PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

PART 5

PART 6

PART 7

PART 8

PART 9

PART 10

PART 11

PART 12

O I hae silence left,

'And weel ye micht,'

Sae Jean'll say,

'efter sic a nicht !'

 A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle


I amma fou sae muckle as tired deid dune
It's gey and hard wark coupin gless for gless
Wi Cruvie and Gilsanquar and the like,
And I'm no juist as bauld as aince I wes.

The elbuck fankles in the coorse o time,
The sheckle's no sae souple, and the thrapple
Grows deef and dour: nae langer up and doun
Gleg as a squirrel speils the Adam's apple.

Forbye, the stuffie's no the real MacKay.
The sun's sel aince, as sune as ye began it,
Riz in your vera saul: but what keeks in
Noo is in truth the vilest 'saxpenny planet'.

And as the worth's gane doun the cost has risen.
Yin canna thow the cockles o yin's hert
Wi-oot haen cauld feet noo, jalousin what
The wife'll say [I dinna blame her fur't].

It's robbin Peter to pey Paul at least....
And aa that's Scotch aboot it is the name,
Like aa thing else caad Scottish nooadays
- Aa destitute o speerit juist the same.

[To prove my saul is Scots I maun begin
Wi what's still deemed Scots and the folk expect,
And spire up syne by visible degrees
To heichts whereo the fules hae never recked.

But aince I get them there I'll whummle them
And souse the craturs in the nether deeps,
- For it's nae choice, and ony man s'ud wish
To dree the goat's wierd tae as weel's the sheep's!]

Heifetz in tartan, and Sir Harry Lauder!
Whaur's Isadora Duncan dancin noo?
Is Mary Garden in Chicago still
And Duncan Grant in Paris - and me fou?

Sic transit gloria Scotiae aa the flooers
O the Forest are wede awaa. [A blin bird's nest
Is aiblins biggin in the thistle tho?...
And better blin if'ts brood is like the rest!]

You canna gang to a Burns supper even
Wi-oot some wizened scrunt o a knock-knee
Chinee turns roon to say, 'Him Haggis - velly goot!'
And ten to wan the piper is a Cockney.

No wan in fifty kens a wurd Burns wrote
But misapplied is aabody's property,
And gin there was his like alive the day
They's be the last a kennin haund to gie -

Croose London Scotties wi their braw shirt fronts
And aa their fancy freens rejoicin
That similah gatherings in Timbuctoo,
Bagdad - and Hell, nae doot - are voicin

Burns' sentiments o universal love,
In pidgin English or in wild-fowl Scots,
And toastin ane wha's nocht to them but an
Excuse for faitherin Genius wi their thochts.

Aa they've to say was aften said afore,
A lad was born in Kyle to blaw aboot.
What unco fate maks him the dumpin-grun
For aa the sloppy rubbish they jaw oot?

Mair nonsense has been uttered in his name
Than in ony's barrin liberty and Christ.
If this keeps spreedin as the drink declines,
Syne turns to tea, wae's me for the Zietgeist!

Rabbie, wad'st thou were here - the warld hath need,
And Scotland mair sae, o the likes o thee!
The whisky that aince moved your lyre's become
A laxative for aa loquacity.

O gin they'd stegh their guts and haud their wheesht
I'd thole it, for 'a man's a man' I ken
But though the feck hae plenty o the 'aa that'.
They're nocht but zoologically men.

I'm haverin, Rabbie, but ye understaun
It gets my dander up to see your star
A bauble in Babel, banged like a saxpence
Twixt Burbank's Baedeker and Bleistein's cigar.

There's nane sae ignorant but think they can
Expatiate on you, if on nae ither.
The sumphs hae taen you at your wurd, and fegs!
The foziest o them claims to be a - Brither!

Syne 'Here's the cheenge' - the star of Robbie Burns.
Smaa cheenge, 'Twinkle, Twinkle.' The memory slips
As G.K. Chsterton heaves up to gie
'The Immortal Memory' in a huge eclipse,

Or somebody else as famous if less fat.
You left the like in Embro in a scunner
To booze wi thieveless cronies sic as me.
I'd warrant you'd shy clear o aa the hunner

Odd Burns Clubs tae, or ninety-nine o them,
And haud your birthday in a different kip
whaur your name isna taen in vain - as Christ
Gied aa Jerusalem's Pharisees the slip

- Christ wha'd hae been Chief Rabbi gin he'd lik't! -
Wi publicans and sinners to forgether,
But losh! the publicans noo are Pharisees,
And I'm no shair o maist the sinners either.

But that's aside the point! I've got fair waunert.
It's no that I'm sae fou as juist died dune,
And dinna ken as muckle's whaur I am
Or hoo I've come to sprawl here 'neth the mune.

That's it! It isna me that's fou at aa.
But the fu mune, the doited jade, that's led
Me fer agley, or 'mogrified the warld.
- For aa I ken I'm safe in my ain bed.

Jean! Jean! Gin she's no here it's no oor bed,
Or else I'm dreemin deep and canna wauken,
But it's a fell queer dream if this is no
A real hillside - and thae things thistles and bracken!

It's hard wark haud'n by a thocht worth haen
And harder speakin't, and no for ilka man;
Maist Thocht's like whisky - a thoosan under proof,
And a sair price is pitten on't even than.

As Kirks wi Christianity hae dune,
Burns Clubs wi Burns - wi aathing it's the same,
The core o ocht is only for the few,
Scorned by the mony, thrang wi'ts empty name.

And aa the names in History mean nocht
To maist folk but 'ideas o their ain',
The vera opposite o onything
The Deid 'ud awn gin they cam back again.

A greater Christ, a greater Burns, may come.
The maist they'll dae is to gie bigger pegs
To folly and conceit to hank their rubbish on.
They'll cheenge folks' talk but no their natures, fegs!

I maun feed frae the common trough anaa
Whaur aa the lees o hope are jumbled up;
While centuries like pigs are slorpin owre't
Sall my wee 'oor be cryin: 'Let pass this cup'?

In wi your gruntle then, puir wheengin saul,
Lap up the ugsome aidle wi the lave,
What gin it's your ain vomit that you swill
And frae Life's gantin and unfaddomed grave?

I doot I'm geylies mixed, like Life itsel',
But I was never ane that thocht to pit
An ocean in a mutchkin. As the haill's
Mair than the pairt sae I than reason yet.

I dinna haud the warld's end in my heid
As maist folk think they dae; nor filter truth
In fishy gillls through which its tides may poor
For ony animaculae forsooth.

I lauch to see my crazy little brain
- And ither folks' - tak'n itsel seriously,
And in a sudden lowe o fun my saul
Blinks dozent as the owl I ken't to be.

I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose, but aye be whaur
Extremes meet - it's the only way I ken
to dodge the curst conceit o bein richt
That damns the vast majority o men.

I'll bury nae heid like an ostrich's
Nor yet beleive my een and naething else.
My senses may advise me, but I'll be
Mysel nae maitter what they tell's...

I hae nae doot some foreign philosopher
Has wrocht a system oot to justify
Aa this: but I'm a Scot wha blin'ly follows
Auld Scottish instincts, and I winna try.

For I've nae faith in ocht I can explain,
And stert whaur the philosophers leave aff,
Content to glimpse its loops I dinna ettle
To land the sea serpent's sel wi ony gaff.

Like staundin water in a pocket o
Impervious clay I pray I'll never be,
Cut aff and self-sufficient, but let reenge
Heichts o the lift and benmaist deeps o sea.

Water! Water! There was owre muckle o't
In yonder whisky, sae I'm in deep water
[and gin I could wun hame I'd be in het,
For even Jean maun natter, natter, natter]...

And in the toon that I belang tae
- What's tho 'ts Montrose or Nazareth? -
Helplessly the folk continue
To lead their livin death!...

 

 


fou
drunken
gey and very
coupin tilting
bauld fit

elbuck elbow
fankles becomes clumsy
sheckle wrist
souple supple
gleg quick
speils plays, climbs
forbye besides
aince once
riz rose
keeks looks
saxpenny planet
lurid cheap print
cf. penny dreadful

yin one
thow thaw
jalousin reckoning


caad called

 

 

 

whummle overturn
souse drench
craturs creatures
s'ud should
dree suffer
weird fate

 

wede faded
aiblins
perhaps
biggin
building
scrunt
stump
kennin
understanding

 

 

 

 


croose
cocksure
braw
handsome
freens
friends
unco
strange

 


jaw
pour
stegh
stuff
haud thier wheesht
hold thier tongues
thole
bear
feck
majority
haverin
bletherin
sumphs
dunces
foziest
stupidest

 


Embro
Edinburgh
scunner
loathing
thieveless
useless
kip
whorehouse

 


fair waunert

much wandered
agley
astrey
fell
very
sair
dear, sore
thrang wi
full of
'ud awn
would own
ugsome aidle
foul slop

 

 

 


lave
rest
gantin
gaping
gelies
very much
mutchkin
bottle

 


lowe
flame
dozent
dazed
wrocht
worked
ettle
hanker
lift sky
benmait furthest


 

At darknin hings abune the howff
A weet and wild and eisenin air.
Spring's spirit wi its waesome sough
Rules owre the drucken stramash there

And heich abune the vennel's pokiness,
Whaur aa the white-weshed cottons lie,
The Inn's sign blinters in the mochiness,
And lood and shrill the bairnies cry.

The hauflins yont the burgh boonds
Gang ilka nicht, and aa the same,
Their bonnets cocked; their bluid that stounds
Is playin at a fine auld game.

And on the lochan there, hauf-herted
Wee screams and creakin oar-locks soon
And in the lift, heich, hauf-averted,
The mune looks owre the yirdly roon.

And ilka evenin, derf and serious
[Jean ettles nocht o this, puir lass],
In liquor, raw yet still mysterious,
Ae freend's aye mirrored in my glass.

Ahint the sheenin coonter gruff
Thrang barmen ding the tumblers doun;
'In vino veritas' cry rough
And reid-een'd fules that in it droon.

But ilka evenin fey and fremt
[Is it a dream nae wauknin proves?]
As to a trystin-place undreamt,
A silken leddy darkly moves.

Slow gangs she by the drunken anes,
And lanely by the winnock sits;
Frae'r robes atour the sunken anes,
A rooky dwamin perfume flits.

Her gleamin silks, the taperin
O her ringed fingers, and her feathers
Move dimly like a dream wi'in
While endless faith aboot them gethers.

I seek in this captivity,
To peirce the veils that darklin faa
- See white clints slidin to the sea,
And hear the horns o Elfland blaw.

I hae dark secrets' turns and twists,
A sun is gien to me to haud,
The whisky in my bluid insists,
And spiers my benmaist history, lad.

And owre my brain the flitterin
O the dim feathers gangs aince mair,
And faddomless, the dark blue glitterin
O twa een in the ocean there.

My soul stores up the wealth unspent,
The key is safe and nane's but mine.
You're richt, auld drunk impenitent,
I ken it tae - the truth's in wine!

onwart..... 4

top

 howff pub
eisenin lustfull
blinters glimmers
mochiness
thickness
hauflins
teenagers
stounds throbs
lift sky
derf
silent
ettles recknons
thrang busy
fey strange
fremt friendless
trystin meeting
winnock window
atour over
rooky misty
dwamin
overpowering
clints cliffs
spiers asks
benamist inmost
faddomless
fathomless