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Scots Language
Poetry and Prose Quotes

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A Taste of the Scots Language from the 13th Century to Present Day

                        Oh Chairlie is her darlin son
                        Bit he is nae Prince o mine.
                        He'll nivver rule ma native lan
                        Tho he leives ti be nintie-nine!

An additional verse for Thurso Berwick's 'Coronation Coronach' - Peter D Wright
See the words for the song in 'The Rebel Ceilidh Song Book' in Features.

                        Weel Chairlie's up at Cambridge noo
                        A' the girls are tryin' their best
                        Bit, juist for spite, he holds on ticht
                        Tae his breeks an' Royal crest.

              Another additional verse for Thurso Berwick's 'Coronation Coronach' - The Corries

Writing in 'Chapbook' ( volume 4, number 6, 1968) Thurso Berwick notes 'This original text ( see Features for words of 'Coronach Coronach' in 'The Rebel Ceilidh Song Book' ) has since been transmuted to fit in with later events and developments and various singers have added their own verses. A recent example of this 'folk process' at work is a verse added by the Corries.'

                        Hech sirs! but I'm wabbit, I'm back frae the toon;
                        I ha'ena dune pechin' - jist let me sit doon.
                        I'm for nae mair o Glesca, an' that's shair as death;
                        But ye'll hear a' ma crack when I've gotten ma breath.
                        Eh, man, I'm forfochen! Is't drouthy I look?
                        Aye, weel could I dae wi a waucht o' soor-dook.
                        Dod aye! I'm fair dunner't, an' think it nae shame;
                        It's an awfu' place, Glesca; I'm gled tae get hame.
 

                                                frae 'Glesca' - W D Cocker

    1.On that vera day gaed Jesus oot o' the hoose, and sat doon by the side o' the Loch.

    2. And great gaitherins o' folk cam thegither till him, sae that he gaed intil a boat, and sat doon ; and the hail o' the folk stude on the shore.

    3. And he spak mony things to them on parables ; and quo' he : " Tak tent : The sawer gaed oot to saw

    4. " And in his sawin, a neiffu' was mis-cuisten on the fit-road, and eaten up wi' the birdies.

    5. " Some fell on the stanerie bits, whaur the yirth was jimp ; and it brairdit bonnie, for the mool was thin.

    6. " And whan the sun raise heigh, it birsl't up : and, for that it had nae rute, it dwined awa.

    7. " And some fell whaur thorns had been ; and up cam the thorns, and smoored it.

    8. " And some fell on the gude grun', and brocht forth frute - this a hunner, that saxty, and the ither thretty.

    9. " Wha has lugs for hearin, lat him hear ! "

 Matthew Chaiptir Thurteen, verses 1-9, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith

                        Noo that cauldrife Winter's here
                        There's a pig in ilka bed,
                        Kindlin's scarce an' coals is dear;
                        Noo that cauldrife Winter's here
                        Doddy mittens we maun wear,
                        Butter skites an' winna spread;
                        Noo that cauldrife Winter's here
                        There's a pig in ilka bed.

                               'Winter' - Charles Murray

                        An aipple, a neep an' an ingin
                        Wis a sang Harry Gordon's aye singing,
                        Noo a neep canna steep in the toffee sae sweet
                        Nor an ingin that when skinnin maks a'body greet
                        But o' a' Nature's fruits, an aipple best suits
                        Tae be dressed like a wee candy toff.
                        Sae dinna delay, but get some today,
                        An' get them afore they gang off.

                       - Newspaper Advertisement by confectioner Jock Mackie of Kirkcaldy circa 1950s.

                        Upon ane tyme, as Esope could report
                        Ane lytill Mous came till a rever syde
                        Scho micht not waid, her schankis wer so schort
                        Scho culd not swym, scho had na hors to ryd,
                        Of verray force behovit her to byde
                        And to and fro besyde that rever deip
                        Scho ran, cryand with many pietuous peip. 

                                frae 'The Taill of the Puddok and the Mous' - Robert Hendrysoun

                        I here might gie a skreed o' names,
                        Dawties of Heliconian dames!
                        The foremost place Gawin Douglas claims,
                            That canty priest ;
                        And wha can match the fifth King James
                            For sang or jest!

                        Montgomery grave, and Ramsay gay,
                        Dunbar, Scot, Hawthornden, and mae
                        Than I can tell ; for o' my fae,
                            I maun break aff ;
                        'Twould take a live lang simmer day
                            To name the haff.
 

                                 frae 'To Mr Alexander Ross' - James Beattie (1735-1803)

                        The nicht is Halloween, Janet,
                        The morn is Hallowmas Day,
                        And gin ye daur your true luve win,
                        Ye hae nae time to stay.
 

                        The nicht is gude Halloween,
                        When faerie folk will ride,
                        And they that wad their true love win
                        At Miles Cross they maun bide.
 

                                frae 'Tamlane' - a traditional ballad

    1. Noo, eftir he had endit a' his teachin i' the hearin o' the thrang, he gaed intil Capernaum.

    2. And a Centurion's servin-man, wha was unco thocht o' by him, was ill, and ready to dee.

    3. But, hearing aboot Jesus, he sent till him Elders o' the Jews, wha besocht him that he wad come and save his servin-man.

    4. And whan they cam to Jesus, he besocht him sair, sayin, " He is wordie to wham ye wad grant this :

    5. " For he lo'es oor nation, and has biggit us a kirk ! "

    6. And Jesus was gaun wi' them. By this time he, no bein far frae the hoose, the Centurion sent freends till him, sayin, " Lord, dinna fash yersel ; for I am-na wordie ye soud come under my roof.

    7. " And sae naither thocht I mysel wordie to come till ye ; but speak wi' a word, and my servin-lad sal be hale.

    8. " For e'en I mysel am ane set under authoritie, and haein under me sodgers ; and I say till ane, ' Gang,' and he gangs ; and till anither, ' Come.' and he comes ; and to my servin-lad, ' Do this,' and he dis it. "

    9. And whan Jesus heard thae words, he ferlied at him ; and turnin to the thrang that follow't him, said, " I say t'ye, I hae-na fund sic leal faith, na, no in Isra'l ! "

    10. And they that war sent, returnin to the hoose, faund the servin-lad weel.

  Luke Chaiptie Seiven, verses 1-10, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith

Scots is naither slang nor "bad English" tho it is aften thocht tae be, even by them that speaks it. Sic notions in pairt are doun tae a miskennin o its status an history. In spite of its lang pedigree, Scots hasna been accordit a richt recognition o its worth since the Scottish Coort gaed sooth in 1603, faur less since the Union o Pairliaments in 1707. Ower the years, ither pressures, tae, like the uis o an English an no a Scots translation o the Bible, had a gey sair influence....

        frae 'Scots - A Statement o Principles, bi the Cross-Pairty Group (Scottish Paurliament) on the Scots Language'

                        Caulder the air becomes, and snell the wind,
                        The waters, splairgin as she dunts her boo,
                        Blads in the blatter o hailstanes on the brig
                        And geals on guns and turrets, masts and spars,
                        Cleedin the iron and stell wi coat o ice.

                                frae 'Arctic Convey' - J K Annand

                    Fidlers, your pins in temper fix,
                    And roset weel your fiddle-sticks;
                    But banish vile Italian tricks
                    Frae out your quorum
                    Nor fortes wi pianos mix -
                    Gie's Tulloch Gorum.
 

                        frae 'The Daft Days' - Robert Fergusson

                        My heid did yak yester nicht,
                        This day to mak that I nae micht,
                            So sair the magryme dois me menyie,
                            Peirsing my brow as ony ganyie,
                        That scant I look may on the licht.
 

                                frae 'On His Heid-Ake' - William Dunbar (c1460-c1520)

                        There was a wee bit mousikie,
                            That lived in Gilberaty-O,
                        It couldno' get a bite o' cheese,
                            For cheatie pussy-catty-O.

                        It said unto the cheeseky,
                            'Oh fain would I be at ye-O,
                        If 'twere no' for the cruel claws
                            O' cheatie pussy-catty-O.'

                                    - Scottish Nursery Rhyme

                        O. fient a bit o' lear hae I,
                        It beats me hoo X equals Y,
                        An' nine times nine hooe'er I try
                            I canna mind ava, sir.
                        But I ken whaur the yorline biggs,
                        An' peewits lay atween the rigs,
                        An' whaur the brock his burrow digs,
                            An' moudiewarps an' a', sir.
 

                            frae 'Keepit In' - Helen B Cruikshank

                        While winds off BEN-LOMOND blaw,
                        And bar the doors wi' driving snaw,
                            And hing us owre the ingle,
                        I set me down, to pass the time,
                        And spin a verse or twa o' rhyme,
                            In hamely, westlin jingle.
                        While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
                            Ben to the chimla lug,
                        I grudge a wee the Great-folk's gift,
                            That live sae bien an' snug :
                                I tent less, and want less
                                    Their roomy fire-side ;
                                But hanker, and canker,
                                    To see their cursed pride.

                            Frae 'Epistle to Davie, A Brother Poet' - Robert Burns

"Did ye notice this week"asked Duffy "that a fitba' player by the name o' Tom Hamilton at Kilmarnock, has been bocht by the Preston North End for 4500?"
 
"I didna notice" replied Erchie. "That's a terrible lot o' money for a human bein'! I've seen the day ye could get tip-top fitba' players in the prime of life for five pounds apiece, delivered at the door for ye."
 
                                        frae 'Erchie, My Droll Friend' - Neil Munro
 
                        Yestreen I had a pint o' wine,
                            A place where body saw na ;
                        Yestreen lay on this breast o' mine
                            The gowden locks of Anna :
                        The hungry Jew in wilderness
                            Rejoicing o'oer his manna,
                        Was naething to my hinny bliss
                            Upon the lips of Anna !
 
                                frae 'The Gowden Locks of Anna' - Robert Burns
    19. But Herod deein, look ! an Angel o' the Lord by dream appears to Joseph in Egypt.
 
    20. And quo' he, " Rise ! tak the wee bairn and his mither, and journey intil Isra'ls land ; for they that socht the wee bairn's life are deid. "
 
    21. And he raise, and took till him the wee bairn and his mither, and cam intil the land o' Isra'l.
 
    22. But whan it was tell't him that Archelaus rang in Judea in the stead o' Herod his faither. he was fley't to gang thar ; but, being instruckit in a dream, he gaed intil the pairts o' Galilee :
 
    23. And cam and dwalt in a citie ca'ed Nazareth ; that it soud come to pass that was said by the prophet, " He will be ca'ed a Nazarene. "
 
 
   Matthew Chaiptir Thrie, verses 19-23, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith
                    Rejoice, ye Burghers, ane an' a',
                        Lang look't for's come at last;
                    Sair war your backs held to the wa'
                        Wi' poortith an' wi' fast:
                    Now ye may clap your wings an' craw,
                        And gayly busk ilk' feather,
                    For Deacon Cocks hae pass'd a law
                        To rax an' weet your leather
                                            Wi' drink thir days.
 
                            frae 'The Election' - Robert Fergusson
                        I've tint my bairnskip entire
                        And canna ony mair
                        Greit mysel asleep.
 
                        Bairnskip I've buryit
                        In the mirk o nichts
                        And nou, an unseen claymore,
                        It twines me frae aathing.
 
                            frae 'I've Tint My Bairnskip' - Tom Scott 
                    To luve unluvit it is ane pane;
                    For she that is my soverane
                        Sum wantoun man so hie hes set her
                    That I can get no luve agane,
                        But brakis my hairt, and nocht the better.
 
                            frae 'To Luve Unluvit' - Alexander Scott (c1520 - c1590)
Wullie, Oor Wullie, he's awa' noo, but havin' lived he's made Stanehive an' twal-mile roon' a better place, wi' his sangs, stories , verses an' seldom a frown.
 
Bein' Auld Toon loons Wullie an' I had a lot in common an' aften did turns together at the Auld Tin Kirkie at Fiddes, Kinneff an' Skite Hall. Mony a time I've been doon at Wullie's for a run ower oor turn for the social, an' there wis aye a wee dram. Ye could aye sing an' speak better efter that.
 
                frae the foreword to 'Crag-Ma-Caer' - William Knowles
                        In July month, ae bonny morn,
                            Whan Nature's rokelay green
                        Was spread o'er ilka rigg o' corn,
                            To charm our roving een;
                        Glouring about I saw a quean,
                            The fairest 'neath the lift;
                        Her een ware o' the siller sheen,
                            Her skin like snawy drift,
                                        Sae white that day.
 
                            frae 'Leith Races' - Robert Fergusson
                    Where'er ye bide i the warld sae wide,
                    We wish ye a a neuk on the sunny side,
                    Wi muckle o loe an little o care,
                    A wee bit pursie wi siller ti spare,
                    Yir ain fireside whan day is spent,
                    In a wee bit housie wi herts content.
 
               A Scots Wish (with thanks to Electric Scotland - quoted in ES Newsletter 5 March 2004)
                    Just gie us a griddle, a guid Culross griddle,
                        A nievefu o salt and the side o a burn,
                    We'll feed like our fathers that never kent famine,
                        Wi meal and a griddle nae Scottie'll mourn !
                    It's no the day's provand that maks ye the sodger,
                        It's milk o your mither that fills ye wi steel ;
                    And sae we'll be couthy, and sae we'll be canty,
                        As lang's we hae bannocks o barley meal.
 
                            frae 'Bannocks o Barley' - Neil Munro (1864-1930)
    1. And he said to them, " Truly say I t'ye, thar are some staunin here, wha sal in naegate pree death, till they hae seen the Kingdom o' God comin in pooer !"
 
    2. And eftir sax days Jesus taks Peter, and James, and John, and feshes them up intil a heigh mountain, allenarlie : and he was transformed afore them.
 
    3. And his cleedin becam unco glitterin white, as white as snaw ; sic as nae wauk-miller on the yirth coud white them.
 
    4. And Elijah and Moses appear't to them ; and they spak wi' Jesus.
 
    5. And Peter answerin, says to Jesus, " Maister, it is bonnie for us to be here ! and lat us mak thrie bothies ; for thee ane ; and for moses ane ; and for Elijah ane !"
 
    6. For he kent-na what to say ; for they war sair terrify't.
 
    7. And thar cam a clud ower-shadin them ; and a voice spak oot o' the clud, " This is my Son ! The Beloved ! Hear ye till him !"
 
    8. And a o' a suddaintie, lookin roound, thar was nae ane to be seen, but only Jesus wi' their sels.
 
    9. And as they war comin doon frae the mountain, he chairged them that they soud tell nae man the things they had seen, till ance the Son o' Man soud rise frae the deid.
 
    10. And they keepit that sayin amang their sels, what the " Risin-frae-the-deid " was.
 
    11. And they speir't at him, sayin, " The Scribes haud that Elijah maun first come !"
 
    12. And he answer't and tauld them, " Elijah, indeed dis come first, to pit a' things to richts ; and yet hoo is it written o' the Son o' Man, that he maun dree mony things, and be unco lichtlied ?
 
    13. " But I say t'ye. Elijah is come ! and they hae dune till him whatsae'er they wad, e'en as it is putten doon concernin him. "
 
     Mark Chaiptir Nine, verses 1 - 13, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith 
                        I'm fee'd tae a fermer in Fife,
                        I'se warrant we pairt at the term;
                        I was ne'er sae hard-wrocht in ma life:
                        It's mair like a jile than a ferm.
                        The bothy is waur than a sty:
                        The caff bed wi' loupers is rife;
                        Ye're no' as weel hoosed as the kye
                        When fee'd tae a fermer in Fife.
 
                                frae 'A Plooman's Lament' - W D Cocker

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