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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hannah the Herd

27th July 2011

“Hish an hup” … The kye cam hirplin up the brae
The roch-staned, humphy brae,
Splay-fittit. Sharny shanks
Cakit wi dubs an antrin wisps o strae
Prop up their tail-wheeped dowps.
Their muckle girths
Swey like a puckle ships, wi rowth o cargo.

Ilkie wechty udder reams wi milk
Spirk-spirkin doon like pearls
Stottin pirls o cream at ilkie stride
They wide on, hefty, nippit
Atween whin an wild rose buss
Ower graivel smush
That hauds the flint o ice,
The glint o snaw
At its cauld, treacherous hairt
Skyty wi weety glaur.

Hannah the herd cries “hup”
The wird hings frozen
Catched in wintry haar
The braiths o the great quate breets
She hishes uphill cannie
Steam like singin kettles on the hob
A dreep sypes frae the
Hinner en o her snoot
Her skin's a leathered cloot
Roch, broon an runkled as a wizzened taed

The nyaakit rodden, raxxes oot teem airms
Scratty's a futterat's cleuks …
Birdless. A nettle-stob's the air
That brings a lowe tae the lug
Hannah, tichtens her jaiket
Straichtens the hose in her wallies
Gies a rug tae the bunnet
Plunkit skweejee ower
Her touslie, raivelled hair.

She's sharger-thin an bitter bites the win
Waur nur the pulpit lash on soor Sabbaths
Her eens' twa brambles, floatin in a tarn
That since wis passin fair

Her teeth are strang an yalla as a meer's
Blythe she is, a hardy, spunky gurran
Wi wits as quick's a maister wyver's shears.
She hishes aa her charges tae the byre
Syne frae a hackit mou
Ringed roon wi stounin sairs
She wheeples tae them, sweet as ony lyre.