Poetry and Prose Quotes
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A Taste of the Scots Language from the 13th Century to Present Day
Seein hou monie there wis o
them, he spealed the brae, an whan he hed sitten doun, an his disciples
hed gethert about him, he set tae the teachin, an this is what he said tae
"Hou happie the
puir at is hummle afore God,
for theirs is the Kingdom o heiven !
Hou happie the dowff an dowie,
for they will be comfotit !
Hou happie the douce an cannie,
for they will faa the yird !
Hou happie them at yaups an thrists for richteousness,
for they will get their sairin !
Hou happie the mercifu,
for they will win mercie !
Hou happie the clean o hairt,
for they will see God !
Hou happie the redders o strow an strife,
for they will be caa'd the childer o God !
Hou happie them at hes dree'd misgydin for richteousness'
for their's is the Kingdom o Heiven !
Hou happie ye, whan they tash
an misgyde ye an say aathing ill o ye, liein on ye, for my sake ! Blythe
be ye an mirkie, for gryt is the rewaird bidin ye in heiven; it wis een
sae they misgydit the Prophets afore ye.
"Ye ar the saut o the warld.
But gin the saut gaes saurless, what will gie it back its tang? There is
nocht adae wi it mair but cast it outbye for fowk tae patter wi their
"Ye ar the licht o the warld.
A toun biggit on a hill-tap canna be hoddit; an again, whan fowk licht a
lamp, they pit-it-na- ablo a meal-bassie, but set it up on the dresser-heid,
an syne it gies licht for aabodie i the houss. See at your licht shines
that gate afore the warld, sae at aabodie may see your guid deeds an ruise
your Faither in heiven !
New Testament in Scots' - William L Lorimer. This extract is from
St Matthews, chapter 5, verses 1 to 16. Lorimer's translation of the New
Testment, from the original Greek, intil Scots was published in 1983. I
read this passage at my mother's funeral.
"I am judging," said Mr Plumdamas, "that this reprieve wadna stand gude in
the auld Scots law, when the kingdom was a kingdom."
"I dinna ken muckle about the law,"answered Mrs Howden ; "but I ken, when
we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament-men o' our ain, we could
aye peeble them wi' stanes when they werena gude bairns - but naebody's
nails can reach the length of Lunnon."
King Robert I :
But na - we'll nae dae that.
There comes tae mind
Anither seemin error that turned oot
The best that culd be dune. A year tae them
Is still a year tae us. An mair nor that
We ken their destination maist exact.
An we culd choose the grund tae meet them on.
I wonder - culd I dae it. Queer it was
At Louden Hill an Pass o Brander baith
That feelin o a sudden gift inside me
That I culd plan a battle. Stirling Castle
The park, the Forth - the Craig - the Bannock Burn
Or ower by Falkirk tae avenge Sir Wallace?
Eneuch - we stop aa ither plans - an Ned
Forgie my anger. Noo we maun recruit
Fae aa o Scotland. Muster I the spring
At falkirk I the Torwood, there tae drill
An train as hard's we can. Nae raids frae noo
We mauma risk tae lose a single man.
Ned's challenge will set England aa astir
Tae rally sic a force as ne'er before
An culd that force be beat - ay - culd it be
Twad be disaster for them finally.
frae 'The Hert o Scotland' -
Robert S Silver. This extract from a play about Robert I, King of Scots,
sets the scene in 1313 for the coming Battle of Bannockburn ( 1314 ). Robert
I gives his response to the news that his brother, Edward, has agreed with
the English commander of Stirling Castle that unless he is relieved in a
year's time by an English army he will surrender the castle to the Scots.
The booklet published by the Scots Independent to commemorate the 650th
anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn,
edited by the poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, is now available on The Flag.
Of a' the games that e'er I
Man, callant, laddie, birkie, wean,
The dearest, far aboon them a',
Was aye the witching channel stane.
Oh! for the channel-stane!
The fell good name the channel-stane!
There's no a game that e'er I saw,
Can match auld Scotland's channel-stane.
frae 'The Channel Stane'
( The Curling Stone ) - James Hogg ( 1770 - 1835 )
All creature on the Lord
Their sustennace for to ressave of Thee
Their meit and drink in tyme to them Thou sendis
Thou opinnis furth thy hand full graciously
And satisfyis all flesh aboundantlie
Blis us gude Lord into thir giftis gude
Quhilk Thou has given to us to be our fude.
- A Scots Grace Afore
Meit - frae the 16th centurie
The festival'll sune be awa'
again and there'll be a wheen determined to murder some o' my plays nae
doot - but there's nae guid o' me bein' angry wi' them for the puir sowls
dae their best. (There's naebody does bad if they ken hoo tae dae guid -
and that I think, gets to the core o' the hale thing - damned ignorance).
But nae doot some o' them'll blame my plays, and in some cases they'll be
justified. But what does it maitter. A hunner year efter this there'll be
nane o' us here. Of coorse there's aye the chance that Auld Nick rins a
dramatic club - a body never kens. If he does I'll ask to get to Heaven
oot o' their road.
letter by the poet and playright Joe Corrie
to his friend J Archibald Henderson, the producer/director of the Shotts
Miners' Welfare drama Group written on 25th November 1949.
J K Annand
Brittle brattle tittle tattle
Hielant kye are kittle cattle.
Swither dither aathegither
Ye'll be a man afore yer mither.
Ran dan parritch pan
Scart the pat as clean's ye can.
Caa cannie silly mannie
I'll report ye to the Jannie.
Ram stam scooter bang
Dance a jig or sing a sang
Or we'll no let ye jine our gang.
A' ye wha live by sowps o'
A' ye wha live by crambo-clink,
A' ye wha live and never think
Come mourn wi' me
Our billie's gien us a' a jink,
An' owre the Sea.
Lament him a' ye rantan
Wha dearly like a random-splore;
Nae mair he'll join the merry roar,
In social key;
For now he's taen anither shore,
An' owre the Sea.
Jean : You're no' gaun to be
much better if you've to go back to the pit on the maister's terms. It's
been a hard time, richt enough, and mony a nicht I hae lain doon wonderin'
where oor breakfast was to come frae, but, Jock, it's nae mair
he'rt-rendin' than watchin' thae wheels turnin' every day, and never
lookin' oot the windie but dreadin' to see some o' ye cairrit hame a
corpse or maimed for life. There are plenty o' women never bother their
heids, they have seen that much and come through that much, that they have
got hardened to it.But I havena reached that stage yet, na, thae wheels
are ay between me and the sun, throwin' their lang, black shadows on the
doorstep. It's mebbe been a time o' want since the strike started, but its
been a time o' peace; I was ay sure o' you and Bob comin' hame at nichts;
but there's nae such faith when the wheels are turnin'.
Time o' Strife - Joe Corrie. In this extract Jean Smith, wife of a
striking miner, gives voice to her thoughts at the ending of the strike.
The three-act play was written after the 1926 Miners' Strike but it was
rejected by the Scottish National Players' Play Reading Panel. Joe Corrie
and the Bowhill Players in 1928 performed the play to over twenty-five
Fife mining villages and the next year toured it all over Scotland to
When first I saw wee
Richt heid ower heels in love I tumbled,
And thoucht the while she smiled on me
The Angels oot o' heaven were humbled.
When next we met 'twas early
Her teeth were oot, her hair was shaggy;
She tried to smile, but oh! - Said I,
'Is't you, or is't your mither, Maggie?'
He hes tane Roull of Aberdene,
And gentle Roull of Corstorphyne ;
Twa bettir fallowis did no man sie :
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Dumfermelyne he hes done roune
With Maister Robert Henrisoun ;
Schir John the Ross embrast hes he :
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
This is nocht the daith of
Nor yet the end of Scotland, in your
Menteith-peace, or desert-conquest either,
But the birth-thraws of its glorie and its
Triumph. Scotland has wan, my Lord, and you,
Nane either, gied us victorie.....
Through this lang war, echt year o' fire and sword
And famine, greit and bluid and daith,
Ye've made a nation, sir. Hammer
O' the Scots indeed ! By the Rood,
Ye're richter nor ye ken. Ye've hammerit
A nation intil life, ennobled it,
And held it up like a banner til aa men
For evermair - a standart o' the pride
And independence of a folk whase sperit's
Free and winna bou til thirldom ever -
No for land or treisure, consequence
Or pouer, but but for ae thing that, wanting,
Leas life wersh and thowless, dozent,
Meaningless ; but, possess't, let man stand
Upricht in the likeness of his God
That made him sae : Freedom ! Ay, thirldom
Is the soul in chains - e'en in the mid o' plentie,
As libertie is the soul at lairge - though
It be in pourtith and defeat. This we hae wan.
For aa this, Edward, I, in the name o' Scotland,
First o' the nations, thank ye, for your gift
Til aa humanitie. You should be vauntie,
Sir ! Put aff yon dowie look ! Your
Immortalitie is in sauf keep, just
As ye said, SCOTORUM MALLEUS
Wallace' , a play by Sydney Goodsir Smith. In memory of the 697th
anniversary of the murder of William Wallace, this extract is from
Wallace's speech from the dock, Westminster Hall, London, England, 1305.
Upo' the tap o' ilka lum
The sun began to keek,
And bid the trig-made maidens come
A sightly joe to seek;
At Hallow fair, whare browsters rare
Keep gude ale on the gantries,
And dinna scrimp ye o a skair
O' kebbucks frae their pantries
Fu' saut that day.
- Robert Fergusson
We may say in veritate, that
there is na land, nor yit nacion that is nor was from the begyinning of
the warld, that standis in fredome sa lang tyme as Scotland.
Thar are mony folk, wha hae
spoken English a' their grown-up days wha like to gang back to the tongue
o' their bairnhood, i' the mirk and shadows o' auld age. Thar are ithers
wha seem tae tak better to the Word whan it comes to them wi' a wee o' the
Scottish birr. And thar are a hantle o' folk - and I meet them a'gate -
wha dinna speak Scots theirsels, but are keen to hear it, and like to read
And thar is anither
consideration - the Scots tongue is no gettin extendit, and some folk
think it may be tint a'thegither 'or lang. And God's Word is for a' men ;
and ony lawfu' means ane can use to get folk to read it, and tak tent
til't, is richt and proper. For a' thae reasons, and ithers I could bring
forrit, I hae putten the New Testament intil Braid Scots. Lat nae man
think it is a vulgar tongue - a mere gibberish to be dune wi' as sune as
ane is bye the schule-time. It is an ancient and honourable tongue; wi'
rutes deep i' the yird ; aulder than muckle o' the English. It cam doon
till us throwe oor Gothic and Pictish forebears ; it was heard on the
battle-field wi' Bruce ; it waftit the triumphant prayers and sangs o' the
Martyrs intil Heeven ; it dirl't on the tongue o' John Knox, denouncin
wrang ; it sweeten't a' the heevenlie letters o' Samu'l Rutherford ; and
aneath the theek o' mony a muirland cottage it e'en noo carries thanks to
Heeven, and brings the blessins doon !
And I haena putten pen o paper
unbidden. A wheen screeds o' the Word dune intil Scots I had at times
putten afore the public een ; and folk wad write me, "Hae ye ony mair o't
?" till I begude to think that aiblins Providence had gien me the Scots
blude and the Scots tongue, wi' the American edication, for the vera
reason that - haein baith lang'ages - I soud recommend the Word in Scots ;
and juist Scots eneuch not to be unfathomable to the ordinar English
Whiles thar has been a chance
o' makin the meanin plainer ; whiles a Scots phrase o' unco tenderness or
wondrous pith coud come in. And at a' times, ahint the pen that was movin,
was a puir but leal Scots heart, fu' o' prayer that this sma' effort micht
be acceptit o' the dear Maister - and survivin a' the misca'in o' the
pernickity and the fashionable - micht bring the memory o' a worthy
tongue, and the better knowledge o' a Blessed Saviour, to this ane and
that ane, as they micht chance to read it.
- The Preface
to ' The Four Gospels in Braid Scots ' -
William A Smith (1901). Born in Jedburgh in 1827, Smith was taken by his
parents to the USA in 1830 and then to Canada in 1837. After work as a
teacher, businessman and journalist, William Smith became a minister in
the Congrgational Church in 1865 and published his Scots translation of
the Four Gospels in 1901.
I gaed tae onybiddy that wis
needin, but I wid aye mak sure the doctor came. Sometimes they kent there
wis a baby expectit, sometimes they didna. This wis in the thirties. They
hid nae antenatal care. He wid ken aboot a baby comin if the mother hid
been ill or if some of the bairns hid been bad an he'd been up tae the
hoose. Bit itherwise they didna get ony lookin efter.
I lived in the hoose afore the
bairns were born, There wis naebiddy there bit me. Sometimes, if there wis
a neighbour handy she wid come in, bit fairms is usually on their ain an
it wis maistly cotter hooses or fairms. It wis aa fowk at mebbe wisna weel
aff. The weel aff fowk could aford mebbe somebody better. There wis nae
midwife. They ca'ed ye the howdie. Fan ye arrived they said, 'Are you the
howdie?' I aye kent in time afore. Usually they were needin some help
especially fan there wis some little eens. Then ye stayed, sometimes a wik
sometimes mair, sometimes ye didna hae time to spare but ye aye hid aboot
a wik wi them or ten days. I did quite a lot, some o the names, I canna
Seven ( Doddie Davidson ) ' Scottish Midwives
: Twentieth-Century Voices' - Lindsay Reid ( Published by Tuckwell Press
17. Sae a' the generations frae Ab'ram to Dauvit are fowrteen
generations ; and frae dauvid to the takin awa' to Babylon to Christ
18. Noo the nativitie o' Jesus Christ was this gate : whan his mither
Mary was mairry't till Joseph, 'or they cam thegither, she was fund wi'
bairn o' the Holie Spirit.
19. Than her guidman, Joseph, bein an upricht man, and no desirin her
name sud be i' the mooth o' the public, was ettlin to pit her awa' hidlins.
20. But as he had thir things in his mind, see ! an Angel o' the Lord
appear't till him by a dream, sayin, " Joseph, son o' Dauvid, binna feared
to tak till ye yere wife, Mary ; for that whilk is begotten in her is by
the Holie Spirit.
21. " And she sall bring forth a son, and ye sal ca' his name JESUS ;
for he sal save his folk frae their sins. "
22. Noo, a' this was dune, that it micht come to pass what was said by
the Lord throwe the prophet,
23. " Tak tent ! a maiden sal be wi' bairn, and sal bring forth a son
; and they wull ca' his name Emmanuel, " whilk is translatit, " God wi'
24. Sae Joseph, comin oot o' his sleep, did as the Angel had bidden
him, and took till him his wife.
25. And leev'd in continence wi' her till she had brocht forth her
firstborn son ; and ca'd his name JESUS.
Grace be here, and grace be there,
And grace be on the table,
Ilka ane tak up their speen,
An sup a' that they're able.
Robert McLellan was a Lanarkshire callant. His
faither was John McLellan, brocht up in Lanark, a prenter to tred, that was
merrit on Elizabeth Hannah, dochter o a fritt fermer frae nearby
Kirkfieldbank. Whan they set up hous they baid at 14 Ferguson Avenue,
Milngavie. Whan her time cam, his mither, as was the wey o't in thae days
afore the National Health, gaed hame til her mither for the lyin-in. And sae
it cam aboot that Robert McLellan was born at Linmill on the twinty-eicht o
frae 'Obituary for Robert McLellan' - J K
Annand which appeared in ' Lallans ' , Mairtinmas 1985. Robert McLellan was
one of Scotland's foremost playrights of the 20th century.
We've come intil a gey queer
Whan scrievin Scots is near a crime,
' There's no one speaks like that', they fleer,
- But wha the deil spoke like King Lear?
frae 'Epistle to John Guthrie' - Sydney
Thanks fir the invite til yir pairtie,
We're keen to come, no on a cairtie,
But in a Twintie-seevin bus;
That will dae weill eneuch fir us.
My wife and I read wi delyte
The letter wi yir kind invite,
And houpe to win, be't wind or weet,
Til this byordinar Shule-treat.
Reply from Robert G Sutherland, the poet Robert Garioch,
to an invitation to attend the 21st Birthday Party of the School of
Scottish Studies in 1972.
The contribution of Norse to
Scots in new words has been considerable. Here are some: at, the relative
pronoun = who, which; big, build; blae, blue, as in blaeberry; brae, the
brow of a hill; busk, to dress, adorn; carline, an old woman, feminine
form of carl; ettle, to aim, intend; eident, industrious; ferlie, a
wonder, strange sight; drucken, drunken (not a corruption of the English
but from the Norse, drukinn); fike, to fidget; frae, from; gar, to make,
compel; gate, road, as in many Scottish street-names, Gallowgate,
Canongate, Trongate, Overgate; gimmer, a female lamb; gowk, a fool, from
Old Norse gauk, cuckoo; graith, tools, equipment, soap-suds; hing, hang;
host, cough; low, flame; luif, palm of the hand; kilt, from Old Norse = to
tuck up; neive, fist; rowan, mountain ash; skerrie, isolated sea rock;
lug, the ear; rug, to tug; strae, from Old Norse stra, straw; scug, to
hide, skulk; til, a very charactistic Scandinavian word for to; stowp, a
drinking-vessel, probably best known from 'Auld Lang Syne'; tike, dog;
tyne, to lose. Most of these words are in use to this day, attesting to
the importance of the Norse element.
Guid Scots Tongue' - David Murison (1977), former editor of the
Scots Independent and the Scottish National Dictionary.
1. Noo, whan Jesus was born i'
Bethlehem-Judah, i' the days o' King Herod, lo ! Wyss Men cam frae the
East tae Jerusalem.
2. And quo' they, "Whaur
is he bidin that is ca'd King o' the Jews ? for i' the East we saw his
starn, and are come forrit to worship him."
3. But the King, hearin,
was sair putten-aboot ; and a' Jerusalem wi' him.
4. And, gatherin a' the
heigh-priests and writers o' the nation, he wad ken o' them "whaur the
Messiah soud be born ?"
5. And quo' they, "In
Bethlehem-Judah ; for sae it is putten doon by the prophet ;
6. " ' And thou, Bethlehem
, land o' Judah, nane the least amang Judah's princes ! for oot o' thee
sal come a Ruler, wha sal tend my folk o' Isra'l ! ' "
7. Than, Herod, convenin
the Wyss Men privately, faund oot mair strickly o' the comin o' the starn
8. And bad them gang to
Bethlehem ; and quo' he, "Gang, and seek ye oot the wee bairn ; and whan
ye ken, fesh me word again, that I as weel may come and worship."
9. Eftir hearing the King,
they gaed awa' ; and lo ! the starn whilk they saw i' the East gaed on
afore them, till it stood whaur the wee bairn was.
10. And whan they saw the
starn, they were blythe wi' unco blythness.
11. And comin intil the
hoose, they saw the wee bairn, and his mither Mary ; and loutin doon,
worshipp't him. And openin' oot their gear, they offer't till him gifts -
gowd, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12. And bein warned in a
dream no to gang back till Herod, they airtit their way to their ain
kintra anither gate.
'Foo aal's Bennachie? As
aal's a man?'
Loon-like I wid speir, an leave ma bools
A boorach in the kypie at ma feet
An stan an stare oot ower the darknin laan
Ower parks an ferms, as far's ma een could see
To the muckle hull aneth the settin sun.
'Aaler, laddie, aye, gin Man himsel.
Naebody kens the age o Bennachie.
frae 'Foo Aal's
Bennachie' - Flora Garry
The scattered clans are ane
Nae mair we war wi ane anither,
'Auld Scotland Yet!' for Scotland's richt
We'll bide the warld's fueds thegither.
Andrew's Nicht' - George Leith
Then neist outspak a raucle
Wha ken't fu' weel to cleek the Sterlin ;
For mony a pursie she had hooked,
An had in mony a well been douked :
Her Love had been a Highland laddie ;
But weary fa' the waefu' woodie !
Wi' sighs an' sobs she thus began
To wail her braw John Highlandman -
frae 'The Jolly Beggars' - Robert
" The feein' markets? Ye juist
gaed in an' ye wandert about. The fairmer 'ad speir, ' ye feeing laddie?'.
He'd need a little bylie, or an unner cattleman, or an orra loun or
somethin ye ken, a boy for the second pair, ein for the third, ein for the
fourth, ein for the fifth - I was feed for fift at Main's o' Melgin. Five
pair on it. Nou there's twa fairms and there's ainly twa men.
A'body juist wandert about.
Like at Freik market. Ye ken there's ainly houses at ae side o' the street
at Friockheim. Fan ye gaed intil Friockheim market ye had a strae an'
sitted on the dyke an' the fairmers had a walk up an' doun an' they come
an' seen a likely lad for somethin, he wald hae come an' feed ye. Ye'd
spit out yer strae an' gae ower tae the pub and there ye was. Ye got a
shillin - ye wasna feed until ye got a shillin."
6. And sae it was,
that while they war thar, the days was fulfilled for her to
7. And she
brocht forth her son - her first-born - and row't him in a
barrie-coat, and laid him i' the manger, for that there was nae
room for them i' the inn.
8. And thar war
in the same kintra side herds bidin i' the fields, and keepin
gaird ower their flocks by nicht.
9. And sae ! an
Angel o' the Lord cam till them, and the glorie o' the Lord
glintit roond aboot them ; and they war sair gliff'd.
10. And the
Angel said, " Be-na gliff'd ; for I bring ye gude tidins o'
muckle joy to the hail warld !
11. " For thar
is born t'ye this day, in Dauvid's toun, a Saviour, wha is the
12. " And here
is the token for ye ; ye'se fin' the bairn row't in a barrie-coat,
lyin in a manger. "
13. And a' at
ance there was wi' the Angel a thrang o' Heeven's host, praisin
God, and sayin,
14. " Glorie to
God i' the heighest heights, and on the yirth peace ! Gude wull
to Men !"
Luke Chaipter Twa,
Verses 6 - 14 frae ' The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev
William W Smith
And surly ye'll be your pint stowp !
And surely I'll be mine !
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
frae 'Auld Lang Syne' - Robert Burns
Gie me a cannie hour at e'en
My arms about my Dearie, O;
An' warly cares, an' warly men,
May a' gae tapsalteerie, O
frae 'Green Grow The Rashes' - Robert Burns
Ye're a' richt if wind and
watter are in the same direction, but if wind and tide are fechtin' each
ither Gweed help ye. The boatie wis oot o' sicht maist o' the time; ye
couldna even see the wheelhouse, she wis like a submarine awash, and a'
because oor skipper wanted tae be hame tae see Peterheid play Deveronvale
on the Seterday. A' the ither boats gaed in tae Scrabster herber or the
tide changed, but nae oor skipper, an' neen o' the rest o's wis carin' fa
Peterheid wis playin'. I fairly thocht I wis done for that time!
Clyack Sheaf' - David Toulmin. The Peterhead poet and fishing
skipper Peter Buchan telling of a frightening storm in the Pentland Firth.
Auld chuckie Reekies
Down droops her ance weel burnish't crest,
Nae joy her bonie buskit nest
Can yield ava,
Her darling bird that she lo'es best,
Willie's awa !
frae ' To William Creech'
- Robert Burns
Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed,
The spot they ca'ed it
Willie was a wabster guid,
Could stown a clue wi' ony
He had a wife was dour and din,
O, Tinkler Madgie was her
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gi'e a button for
Poetry & Prose Quotes