Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Poems of the Scottish Hills - An Anthology by Hamish Brown

We came across this volume (published 1982) in a second hand bookshop after two weeks of atrocious weather in the west finally drove us east for the third and last week of our holiday. That was back in 1993 and it's been a great source of pleasure ever since. There is something in this anthology for everyone and Brown tells us that we should "Come to it as we do to the hill, with rambling opportunism". Here is one of my favourites, written in Scots. It always make me long to be on the hill; when I reach the second last verse, it's the western hills I want, wet or not.


 Hae ye smelt the tang o heather
  And the rich pitch pine,
    Or the bracken bristled yellow wi the sun?
O the moon abune the lochan
  Hae ye seen the siller shine
    Looming eerie through the drift upon the dun?

He ye traiked it up Glen Ogle
  By your lane, sane sel?
    Hae crossed the Moor o Rannoch in the mist?
Were ye boggit to the buttocks?
    Did ye hear the eagles yell?
      Were ye frichted by the adders when they hissed?

Hae ye whupped the whurling eddies
  By the brow’d, loud linn?
    Hae ye tracked the tired buck upon the brae?
When ye crouched it in the heather
   Were ye chittered by the win?
      Hae ye waukened in the mist at skreigh o day?

An the Islands, hae ye seen em
   In the wet, wet west?
     Wi the kelp a-clinging crisp abune the tide?
Hae ye heard the girning gullies?
  Seen the singing seals at rest?
    Hae ye raced the ocean stallions when they ride?

Gin ye kenna what’s ma meaning,
   Gin ye think my havers daft,
     Ach, I’d liefer blaw ma breath upon the breeze!
Ye’ve no quaffed the quaich o Living
  In a steep, deep draught-
    Never lipped the wine o Living to the lees!

Matt Marshall

Note: If I am in breach of copyright, I'll remove this post on request.


  1. Superb.! It wouldn`t mean half as much in "proper" English,would it ?

    For some reason I can`t comment on your blog from Firefox.It happens with a few Blogger ones for some reason.

  2. It is Alex. It would be totally different in English and nothing like as evocative.

    Interesting you can't comment using Firefox. Initially when I upgraded to IE9 I couldn't comment on blogs which is why I switched to Firefox. IE9 seems OK now. Computers eh?

  3. Thanks Gibson, It is much better when you read it out loud. I had a bash at it.

    I thought the tools were not to blame? Maybe it was just a spanner in the works.

  4. Wonderful!

    In particular "Were ye boggit to the buttocks?" - Yes, many a time.

  5. A great book that, I've had a copy from new since...well maybe not 1982, but sometime not long after. Lots of inspiring stuff there. Didn't Hamish Brown suggest that he was going to edit a book with a wider remit? Somebody should.

  6. For some reason I missed the initial publication of this book but I'm so glad that Lynne spotted it in Dufftown. According to the Intoduction in this book, an anthology of twentieth century British and Irish verse was planned but I don't think it materialised. I've never been able to locate a copy if it did!