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Muisicianer’s Lament - Brian Hill

31st January 2022

Brian Hill is a Scottish poet writing in English and Scots. In the 70s, 80s and 90s he worked on theatre productions, scripting revues and performances in and around Aberdeen.

His poem, ‘Photograph’ appeared in ‘A Glimmer of Cold Brine’ an anthology of Scots poems (AUP); he co-wrote a play, ‘Pinkybrae’ (with Jim Rankin), which toured Scotland; wrote and performed poems on cosmic themes in Aberdeen Planetarium and collaborated on planetarium productions for Glasgow Space Theatre; he was short-listed in the FilmG Gaelic film competition for his 5-minute short, ‘Uamh an Oir’ based on his poem in memory of Martyn Bennett.

Recent work is published online at Poetry24 and Here Comes Everyone; in print in Written Tales, ‘Tis the Season’, December 2020’ Poets Republic, Issue 9; Spirit of Beyond: The Shiat Isles, 2021; Southlight, Issue 30.

Recent readings and performances: Forres, Inverness, Gairloch and Glasgow plus several poems recorded for Carla Woodburn at Sunny G Radio, Glasgow.

He published a pamphlet, Last Year’s Words, in 2019.

Muisicianer’s Lament

Gin I wis walkin doon ae road or anither, 
files I wis duncin, lik Jagger nor Bowie, tae the soon o a drum.

Nooadays I’m mindin on times weel deid an buirit, 
mindin days fan I pit ma finger on the string an played 
ma ain rock n roll, ma ain jazz in the howfs o Aiberdeen.

Forbye, I wis drivin on my lane up some back-road, foonerin,
ridin throu dub and flushins, awa tae some kailyerd fairmhoose 
faurin we’d kirn soon oot o guitars an skirl oor blue-note blues 
ower the cauld, drear parks an steen byres boss o kye.

Then, mair-like, I wis jist a loon pittin ither tunes abeen 
tunes o aff-cast glory rummlin roon ma ain nor-east grun
pipin an threapin ower its bens an thir black-affrontet wids.

An wis I nae happin aathin in some ill-trickit dreamin? Mebbe aye, 
if I’d shawed awa the ploo’t grun I grew in an if I’d sunnert masel fae 
the loans ootbye ma hame tae gang ayont ma mither an faither’s hoose,
far fae the doul sea’s hairst, a hard an bitter tyave, an cauller yet.

For, if I wis siccar I could spik fair, wid I nae tell ye
I wis jist daein as I wis telt, lettin the dominies o ma days 
drum in thir lessons till ae day I let the wireless-station jocks 
fill ma heid wi soons aff some ither road an harl me up its dreel
an then, fit wye wid I nae tak up thon electric muisic for my ain 
an thump oot bass line efter bass line till the lums rattlet 
and the foons o ilka hoose up Lang Stracht sabbet wi the dirl?

Och, I wis young, aye, an I wid ha thrown awa ivery tartan cloot 
brakket in twa ivery fiddle for fear o stickin in the mire 
o fit wis deid tae me then; syne I cam tae hear some black chiel
fiddlin like nane afore, syne I heard the pipes o Fraunce and Erin, 
or the melodeons o Louisianne, an the mony sangs o wildert Scots 
on the lips o fowk traikit mair than hauf across the warld.

I wis ‘at young I niver jaloused I wis missing a hale wecht 
o fit the dominies were sweert tae tell aboot thon deid years 
an whit wis deen by some fae here; an some o’t  wis unco glid 
an some wis dire an a wheen o’t wis hid awa for fear we’d grow 
swaalt heidit an crouse an nae mair min oor place.

I wis schoolt in blateness an teacht ‘at I wis ane o knotless kin 
ower stupit tae be onythin but dytert; I ran fae sic a tale an follit 
ma ain muisic, muisic fae the hale roon yird till it follit me back,
till it cam hame here wi mair in tow, an fan they pit bow tae string, 
thoom tae bowran, finger on piana key, thrummt guitar, 
blaw’t sax and touter - at wis fan, at last, I twigged.

I’d been but hauf a chiel, nae a richt body, for ower mony ithers 
had telt hou fowk lik me went best ahin, stottin, comin lik the coos tail, 
aye last ava, an the sangs we were like tae sing were orra, couthy roons 
better lauch’t at; but fan I pit African drum tae Celtic hairp, 
reggae tae reel, blues tae jig an pibroch, the muisic made 
gaed abeen the reeftrees an its brattle birlt the warld.

@ Brian Hill 2018