Unabridged

Here’s a challenge.

The Flock in the Firth

As Eh cam owre the Forth rail brig

Eh saw frae oot o Fife

a farrachin o starlins’ trig

as the thochts o ane waukrife

 

Lyk sheelock fae a thrashin mill

they mirlieit the nicht

atween thi brigs, as tho ate fill ut

wi wan shammade o flicht

 

Lyk a sark that’s bealin i thi breeze

this ram stam scarnach oan

a norrie birled wi siccan ease

as a skatir by’ur lone.

 

Ut seemd as tho a michty scroosh

o sparlins fae thi flair

o Forth hud fur a skirr gead whoosh

intil thi deeps o air

 

Ut seemd as tho a page o wurds

at sum parafflin nemm,

has aa at wance been cheengd tae burds

an werr marginin thi faem

 

Thi mirk held mair nor myriads

aa sherrickin the stream,

in spirlin splores, in sklents, in scads,

lyk Hitchcock’s wuddendreme

 

Ly Egypt’s kas, or Dante’s braw

adulters in Hell,

sae mony starlins i thi blaw

o Scoatlan rose and fell

 

Eh slid ablow this skavie flock

and ontae Fife’s blank page,

Eh wrote: they are thi parrymauk

o starnies in a rage.

W.S. Herbert

farrachin: bustling, waukrife: unable to sleep; sheelock: chaff; mirlieit: speckled; shammade; lacework; sark: shirt; bealin: moving agitatedly; ram stam: head strong; scarnach: great number of people or things; norrie: whim; birld; spun; by ‘ur lone: by herself; scroosh: disreputable horad; sparlin: smelt( a freshwater fish found in the Forth and the Tay); skirr: jape; parafflin: flourishing, as in the end of a signature; marginin: marking the margin; mirk: dark; sherrickin: amassing to abuse:  spirling splores: lively adventures; sklents: angles; scads: in great quantities; wuddendreme: nightmare; skavie: ruching; parrymauk: double; starnies: stars (starn also means ‘starling’).

The Poetry of Birds, ed. Simon Armitage and Tim Dee, Penguin Books 2011.