Mignonne, allons voir, a translation by Jim Munro.
10th October 2016
I heard this Burns-style poem read at a poetry group last week and I asked the author, Jim Munro, as he was leaving the meeting, if we could use it on the SLC website. He agreed but I didn’t have time to ask his permission to adapt his style of using apostrophes in the words a’, fa’, etc. It is a light use of apostrophes but generally these days we don’t use them in Scots. As I have previously explained, it gives a false impression that Scots is a lesser form of English. But when an author is consistent and convincing in their orthography we should accept it, I think, unless we have the opportunity to discuss any editing with them.
Appropriately enough in this context the poem is translated from 16th century French, which is noticeably different from current French.
The simple, direct, songlike style of the poem in the French of Pierre de Ronsard: Mignonne, allons voir si la rose / Qui ce matin avant disclose / Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil, etc, has a lot to say about folk poetry and is well translated into Scots and the Burns idiom. Ronsard was interested in vernacular poetry and indeed was sent to Scotland as a page for a year when Madeleine of France was briefly espoused to King James V, in 1537. However the new queen died the same year, as we can read in Sir David Lyndsay’s Lament, and Ronsard travelled back through England to France.
Mignonne, allons voir, from Pierre de Ronsard, by Jim Munro.
Lassie, come an’ see if yon rose
That opened at day-brek an’ chose
Its best goon to show to the sun,
Still wears, noo in the gloamin’ grey
The saft faulds o’ her finery
An’ fresh complexion like yer ain.
Ach, lassie, see, in sic wee space
Thae faulds noo strewn a’ ower the place,
Hoo quick she’s let them a’ doon fa’!
O mauchit nature: sic a flooer,
An’ a’ she’s gien is tae endure
Frae morn to nicht – nae time at a’!
Lass, noo your day as weel has come,
The morn ye’ve ripened to fu’ bloom,
So tak ye tent o’ what I say:
Pick a’ the rosebuds o’ yer youth,
Like the flooer time, wi’ age’s t ooth
Will soon wede yer beauties away.