Friday, May 16, 2014

A Scots Poem

If you look up the Scots language on Wikipeadia it says it not be be confused with Scottish English or Scottish Gaelic.  Or Doric I would add. That  is another tongue found up near Aberdeenshire. They call all men 'Dod' up there for some reason...esp if they are called George.

Anyway  all this will be the subject of another blog  because the  subject  of this one is a  woman called Betty MacKellar who  is an award winning  poet and one of those writers who has lyricism dripping  from her lips - or out of her pen. She is one very talented lady.

Betty is from Edinburgh originally but grew up in Selkirk then she saw sense and married a west coast  man – a sheep farmer whose family still own land up and around Murshiel and Lochwinnoch. The hills of the area are steeped in legends and history so she doesn’t look much beyond her front door for inspiration for her poetry.

 She started writing poetry when she retired from her job as a teacher in the local school.  And she hasn’t looked back.

There are many clips of her on You Tube, reading out her own stuff as she has one of those beautiful voices that ....well she sounds the way milk chocolate would if it could talk. 

I have included one of her poems here, written in Scots. You can see that she uses the same language as Burns did and it has that same smooth gentle rolling cadence. It is quite difficult to sound angry  in Scots.

I'm sure you will understand it, just do an impression of Sean Connery as you read it out loud and it will come naturally enough.

I’ll vote No

wi the bluid o the Picts in my veins
an Scotland in my heart
vote No?
Aye, me!
An I’ll tell ye for why.

I hae a Union Jack gripped in the ae haun
an Scotland’s flag ticht in the tither
I’m like a mither wi twa bairns
looin them baith the same.
What’s this daftness
aboot brakin oor family in twa?

“Bide thegither”
I coonsel my bairns.
“that way ye’ll be strang.”

We belang in the same hoose.
Argie bargie wi yer brither gin ye please.
Brithers argue.
But hae it in yer mind ayeways
that his enemy’s your enemy
his freen yours an a’.

Stick by that bulldog Sassenach
like the wee Scotch terrier that ye are.
Thegither we’ll snap
at thae fat cats that sup oor cream,
sink oor teeth in the beam ends
o real villains.
Scots, English – Brits,
we’re a’ Jock Thamson’s bairns
brithers unner the skin ower three hunner year.
When I was wee
I slept soonder
for bidin wi my brither an my sisters
unner the same roof.
Noo I’m auld
I’ll gae happier tae my rest
Kennin the family’s no pairtit.

Better thegither!

Betty MacKellar.


Caro Ramsay    16th May 2014


  1. Caro, I love the poem. I had no difficulty hearing its music, since I was taught to read Burns aloud--by an Irish nun, no less, back in those ecumenical, post-WWII times, when the world had in unison defeated a great evil. The image of the bull dog and scottie attacking the arse of the villains is just delightful. I don't get to vote, but if I could, I'd follow Betty MacKellar's lead.

  2. It didn't sound right until I closed my office door and read it aloud as poetry is meant to be. Even though my Sean Connery accent isn't very good (actually got to meet him for a moment long ago!) it sounded delightful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. A lovely poem and a lovely sentiment, even if I did have to use a wee touch of intuition t' figger t' meenin.

  4. Vary wall putt. I'm getting the hand of the accent watt wit all the UKers around me in Bristol these days Caro--every single one missing you I should add. Though I guess that begs the question of how long Scots will be around the UK these days?

  5. Very nice. The music of the words is so easy to follow, and she certainly said it well. What a lovely language!