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Frances Robson, Cossack Lullaby

6th February 2013

Frances Robson, Cossack Lullaby

Frances Robson whose lovely Cossack Lullaby is from Lermontov's Russian, has been close to Scots poetry all her life, since her Dad used to sing her Scots songs as a child in Dunfermline. As a teacher she enjoyed doing Scots poetry and ballads with her pupils.

 She is now a translator and teacher of Russian, and was soon translating Russian poetry into Scots. As Frances says, it seemed the logical thing to do. She has twice won the John MacPhail Tassie for translating poetry.

Frances has been a member of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Scots language since the Group began over ten years ago. Son she will be taking up her second invitation to go to Russia to lecture to university students on the Scots language.

Our photo shows Frances Robson receiving the Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie at the Scots Language Society's latest annual Sangschaw award in November last year, where she had a double whammy with the John MacPhail Tassie and the Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie. Also pictured is Chris Robinson. (Owen Dudley Edwards is hidden behind Frances!)

In view of MacDiarmid's lifelong interest in Russian literature, it seems most appropriate for a Russian translator into Scots to win the Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie for her own poem in Scots.

This is the first publication of Cossack Lullaby


Cossack Lullaby

owerset fae Lermontov


Sleep, ma bonnie bairnie, sleep,


Moonlicht leams quietly peep,

Intae yer beddie-bye.


Ah’ll tell ye tales an sing a sang.

Wheesht, an dinnae cry.

Drame oan, fur the nicht is lang,



The Terek rairs, its watters gray

Fae plashin stour an mirk.

An enemy Chechen oan the brae

Is shairpenin his dirk.


But yer faither’s war wull nivir cease;

He’s teuch tae the battle cry.

So sleep, ma bairnie – be at peace,



Soon the time wull come, ma bairn,

Tae dree the Cossack weird;

Ye’ll pit yer fit in the stirrup airn,

An mak yer enemies feart.


The saddle claith ah’ll gie ye

Wull be flourished in silk – ocht aye….

Sleep an lat the nicht oors flee,



Ye’ll be a bonny sodjer lad,

Cossack tae the hert,

An when ye leave, ah’ll be gey sad

Tae watch ye as ye pert.


Bitter tears are hard tae hide,

An ilka nicht ah’ll cry …..

Sleep, ma lambsie, time maun bide,



Ah’ll be hertscaud wi sorra,

Hingin oan an musin;

Prayin wi thochts o the morra,

An whilin nichts in jalousin;


Ah’ll fancy yer missin the faimily,

In some antrin place forby …..

Sleep ma bairn, while yer hert is free



Tae help an guide ye oan the way,

Ma icon wull see ye richt;

Kneel doon afore it, or staund an pray,

Fur God’s guidness thro his micht;


When yer graithed up fur the stour,

May thochts o yer mither fly …..

Sleep, ma bairn – it’s weel past yer oor,



Frances Robson