IT’S JUIST MAIR SNAW.

That’s what I thought when I looked out my window this morning and saw it coming down (on top of the foot or so we’ve already had), so I thought I’d quote one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Hugh MacDiarmid (previously):

Lourd on my hert as winter lies
The state that Scotland’s in the day.
Spring to the North has aye come slow
But noo dour winter’s like to stay
      For guid,
      And no’ for guid!
O wae’s me on the weary days
When it is scarce grey licht at noon;
It maun be a’ the stupid folk
Diffusin’ their dullness roon and roon.
      Like soot,
      That keeps the sunlicht oot.
Nae wonder if I think I see
A lichter shadow than the neist
I’m fain to cry ‘The dawn, the dawn!
I see it brakin’ in the East.’
      But ah
      — It’s juist mair snaw!

From To Circumjack Cencrastus (1930); “lourd” = heavy, sluggish, “the day” = today, “aye” = always, “maun” = must, “neist” = next.

Comments

  1. Now that’s wonderful. Thanks, Hat.

  2. I remember lo those many years ago when ye, Mr. Hat (do you watch South Park?), introduced me to the Good Hugh…a good Free Scotland anarchist full of much digested haggis moxie…and hoot mon, life’s hurdles can be considered same as the mair snaw. One of Nature’s confinements that allows us to look in upon ourselves.
    ur fiend,
    thegrowlingwolf

  3. This is probably a good place to mention that I have just posted on Winnie-the-Pooh in Scots, a translation by James Robertson.

  4. An excellent place, and I encourage everyone to go read the post. “Lang lang syne, a lang while syne noo, aboot Friday past, Winnie-the-Pooh steyed in a forest aw by himsel unner the name o Sanders”—delightful stuff!

  5. Wonderful.

  6. Here are some nice pictures of the Снег.

  7. Just ordinary bureaucratese, YM, which is much the same in all languages. Part of the evidence that Scots can be used in all domains, not merely the literary and the low colloquial (or both, see Trainspotting).

  8. “Spring to the North has aye come slow” is spot on. When I moved south people said “You must be glad to avoid those cold Edinburgh winters”. I had to explain that they were no colder than here in East Anglia. What they were is longer.
    I like it when poetry doesn’t lie to make its effects. Though, unlike Galton or whoever it was, I’ll settle for a decent approximation.

  9. John: I can understand the literary use, but do you know if many people prefer to read official documents like forms and parliamentary bills in Scots. Is it widely used in print other than in literary use?
    It must be fun to read your Winnie to a Scots child.

  10. Paul: Perhaps not. Yet if Scots is to be elevated from its current low point of prestige outside literature, it must start somewhere, and where better than in the revived Scottish Parliament, which in its earlier incarnation (1235?-1707) certainly did operate in Scots.
    When the petition to the Italian government to recognize Sardinian first circulated on the Internet, it was available only in Italian and English. I (and many others) suggested that it be made available in Sardinian as well, and this was done. There was no direct utility in providing the additional version, as those who read Sardinian also read Italian. But the Sardinian petition served as a sign and symbol that Sardinian actually was (contrary to its detractors) a complete and autonomous language, applicable to all domains including the political, and not a language for domestic conversations and nothing more.

  11. Electric Dragon says:

    Some time ago, on one of those Wikipedia random walks that are so easy to get trapped in, I chanced across the Scots Wikipedia http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page . Little else was done that day, except my reading articles from it out loud in a very bad Scottish accent.

  12. J. W. Brewer says:

    I remember being in Scotland circa 1994 (before there was a local legislature) and seeing some sort of position paper issued by the SNP in trilingual form: English/Scots/Gaelic. However, if their current website http://www.snp.org has any Scots (or Gaelic) content, you sure can’t find it easily or intuitively from the English-only frontpage. Indeed, the Scots wikipedia article on the Scottis Naitional Pairty simply links to the party’s English website frontpage, and ditto the gaelic wikipedia article on the Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba.

  13. Silly me; not Galton but Babbage. WKPD speaks:
    “Babbage once contacted the poet Alfred Tennyson in response to his poem “The Vision of Sin”. Babbage wrote, “In your otherwise beautiful poem, one verse reads,
    Every moment dies a man,
    Every moment one is born.
    … If this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death. I would suggest [that the next version of your poem should read]:
    Every moment dies a man,
    Every moment 1 1/16 is born.
    Strictly speaking, the actual figure is so long I cannot get it into a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.”

  14. Actually, the version Babbage objected to used the word minute rather than moment, the latter being introduced by Tennyson into later editions. Since a moment is rather less definite than a minute, the final version was able to fit with the facts better, and may even have been inspired by Babbage’s letter.

  15. Very droll of Tennyson; no wonder they lorded him.

  16. I’ve added another relevant post to my blog: The Hoose at Pooh’s Neuk / Kidnappit.

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