Saturday, June 06, 2015


I Might Do Worse Than Stay Here All My Days

Alexander Gray (1882-1968), "Babylon in Retrospect," in Northern Numbers: Being Representative Selections from Certain Living Scottish Poets, 2nd Series, ed. C.M. Grieve (Edinburgh: T.N. Foulis, 1921), p. 45 (line numbers added):
I micht dae waur than bide here a' my days,
    Whaur a' thing's aye, year in year oot, the same;
Amang kent fowk, trailin' upon kent braes,
    I micht dae waur than settle doon at hame.

To live content wi' little, kennin' weel        5
    That this warld's gear is coft wi' muckle care;
To hae a change o' claes, a puckle meal,
    And peace o' mind — what needs a body mair?

To howk the grund whaur ance my forbears swat,
    To see the kirkyaird whaur some day I'll rest;        10
Wha kens but mebbe some sic wey as that
    Wad gar me trow that a' thing's for the best?

It scunners me to think I'll hae to face
    Ance mair the senseless trokes I've left ahent;
For in that clorty, smeeky, godless place        15
    There's naething that can gie a man content.

Wae's me to think on't, but your weary feet
    May wander up and doon a hail year through,
And never in the towmond will you meet
    A chield that's sib to ane that's sib to you.        20
Notes for my own use:

3 kent: known, familiar
6 coft: bought, acquired
7 puckle: little, small
9 howk: dig
13 scunners: sickens
15: clorty: dirty
19 towmond: twelvemonth
20 sib: related

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