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In Praise o Standart Habbie
David C Purdie

Click here to listen to this in Real Audio read by Peter D Wright

Guid faa thee bonnie Standart Habbie,
Kirstent bi Ramsay, looed bi Rabbie;
T'wes Sempill first gid thee thy knabbie,
An byous fame.
I've kent thee sin I wes a babbie,
An blisst thy name.

Ye've scriffit aff ti moose an haggis,
The Deil an sindry Nells an Maggies.
A kinch til ilka wit an wag is
Yer bob-wheel ploy;
A hantie tuil in bardic baggies;
The makar's joy.

Owre ilka kin o verse an jink,
Owre michty ode or crambo clink,
Ye'll rule, sae lang as Scotsmen think
On makkin rhyme;
Til Habbie we'll aye tip the wink,
Or eyn o time.

Gie Japanese their haiku dribbins,
The French their fremmit rondeau jibbins,
Eyetalians their terza blibbans,
Southrons their sonnets;
We'll bliss oor Habbie til the hivvens,
An heeze oor bunnets!

This poem by award winning poet David C Purdie is republished from Scots Wittins, February 2005.

Note from the poet:  This poem was first published in Orbis No. 111 after it gained an Adjudicator's Commendation in the Rhyme International Competition of 1998.  The adjudicator, the distinguished English poet Penelope Shuttle said of it, "... In Praise O Standart Habbie, a vigorous testimony to the Scots vernacular..."

The competition was for two categories of poem, Category A for poems not in any recognised poetic form and Category B for set poetic forms such as, sonnet, terza rime, rhyme royal, etc.  Although I was pleased to see the poem in Orbis, the only poem in Scots I ever saw in that very English publication, I was not happy that it was put into Category A.  I entered it in Category B because so far as I am concerned, Standard Habbie is a recognised poetic form.  It may not be commonly used south of the border, but in Scotland it has been widely employed and been hugely popular for the best part of four centuries.

I wrote to the magazine's editor, Mike Shields, seeking clarification but never got a satisfactory reply.  The competition is now no more and I think the magazine is no more too.  At any rate Mike Shields no longer edits it.  I, however, will maintain until my dying breath that dear old Standard Habbie is as valid a form as any Villanelle, Sicilian Octave or Spenserian Stanza.

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