Staunin Ma Lane by Brian Holton
12th September 2016
Staunin Ma Lane is the title of a book, in which Brian Holton presents Chinese verse which he has translated into Scots and English. Published by Shearsman Books, it is both handsome and unusual, and both the publication and the poems are an outstanding example of Scots language publishing, and worth the slightly steep ticket of £12.95.
Each poem has an English and a Scots version by Holton, and the balance between the two languages, not simply translating word for word but having the feel of each way of expression, makes it worth reading both versions.
Also some of the Scots is fairly dense, and a glance at the English can help with a phrase such as cannel yill, which is apparently cinnamon ale.
Unfortunately most of us cannot also read the Chinese language versions which are also there on each page. This poem is from The Nine Sangs, by Qu Yuan (329-299 BC).
Michtie Monad, Eastren Lord
a seilie day, ay, the hour a luckie ane
mensefu we come, see, ti ser the Lord Abune
claymores in haun, ay, aa jade-heftit
gemstones jinglin, see, wi sardine an wi beriall
wi jowelt rugs, ay, an wechts o jade
sae beir awa, see, the flouerie offrands
mappiemou malt, ay, an mat o the mascorn
pour the cannel yill, see, the pepperie brose
lift the tipper, ay, an touk the bodhran
hoolie the urlar, see, an slaw the sang
clarsach an chanter, ay, a sonsie skirl
hie-heidit the Cailleach, see, brankit sae brawlie
wi ferlie oams, ay, the haas are fou
the Five Souns monieplied, see, mellit thegither
the Lord taks pleasance o’t, ay, crouse-like ancantie