gien awa;
Yer needlewirk is steekit, I daurnae luik at it....
I cairry on yer gweedness tae oor chiels an oor quines -
Whyles, in a dwaum, I bring ye gifties.
... This is a sorra that aa men maun ken -
Bit nae as we ken it fa hae bin puir thegether.

III) I sit here alane, murnin fur us baith.
Foo mony years dae I lack noo o ma threescore an ten?
There hae bin better cheils than masel tae fa heiven denied a loon,
There wis a better bard than masel fas deid wife couldnae hear him.
Fit hae I tae hope fur in the derkness o oor mools?
Ye an I hid smaa faith in a tryst efter daith -
Yet ma een ajee can see aa nicht
Thon lifelang tribble o yer broo.


Owersett o Dafydd ap Gwilym: The Rattle Pyoke 1340-1370
As I streaked oot, reamin wi praise
On a simmer day unner
Trees atween park an ben
Awytin ma saft-spukken quine,
She cam, there's nae denyin,
Fan she vowed, a verra meen.
Thegether we sat, fine fettle,
The quine an masel, bletherin,
Tradin, while I hid the richt,
Wirds wi the braw lassie.

An sae we were, she wis blate,
Larnin tae lue each ither,
Happin sin, winnin hinney,
An oor lyin thegether,
An syne, cauld comfort, it cam,
A stramash, a bluidy scunner,
A pyoke's doup's orra seethin
Frae a goblin in shepherd's makk,
Fa had, public fae,
A wersh-horned sag-chikked rattle.
He played, crined yalla wyme,
This pyoke, curse its plooky shank.
Sae afore houghmagandie
The douce quine wis fleggit: an, puir me!
Fin she heard, dweeble-hairted,
The steenes birr, she widnae bide.

By Christ, nae Christian kintra,
Cauld wersh tune, has heard the like.
Dirlin pyoke perched on a pole,
Bell o steens an graiel,
Saxon steens makkin music
Trimmlin in a bull's skin,
Hame o three thoosan emerteens,
Tirravee's cauldron, blaik pyoke,
Park-keeper, fier o strae,
Blaik-skinned, wyme stappit wi skelfs,
Soun that's an auld buck's loathin
Deil's bell, stake in its doup,
Scarted steen-cairryin kyte,
Micht it be cuttit intae thongs.
Micht the vratch's pin be struck dweeble,
Amen, fa flegged aff ma dearie.
………………………………………………………………………………….

Preen back yer lugs
Preen back yer lugs
The neebors are fechtin again
A richt collieshangie!

She's up tae high doh…
An the waas are sae thin ye hear aathin
A richt pair o wallagoos!

‘D'ye think ma heid's zipped up the back? 'she skirls
‘Ye've peed aa yer pye doon he cludgie
In thon damt boozer ye sozzlit wee drouth! '
‘Yer bum's oot the windae, ' he skreichs
‘Yer naethin bit a muckle sumph, ' she hits back
‘At least I can see ma taes, ' he makks repon

Syne the door bangs tee. He storms oot
She's on her lanesome, still skreichin
‘Yer a numpty, a bam, a greetin faced galoot'
Aye, richt eneuch
She can cause rows in a teem hoose


Reid Caps
Reidcaps bide in castles, roon the Scottish borders
They are evil goblins, kent fur nesty murders

They hae wrinkled faces, reid een an pynty teeth
They rin faist as wildfire, frae Pittenweem tae Leith

They weir iron buits an cairry wechty spears
Bide awa frae ruins brukken doon bi years


Ghillie Dubh
The ghillie dubh has corbie's hair, broon een, chameleon skin
His claes are wuvven leaves an fogg, a wee widlan gamin,

Berries an nuts are aa he etts, protectin bairns an trees
Gin ye misfit the ghillie dubh yer life braith he will squeeze


Cher Ami
There aince wis a bonnie wee racin doo
She wis trained in the first warld war
She flew wi messages tied tae her shank
Like a feathery sheetin star

Ower the trenches, the dubs, the glaur
She flew, sodjers tae save
An American bourich o fechters
Frae a dowie, early grave

Bit the guns o the German Airmy
Struck her briest richt cruelly
An shrapnel blew ae shank awa
An blinnt her in ae ee

On she flew until she drappt
Her message won through safe
An a medic saved thon gallant bird
An snatched her back frae daith

Syne medals were howped upon her
Fowk vrocht her a shank o wid
Cher Ami the brave wee cushie
For aa the gweed she did


Bean-Nighe (pronounced bee-nee-yeh)
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith
She washes the claes o fowk due tae dee
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith
She keens aside puils, burns, eildritch an slee

She's ugsome wi webbed feet, ae nostril, ae teeth
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith
She's rigged oot in green, the hue o the fey
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith

Wauk by her, wuk by her thon oorie auld jaad
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith
Ae day she'll wash your claes ma bonnie young lad
Bean-Nighe Bean-Nighe, the fairy o Daith


Twice beeriet Mary Elphinstane
Mary wis a meenister's wife, ane o the warld's jewels
Till they dressed her in her hinmaist shroud an laid her in the mools

She deed o a fever, quick she deed an brakk her husband's hairt
The deed wi the livin canna bide, the grave gars luvers pairt

Twa grave robbers frae Aiberdeen tae the kirkyaird crept at night
Howked up the kist of the beeriet quine bi the licht o a starnie night

An there she lay baith fite an cauld, wi an emerald ring on her haun
Bit rug as the micht, it wadnae budge, sae the twa made up a plan

They tuik a knife an tried tae cut her finger, tae win the gem
Syne the corp sat up dumfounert, an skreiched at the sicht o men

They ran like the win frae the kirkyaird, while Mary hytered hame
Nae deid ava, wrang beeriet, her oorie claim tae fame

She lived lang efter her kistin, an wi her neist demise
They beeriet her wi a handbell, tae ring should she need tae rise


Jock o Bennachie
Langsyne the hill o Bennachie wi hame tae Jock, a giant braid
Fa lued a bonnie giantess, the Lady Anne, a sonsie maid

Ochone for Jock, the faithless quine, coortit anither on the sly
Anither rival, Jock o Noth, fae Rhynie on a knowe nearbye

Fin wird o this reached Bennachie, Jock luiked tae Rhynie's knowe o steen
An saw his dearie, wi his fae, cosyin up, the cheatin deem

Jock grund his teeth wi roose an wae, frae Bennachie a boulder brakk
An flang it at his rival Jock, bit killed puir Annie bi mistakk

Intae a cave, he crept an grat. Ootbye he saw his dearie staun
Raxxin her airms tae haud him close, the ghaistie o the Lady Anne

Ochone, the ghaist wis jist a swick. The veesion cheenged, a witch becam
Ye are condemned tae bide unseen, inbye this cave accursed man

A steen will block the entrance ticht, an syne yer tale will fowk forget
Deep in the side o Bennachie, the giant bides in derkness yet.


Blue Men O the Minch
Hae ye heard o the Storm Kelpies? the Minch's blue skinned fowk?
They sweem atween Lewis an Scotland, as ghaistly blue as smoke?

Their faces are grim an gurly, ther hair an bears are green
Their snoots are flat, their moos are braid, an wee an hard their een

They'd lang fish tails instead o shanks, they circled the ships they met
An challenged the skipper an crew they saw tae match the rhyme they set

‘Oor blue skinned men are here tae cowp yer crew tae watery grave
Noo gie us a rhyme that's gweed an stinch
For we are the deidly men o the Minch
That anely a rhyme will save'

Sae mony's a bonnie boat wis tint, far the Minch's waters rin
An mony's the sailor's widda greets, on dry lan left ahin


The Corryvrechan Tragedy
A prince frae the Viking northlands, lued a princess o Scottish bluid
Her faither daured him tae show his virr, tae anchor, far ithers deed

Three days an nichts wis the challenge, tae anchor far ithers drooned
In the Corryvrechan whirlpuil, far mony a life wis doomed

The prince returned tae Norway tae makk three ropes wi care
Ae rope o hemp, ae rope o oo, ane vrocht wi maidens' hair

An anely the purest maiden micht cut her hair wi hope
That wuvven intae a speecial towe wid haud the anchor rope

On the first day the hemp wis brukken, on the secunt the oo wis snappit
On the third the towe o the quines' hair failed. Doon tae the Deep he drappit


For ane o Norway's maidens, hid tint her maidenheid
An the prince wis drooned in the whirlpuil, thon airt o dule an dreid


The Giant's Causeway
Did ye hear o the giant's Causeway that wis biggit across the sea
Fae Scotlan ower tae Ulster, bi Finn McCool on a spree?

Noo Finn wis an Irish Giant, Benandonner, his Scottish prey
Bit fan Finn saw the makk o the Scotsman, he shook wi fleg an wae

Tho Finn wis a michty Giant, thon Scot wis twice his size
Finn tuik tae his heels an fled back hame afore the sun did rise

Benandonner wis heich bit creashie, sae Finn wis the maister man
An his wife biggit a giant cradle, a pairt o a cunning plan

She dressed Finn up like a babby, he crawled intae the bed
As Benandonner entered the hoose. ‘Far is yer man? ' he said

‘Ma man is huntin, ' she telt him. ‘Bit he'll be back ere lang.
Jist showd the babby in his bed, an sing him a bairnie sang.'

Fin the Scotsman saw the babby, ‘If this be the loon, ' thocht he
‘Ma certes, fower times bigger will Finn the faither be! '

‘I winna bide, ' he telt her. ‘I've things tae dae at hame, '
An as he crossed the Irish sea, he flang the brig tae the faem

Nae mair dis the lan o Ulster, hae a brig tae the Scottish shore
Nae mair dae the twa braid Giants, ower the waves their insults roar


The Pechs
A race o Pechs in Scotland bedd
Wee hairy, lang airmed fellies
Reid heidit, they hid muckle feet
That served them as umbrellies

They brewed a famous heather ale
Sae gweed aa socht tae makk it
The Pechs they kept the secret ticht
An nane wis fit tae takk it
The Pechs aa focht each ither
Till twa were left alive
A faither an his son, wir catched
Tho sair they baith did strive

‘Gie me the secret o the ale! '
The king demandit syne
The aulder Pech said, ‘Anely if
Ye kill this son o mine'

The king wis fair dumfoonert,
Bit killed the son straicht aff
The faither watched his laddie dee
Syne turned aroon tae lauch

‘Ye wad he gart him tell ye aa
Bi torture or bi skaith
I'll takk the secret o the ale
Intae the Haa o Daith!

They brewed a famous heather ale
Sae gweed aa socht tae sook it
The Pechs they kept the recipe
Doon tae the grave they tuik it
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