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Viva Caledonia: Poetry by Robert Alan Jamieson
 
'13th note blues (extract) 3' 57'
by
Peter de Moncey-Conegliano
'Art of Memory II'  2007 Calum Colvin
'Art of Memory II' by Calum Colvin
Responses to the Language Question

PIERIEWYS

      Wielkum t’da Fokkmjoozieim

           Hit’s a pieriemootie kroft
                     growin pieriemootie aets
           fir pieriemootie jows
                     an pieriemootie horsis.

                     Sies du da pierie Sjaetlin ky,
                     da pierie poorie, lyin kloorin,

           an da pieriemootie hoos
                     fir da pieriemootie fokk
           spaekin pieriemootie wirds
                     aboot pieriemootie maetirs

                     sikkis

           “Will we hae enjogh t’kiep da baerns?”

                               ir dan

                          “Tinks du sall we mak fir Kanada?”

 

DIMINUTION

           Welcome to the Folk Museum

           It’s a tiny little small-holding
                      Growing tiny little crops
           For tiny little sheep
                      And tiny little ponies.

                      Look, see the little Shetland cattle,
                      The little cat, lying scratching.

           And the tiny little house
                      For the tiny little people
           Talking tiny little words
                      About tiny little matters

                      like

           “Will have enough to feed the children?”

                      or

           “Do you think we should start afresh in Canada?”

 

AAKWIRTNIS

           Perfiekt Sjaetlin

           Though we speak it perfectly well,

                      I imna

                      We irna

                      Du isna

                      Ju irna

                      Shö isna

                      He isna

                      Dae irna

                                            spaekin Eng-gliesh.

                      We kan, bit sanna.

                      We winna.

 

RESISTANCE

           Perfect Shetlandic

           We kan spaek it perfiektlie wiel bit

                      I am not

                      We are not

                      You (singular) are not

                      You (plural) are not

                      He is not

                      She is not

                      They are not

                                            speaking English.

                      We can, but shan’t.

                      We won’t.

 

RØTTIN AT DA FOONDS

           A Problem of Definition – ta Tom Leonard

                      At the public wake to celebrate

                      the death of the Shetlandic tongue
                      two of the pall-bearers came to blows.

                                 The first, a poet, cries “Lament
                                 the fine old language we have lost,
                                 Those Norn words, that quaintest grammar.
                                 This is a day of deepest drama.”

                                 The second, a linguist snorting, says
                                 “Cease your histrionics. While I
                                 agree it is a loss, It was a dialect
                                 at best. I can’t agree it was a
                                 language, had no capacity at all
                                 for abstract thought of fine expression.”

                      When in walks the gravedigger
                      wiping soil from his hands,
                      who looks at both and says:

                                 “Jun’s hir itida grund dan, bojies.
                                 A gjiurm A’m hed wie’ir.”

 

SUBVERSION

           Da Veksaesjin a’Nemin – to Tom Leonard

                      At da awpin waek

                      T’seliebraet da daeth a’Sjetlin
                      Twa oda paal-baerirs got up dir birss.

                                 Da first, a pojit, roars ‘Laamint
                                 da fyn aald lied’at we ir lost.
                                 Jun Norrin wirds, jun quhaentist grammir.
                                 Dis is a dae a’aafil draama.”

                                 Da sekint, a lingwiest snurtin, sez
                                 “Du’s gien klien gyt. Quhyl I
                                 idmit hit is a loss, hit wis a dyalikt
                                 at best. I doot’at hit wisna a
                                 langwiech, hed neddir wirds nor vynd
                                 fir toght a’oght bit aertlie maettirs.”

                      Quhan in kums da grejiev-dellir,
                      Shaakin da møld fae his haands,
                      Qhua looks at da baeth and saes:

                                 “That’s her in the ground then, boys.
                                 A messy business I’ve had with her.”

 

UTILITARIANISM

           Returning Home

           The young scholar of English
                      came home from the mainland, full of wonder,
                                 at the end of the first semester.

           His mother went to collect him from the ferry.
                      He was like a professor, speaking English terribly well,
                                 pontificating loudly.

           “The gloarie a’da Engliesh langwiech
                      is da brodnis an da friedim a’ikspresjin.
           I doot I hae nae fardir’ös a’joor tung,
                      Middir,” he said, then saw her look at him.

           “I doot hit laekie saers fir makkin, kaain jows,
                      an mylkin ky, bit … quhit ir ju glowrin’it?”
                                                                             he asked.

                     ‘I am merely admiring the size of your mouth,’
                                            she whispered,

                      and laughed a little,
                                            gently

 

NAE’ÖS AVA

           Haemfaerin

           Da jung Engliesh skollir
                      kam hem fae sooth, foo a’windir,
                                 end a’da first semestir.

           His middir met da boat.
                      He wis laek a professir, knaapin mostaafil,
                                 Choost faerlie laein aff’im.

           “The glory of the English Language
                      is the range and freedom of expression.
           I feel I have no further use for your tongue,
                      Mother,” he sed, dan saa’ir glowir.

           “I mean it’s adequate for knitting, keeping sheep
                      and milking cattle, but … what are you staring at?”
                                                                                        he asked.

                                 “A’m choost glowrin at da chaas a’de,”
                                                       piestirt shö,

                                an kynda laaght,
                                                       pieriewys.

 

WINNOOIN

           Stap ir prog? – t’Elaine Johnson

                      Fokk wid nevir priev dat da dae,
                      shö sed, pittin by da book, da

                      ‘Cookery For Northern Wives’
                      hir middir, bliss hir, gied’ir.

                      Shiep’s hed broth, braens an aa – na na.
                      Liver Krolls, Haaka Muggies – gadsh!

                      Fokk wid nevir aet dat da dae.
                      Dae widna evin ken quhit hit wis.

                      Bit choost dan didn’ir moo kum wiet,
                      tinkin a’dat tie a mutton riestin.

                      An didn’shö dat verie nyght makk banniks?

 

SELECTION

           Stap or Prog?1

                      People would not stomach that today,
                      she said, laying down the book, the

                      ‘Cookery for Northern Wives’
                      her mother, bless her, gave her.

                      Sheep’s head broth, brains and the like – no no.
                      Liver Krolls, Haaka Muggies – revolting!

                      People would not stomach that today.
                      They wouldn’t even know what it was.

                      But just then her mouth filled with saliva
                      thinking of that leg of salted mutton, drying.

                      And didn’t she that very night bake bannocks?

___________________________
1- two similar traditional Shetlandic dishes

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last update: June 25, 2007