Last month you might have heard the news that we were awarded a Scots Language Publication Grant to produce our upcoming book, Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots by Brian Holton. This means that we’ll now be able to push ahead with our plans to publish a real collector’s item, a hardback edition including calligraphy by Edinburgh-based artist, Chi Zhang. Pre-orders are up and running for this stunning volume of poetry and can be placed right here.
Now, we are delighted to share two poems from the book, a translation of work by each of the original poets, Li Bai and Du Fu. These give a taste not only of the cultural significance of the book as a work of translation into the Scots language, but of Brian’s own excellence as a poet in his own right. His Scots flourishes with a vitality particular to the rhythms and sounds of the tongue.
‘Speelin Bonniebrou Braes’ (Li Bai)
In the Westlan Kinrik the’re monie halie hills,
But Bonniebrou’s marrowless yont aa ither;
A wandert aa owre’t ettlin ti speel up for a vizzy,
Sic unco sichts – hou’ll can a bodie see them aa?
The grey derk opens ti the lift abune,
Ye cudna pent yon mixter-maxter o hues;
Glamourt A’d soar, tane on wi the rosie rouks,
Wan throu ti the skeil o the Baudkin Poke;
Mang clouds wad blaw the Fair Fowk’s beriall flutes,
Owre clints wad thrum the jowelt tympans;
Ma haill life, smaa’s been ma ettlin,
But pleisur an lauchs wad be by wi frae this on;
The uncannie look wad be about ma brou,
The warld’s fasherie on a sudden tint an gane;
Gin A forgaither wi yon boy at striddles a yowe,
A’ll tak his haun an tove ayont the bricht sun.
Convoyin a Billie on a Lang Lang Road (Du Fu)
Wi airmit men aa owre the warld,
Whit for tak ye yon lang lang road, sir?
Yir fowk and freins greetin ilka yin,
Pownie saiddlt, you awa ti a lanesome toun.
Growth far gane i the back-en o the year,
Swyres an watters white wi snaa an cranreuch;
Yestreen we twyned, said fare-ye-weill;
Nou ye’ve seen whit hairts yir auld friens hae.