Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Banks o' Doon
by Robert Burns
modern English translation 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 Banks o’ Doon” is a Scots song written by Robert Burns in 1791. It is based on the story of Margaret (Peggy) Kennedy, a girl Burns knew. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, song, Doon, banks, Scots, Scottish, Scotland, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English
Auld Lange Syne
by Robert Burns
modern English translation/interpretation 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. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, auld lang syne, old acquaintance, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, song

Original Scots Dialect Lyrics

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

CHORUS
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely 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.

REPEAT CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.

REPEAT CHORUS

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn
Frae mornin' sun till dine.
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.

REPEAT CHORUS

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid ***** waught,
For auld lang syne.
Comin Thro the Rye
by Robert Burns
modern English translation 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.

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. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, Jenny, rye, petticoats, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, song, wet, body, kiss, gossip, puritanism, prudery
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Oh, my love is like a red, red rose
that's newly sprung in June
and my love is like the melody
that's sweetly played in tune.

And you're so fair, my lovely lass,
and so deep in love am I,
that I will love you still, my dear,
till all the seas run dry.

Till all the seas run dry, my dear,
and the rocks melt with the sun!
And I will love you still, my dear,
while the sands of life shall run.  

And fare you well, my only love!
And fare you well, awhile!
And I will come again, my love,
though it were ten thousand miles!

Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, red, rose, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, melody, tune, seas, dry, rocks, melt, sun, ten thousand miles

Original Scots Dialect Poem:

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.
To a Mouse
by Robert Burns
translation/modernization/interpretation 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 run after 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-bound 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 the 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!

Published by the English department of St. John’s College High School. Excerpted in an essay by Galkina Karolina, Institute of Humanities, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine, and published on the university’s website. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, mouse, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, schemes, mice, men, agley, awry, nature, field, plow, den, home, modern English
Keith W Fletcher Dec 2019
A breakdown in the system
Doesn't seem to bother me
I'm too busy payin the bills
To worry about others misery
Revolutions have to wait
Till all the parties get in line
But they're all still waiting on uniforms
That noone has yet .....to design

Working at cross purposes
From a thousand different ways
Just makes a working stiffs ....
           ......eyes go dull
Like they're walking in a haze
They hang like meat at the end....
                  ....of the day
Shuffled along with all their toys
That shields them from the real real world
Behind a great wall
of  consistent white noise

It will bring the world together
Said the spider king one day
And the world changed in a second
A thousand years faded away

While smoke hung like a curtain
And lightening lit the sky
Buildings crumble with ferocity
As people continue to die
Bringing the world together
Seems to push us more apart
Somehow it seems that every end
Is just...
...another new start

False starts beg the question
Is this the final dream we've sought
Cash in for what your buying
Cash out for what you've bought

Revolutions have to wait
For all the parties to get in line
I'm still too busy payin the bills
And now I'm working off my fine

A breakdown in the system
Doesn't seem to bother me
A breakdown in the system
Hope you're not counting on me
A breakdown in the systemmmm
A breakdown bre bre  aaakdoooo........
In the syyysttteeeeeerdm.....
Lucius Furius Dec 2018
This desert is our life.
From the dry earth we gather roots and melons.
Over the endless sands we hunt the gemsbok and the springbok.
  
Sometimes the ga roots are shriveled and bitter.
Sometimes men are sick with thirst and hunger.
  
When there is water we drink and sing and clap our hands.
When there is food we eat and dance and clap our hands.
  
The eland does not come to us and ask to be eaten --
one must know how to make the arrow and poison it
and where to look and how to hide and shoot. . . .
  
What man is so foolish as to expect more? To expect
the rain to be always falling, his eggs full of water and
his stomach full of meat?
  
You have strong animals to carry you.
You have much food and water.
Your digging sticks are hard and sharp.
Your shooting-sticks are like lightning.
  
You are a powerful man and a good man.
I can see that in your eyes.

But what you offer is a dream.
  
You can give us water and meat.
You can fill our hands with tobacco and perfect beads.

But you cannot give us happiness.

  
A man can only drink so much and then he is full.
If a man is always eating honey, he tires of it and becomes sick.
  
And even if all life were sweet --
what man is not food for lions and dogs?
A man who has tasted in his life no bitterness will find death very bitter.
  
My mouth longs for sweetness
but sweetness brings bitterness
and in the end they are one.
  
So I ask you:
Take your digging sticks and your shooting-sticks.
And do not leave them behind.
Go to the green lands you came from.
We shall walk in this desert as we always have.
(The occasion for this speech is the arrival of an expedition
headed by a European in a Bushman werf around the year 1900.)

Hear Lucius/Jerry read the poem: humanist-art.org/old-site/audio/SoF_007_bushman.MP3 .
Note: This poem is part of the Scraps of Faith collection of poems ( https://humanist-art.org/scrapsoffaith.htm )
leinstinct May 2016
Nature in its perfection
Westernization just an immitation
The destruction of entire cultures,
thank you modernization
TERRY REEVES Apr 2016
It was time to do some re - structuring
In - house changes were necessary to bring
about better performance, modernization
otherwise we'd be left behind with no motion

He spent his time leaning on a *****
doing nothing, not good enough we're afraid
then a quiz programme with as much charisma
as a wet fish - now we wouldn't want to be churlish

However, contract has expired, you're fired
from your duties - we're moving on to new things
anything must be better than what dullness brings
we may not use your services again -going

'Well gentlemen, that's another one gone
who shall we get rid of next so long.'
Next page