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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

The Hen's Lament by Sheena Blackhall


'The Hen's Lament', by Sheena Blackhall, is one of the poems from 'The Kist' -  an anthology of Scots (and Gaelic) poetry and prose that was digitised by Education Scotland and gifted to the Scots Language Centre so that teachers and learners can continue to benefit from this valuable resource.


The Hen's Lament by Sheena Blackhall


It's nae delight tae be a hen
Wi clooks an claws an caimb
Reestin wi the rottans
In a hen-hoose for a hame.

Nae sunner div I settle doon
My clutch o bairns tae hatch
The fairm-wife come- a scraunin pest -
She cowps me aff me cosy nest
A tarry-fingert vratch.

Jist lately, though, she's changed her tune –
Ma plaitie's piled wi corn.
'Sup up, ma bonnie quine,' says she,
'We're haein broth the morn!'


Learning Resources




Read the poem and listen to the audio file.

If there are unfamiliar words, try to work out what they mean according to their context, or look them up using a Scots dictionary- you can use an online Scots dictionary at



  1. Why does the hen feel like she normally has a difficult life?
  2. What has happened recently to improve the hen's life?
  3. What is going to happen to the hen next?




  1. Define the following Scots words:     cowp       bonnie       quine
  2. The word 'quine' is normally used in a specific part of Scotland. Which part?




Choose one of the following activities:

  1. Write a poem from the fairm-wife's point of view, telling us about your plans for the hen.
  2. Create a storyboard showing the events in this poem.