Tom Scott: c 1960

from The Collected Shorter Poems of Tom Scott
Agenda/Chapman Publications 1993, London & Edinburgh

The Seavaiger

Mæg ic be me sylfum soðgied wrecan
(translated from the Anglo-Saxon)


A suthfast sang I can sing o my life,
Vaunt o vaigins, hou I vexious tyauvin
In days o sair darg hae dreeit aften.
Bitter the breist-pangs I hae abydit,
Kent abuin keels care-trauchlit wonnins,
Mangset abuin o the mainswaw. Mountit I aft there
Nitheran nichtwauk in the neuk o the forestam
As she nidgit close cliffs. Bund by cauld,
My feet were frozen, luckent by frost's
Chill chainies, and there chawed anxieties
Het round my hert, while grypan hunger
Mairdlit my swaw-forfairn mind. Yon man kensna,
Lucky on land, in his life fair crouse,
Hou I on ice-cauld seas, wi icicles hung,
Winter's warst tholit, waesome and exiled.
Whaur hail scoured the sea-slap,
Whiles a swan singan on the icy swaw.
The whaup's whilly-loo for company kent I
The gaan's gled blether as the gash o fowk,
Mewin o maws insteid o maut-drinkin.
Storms, dirlan clift-stanes, tirrocks screicht back at
Fair ice-featherit. Fu aft yelled yon sea-earn,
Spume on his wing-spraed. Nae succoran lord
Comfort the hert can in want o its kin.
This he little believes, wha in's life bydes
Sauf in a citie, sonsy and drink-flusht,
Hou I, weary aft, byde my ain on the brinepaths.
Doun comes the dark, snaw drives frae the north,
Frost freezes aa, hail faas on earth syne,
Caldest o corn. Yet for yon nou comes
Thocht ti the hert that I, heich on the saut-wave,
The stramash o the swaw, try my sea-cunnin.
Maens my mind's lust aye to move afaur hyne,
To fare me aye forrit, fremmit land seekin.
There's nae man sae noble, no upon earth,
Sae giftit wi grace, sae gallus in youth,
In deed sae daur-deil, in's lord sae lucky,
That hesnae for sea-farin gey sair a hert whiles,
Onwittan whitever his loaf-giver will give him.
His nae hert for harpin, no, nor hainin o gear,
Winnin o wife, nor warldlie pleisures
Nor any whit else but the whalm o the whalepath
when the greinin gars him gang furth on the sea.
Let beuch tak blossom, let burgh grouw festive,
Rig braird birsie, the earth-bield wauken ---
It aa but minds him, the mood-noble mariner,
Hou the sea sclenters, he thinks syne o vaigin,
On fludeways suin to be farin faur hyne,
Nou cries the cuckoo wi croodlan voice,
Symbol o simmer, yet sorrow bodan,
Bitter ti' the breist. The burgh-man kensna,
Steadie and seilfu, whit the sailor maun thole
As he wanders wide on the weys o exile.
But the hert in my breist aye beats for aa yon,
My saul for the seaflude sair is greinan,
For the rorquhal's realm, to rove me afaur,
To fare wide furth owre the face o the warld.
The skirl o lane sea-maw, scouran and ravenous,
Gars my hert girn to be gane owre the whaleweys,
The swalm o the swaw.

Many of Tom Scott's fine poems have a bearing on the themes of The Seafarer.

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