As I said here, my wife and I are now reading the Edinburgh mystery novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and we’re about halfway through the second one, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. The opening scene has a man standing in Canongate Kirkyard and reading a 1962 poem by Robert Garioch, “At Robert Fergusson’s Grave,” which is such a lovely Scots sonnet I thought I’d post it here:
Canongait Kirkyaird in the failing year
is auld and grey, the wee rosiers are bare,
five gulls leam white agin the dirty air:
why are they here? There’s naething for them here.
Why are we here oursels? We gaither near
the grave. Fergusons mainly, quite a fair
turn-out, respectfu, ill at ease, we stare
at daith – there’s an address – I canna hear.
Aweill, we staund bareheidit in the haar,
murnin a man that gaid back til the pool
twa-hunner year afore our time. The glaur
that haps his banes glowres back. Strang, present dool
ruggs at my hairt. Lichtlie this gin ye daur:
here Robert Burns knelt and kissed the mool.
Rosiers are rose bushes, leam is ‘gleam,’ haar ‘mist,’ glaur ‘mud,’ haps ‘covers,’ dool ‘sorrow,’ ruggs ‘tugs,’ and mool ‘earth’ (in my Scots dictionary s.v. muild, cognate with English mo(u)ld ‘earth, topsoil’; cf. Alexander Fenton’s “it was said of Birsay parish that old men would seat themselves naked on mother-earth to see if the mould could be trusted with the bere-seed”); the most surprising (to me) word is lichtlie, which looks like “lightly” and means “lightly”—but in Scots it’s also been turned into a verb meaning ‘make light of, disparage,’ so that “Lichtlie this gin ye daur” means “Disparage this if you dare.” Offhand, I can’t think of an -ly adverb that’s been verbed in Standard English.