The Luck o the Leid

A whishie in the African gress
– Ower here! See meat!
– Whit meat?
– Peerie meat! Get pokes!
– Ower yonder! See danger!
– Whit danger?
– Muckle danger! Get freens!
A aroun the gressy groun
The dirk-toothit tiger wirrs and gurls
The five-fingert cuddie nickers and birls.
The puggies yatter in the heichmaist trees
The hyena lauchs hersel seik.
In Africa, Europe, Australasia.
– Hoo d’ye cook yon?
– Whittle this? Big thon?
In ahint the stalagmitic
Palins twinin baists fae fowk
Indo-European, Semitic
Bitties o the Tooer o Babel
Conjugations Neolithic
Sing the sang an tell the fable
Ootby in the claggy caul snaw
In the warld’s room the snell winds blaw
The wouf tae her freesty clan maks moanin
The mammoth’s bougilin in the gloamin.
Pictish, Tasmanian, Gothic, Norn,
In ilka leid an ilka lan
Grandminnies tellin roun the ingle
Bi word o mooth an wag o haun
O broonies an boglies
An banshees at scraich in the nicht.
She’s seen them nane
But they’re there, a richt.
A aroun the fermtoun
The coo souchs – Moo! in the hoor for mulkin
The bowfin dug brings the yowes tae fank
The hens scraitch an claik in the mire
Douce-faced cheetie yaws – Miaow!
Fellin a ratton in the byre.

Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic
Sanskrit, Greek an Arabic
Bi flauchtering licht
In the howe o the nicht
Merk hoo wi scroll an pen they wark
Monks an scholars, rabbis, clerks
Screivin thochts for sauls unborn
Ootby in the claggy caul snaw
The yowie mehs tae the lamb forlorn
The cuddy nickers aneath the swey
Cheetie yawin an the dug aye bowfin

An the cock crawin – Cockieleerie-law!

German, French, Portuguese
Urdu, English an Chinese
In a thoosand sindry leids
The buiks come hurling
Het aff the Press
Ink fumin fresh
Religious tracts,
Feegurs an facts,
News an views an traivellers’ tales
Stories, rhymes, perjink details
The yowie mehs heich on the toom tulloch
In the castle yaird the pacok skellochs
Cheetie bi the fire an the dug aye bowfin
An the cock crawin – Cockieleerie-law!
The warld-wide-wab is boakin leir,
For a million sindry pates
Xeroxes hum, Emails flee,
Bi a billion sindry gates
Scots, Welsh, Catalan, Basque
Gaelic an Breton, pit tae the task
Bi the radiator, Baudrons thrums
Wee guinea-grumphie wheeks in his run
The Pekinese nyaffs an cadges farin
Affa thae bletherin,
Haverin, claiverin,
Emailin, faxin, textin, screivin,
Muckle scuddie buddies;
Ilka ane wieldin
Uncanny pouer
Ower presses an pooches
An gulshies galore.

Mary McCabe
(pub. in Lallans # 62 – 2003)