What Kind Of Scots?

So what kind of Scots do you use?
Do you have it with haggis?

Madam, ma Scots comes fae the place
whaur ma feet huv been planted aw ma life:
it's lik a burn birblin doon a muntain,
joukin amang stanes an boulders.
It wis yaised bi ma faither an cam doon
tae us wi the jeely pieces we ate ootside.

But we don't publish street language!

It's in the games an sangs o ma bairnheid:
the rhymes fur cawin skippin ropes; whae's het?;
an wallopin baws agin school waws.
Or is that no poetic enough fur ye?

So is it a BBC Hogmanay type of thing?

It's even bigger than the BBC!
It's as dour as a pibroch;
nebbie as a neebor;
carnaptious as a cuddy.
It can mak ye greet or smirk
withoot needin tae scrieve addresses tae ony haggis,
black puddin, clapshot, nor cockaleekie.

So it's really just bad English?

Eh, whit?
Scots kens nae lown. It bides in the gurlie winter skies;
souchs in the breeze; an rairs in a stour.
It's as nippy as vinegar;
raggit as a corbie an jaggy as a thistle,
but saft as muntain air in spring.

Can't you buy it on a souvenir tea towel?
Is it celebrity endorsed?

Naw, it disnae come gift-wrapped.
Tho bi royal assent the Scots o coort makars
gied us fables wi craws an puddocks;
cockieleeries an tods; lions an mice.
It gied us flytin makars; banshees and bogles;
romance an rebellion aw thegither.
Wad that no be braw fur yer readers' lugs?

But wad ye no lik tae try an let them see,
if it's as guid enough fur ye as it is fur me?

Frances Robson

Agnes Sampson

(One of the accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials, executed in January 1591)


Bangsters o jilers an torturers huv been deavin me
day an nicht wi gyte ravins born fae thir ain vengeance.
They huv skewed ma wurds, lik ill-hertit wabsters
snuvin thir woo tae weave a plaid o thir ain truth.
They huv flyped me roond an tapsalteerie
like some clarty auld sark; an streaked me
ower a rack tae dree the weird o a witch

Ilka neuk an cranny in ma puir body has been raked
an forked ower oan a howk fur the deil's tit.
They feared ma wit mair nor the deil,
so ah gied them whit they wanted - an mair!
Ah rugged oot a bonny bunnle o stories
wi hose an shuin - onythin fur peace!

Ah tellt them aboot ma randie sculduddery wi the deil;
his couthie buttery-lippit whillywha, an - oh -
whit gyte nichts o hoochmagandie ah hud wi him!
Kiss his erse? Aye, nae doot!
Gang widdershins roond the cauldron? Of coorse!
Whit's a lassie tae say tae a craitur wi aw that fire in his een?
Whae culd gainstaund the glamourie?

Ah tellt them he kythed tae me as a dug
(tho ah culdnae say whit breed);
an ah sailed the high seas oan a lum -
or wis it a sieve? Cannae mind, but
we had a braw nicht oot eftir baptising a cat
at the wabster's hoose, then flingin it awa
intae the watter, wi a cantrip or twa.
Ah done this, jist tae pit aff the new queen's arrival.
An they sooked up the lees, lik bairns at the breist.

But even a bairn kens that nae nummer o deid cats
nor puddocks flung intae the waukrife sea
can stap ony swaws fae spelderin ships.
Whit skeely wife lik masel has pooer ower the moon?
Or ony maucht ower the sautie swaws an fykie jaws
clashin oan the skerries, stieve enough tae rug an rive
ony ship headin fur Scotland - with or withoot a king's bride?
An dinnae tell me yer needin ony clype or clash
tae fun oot whit a braw king lik Jamie the Saxt
wad say tae his bride oan a waddin nicht!

Ah'd raither dee than stey lockfast tae branks an bridle;
raither be raxed oan the dool tree than cleekit
wance mair intae the boots or pilliwinkles.
Ah green fur the flames o ma daithbed oan Castlehill
whaur the hangie's haunds wull shaw mercy
an deliver me tae a better place.

An as fur ma accusers - they'll get thir farins
in the place whaur the fire nivir dees.

Frances Robson

Hamish Scott - Twa Poems


Wi video gemms he stertit tae train
tae kill onie fae, imaigined an rael
Nou sodger he flees a hyne awa plane
at hyne awa fowk tae hyne awa nail

An eftir his wark he’s hame whaur he finnds
his laddie is playin video gemms,
but whit tae mak o the laddie’s ain wins?
Dis faither pey for his subaltern wems?


A met daith in a hottle roum
“Guid day,” he sayd, an bade a wee;
syne leivin “See ye later” sayd,
“for life's no feinished - yit - wi ye.”

The bouk is hottle tae the life
that cums this warld an thair resides
but life kens nocht hou lang tae bide
it’s daith the lenth o stey decides

Twa Poems

Ian Nimmo White



Whan ye wir the cricket o the litter
ye gowped at me wi goggle een
like Ah wis the eemage o the Lord.

Whan ye turn’t tae whit experts ca’
an adolescent, ye wir a
prog in ma bahookie,

a soor an thrawn, rauchlin tike
wi respeck for naebdie, least yirsel.
Ae mornin, we fell oot.

For a whilie yir shaddie
ne’er swippit the doorstane. We didna
hae glent o ane anither.

Syne, ye lernt a thing or twa,
and mair besides, oot there
amang the lions and bears.

And ma newfund scowth, Ah’ll tak,
wis snug. Or, whan laneliness
dreeped intae a howe, ma thochts

cheynged. Noo we’re speakin (kinda),
speirin it the Warld thegither, ane
auld bletherin skite, ane cannie lad.

Partners in the Firm

Young John luiked auld. His heid
wis doon it the darg aa day.
Press on! wis aye his bugill ca’
whan ’prentices liftit therrs.

Ae mornin, a meenit ahint,
Ah wis stude tae attenshun be his desk.
He brocht me tae buik and tellt me
to wark a meenit owre lowsin.

Auld Tam wis unco droll. He jigged
thru the lobby it hauf efter ten,
smirked guid mornin tae ane and aa,
and wap’t his bowler (ne’er missed)

on tae the antler’t coatiestaun.
Syne he flaucht lik a horn daft bee
for his wee bit comfort plunked awa
whaur naebdie else cuid fund’t.

Nane but thaim cuid unnerstaun:
guid strang wuid, they wir tongue ‘n’ groove.
Auld Tam pulled the punters.
Young John squerr’d the balance.

Ian Nimmo White

(Scots Airts Cooncil poem o the month, Dec 2005)