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Scots Language
Poetry and Prose Quotes

                        Awa' wi yer diddles on the pipes and fiddles,
                        Awa' wi yer ballats and yer flings sae free!
                        Hey for the smiddy whaur the auld toun hiddles,
                        And the lilt o' the hammer in the North Countree!
                        Wi' the clink-clank-clour
                        And the sterny stour,
                        And the sang o' the airn on the steel sae slee;
                        Eh, lease me on yon walloch for an hour
                        That rants in the smiddies o' the North Countree!
                            frae 'The Sang o' the Smiddy' - Lewis Spence. Lewis Spence was the first-ever Parliamentary Candidate for the National Party of Scotland in the North Midlothian by-election in January 1929.
    1. But on the first day o' the week, Mary o' Magdala comes ear' - for it was yet mirk - to the tomb ; and she sees the stane taen awa frae the tomb.
    2. Than she rins and gaes to Simon Peter, and to the ither disciple wham Jesus lo'ed, and says to them, " They hae ta'en awa my Lord oot o' the tomb, and we ken-na whaur they hae laid him !"
    3. Sae Peter gaed oot, and the ither disciple, to gang to the tomb.
    4. And they ran baith thegither ; and the ither ane ootran Peter, and cam first to the tomb.
    5. And he, loutin doon, saw the linen claes lyin ; but he gaed-na in.
    6. Than Peter comes, eftir him, and gaed intil the tomb, and saw the linen claiths lyin ;
    7. And the naipkin that was row't aboot his heid, no lyin wi' the linen claiths, but row't up in a place by itsel.
    8. And than gaed in the ither disciple wha cam first to the tomb ; and he saw, and believ't.
    9. For till noo they kent-na the Scriptur, that he soud rise frae 'mang the deid.
    10. The disciples than gaed awa again to their ain hame.
    John Chaiptir Twentie, verses 1 - 10, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith
                        Douce granny had nowth o' proverbial lear
                        The auld pawky sayin's weel-kent in her day:
                        As shair as a braw lassie's wedding drew near,
                        "A bride that is bonnie's sune buskit", she'd say.
                                    frae 'Granny's Proverbs' - W D Cocker
                        Though Tammas the Lyar thou call'st me,
                        A sooth tale I sall tell to the:
                        By Aiky-side thy horse sall ride,
                        He sall stumble an' thou sall fa';
                        Thy neck-bane sall brak in twa,
                        An' mangre all thy kin an' the,
                        Thy ain belt thy bier sall be.
                          -  Prophesy by Thomas the Rhymer, Thomas of Erchildoun, in 1258 on being referred to by Alexander Comyn, 2nd Earl of Buchan, as 'Tammas-the-Lyar'. Comyn was unimpressed by Thomas the Rhymer's fame as a prophet. He died in 1289 but not at Aikey Brae, however this was the site on the western border of the parish of Old Deer that the final overthrow of the Comyns by The Bruce took place in 1307 - the terrible 'hership o Buchan'.
                        They libbit William Wallace
                            He gar'd them bleed.
                        They dinna libb MacFoozle
                            They dinna need.
                          'On A North British Devolutionist' - Douglas Young. The verse first appeared in the Scots Independent in 1944.
                        Whan gloming grey out o'er the welkin keeks,
                            Whan Batie ca's his owsen to the byre,
                        Whan Thrasher John, sair dung, his barn-door steeks,
                            And lusty lasses at the dighting tire:
                        What bangs fu' leal the e'enings coming cauld,
                            And gars snaw-tapit winter freeze in vain:
                        Gars dowie mortals look baith blyth and bauld,
                            Nor fley'd wi' a' the poortith o' the plain;
                            Begin my Muse, and chant in hamely strain.
                                    frae 'The Farmer's Ingle' - Robert Fergusson
                                   This poem inspired Robert Burns to write 'The Cottar's Saturday Night'
    1. On the third day was a bridal at Galilee-Cana, and Jesus' mither was thar;
    2. And baith Jesus and his disciples had a bode to the bridal.
    3. And whan the wine ran dune, Jesus' mither said till him, "The wine's a' dune !"
    4. Quo' Jesus, "Eh, wumman, what hae I to do wi' ye e'noo ? My 'oor will be here belyve !"
    5. But his mither coonsell't wi' the servants, "Whatsae he bids ye, gang and do it."
    6. And thar war staunin sax stane jars, accordin as the Jews purify't theirsels ; and ilk wad haud twa-thrie firkins.
    7. And Jesus had them fill the water-jars wi watir. And they teemed them lippin-fou.
    8. And he spak till them, "Dip oot noo, and tak to the Maister o' the feast !" And they gaed wi't.
    9. As sune as the Maister o' the feast had pree'd the watir-wine (and kent-na whaur it cam frae ; but the servants kent), he cry't to the bridegroom.
    10. "Ilka man wales oot his best wine to hansel the feast ; and whan folk are weel slocken't, than feshes the second-wale ; but ye hae hained the best wine till noo !"
    11. Sae Jesus begude to do his wunner-works in Galilee-Cana, and schawed forth his glorie : and the disciples lippened on him.

John Chaiptit Twa, verses 1-11, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith

                        O Lord wha blest the loaves and fishes
                        Look doun upon these twa wee dishes
                        And tho the tatties be but sma'
                        Lord mak them plenty for us a'
                        But if our stamachs they do fill
                        'Twill be anither miracle.
                                           - A Scots Grace  
Sainit are thai wha gir thair traist til him. Psaum 11.12
In ilka age, aye, and in our ain, is the muckle fecht atween guid and ill. Historie is a michty bruilzie atwixt thai michty forces. Guid sal win, is the faith o the Psaumist, and our als, in Jesus, the victorie o His michty pooer o loe.
    'This Morning' - frae the Rev Alex S Borrowman, umquhile meenister at Sanct Andros, Glesca i 'The Scotsman' 31 Mairch 1977
                    There was a couthy Packman, I kent him weel aneuch,
                    The simmer he was quartered within the Howe o' Tough;
                    He sleepit in the barn rnd amo' the barley strae,
                    But lang afore the milkers he was up at skreek o' day,
                    An' furth upon the cheese stane set his reekin' brose to queel
                    While in the caller strype he gied his barkit face a sweel;
                    Syne wi' the ell-wan' in his nieve to haud the tykes awa'
                    He humpit roon' the country side to clachan, craft an ha'.
                                                 frae 'The Packman' - Charles Murray
                    There's a puckle lairds in the auld house
                        wha haud the waas thegither :
                    there's no muckle graith in the auld house
                        nor smeddum aither.
                    It was aince a braw and bauld house
                        and guid for onie weather :
                    kings and lords thranged in the auld house
                        or it gaed a'smither.
                           frae 'The Auld House' - William Soutar
                        Brissit brawnis and brokin banis,
                        Stride discord and waisite wanis;
                        Crukit in eild, syne halt withal -
                        Thir are the bewties of the fute-ball.
                                Anonymous 16th century verse
                            Luve is ane fervent fire
                            Kendillit without desire;
                        Short pleisure, lang displeisure,
                            Repentence is the hire
                        Ane puir treisure without meisure:
                            Luve is ane fervent fire.
                                frae 'A Rondel of Luve' - Alexander Scott (c1520-c1590)
    11. He said, forbye, " A particular man had twa sons;
    12. " And the young son said till his faither, ' Faither ! gie me my portion that wad fa' to me o' a' the gear !' And he portioned oot till them his leevin.
    13. " And, a wheen days eftir, the young son gaither't a' his gear thegither, and gaed awa frae hame till a far-awa lan' ; and thar sperfl't his gear in riotousness.
    14. " But mair : whan a' was gane thar cam up an awesome famine oot-throwe yon lan' ; and he begude to be wantin.
    15. " And he gaed awa, and was sornin on ane o' the men o' that lan' : and he sent him oot-by to herd swine.
    16. " And he fain wad fill't his sel wi' the hools the swine war eatin ; and nae ane gied them till him.
    17. " But, comin' till his richt min', quo' he, ' Hoo mony are the fee'd servants o' my faither, wha hae rowth o' breid, and an ower-come ; while I, here, dee o' hung'er !
    18. " ' I wull rise and gang tae my faither, and wull say till him, My faither ! I hae dune wrang, again Heeven, and afore you ;
    19. " ' Nae mair am I fit to be ca'd yere son ; mak me like till ane o' the fee'd servants ! ' And, sae risin, he cam awa till his faither.
    20 . " But, while he was yet haudin far-awa, his faither spy't him, and was fu' o' compassion ; and rinnin, he fell on his neck, and begude kissin him.
    21. " And the son said till him, ' My faither ! I did wrang again Heeven, and afore you : I am nae mair wordie to be ca'd yere son !'
    22. " But the faither said to the servants, ' Waste nae time ! bring oot a robe - the first and best ane - and pit it on him ; and gie a ring for his fing'er, and shoon for his feet ;
    23. " ' And bring oot the stall'd cauf, and kill it, that we may eat and be joyfu' !
    24. " ' For he my son was deid, and cam to life again ; he had been tint, and is fund again ! ' And they begude to be joyfu'.
    25. " But his auld brither was i' the field : and, as he cam in, he drew nar the hoose, and heard music and dancin.
    26. " And beckonin till him ane o' the fee'd folk, he spier't what aiblins a' this micht mean ?
    27. " And he said till him, ' Yere brither has come back again ; and yere faither has kill't the stall'd cauf, for that he gat him hame again a' safe and soun'. '
    28. " But he was fu' o' ang'er and wadna gang in. His faither, tho', cam oot, and was entreatin him.
    29. " But he answerin him, said till his faither, ' See ! a' thir years hae I se't ye ; and never did I gang ayont yere commauns ; and hae at nae time did ye gie me e'en a kid, that I micht mak a feast for my freends ;
    30. " ' But whane'er this yere son, wha has devoor't yere leevin wi' harlots, cam, ye killed the stall'd cauf ! '
    31. " But he said till him, ' Bairn ! thou art aye wi' me ! and a' that is mine is thine !
    32. " ' But it was richt we soud mak merry and rejoice ; for he, thy brither, was deid, and cam back to life again ; he had been tint, and was fund ! ' "
     Luke Chaiptir Fyfteen, verses 11 - 32, frae 'The Four Gospels in Scots' - Rev William W Smith 
                        Lang syne the Lord created Man
                        Accordin' to His weel-thocht plan,
                        An' beasts, an' birds, an' creepin' things
                        That hap about on legs or wings ;
                        But jealous Nick, to show his mettle,
                        Thocht some creation he maun ettle,
                        An' did his best - or warst, for, fegs !
                        It was the Deil created clegs.
                                       frae 'Clegs' - W D Cocker 
                        Auld Neibour,
                        I'm three times doubly owre your debtor,
                        For your auld-farrant, fien'ly letter;
                        Tho' I maun say't, I doubt ye flatter,
                                            Ye speak sae fair;
                        For my puir, silly, rhymin' clatter
                                            Some less maun sair.
                                frae 'Second Epistle To Davie' - Robert Burns
                            Ane tellt me it was time I learned to write -
                        round-haund, he meant - and saw about my hair:
                        I mind of him, beld-heidit, wi a kyte.
                            Ane sneerit quarterly - I cuidna square
                        my savings bank - and sniftert in his spite.
                        Weill, gin they arna deid, it's time they were.
                                                    frae 'Elgy' - Robert Garioch
                        At gloamin, now, the bagpipe's dumb,
                        When weary owsen hameward come;
                        Sae sweetly as it won't to bum,
                            An' pibrochs skreed;
                        We never hear its warlike hum,
                            For Music's dead.
                        MacGibbon's gane! ah wae my heart!
                        The man in music maist expert;
                        Wha cou'd sweet melody impart,
                            An' tune the reed,
                        Wi' sic a slee an' pawky art;
                            But now he's dead.
                        frae 'Elgy on the Death of Music' - Robert Fergusson (1750-74)
Hundreds of mothers throughout Aberdeenshire and Banff every night put their 'little wee bit loonikies' and 'little wee bit lassickies' to their 'bedies', while the infant of the household, described as the 'little wee eenickie', that is a 'teeny weeny enie' - lies in its 'cradlie'. A thousand and one examples will leap to your minds - 'The boatie rows' ; 'sic mannie, sic horsie' ; 'the ewie wi the crookit horn' - as against Burns's 'Ca' the ewes tae the knowes' ; a 'sheltie' ; a 'sheepie' ; a 'lammie' ; a 'burnie' ; a 'quinie' and so on through a whole catalogue of diminutives, sometimes five and six thick. Indeed, 'a little wee bit loonikie' represents five diminutives. These diminutives are, I say, just as frequently used as ever they have been.
    frae 'The Delight of the Doric in the Diminutive' i 'The Scottish Tongue' - J M Bulloch
Inglis, alang wi Scots belangs i the Germanic faimily o leids alang wi ithers sic as Dutch but he'd be a gey spunkie chiel wha'd ettle tae tell the Dutch or the Danes at they'd be better aff tae gie up their ain speak an tae scrieve an gab i German. Aa at I hae learnit fae the time I wis a bairn i Angus, whaur aa I heard ootside o schuill wis the strang speak o the North-East, gars me ken at Scots differs as muckle frae Inglis as Dutch dis fae German.
                           frae 'Twa Mither Tongues' - James S Adam
Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am na nane better nor dunnerin bress nor a ringing cymbol.
                                   Frae 'The New Testament in Scots', 1st Corthians - W L Lorimer
These words are laid across the threshhold to the Queensferry House courtyard, the main entrance to the new Holyrood Parliament building for MSPs. Created by artist Gary Breeze, the words feature lettering of steel inlaid into cut whinstone.
                        A MONSTER, fegs! Is't no' a scunner
                       The way I'm made a nine days' wun'er?    
                        Monster indeed! Folk glower an' keckle,
                        I may be jist a wee kenspeckle,
                        But though mair muckle than I'd wish,
                        Let me alane, I'm jist a fish.
                        frae 'The Soliloquay of the Loch Ness Monster' - W D Cocker
The tea-time edition o STV's Scotland Today on Friday 3 September (2004) wis somethin different aw thegither. The hail warld wis bein stoundit wi reports comin oot o Russia aboot aw thae wee bairns bein hauden hostage at thon schuil in Beslan an Scotland Today pit this story richt at the stert o its program. The twa praisenters, John MacKay an Shereen Nanjiani, alang wi Neil Connery speakin direct frae the scene, did a richt wyce-like an professional job o pittin this hert-stoundin international news ower tae the Scots public in a hamelt vice an accent they wad aw be acquent wi. This is whit the sae cried Scottish Six is aw aboot. News, guid or bad, frae aw the airts an no juist frae this country, comin intae oor hooses in a vice or accent that's aw oor ain raither nor in thon cauld, foreign, RP accents o the English estaiblishment that comes frae folk that's juist no ane o oo.
                                           frae 'A Scottish Six?' - Scots Tung Wittins October 2004
                        Now mourn, ye college masters a'!
                        And frae your ein a tear lat fa',
                        Fam'd Gregory death has taen awa'
                                                Without remeid;
                        The skaith ye've met wi's nae that sma',
                                                Sin Gregory's dead.
                                Frae 'Elegy On The Death Of Mr David Gregory' - Robert Fergusson

     1. Syne a' thae things war by, Jesus gaed ower to the ither side o' the Loch o' Galilee, ca'd the Loch o' Tiberias.

     2. And great thrangs cam eftir him, for that they saw the ferlies he wrocht on sick folk.

     3. And Jesus gaed up intil a mountain, and sat doon thar amang his disciples.

     4. And the Pasche was nar-haun, a Feast o' the Jews.

     5. Whan Jesus had liftit up his een, and had seen sic a great company come till him, he says to Philip, " Hoo sal we buy breid, that a' thae may eat?"

     6. And this he said to try him : for he kent his sel what he wad do.

     7. Quo' Philip, " Twa hunder siller pennies in breid wadna be eneuch for them a', that ilk soud hae a wee."

     8. And ane o' the disciples, Andro, Simon Peter's brither, says till him,

     9. " Thar's a callant here, wha has fyve barley-bannocks, and twa wee speldrins ; but what wad be amang sae mony?"

     10. Quo' Jesus, " Mak the men sit doon !" Noo thar was a rowth o' gerss i' the place. Sae the men sat a' doon, aboot fyve thoosand o' them.

     11. And Jesus tuik the bannocks, and whan he had gien thanks, he gied to the disciples, and the disciples to them that war sutten doon ; and eke o' the speldrins, as mickle as they wad.

     12. Whan they war a' satisfy't, quo' he till his disciples, " Gaither up the mools and bits that are ower, sae that thar be naething wastit."

     13. Sae they gaither't them up, and filled twal baskets wi' the broken bits o' the fyve barley-bannocks, remainin ower to them wha had eaten.

     14. Than thae men whan they had seen the ferlie wrocht by Jesus, cry't a', " This is, o' a' certaintie, yon Prophet that was to come intil the warld !"

     15. Whan Jesus kent that they wad come, and tak him wi' the strang haun to mak him a King, he withdrew again intil a mountain, by his sel alane.

      John Chaiptir Sax, verses 1 - 15, frae 'The Four Gospels in Braid Scots' - Rev William W Smith

'Wi' merry sangs and frien'ly cracks
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery
Till buttered so'ens, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a steerin';
Syne wi' a social glass o' strunt
They parted aff careerin
Fu' blythe that nicht.'

Frae 'Halloween' - Robert Burns 

No livin man I'll lou again
Syne that my bonnie man is slain;
Wi ane lock o his black hair
I'll chain my hert for evermair.

Frae 'The Widow's Lament' - Old Border Ballad

Dumfoonert wisnae the word for it when folk fund oot that the Scottish Saltire wisna gaun tae be alloued tae flee frae the new Holyrood Pairlament, excep for on special occasions an e,en then it wad be alangside o ither nationalities.

Whit a disappyntment for a nation that's switherin atween a new pride in its national identity an its auld imposed native creenge that in itsel is the ootcome o a similar want o political imagination in Scottish education for ower a century.

It's no that lang syne oor creenge ridden Executive spent the third pairt o 1m tae fund oot whit wis the maist weel kent symbol o Scotland juist tae be telt whit awebody else kent, that the maist kenspeckle symbol o Scotland is its ain Scottish Saltire.

Frae A Parliament Wantin a Saltire - Scots Tung Wittens nummer 132 November 2004

Edinburgh haes been appyntit the verra first UNESCO City o Literature.  Athin oors o pittin in a formal bid for the title, the proposal wis gien absolute approval bi mair nor a hunder ambassadors wi muckle praise an ratified the follaein day bi the Executive Comatee.  It wis thocht that awe this wad tak months.  Auld Reekie's submission includit a threap on hou Scotland's minority languages haed played sic a major pairt in its literary history.  The Warld City o Literature wabsteid can be seen at the follaein URL:-

Frae City o Literature - Scots Tung Wittens nummer 132 November 2004

Stottie baw, stottie baw, tell to me
Hou monie bairns am A to hae?
Yin to leeve, an yin to dee,
An yin to sit on its nurse's knee.

                                       - bairn's rhyme whilst bouncing a ball.

In the same yeir (1511) the King buildit a great schipe called the Micheall, quilk was ane verie monstrous great schip; for this schip tuck so meikle timber that schoe wasted all the woods in Fyfe except Falkland Wood, by the timber that cam out o Norway.

             Frae The Chronicle  of Scotland - Lindsay of Pitscottie (16th centuary).

An' aye he gied the tozy drab
The tither skelpin' kiss,
While she held up her greedy gab,
Juist like an oumous dish.

                                                                           Frae The Jolly Beggars - Robert Burns

O in gweed King Dauvid's Toon
a bonnie bairn was born
O in gweed King Dauvid's Toon
a bonnie bairn was born
O in gweed King Dauvid's Toon
Lay a saviour wi nae croon:
Far the muckle starn shone doon
a bonnie bairn was born.

                                                                           Frae A Bonnie Bairn Was Born - Leslie Wheeler

  1. And as the Angels gaed awa frae them to Heeven, the shepherds said ane till anither, 'Lat us gan noo to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has come aboot, that the Lord has made kent till us!'

  2. And they gaed, makin haste, and fund Mary, and Joseph, and the bairn lyin in a manger.

  3. And whan they saw it, they tauld abreid the words that war tell't to them anent this bairn.

  4. And a' that heard it ferlied at the things tauld them by the shepherds.

  5. But Mary keepit a' thae things, ponderin on them in her heart.

  6. And the shepherds returned, giean glorie to God, for a' thae things thay saw and heard; e'en as it was tell't them.

          Luke Chaiptir Twa, verses 15-20, frae The Four Gospels in Braid Scots - Rev William W Smith

Up in the morning's no' for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.

frae Up in the Morning Early by Robert Burns

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