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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

David Forrest - The last makar

7th August 2019

David Forrest is a Glasgow-based writer, spoken word artist and scientist. His work in Scots has featured at festivals, in literary journals and in two recent projects by the BBC.

When he’s not writing or spoken wording, he likes to play retro video games, have conversations about the meaning of life and talk about himself in the third person.

Recent projects have included a number of musical collaborations and a string of live events around the UK. If you’d like to find out what’s next you can check out his Facebook page at

He’s been known to shout at the television when the Crystal Maze is on and his favourite fruit pastille is the green one. 

The last makar

The last makar
(my makar)
didna actually ken the leid himsel.
The mon wis dumm, but nae deif like the lave.
He’d hearken tae it, find the wirds, follae the seentences hame. A dockie pit doon,
a mad maument o flytin,
an amour.
The leid cam oot o aw o us whan we ment whit we said.
Whin we didna ken oorsels, thon auncient leid ay kent.
The makar clarkit doon fir aw a us.
Gowden groff-write.

Baurm the politeecian! Baurm the keeng!
Bairn efter bairn efter bairn
kent the soon ae seelence,
the soon ae jis waitin for end.
Haudin the needle in.
Sayin oor last goodbye,
then sayin nothin.

But yon mon could hear. An when aw becam seelence, the leid becam aw
coudna hush it, coudna stap,
the man wis leid
nae faimly, nae job,
jis this streenge muisic, pushin him alang,
makin him scrieve, makin him cant.

He coud scrieve a wird tae scrieve a man.
But he coudna mak fuid an he coudna mak sustenance.
His ain leid’d malkie him afare lang.
Threescore an ten an then a leid is dun.
Ither makars coud mak a leevin fae Inglis wi slevvers ae Scots.
Guid. But it wisna his Scots, nae mair than tatties are saut.
Threescore and ten and then a language is done.

The makar deed but the wirds didna stap.
They lingert on his grave an are hauntin him still. 
A whitter o wirds oan a rickle o stanes.
He wis the youngest o wummin or the auldest o men
he’s whitever mishanter that brings it aw hame…
He wis his ain mon. He wis his ain mon.
He was his own man. He was his own man.