Or is this Heaven, this yalla licht,
And I the aft'rins o the Earth,
Or sic's in this wanchancy time
May weel fin sudden birth?
The roots that wi the worms compete
Hauf-publish me upon the air.
The struggle that divides me still
Is seen fu' plainly there.
The thistle's shank scarce holes the grun,
My grave'll spare nae mair I doot
- The crack's fu' wide; the shank fu' strang;
Aa that I was is oot.
My knots o nerves that stuggled sair
Are weel relfected in the herb;
My crookit instincts were like this,
As sterile and acerb.
My self-tormented spirit took
The shape repeated in the thistle;
Smaa beauty jouked my rawny banes
And maze o gristle.
I seek nae poety, paraclete,
And, fegs, I think the joke is rich
- Pairt soul, pairt skeleton's come up;
They kentna which was which !...
Thou Daith in which my life
Sae vain a thing can seem,
Frae whatna source d'ye borrow
Your devastatin gleam?
Nae doot that hidden sun
'Ud look fu' wae anaa,
Gin I could see it in the licht
That frae the Earth you draw !...
Shudderin thistle gie owre, gie owre!
Aabody's gien in to the facts o life;
The impossible truth'll triumph at last,
And mock your strife.
Your sallow leafs can never thraw,
Wi aa their oorie shakin,
Ae doot into the hert o life
That it may be mistak'n....
O Scotland is
THE barren fig.
Up, carles, up
And roond it jig.
Auld Moses took
A dry stick and
Flooered in his hand.
Pu' Scotland up,
And wha can say
It winna bud
And blossom tae.
Oor only chance,
Up, carles, up
And let us dance !
Puir Burns, wha's bouquet like a shot kail
- Will this rouch sicht no gie the orchids pause?
The Gairdens o the Muses may be braw,
But nane like oors can breenge and eat anaa!
And owre the kailyard-waa Dunbar they've flung,
And aa their countrymen that e'er hae sung
For ither than ploomen't lugs or to enrichen
Plots on parnassus set apairt for kitchen.
Ploomen and ploomen's wives - shades o the Manse
May weel be at the heid o sic a dance,
As through the --polish't haas o Europe leads
The rout o bagpipes, haggis, and sheep's heids !
The vandal Scot! Frae Branksone's deidly barrow
I struggle yet to free ae winsome marrow,
To show what micht hae hed instead
O this preposterous Presbyterian breed.
[ Gin Glesca folk are tired o Hengler,
And still need breid and circuses, there's Spengler,
Or gin ye s'ud need mair than ane to teach ye,
Then learn frae Dostoevski and frae Nietzshe.
And let the lesson be - to be yersels,
Ye needna fash gin it's to be ocht else.
To be yersels - and to mak that worth bein,
Nae harder job to mortals has been gien.
To save your souls fu' mony o ye are fain,
But deil a dizzen to mak it worth the daen.
I widna gie five meenits wi Dunbar
For aa the millions o ye as ye are. ]
I micht hae been contented wi the Rose
Gin I'd ony reason to suppose
That what the English dae can e'er mak guid
For what the Scots dinna - and first and foremaist should.
I micht hae been content - gin the feck
O my ain folk had grovelled wi less repec',
But their obsequious devotion
Made it for me a criminal emotion.
I micht hae been content - ere I saw
That there were fields on which it couldna draw,
[While strang-er roots ran uner't] and ae threid
O't drew frae Scotland aa that it could need,
And left the maist o Scotland fallow
[Save for the patch on which the kail-blades wallow],
And saw hoo ither countries' genius drew
Elements like mine that in a rose ne'er grew....
Gin the threid had'n us to the rose were
There's no ae petal o't that 'ud be clapt.
Aa Scotland gies gangs but to jags or stalk,
The bloom is English - and 'ud ken nae lack !...
O drumlie clood o crudity and cant,
Obliteratin as the Easter rouk
That rows up frae the howes and droons the heichs,
And turns the country to a faceless spook,
Like blurry shapes o landmarks in the haar
The bonny idiosyncratic place-names loom,
Clues to the vieve and maikless life that's lain
Happit for centuries in a alien gloom....
Eneuch! For noo I'm in the mood,
Scotland, responsive to my thoughts,
Lichts mile by mile, as my ain nerves,
Frae Maidenkirk to John o Groats!
What are prophets and priests and kings,
what's ocht to the people o Scotland?
Speak - and Cruvie'll gloam at you,
Gilsanquhar jalouse you're dottlin !
And Edinburgh and Glasgow
Are like ploomen in a pub,
They want to hear o naething
But their ain foul bubbub....
The fules are richt; and extra thocht
Is neither here nor there.
Oor lives may differ as they like
- The self-same fate we share.
And whiles I wish I'd nae mair sense
Than Cruvie and Gilsanquhar,
And envy their rude health and curse
My grawin canker.
Guid sakes, ye dinna need to pass
Ony exam to dee
- Daith canna tell a common flech
Frae a performin flea !...
It sets you well to slaver
To let sic gaadies faa
- The mune's the muckle white whale
I seek in vain to kaa !
The Earth's my mastless samyn,
The thistle my ruined sail.
- Le'e go as you maun in the end,
And droon in your plumm o ale !...
Clear keltie aff and fill again
Withoot corneigh bein cryit,
The drink's aye best that follows a drink.
Clear keltie aff and try it.
Be't whisky gill or penny wheep,
Or ony ither lotion,
We 'bood to hae a thimblefu' first,
And syne we'll toom an ocean !...
'To Luna at the Craidle-and-Coffin
To sof'n her hert if owt can sof'n: -
Auld bag o tricks, ye needna come
And think to stap me in your womb.
You needna fash to rax and strain.
Carline, I'll no be born again
In ony brat you can produce.
Carline, gie owre - O what's the use?
You pay nae heed but plop me in,
Syne shove me oot, and winna be din
- Owre and owre, the same auld trick,
Cratur withoot climacteric !...
Noo Cutty Sark's tint that anaa,
And dances in her skin - Ha! Ha!
I canna ride awaa like Tam,
But e'en maun bide juist whaur I am.
I canna ride - and gin I could,
I'd sune be sorry I hedna stude,
For less tha aathere is to see
'll never be wore muckle for me.
Cutty, gin you've mair to strip,
Aff wi't lass - and let it rip !...
Ilka pleesure I can hae
Ends like a dram taen yesterday.
And tho to hae it I am lorn
- What better 'ud I be the morn?...
My belly on the gantrees
The spigot frae my cullage,
And wow but how the fizzin yill
In spilth increased the ullage !
I was an anxious barrel, lad,
When first they tapped my bung.
They whistled me up, yet thro the lift
My freaths like rainbows swung.
Waesucks, a pride for ony bar,
The boast o barleyhood,
Like Noah's Ark abune the faem
Maun float, a gantin cude,
For I was thrawn fu' cock owre sune,
And wi a single jaw
I made the pub a blindin swelth,
And how'd the warld awaa !...
What forest worn to the
What Eden brocht doon to a bean-swaup?
The thistle's to earth as the man
In the mune's to the mune, puir chap.
The Haill warld's barkin and fleein,
And this is its echo and aiker,
A soond that arrears in my lug,
Herrin-banein back to its maker,
A swaw like a flaw in a jewel
Or nadryv jaloused in a man
Or Creation unbiggit again
To the draucht wi which it began....
Abordage o this toom houk's nae mowse.
It munks and's ill to lay haud o
As gin a man ettled to ride
On the shouders o his ain shadow.
I canna biel't; tho steekin an ee,
Tither's munkie wi munebeam for knool in't
For there's nae sta'-tree and the brute's awaa
Wi me kinkin like foudrie ahint....
Sae Eternity'll buff nor stye
For Time, and shies at a touch, man:
Yet aye in a belth o Thocht
Comes alist like the Fleein Dutchman....
As the worms'll breed in my corpse until
It's like a rice-puddin' the thistle
Has made an eel-ark o the lift
Whar elvers like skirl-in-the-pan sizzle,
Like a thunder-plump on the sunlicht,
Or the sloounge o daith on my dreams,
Or as to a fair forfochen man
A breedin wife's beddiness seems,
Saragossa Sea, St. Vitus' Dance,
A cafard in a brain's despite,
Or lunacy that thinks aa else
Is loony - and is dootless richt !...
Gin my thochts that circle like hobby-horses
'Udna loosen to nightmares I'd sleep:
For nocht but a chowed core's left whaur Jerusalem lay
Like aipples in a heap !...
It's a queer thing to tryst wi a wumman
When the boss o her body's gane,
and her banes in the wund as she comes
Dirl like a farr o rain.
It's a queer thing to tryst wi a wumman
When the ghaist frae abuneheid keeks,
And you see in the licht o't tha aa
You hae o'r 's the cleiks...
what forest worn to the backhauf's this,
What Eden brocht doon to a bean_swaup?
- Aa the ferlies o natur' srping frae the earth,
And into't again maun drap.
Animals, vegetables, what are they aa
But as thochts that a man has haen?
And Earth sall be like a toom skull syne.
- Whaur'll its thochts be then?...
The munelicht is my knowledge o mysel,
Mysel the thistle in the munelicht seen,
And hauf my shape has fund itsel in thee
And hauf my knowledge in your piercin een.
E'en as the munelicht's borrowed frae the sun
I hae my knowledge o mysel frae thee,
And much that nane but thee can e'er mak clear,
Save my licht's frae the source, is dark to me.
Your acid tongue, vieve lauchte, and hawk's een,
And bluid that drobs like hail to quicken me,
Can turn the mid-day black or midnicht bricht,
Lowse me frae licht or eke frae darkness free.
Bite into me forever mair and lift
Me clear o chaos in a great relief
Till, like this thistle in the munelicht growin,
I brak in roses owre a hedge o grief....