Monday, 30 September 2013

Speaking Scots unto Nations

The Bel-Tel has revealed that the newly redesigned Irish passport will feature verses by the Ulster poet James Orr (1770-1816), who was forced into exile in America after the failure of the 1798 uprising and able to return only after the declaration of an amnesty.

Presumably Orr's physical-force Republicanism was thought an effective antidote to the expected complaints about the inclusion of matter relating to Northern Ireland — or perhaps the Irish Government simply wanted to quote from a piece by the best of the weaver poets.

Whatever the truth, those familiar with Scots will be hard pressed to pin its writing down to Ulster.

Written in Winter

Tune — "Humours of Glen"

The green warl's awa, but the white ane can charm them
Wha skait on the burn, or wi' settin' dogs rin:
The hind's dinlin' han's, numb't we snaw-baws, to warm them,
He claps on his hard sides, whase doublets are thin.

How dark the hail show'r mak's yon vale, aince sae pleasin'!
How laigh stoops the bush that's owre-burden't wi' drift!
The icicles dreep at the half-thow't house-easin',
When blunt the sun beams frae the verge o' the lift.

The hedge-hauntin' blackbird, on ae fit whyles restin',
Wad fain heat the tither in storn-rufflet wing;
The silly sweel't sheep, ay the stifflin' storm breastin',
Are glad o' green piles at the side o' the spring.

What coof fir'd that shot? were you no far to blame, man,
To pierce the poor Hare that was starvin' before:
Gif she wham ye court were like ane I'll no name, man,
Her fine han' wad spurn ye, distin't sae wi' gore.

This night wi' the lass that I hope will be kin' soon,
Wi' Sylvia, wha charms me, a wee while I'll stap:
Her e'e is as clear as the ice the moon shines on,
As gentle her smile as the snaw-flakes that drap.

Perhaps she's now plannin', to pit a restriction
Upon my profusion on niest new-years night,
To help some poor fam'lie on beds o' affliction,
Without food or fuel, attendants or light.

Perhaps, singin' noo the dirge I tak' pride in,
She thinks on the last morn, wi' pity an' dread —
How the spait crush't the cots — how Tam brak his leg slidin',
An' herds in the muir fand the poor pedlar dead.

'Tis guidness mak's beauty. The face ne'r was lo'esome,
That weepsna whare woe is, and smilesna wi' glee. —
If sympathy's strange to the saft female bosom,
Its want's no made up by a bright cheek, or e'e.

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