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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
To a Louse
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation 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!

One Sunday while sitting behind a young lady in church, Robert Burns noticed a louse roaming through the bows and ribbons of her bonnet. The poem "To a Louse" resulted from his observations. The poor woman had no idea that she would be the subject of one of Burns' best poems about how we see ourselves, compared to how other people see us at our worst moments. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, louse, church, bonnet, lace, Scotland, Scots, dialect, translation
Midsummer-Eve: the Flight of the Faeries
by Michael R. Burch

What happened to the mysterious Tuatha De Danann, to the Ban Shee (from which we get the term “banshee”) and, eventually, to the druids? One might assume that with the passing of Merlyn, Morgause and their ilk, the time of myths and magic ended. This poem is an epitaph of sorts.

In the ruins
of the dreams
and the schemes
of men;

when the moon
begets the tide
and the wide
sea sighs;

when a star
appears in heaven
and the raven
cries;

we will dance
and we will revel
in the devil’s
fen . . .

if nevermore again.

Keywords/Tags: Druids, Banshee, Picts, Scots, Scottish, fairies, glade, raven, gull, King Arthur, Arthurian, Morgause, Merlin, round table, knights, England, stone, Excalibur, chivalry, Camelot, Uther Pendragon, Colgrim, Saxon
The Pictish Faeries
by Michael R. Burch

Smaller and darker
than their closest kin,
    the faeries learned only too well
    never to dwell
close to the villages of larger men.

Only to dance in the starlight
when the moon was full
    and men were afraid.
    Only to worship in the farthest glade,
ever heeding the raven and the gull.

The invincible Roman legions were never able to subdue the Scottish Picts, and eventually built Hadrian’s Wall to protect themselves! Did the Picts give rise to our myths of fairies, elves and leprechauns? Keywords/Tags: Picts, Scots, Scottish, fairies, glade, raven, gull, King Arthur, Arthurian, Morgause, Merlin, round table, knights, England, stone, Excalibur, chivalry, Camelot, Saxon
Brayden Guilford Dec 2019
In the glen the brawest lassie keeps
In the glen where the brawest lassie weeps
There be a lad who wakes an' dresps,
He stood an' march'd awa' tae there!

Did he wave in awe! In awe! In awe!
Or did he march tae the borough hall?
Wi' the piper on his should'in'a'
Oh! He's aft at the a'! chattles call!

“A'm a man in tartin dresp an' that,
Wi' the guard, the colours a' a'fly
Oh! The jack and stars upon thy breast,
They lack their patrio Naw! Oh! Naw!

“A see her now in moonlight dressed
In nightgown white like 'er breast!
An' heart'burst'aseem! A'seem!
her bonnet a' a glitt'rin' gleam!

“A a'march'd thourgh the bonnie fen
An' lookied back at me ain dear glen
Or the river it drained did me o' sin
An' looked again, again! Again!

“That lassie deed, she, deed she's dee!
An' aft awa' A march awa'
Whilst lookin' frae me ain dear glen
Me ain dear glen, me ain dear glen!
An' aft wa', A march'd awa'!”

In the glen the brawest lassie keeps
In the glen where the brawest lassie weeps
There be a lad who wakes an' dresps,
He stood an' march'd awa' tae there!

Did he wave in awe! In awe! In awe!
Or did he march tae the borough hall?
Wi' the piper on his should'in'a'
Oh! He's aft at the a'! chattles call!
Steve Sep 2017
A little Spanish lass
Joined the Scottish class
But when asked to roll her r's
She was met with whoops and ah's
Then scored an A plus pass

*For which she was thrilled to bits
So she also rolled her ****.
From Barcelona
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