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Renae Aug 22
She was an open book
He was illiterate
He kept trying to
slam her shut
She didn't know
how to deal with it
She tried to give
him a summary
he wasn't listening
She tried to make
It about him
he called her boring
Finally she turned
the page
and began to write
a new ending
TRANSLATIONS OF SCOTTISH POETS

These are my modern English translations of poems by the Scottish poets William Dunbar, Robert Burns, William Soutar and Hugh MacDiarmid.

Ballad
by William Soutar
translation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

O, surely you have seen my love
Down where the waters wind:
He walks like one who fears no man
And yet his eyes are kind!

O, surely you have seen my love
At the turning of the tide:
For then he gathers in his nets
Down by the waterside!

Yes, lassie we have seen your love
At the turning of the tide:
For he was with the fisher folk
Down by the waterside.

The fisher folk worked at their trade
No far from Walnut Grove:
They gathered in their dripping nets
And found your one true love!



The Watergaw
by Hugh MacDiarmid
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

One wet forenight in the sheep-shearing season
I saw the uncanniest thing—
a watergaw with its wavering light
shining beyond the wild downpour of rain
and I thought of the last wild look that you gave
when you knew you were destined for the grave.

There was no light in the skylark's nest
that night—no—nor any in mine;
but now often I've thought of that foolish light
and of these irrational hearts of men
and I think that, perhaps, at last I ken
what your look meant then.



Sweet Rose of Virtue
by William Dunbar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
and in every virtue men hold most dear―
except only that you are merciless.

Into your garden, today, I followed you;
there I saw flowers of freshest hue,
both white and red, delightful to see,
and wholesome herbs, waving resplendently―
yet nowhere one leaf nor petal of rue.

I fear that March with his last arctic blast
has slain my fair rose and left her downcast,
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that I long to plant love's root again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.

If the tenth line seems confusing, it helps to know that rue symbolizes pity and also has medicinal uses; thus I believe the unrequiting lover is being accused of a lack of compassion and perhaps of withholding her healing attentions. The penultimate line can be taken as a rather naughty double entendre, but I will leave that interpretation up to the reader! 'Sweet Rose of Virtue' has been described as a 'lovely, elegant poem in the amour courtois tradition' or courtly love tradition. According to Tom Scott, author of 'Dunbar: A Critical Exposition of the Poems, ' this poem is 'Dunbar's most perfect lyric, and one of the supreme lyrics in Scots and English.' William Dunbar [c.1460-1530] has been called the Poet Laureate of the court of King James IV of Scotland.



Lament for the Makaris [Makers, or Poets]
by William Dunbar
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

i who enjoyed good health and gladness
am overwhelmed now by life's terrible sickness
and enfeebled with infirmity...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

our presence here is mere vainglory;
the false world is but transitory;
the flesh is frail; the Fiend runs free...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

the state of man is changeable:
now sound, now sick, now blithe, now dull,
now manic, now devoid of glee...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

no state on earth stands here securely;
as the wild wind shakes the willow tree,
so wavers this world's vanity...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

Death leads the knights into the field
(unarmored under helm and shield)
sole Victor of each red mêlée...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

that strange, despotic Beast
tears from its mother's breast
the babe, full of benignity...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

He takes the champion of the hour,
the captain of the highest tower,
the beautiful damsel in her tower...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

He spares no lord for his elegance,
nor clerk for his intelligence;
His dreadful stroke no man can flee...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

artist, magician, scientist,
orator, debater, theologist,
must all conclude, so too, as we:
'how the fear of Death dismays me! '

in medicine the most astute
sawbones and surgeons all fall mute;
they cannot save themselves, or flee...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

i see the Makers among the unsaved;
the greatest of Poets all go to the grave;
He does not spare them their faculty...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

i have seen Him pitilessly devour
our noble Chaucer, poetry's flower,
and Lydgate and Gower (great Trinity!) ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

since He has taken my brothers all,
i know He will not let me live past the fall;
His next prey will be — poor unfortunate me! ...
how the fear of Death dismays me!

there is no remedy for Death;
we all must prepare to relinquish breath
so that after we die, we may be set free
from 'the fear of Death dismays me! '



Comin Thro the Rye
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Oh, Jenny's all wet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry;
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Should a body meet a body
Comin' through the rye,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need anybody cry?

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Should a body meet a body
Comin' through the glen,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need all the world know, then?

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.



To a Mouse
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Sleek, tiny, timorous, cowering beast,
why's such panic in your breast?
Why dash away, so quick, so rash,
in a frenzied flash
when I would be loath to pursue you
with a murderous plowstaff!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
has broken Nature's social union,
and justifies that bad opinion
which makes you startle,
when I'm your poor, earth-born companion
and fellow mortal!

I have no doubt you sometimes thieve;
What of it, friend? You too must live!
A random corn-ear in a shock's
a small behest; it-
'll give me a blessing to know such a loss;
I'll never miss it!

Your tiny house lies in a ruin,
its fragile walls wind-rent and strewn!
Now nothing's left to construct you a new one
of mosses green
since bleak December's winds, ensuing,
blow fast and keen!

You saw your fields laid bare and waste
with weary winter closing fast,
and cozy here, beneath the blast,
you thought to dwell,
till crash! the cruel iron ploughshare passed
straight through your cell!

That flimsy heap of leaves and stubble
had cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you're turned out, for all your trouble,
less house and hold,
to endure cold winter's icy dribble
and hoarfrosts cold!

But mouse-friend, you are not alone
in proving foresight may be vain:
the best-laid schemes of Mice and Men
go oft awry,
and leave us only grief and pain,
for promised joy!

Still, friend, you're blessed compared with me!
Only present dangers make you flee:
But, ouch! , behind me I can see
grim prospects drear!
While forward-looking seers, we
humans guess and fear!



To a Louse
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Hey! Where're you going, you crawling hair-fly?
Your impudence protects you, barely;
I can only say that you swagger rarely
Over gauze and lace.
Though faith! I fear you dine but sparely
In such a place.

You ugly, creeping, blasted wonder,
Detested, shunned by both saint and sinner,
How dare you set your feet upon her—
So fine a lady!
Go somewhere else to seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Off! around some beggar's temple shamble:
There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble,
With other kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Where horn nor bone never dare unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now hold you there! You're out of sight,
Below the folderols, snug and tight;
No, faith just yet! You'll not be right,
Till you've got on it:
The very topmost, towering height
Of miss's bonnet.

My word! right bold you root, contrary,
As plump and gray as any gooseberry.
Oh, for some rank, mercurial resin,
Or dread red poison;
I'd give you such a hearty dose, flea,
It'd dress your noggin!

I wouldn't be surprised to spy
You on some housewife's flannel tie:
Or maybe on some ragged boy's
Pale undervest;
But Miss's finest bonnet! Fie!
How dare you jest?

Oh Jenny, do not toss your head,
And lash your lovely braids abroad!
You hardly know what cursed speed
The creature's making!
Those winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice-taking!

O would some Power with vision teach us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notions:
What airs in dress and carriage would leave us,
And even devotion!



Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days for which we pine?

For times we shared, my darling,
Days passed, once yours and mine,
We'll raise a cup of kindness yet,
To those fond-remembered times!

Have you ever wondered just exactly what you're singing? 'Auld lang syne' means something like 'times gone by' or 'times long since passed' and in the context of the song means something like 'times long since passed that we shared together and now remember fondly.' In my translation, which is not word-for-word, I try to communicate what I believe Burns was trying to communicate: raising a toast to fond recollections of times shared in the past.



Banks of Doon
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Oh, banks and hills of lovely Doon,
How can you bloom so fresh and fair;
How can you chant, diminutive birds,
When I'm so weary, full of care!

You'll break my heart, small warblers,
Flittering through the flowering thorn:
Reminding me of long-lost joys,
Departed—never to return!

I've often wandered lovely Doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And as the lark sang of its love,
Just as fondly, I sang of mine.

Then gaily-hearted I plucked a rose,
So fragrant upon its thorny tree;
And my false lover stole my rose,
But, ah! , he left the thorn in me.

The poem 'Comin Thro the Rye' by Robert Burns may be best-known today because of Holden Caulfield's misinterpretation of it in The Catcher in the Rye. In the book, Caulfield relates his fantasy to his sister, Phoebe: he's the 'catcher in the rye, ' rescuing children from falling from a cliff. Phoebe corrects him, pointing out that poem is not about a 'catcher' in the rye, but about a girl who has met someone in the rye for a kiss (or more) , got her underclothes wet (not for the first time) , and is dragging her way back to a polite (i.e., Puritanical)  society that despises girls who are 'easy.' Robert Burns, an honest man, was exhibiting empathy for girls who were castigated for doing what all the boys and men longed to do themselves.



Comin Thro the Rye
by Robert Burns
modern English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body, // Oh, Jenny's all wet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry; // Jenny's seldom dry;
She draigl't a' her petticoattie // She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin thro' the rye. // Comin' through the rye.
Comin thro the rye, poor body, // Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye, // Comin' through the rye.
She draigl't a'her petticoatie, // She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin thro the rye! // Comin' through the rye.

Gin a body meet a body // Should a body meet a body
Comin thro the rye, // Comin' through the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body, // Should a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry? // Need anybody cry?
Comin thro the rye, poor body, // Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye, // Comin' through the rye.
She draigl't a'her petticoatie, // She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin thro the rye! // Comin' through the rye.

Gin a body meet a body // Should a body meet a body
Comin thro the glen, // Comin' through the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body, // Should a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken? // Need all the world know, then?
Comin thro the rye, poor body, // Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye, // Comin' through the rye.
She draigl't a'her petticoatie, // She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin thro the rye! // Comin' through the rye.



A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
modern English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oh my luve is like a red, red rose // Oh, my love is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June: // that's newly sprung in June
Oh my luve is like the melodie // and my love is like the melody
That's sweetly play'd in tune. // that's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass, // And you're so fair, my lovely lass,
So deep in luve am I; // and so deep in love am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear, // that I will love you still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry. // till all the seas run dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, // Till all the seas run dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun; // and the rocks melt with the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear, // And I will love you still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run. // while the sands of life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve! // And fare you well, my only love!
And fare thee weel a while! // And fare you well, awhile!
And I will come again, my luve, // And I will come again, my love,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile! // though it were ten thousand miles!


Keywords/Tags: Scot, Scotland, Scottish poem, modern English translation, translations, Robert Burns, William Dunbar, William Soutar, Hugh MacDiarmid
uv Mar 25
I am not social
I am scarse
I dont need to show up
If my heart does not ask

I am not available
I am not a farce
I dont need attention
Atleast not by the vast

I say i dont care
I say it, again.
Again and again
Till it feels like a mask

No need to follow
No need to like
I can grow, i can flow
I can be a social dislike

My talent is mine
It's whispers are mine
For me, for me
For me is the rhym.

You can leave me
You can, you can
Leave me you can
But i still love the best i can

I love the best i can.
Just pause, pause this race, you are more important than what others might think.
Andy Chunn Jan 19
What is this lodging and people strangeth
Yond walketh but never see
Looking as the screen doest changeth
Laughing with mirth and glee

And roaring beasts runneth up the roads
Like dragons with hurtling and smoke
Gigantic monsters with heavy loads
May runneth down honest folk

Just to returneth to calmer times
Would maketh mine own journey pleasant
I feeleth yond hither I'm out of rhymes
I'm nay more than a peasant

Taketh me back to times more sane
The fifteen nineties art for me
I cannot writeth, nor bethink, nor remain
In twenty twenty three
Poor Shakespeare may not have been the writer we know....if stuck in modern times.
Carlo C Gomez Nov 2022
~
Daydreams
in passing with the clouds,
and their weary structure,
and their idle loneliness,
and their struggle for tomorrow.

You and me and the image of an immense tree; satellites hanging from its branches like minacious ornaments; sending frightful messages to far out places; convincing us television is real but our lives are fake.

Nightmares
in passing with the shadows,
and their elusive silhouette,
and their active aggression,
and their march for tomorrow.

You and me and the image of a school bus sliding down into the ice...
~
it seems
the blue lights
drift ghostly
past the windows
more often
these days
each occasion
bringing with it
a momentary
fleeting interest
in where
the drama is
currently residing
at who's pillow
might be
tear-stained
through the night
at who's door
fear and anxiety
are being permitted
to step inside
at who's house
has become
a closed film set
waiting to be
stripped of content
until only
walls doors windows
and memories
remain
but
as commercials end
attention returns
once more
to a stronger
more constant
source of
blue light
and all present
are thankful that
at least
the banshees
that wailing of sirens
has been silenced
in time
I S A A C Jul 2022
modern monarchs, recorded in technicolor
think its real, but its cake
think its real, but its fake
under the guise of god’s fate
modern monarchs, makeshift mothers
desperation at stake
where are all the fathers
under the guise of god’s fate, we falter
am i ee May 2022
2:30 am

dark,
quiet.

gentle rain falls,

silent but for the drops.
blessed silence in the middle of the night in the modern suburban hell
Elsie Greek May 2022
Clearly it's snowing
In your heart.
You wish you thawed,
Still wish you to, though.
The cold of it keeps
Glowing you up,
The smartest streak
Of such a generous
Remark is showing
The obsessive drift:
Repetitive at nothing,
Novelty at stake.
It's where you are,
Still drifting there
As though
In cycles of the dark.
I wish you knew,
Let's hope it still is not too late.
What is eating you? - Preoccupied society suggests cancellation to fix whoever may have been ruined long before.
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