I canna feel it has to dae wi me
Mair than a composite diagram o
Cross-sections o my forbears' organs
- And mine - 'ud bring a kind o freenly glow.
And yet like bindweed through my clay it's
And aa my folks' - it's queer to see't unroll.
My ain soul looks me in the face, as 'twere,
And mair than my ain soul - my nations's soul !
And sall a Belgian pit into words
And sing a sang to't syne, and no in Scots?
Oors is a wilder thistle, and Ramaekers
Canna bear aff the gree - avaunt the thocht !
To meddle wi the thistle and to pluck
The figs frae't is my metier, I think.
Awak, my muse and gin you're in puir fettle,
We aye can blame it on th'inferior drink.
T.S. Eliot - it's a Scottish name -
Afore he srote 'The Waste Land' su'd hae come
To Scotlland here. He wad hae written
A better poem syne - like thie, by gum?
Type o the Wissenschaftseindlichkeit,
Begriffsmudliglikeit that has gar't
Men try Morphologlies der Weltgeschichte,
And man Expressionismus syne in art.
A shameless thing, for
ilka vileness able,
It is deid grey as dust, the dust o aa man.
I perish o a nearness I canna win awaa frae,
It's deidly coils agoot my buik are thrawn.
A shaggy poulp, embracin
me and stingin,
And as aserpent cuald agen my hert,
It's scales are poisoned shafts that jag me to the quick
- And waur than them's my scunner's feerfu's smert!
O that its prickles were
a knife indeeed,
But it is thowlesss, flabby, dowf and numb.
Sae sluggishly it drains my benmaist life
A dozent dragon, dridfu', deif, and dumb.
In mum obscurity it twines
its obstinate rings
And hings caresssinly, its purpose whole;
And thie deid thien, whate-white obsenity,
This horror that I writh in - is my soul!
Is it the munelicht or
That spreids abbot me; and a thiste
Or my ain skeleton through wha's bare banes
A fiendish wund's begood to whistle?
The devil's lauchter has
a hwll like this.
My face has flown open like a lid
- And gibberin on the hillside there
Is aa humanity sae land has hid !....
My harns are seaweed -
when the tide is in
They swall like blethers and in comfort float,
But when the tide is oot they lie like gealed
and runckled auld bluid-vessels in a knot !
The munelicht ebbs and
flows and wi't my thocht,
Noo moovin mellow and noo lourd and rough.
I ken what I am like in Life and Deaith,
But Life and Daith for nae man are enough...
And O! to think that there
are members o
St. Andrew's Societies sleeepin soon,
Wha to the papers wrote afore they bedded
On regimental buckles or buckled shoon,
Or use o England whar the
Or this of that anent the Blue Saltire,
Recruitin, pedigres, and Gude kens what,
Filled wi a proper patriotic fire !
Wad I were them - they've
chosen a better pairt,
The couthie crturs, than the ane i've tane,
Tyauvin wi this root-hewn Scottis soul;
A fer, fer better pairt - except for men.
Nae doot they're sober,
as a Scot ne'er was,
Each tethered to a puntual-sorin missus,
Whilst I, ppuir fule, owre continents unkent
And wine-dark oceans wauner like Ulysses...
The Mune sits on my bed
the nicht unsocht,
And maks my sol obedient to her will;
And in the bumb-deid, still as dreams are still,
Her puils narraw to bricht threids that thrill
Aboot the sensuouls windin o her thocht.
But ilka windin has its
- The opposite 'thoot which it couldna be -
In some wild kink or queeer perversity
O this great thistel, green wi jealousy,
That breenges 'twixt the munelicht and my hert ...
Plant, what are you than?
Mind me o the pipes lod drone
- And aa your purply tops
Are the pirly-wirly notes
That gang staggerin ower them as they groan
Or your leafs are alligators
That hae gobbled ower a haill
Company o Heilant sodgers,
And left naethin but the toories
O their Balmoral bonnets to tell the tale.
Or a muckle bellows blawin
Wi the speks aa whizzin oot;
Or green tides sweeshin
'Neth heich-skeith stars,
Or centuries fleein doon a water-chute.
Grinnin gargoyle by a saint,
Mephistopheles in Heeaven,
Skeleton at tea-meetin,
Missin link - or creakin
Hinge atween the deid and livin...
[ I kent a Terrier in a
sham fecht aince,
Wha louped a dyke and landed on a thistle,
He'd naething on ava aneth his kilt.
Shonberg has nae notation for his whistle ]...
[ Gin you're surprosed
a village drunk
Foreign refenrences su'd foo in,
You haena the respect you s'ud
For oor guid Scottish schoolin'.
For we've the maist unlikely
Aye braggin o oor lear,
And, tho' I'm drunk, for Scotland's sake
I tak my barrowsteel here !
Yet Europe's faur eneuch for me
Fuir fule, when bairns ken mair
O th'ither warld than I o this
- But that no here nor there! ]
Guid sakes, I'm in a dreidfu'
I'll had nae inklin sune
Gin I'm the drinker o the drink
The thistle o the mune.
I'm geylies feart I couldna tell
Gin I su'd lay me doon
The difference betwixt the ward
And my ain heid gaen roon ! ...
Drums in the Walligate,
pipes in the air,
Come and hear the cryin o the Fair.
Aa as it used to be, when I was a loon
On Common-Ridin Day in the Muckle Toon.
The bearer wtirls the Bannock-and-Saut-Herrin,
The Croon o Roses through the lift is farin,
The aucht-fit thistle wallops
In heather besoms aa the hills gang by.
But noo it's aa the fish
o the sea
Nailed on the roond o the Earth to me.
Beauty and Love that are
Syne the breengin growth that alane I bear;
And Scotland followin on
For threepenny bits spleet-new frae the mint.
Drums in the Walligate,
pipes in the air,
The wallopin thistle is ill to bear.
But I'll dance the nicht
wi the stars o Heaven
In the Mairket Place as shair's I'm livin.
Easy to carry roses of
And the lave may weel their threepenny bits earn.
Devil the star! It's Jean
Again as she was on her weddin day....
Nerves in stounds o delight,
Muscles in pride o power,
Bluid as wi roses dight
Life's toppin pinnacles owre,
The thistle yet'll unitie
Man and the Infinite !
Swippert and swith wi virr
In the howes o man's hert
Forever its muckle roots stir
Like a Leviathan astert,
Till'ts coils like a thistle's leafs
Sweep space wi levin sheafs.
Frae laichest deeps o the
It rises in flight upon flight,
And 'yount its uttermaist motion
Can still set roses alight,
As else unreachable height
Faas under its triumphin sight.
Here is thhe root that
The shank wi the blindin wings
Dwinin abuneheid to gleids
Like stars in their keethin rings,
And blooms in sunrise and sunset
Inowre Eternity's yett.
Lay haud o my hert and
Fountains ootloupin the starns
Or see the Universe reel
Set gaen by my eident harns,
Or test the strength o my spauld
The wecht o aathing to hauld !
- The howes o Man's hert
The Dragon's left them for good,
There's nocht but naethingness there,
The hole whaur the Thistle stood,
That rootless and radiant flies
A Phoenix in Paradise!...
Masoch and Sade
turned into ane
Havoc hae made
O my ae brain.
Weel, gin it's Sade
Let it be said
They've made me mad
- That'll dae instead.
But it's no instead
In Scots, but insteed.
- The life they've led
In my puir heid.
But aince I've seen
In the thistle here
Aa that they've been
I'll aiblins wun clear.
You'll hae nocht left
But the hole frae which
Life's struggle is reft!...
Reason sers nae end but
Truth's no and end but a means
To a wider knowledge o life
And a keener interest in't.
We wha are poets and artists
Move frae inklin to inklin,
And live for oor antrin lichtnins
In the haingles atweenwhiles,
Laich as the feck o mankind
Whence we breenge in unkennable shapes
- Crockats up, hair
kaimed to the lift
And no to cree legs wi !...
We're ootward boond frae
Guid-bye, fare-ye-well; guid-bye, fare-ye-weel.
- Aa the Scots that ever wur
Gang ootward in a creel.
We're ootward boond frae
Guid-bye fare-ye-weel; guid-bye, fare-ye-weel.
The cross-tap is a monkey tree
That nane o us can speil.
We've never seen the Captain,
But the first mate is a Jew.
We've shipped aboord Eternity.
Adieu, kind freends, adieu !...
In the creel or on the
O oor coutribat and ganien,
What gin ithers see or hear
Naething but a gowkstorm?
Gin you stop the galliard
To teach them hoo to dance,
There comes in Corbaudie
And turns their gammons up !...
Your vegetable cat's melody
Your Concert Miaulant is
A triumph o discord shairly,
And suts my fancy fairly
- I'm sure that Scott'll agree
He canna vie wi this....
Said my body to my mind,
'I've been startled whiles to find,
when Jean has been in bed wi me,
A kind o Christianity !'
To my body said my mind,
'But your benmaist thocht you'll find
Was "Bother what I think I feel
- Jean kens the set o my bluid owre weel,
And lauchs to see mi in the creel
O my courage-bag confined." '...
I wish I kent the physical
O aa life's seemin airs and graces.
It's queer the thochts
a kittled cull
Can lowse or sparglin glit annul.
Man's spreit is wi his
In ways that he can ne'er unwind.
A wumman whiles a bawaw
That clean abaws him gin he sees.
Or wi a movement o a leg
Shows'm his mind is juist a geg.
I'se warrant Jean 'ud no
In findin whence this thistle sprang.
Mebbe it's juist because
Beddit wi her that gars it grow !...
A luvin wumman is a
that shows a man his waefu' plicht,
Bleezin steady on ilka bane,
Wrigglin sinnen an twinnin vein,
Or fleerin quick an gane again,
And the mair scunnersome the sicht
The mair for love and licht he's fain
Till clear and chitterin and nesh
Move aa the miseries o his flesh....
O lass, wha see'est me
As I daur haardly see,
I marvel that your bonny een
Are as they hadna seen.
Through aa my self respect
They see the truth abject
- Gin you culd pierce
their blindin licht
You'd see a fouler sicht !...
O wha's the bride that cairries the bunch
O thistles blinterin white?
Her cuckold bridegroom little dreids
What he sall ken this nicht.
For closer than the gudeman
and closer to't than hersel,
Wha didna need her maidenheid
Has wrocht his purpose fell.
O wha's been here afore
And hoo did he get in?
- A man that deed or
I was born
This evil thing has din.
And left, as it were on
Your maidenheid to me?
_ Nae lass, gudeman,
sin Time began
'S hed ony mair to gie.
But I can gie ye kindness,
and a pair o willin hands,
And you sall hae my breists like stars,
My limgs like willow wands,
And on my lips ye'll
heed nae mair,
And in my hair forget,
The seed o aa tha me that in
My virgin womb hae met....
Millions o wimmen bring
forth in pain
Millions o barins that are no worth haen.
Wull ever a wumman be big
Wi's muckle a Christ? Yech, there's nae sayin.
Gin that's the best that
you hae comin,
Fegs but I'm sorry for you, wumman !
Yet ae thing's certain
- Your faith is great.
Whatever happens, you'll no be blate !...
Mary lay in jizzen
As it were claith o gowd,
But it's in orra duds
Ilka ither bairntime's row'd.
Christ had never toothick,
Christ was never seeck,
But Man's a fiky bairn
Wi beelythraw, ripples, and worm-i-the cheek!...
Dae what ye wull ye canna
This skeleton-at-the-feast that through the starry
Maze o the warld's intoxicatin soiree
Claughts ye, as micht at an affrontit quean
A bastard wean !
Prood mune, ye needna thring
your shouder there,
And at your puir get like a snawstorm stare,
It's yours - there's nae denyin't - and I'm shair
You'd no enjoy the evenin much the less
Gin you'd but openly confess !
Dod! It's an eaten and
Fell like a little-bodies' changeling,
And it's nae credit t'ye that you su'd bring
The like to life - yet, gien a mither's love,
- Hee, hee! - wha kens hoo't micht improve?...