Coortin The Land

This poem of mine appeared in an exhibition in the Grassic Gibbon Centre, Arbuthnott. BKG.


Coortin The Land

[In memory of David Knight, horseman, my Great Grandfather.]


She’s a coorse limmer, the Land!


Fashious, flichty, ev’n fleerin!

She taks some tamin.  Aye, yon quinie’s

roch, teuch – an a gey sair tyauve!*


A peer loon is the plooman fairmer,

yokit mair nor ‘e horse afore ‘im –

That pair of heroes fa staund,

‘Their heids fell prood, shapit like twa monuments,

file the mannie cooers aginst the park’s cauld blast.


He, fa raxit at reets an yarkit oot funs,

is fash’t noo by the ploo’s grun-swallying kirn,

fan it blaws stue intil his grittit teeth!


The Land rolls oot her ribbons ayont the hoose,

flouncing her skirts alang the hills’ black waa’s.

She hes nae luive for him, her anelie suitor:

she’ll fecht ‘im till nichtfaa,

spurnin his bed till he faa’s in’t

dreamin o wurk, wurk, wurk!


Hallieracket – humphy-backit! –

The limmer, Land, rebels, lachin

at the man’s agonies o hert,

fleerin at his saul an achin spine,

coupin his horse an ploo in fleggin dreams,

makkin a feel o aa his nichtlie tears.


Ae day, he tells himsel, afore the Teuchat storm,

Ae year that coorseness disna mar her face,

She’ll wink at him in fite – a winter bride,

Syne greenie up her goun wi rare spring promises.


She’ll coorie doon wi him, sae douce an quaet.

Thegither, thick as thieves, wi’ spasms sweet,

They’ll saw, anaith the blanket o the yird,

Tall, gowden bairns the warld will staun an cheer.


© Bruce Gardner, 2013, 2019


Note: * tyauve means hard work or struggle, either as a noun or verb. It is related to the Scots word for leather, taw (Cf. tawse, leather belt formerly used in corporal punishment in Scottish schools.) Leather-working was a tough job, so tyauve (pronounced chauv) was used to describe any hard labour or struggle. In the Doric area, which is Aberdeenshire, including historic Banffshire and Kincardineshire, a typical exchange of greetings is:

A. Fit like? (Lit. What like [are you])?

B. Nae bad. Foo’s yersel? (Not bad. How’s yourself?)

A: Tyauvin awa. (Struggling away.)

Variations of this conversation are highly characteristic of the North-East of Scotland; so, if you master these words, you’ll instantly feel at home and be accepted by locals. 🙂 BKG