Saturday 23 January 2016

Lan' o' Derkness and th' Nicht

110 years ago today, Robert E. Howard was born: as a happy coincidence, it comes only a few days before Burns Night. Like the royal Robert before them both, I find they're never far from my life.

Both the Roberts were self-taught champions of the common man who expressed themselves through poetry, drawing upon the rich history of their lands and telling new tales. Howard had a copy of Harvard Classics' Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, and poems like "Rane of the Sword" clearly show a love for the Scots tongue.

So in that spirit, I thought I'd merge my appreciations for the Twa Rabbies on this day.


I mynd

Th' derk woods, masking sclent o' oorie braes;
Th' grey cloods’ leaden ayebidin' airch;
Th' duskit burns that flowed wi'oot a sound,
And th' lane wins that whispered doon th' passes.

Sicht on sicht mairching, brae on brae,
Sclent ayont sclent, ilk derk wi' dour trees,
Oor gaunt lan' lay.  So when man speelit up
A rugged peak and leukit, his happit een
Saw but th' endless sicht – brae on brae,
Sclent ayont sclent, ilk hoodit lik its brithers.

It was a dreichit lan' that seemed tae haud
A' wins and cloods and dreams that shun th' sun,
Wi' scud beuchs brattlin' in th' lanely wins,
And th' derk woodlands bruidin' owur a',
Not even lichten by th' rare dim sun
Which made squat shadaes oot o' men; they ca'd it
Cimmeria, lan' of derkness and gey Nicht.

It was so lang syne and hyne awa'
I hae forgot th' verra name men ca'd me.
Th' axe and keezle-stane spear are lik a dream,
And hunts and wars are shadaes.  I mynd
Anely th' stellness o' thon dour lan';
Th' cloods that cloddit ivermair on th' braes,
Th' mirkness o' th' ayebidin' woods.
Cimmeria, lan' o' Derkness and th' Nicht.

Oh, sowel o' mine, born oot o' shadaed braes,
Tae cloods and wins and ghaists that shun th' sun,
How mony deiths shall sair tae brak at lest
This heritage which haps me in th' grey
Brawery o' ghaists?  I sairch my hert and kythe
Cimmeria, lan' o' Derkness and th' Night.