Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Wild Geese
Violet Jacob (1863 - 1946), who wrote the poem below, was born Violet Kennedy-Erskine into an aristocratic family near Montrose, Angus. She is known best for her historical novel "Flemington" and her poetry. In 1894 she married an Irish officer in the British Army, and accompanied him to India where he was serving. When Arthur died 1936, she returned to live at Kirriemuir, in Angus.
Although the poem below is ostensibly a conversation between the wind and a wild goose, it is clearly also about being an exile - feelings that Violet Jacob must have felt when she was in India.
The Wild Geese'Oh, tell me what was on yer road, ye roarin' norlan
As ye cam' blawin' frae the land that's niver frae my mind?
My feet they trayvel England, but I'm deein' for the north—'
'My man, I heard the siller tides rin up the Firth o' Forth.'
'Aye, Wind, I ken them well eneuch, and fine they fa' and rise,
And fain I'd feel the creepin' mist on yonder shore that lies,
But tell me, ere ye passed them by, what saw ye on the way ?'
'My man, I rocked the rovin' gulls that sail abune the Tay.'
'But saw ye naethin', leein' Wind, afore ye cam' to Fife?
There's muckle lyin' yont the Tay that's mair to me nor life.'
'My man, I swept the Angus braes ye haena trod for years—'
'O Wind, forgie a hameless loon that canna see for tears!—'
'And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
A lang, lang skein o' beatin' wings wi' their heids towards the sea,
And aye their cryin' voices trailed ahint them on the air—'
'O Wind, hae maircy, haud yer whisht, for I daurna listen mair!'
Meaning of unusual words:
norlan = someone who lives in the north
fain = fondly
abune = above
muckle = a lot
yont = beyond
hameless loon = homeless lad
straths = valleys, glens
haud yer whisht = keep quiet!
daurna listen mair = dare not listen more
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