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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Scotland by Janet Paisley

4th August 2014

shes a haurd mither, sair
scartit wi braes an glens
oot-stravaigin ony craws feet. 

hur face glowers wi heuchs
hur vyce teems a burn in spate
ower broon-teeth jaggit scaurs.

she pits oan clinty craigs are breists,
belts hur waist wi forfochen industry,
in hur airms, she gethers firs.

aywis a thrawn, crabbit fechter, shes
boardered by fuller hips, flytin firedairts wi thunnered micht.

nae season lichtens hur, she drags
hur bairns up oan kail an whin,
winters thaim athoot guidness.

she kennles the grate wi chitterin hail,
coups snaw tae shaw hoo saft she is.
spring claeths hur aulder in green.

if she coories ye in tae hur breist
it is tae skail a linns white-watter
torrent o snash oantae yer heid.

liltin, she bokes up craikin maws.
sleepin, she bumphles a runkled pilla
ower the mune, batters oot twa three staurs.

shell smoor yer dreams wi Scotch mist,
nit kaim yer hair wi chuggin wind,
slounge yer faces wi rain.

in yer mooth she staps a leid
naebody kens, in yer hert a stane.
but gang awa fae hur

a rantin sang an dancell folley
tae reel ye in as son or dochter,
mak ye seik fur hame.

Janet Paisley


Janet Paisley is one of Scotland's most versatile writers. She is known for her novels in English, dealing with Scottish and historical themes and often containing great humour, and for plays and poetry too. 

While work published in English arguably has the most impact, Janet's poetry in Scots has always been part of her output. It is strong, determined, unafraid poetry, and we should not forget she is one of our most experienced poets in Scots. Her poem, Scotland, will appear in a book of Janet's poems 'Sang fur the Wandert' due out from Luath fairly soon.
As a small example of her power in writing Scots, take a look at the line

    she pits oan clinty craigs are breists.

To follow this properly you must know that 'pits oan' is used in the sense pretends.
If your grasp of Scots is a little less confident than hers, my advice is to trust her!

Janet Paisley's poem Scotland is packed with the truth of this land, the way it owns you and will 'reel ye in' to its honest, uncompromising reality. 

As we approach the referendum on Scotland's future it is proper to understand the country in this light and to draw strength from Janet Paisley's truths about the landscape, its history, its people, its attitudes and indeed its language.