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Hermes Varini Oct 2020
Och! downe to howch,
Ye all swithe hame ***!
Waefu’, waefu’ Ah say,
Wi’ burr-thistle’s gowlin’ Storne
Frae my verra, verra Ah say,
Iron-Curse o’er ye.
A storm in medieval Scotland, before the dreary ruins of a forgotten tower.
annh Aug 2020
Three Scottish hags brew up a political storm in a...cauldron.
Inspired by Suri Ben N who got me overthinking about brevity, Shakespeare, alternative storylines, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and the existential milieu in general.

‘We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance
somewhere else.’
- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Hermes Varini Jul 2020
Play mae, auld moorlan wise,
Wi' thy martial Steel Lyre,
The enraged Sound of the Thunder,
While ah shall be, again,
In nae unworthy mare,
Wi' Targe Shield and Dagger,
Rising nae fellow-mortal,
Amid thoosan deadly onslaughts,
Ironclad frae the Fire!
Another brief composition of mine, as glorifying the non-human voice of the thunder.
Michael R Burch Jun 2020
Lament for the Makaris ("Lament for the Makers/Poets")
by William Dunbar [c. 1460-1530]
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 full flower ...
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 the Monster 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 victim 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!”

This is my modern English translation of "Lament for the Makaris," an elegy by the great early Scottish poet William Dunbar [c. 1460-1530]. Dunbar was a court poet in the household of King James IV of Scotland. The Makaris were "makers," or poets. The original poem is a form of danse macabre, or "dance of death," in which people of all social classes are summoned by Death. The poem has a refrain: every fourth line is the Latin phrase "timor mortis conturbat me" ("the fear of death dismays me" or "disturbs/confounds me"). The poem was probably composed around 1508 A.D., when Dunbar was advancing in age and perhaps facing the prospect of death himself (it is not clear exactly when he died). In his famous poem Dunbar mentions other poets who passed away, including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, and John Gower. Dunbar is generally considered to have been the greatest Scottish poet before Robert Burns, and he is noted for his comedies, satires, and sometimes ribald language. Keywords/Tags: Dunbar, translation, Scottish, dialect, Scotland, lament, makaris,  makers, poets, mrbtr, danse, macabre, refrain, Latin, timor, mortis, conturbat, dirge, lamentation, eulogy, epitaph, death, dismay, sorrow, fear, terror, writing, death, evil, sympathy, sorrow



Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to my grandfather, George Edwin Hurt

Between the prophecies of morning
and twilight’s revelations of wonder,
the sky is ripped asunder.

The moon lurks in the clouds,
waiting, as if to plunder
the dusk of its lilac iridescence,

and in the bright-tentacled sunset
we imagine a presence
full of the fury of lost innocence.

What we find within strange whorls of drifting flame,
brief patterns mauling winds deform and maim,
we recognize at once, but cannot name.
Ryan May 2020
From the East Coast of Ireland to the Lowlands of Scotland,
a well-trodden path,
Grandma going to Whiteinch Baths,
to do the family laundry,
And to take my Auntie for a swim,
the black and white photos look a bit grim.

She mispronounces certain words.
When you put your dinner in between some bread,
she'd look at you, dead, and say,
"If yis waanted sangwhiches, I'd have made yis sangwhiches!"

And, "you're very pass-remarkable,"
I think it means you're quick to comment on others,
my Mother's also from Glasgow,
and doesn't know why Grandma speaks like that,
so this isn't just me being a Sassenach,
or a daft English ****.

25th of January is Burns Night,
serve the neeps, tatties, a glass of fizz,
and of course, some Haggis.
Some say offal's awful,
but I just can't get enough of the stuff.

A firm favourite of our clan is a creamy dessert named Cranachan.
Topped with berries and a splash of whiskey,
you can guarantee a thumbs up from me.

The ancient family tartan is red and blue,
then there's the family crest too,
a knight with a shield under a tree,
I think it represents gallantry.

I sometimes wish I had a proper Scottish name,
like Hamilton, Douglas, or McCain,
don't suppose it matters,
at least I can understand the patter,
(that means joke or language.)

A saying about saving your coins,
"Mony a mickle macks a muckle,"
always makes me chuckle.

"Does it, aye?"
is a very dry reply,
used to take the **** and can be easy to miss.

When my Mum was younger, the family liked to roam,
but when she visits Glasgow,
she says it feels like home,
her voice even changes when she's on the phone.

Sounds English most of the day,
then my Auntie calls, and she's on her way,
"Haud ye weesht!" when she picks up the phone,
that means be quiet,
but you wouldn't have known,
that isn't her normal speaking tone.

Scottish family,
some are distant to me,
but through my parentage,
it's nice to have the heritage.
A beginner who is looking for some constructive feedback.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
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
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
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
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
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
J J Oct 2019
Death's flowing scroll
Aweing as you misstep,falling
In a loop which,once surpassed,
Is encompassed with laughter.
Glaring down,screaming.
You both scream in unison,so bitter
It causes the trees in the glen
To bend and whimper—

Flickering back in time for a moment:
Snakebones traced from inside the walls
Slithering malady for countless centuries;
Shedding it's calloused flakes from time to time...
What is that which the starshine overhead emulates?
Is it whiteblood or mere rain? lo,mere dust
Thrown throughout the black sky.

Death guides you to the brim of the cliff.
He is uniformed in your old clothes,brandishing eery whispers
  By the flick of his tongue. 'Scream now
And you will scream for an eternity.'
Might delete soon but nonetheless. Inspired by two very underrated creative geniuses of the 20th century
Lyn Ward paid his due in influencing the graphic novel with his wordless novels -specifically, Gods' Man, which's ending this scene is based on-
And George Macbeth might be the best Scottish poet and one of the best experimental poets of the 20th century. He was fairly popular in his time but for whatever reason has fallen into obscurity as of late.
Mark Motherland Dec 2018
PRELUDE - THE SEE THROUGH HOUSE

a child sings from an open window
a sweet song serenades an angry sky
escorting the sun home soft and mellow
so many years have now drifted by
visiting my old home here on Vatersay
Western Isles have their own genetic blends
I made the wee trip over from Castlebay
all that was left to see - two gable ends!
As my eye resists a lonely tear
I walk alone for a while on the sand
memories hark back to yesteryear
my Parents couldn't tame an untamed land
unrelenting hardships too much to take
the summer rain and then the winter snow
remnants of a failed dream in my wake
endless crashing tides screamed we had to go
but now I've lost myself in time's assuage
smoke billows forth from a happy fire
forgetting the gales and their howling rage
just the birds and lambs of nature's choir
but then the Cuckoo sang a confused song
Oyster Catchers didn't know which way to fly
no more childrens laughter all day long
Father leans on his staff and starts to cry
I visit my childhood home this one last time
bookending my days, a kind of crescendo
a strange thing I know but surely not a crime
for an Old Lady to sing from an open window.


PART - THE FIRST

New Scotland, old Scotland it was all the same
the clearances were a distant memory
and the two thousand mile journey that took weeks.
They settled on Nova Scotia's East coast
time and circumstances made them one flesh
as they embarked on love's difficult journey
they were blessed with a sweet child, Ishbael
they both loved her tho no longer each other

at night Ishbael would sing out the open window
she would sing to the moon, she would sing to the stars
she imagined that she was a ballet dancer
and dreamed of being such when she grew up

Mother eeked out a living from the tired land
Father spent most of his time on the fractious sea
She stood motionless at the front door each night
He checked the lobster creels under a salty spray

the spode China would be laid out on the table
strategically placed on the driftwood surface
cups stained brown with tea, coffee and nicotine
and on the outside with smudges of lipstick
it was the most treasured family heirloom
it was somehow smuggled across in the boat
it was passed on to them as a wedding gift
it was the only item of value they ever had

night after night Mother watches the sea
in the distant field, Sheep murmur like Bees
the bog cotton waves like a myriad hankies
as sunlight dissolves under cumulous cloud,
his bent over figure would surely soon appear
whistling a sea shanty walking up the track
but like a novel, his script came to an end
the storm weathered body was never found

outside on the lonely pebbled shore a Curlew sang
the net curtains rose and fell to it's bleak strains
wind rattled the windows like the beating of fence posts
they drank hot milk from Spode china for the final time
their family had creaked under the stresses and strains
that night a tall poplar tree crashed through the roof
storms wrecked their home like they wrecked their marriage
a perfect marriage of howling wind and frigid air

a lifetime of memories carried toward the sea
yet that old enemy was soon to be their friend
like a crush that would simply not go away.
Veiled by wrinkles Mother responds to the calling.
Larks cavort up and down in their unyielding plot
while they are bound for a far and distant land
the land was in their blood the blood was in their kin
the Isle of Vatersay, they were going home.


PART - THE SECOND

Old Scotland, new Scotland it was all the same
but she could not ignore the similarities
she looked across the ocean, it was all the same
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
wind driven waves like a Tiger on a lead
but the tide died, the sea had peace like a child's hair
this reminded her of her kind Step Father
he would lean on his staff and cry when things went wrong

a storm took this house too, only they were not in it!
They settled across the water in Castlebay.
Time was unveiled as she relived her childhood,
withered fence posts and rusty wire that kept the joy in
brushing aside the nettles the hearth warmed her heart
window fames were as firm as ber Father's hand shake
she carefully scraped away the moss of time,
darkening seas awakened to her silvery voice.

She scurried along the beach with a youthful gait
reminiscent of her ballet dancing days
then the tide of her heart rose like a mountain within
down in the marram grass, she stared in sheer disbelief
her body all a quiver she picked up the fragments
with cupped hands tears were mingled with Spode china
she raised her eyes heavenward and screamed...
"nach eil sin italicired"
which when translated means 'how wonderful is that!'

tears rolled uncontrolably down her face
she stood still shaking the fragments in her hands
it made a lovely tinkling sound like cow bells,
two thousand miles of Atlantic anger
had softened the edges and smoothed over her memories.
She looked fervently at the long deserted croft
the wind erased her footprints in the sands of time
and then the sun went down.


EPILOGUE - THE END

when your poems fail to rhyme
when your watch runs out of time
when you feel your fate was sealed
we were on the same level playing field

when clouds slowly start to fill your sky
when the ocean gives it's final cry
life's pathways they did wind and wend
we were all equal in tbe end

we all had good times and hope'd they'd last
but time went on rolling on by far too fast
that lady in the window she's still singing
not about 'the end' but a new beginning.
It's surprising what comes into your mind whilst walking along an Outer Hebridean beach. This is a work of fiction yet it could of happened. Anything can happen on a Scottish Island, the Clearances were cruel but serendipity can be rich.
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