This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Saturday Rave: A Winter Night by Robert Burns

Robert Burns wrote in the Scots dialect of his homeland, which means that some of his vocabulary is strange (and sometimes, let's face it, incomprehensible to the non-Scot). 

But even so this poem shares enough with standard English to thoroughly chill our bones.

When biting Boreas, fell and doure,
Sharp shivers thro' the leafless bow'r;
When Phoebus gies a short-liv'd glow'r
Far south the lift,
Dim-dark'ning thro' the flaky show'r,
Or whirling drift:

Ae night the storm the steeple rocked,
Poor Labour sweet in sleep was locked,
While burns, wi' snawy wreeths upchoked,
Wild-eddying swirl,
Or thro' the mining outlet bocked,
Down headlong hurl.

List'ning, the doors an' winnocks rattle,
I thought me on the ourie cattle,
Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
O' winter war,
And thro' the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle,
Beneath a scar.

Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing!
That, in the merry months o' spring
Delighted me to hear thee sing,
What comes o' thee?
Whare wilt thou cow'r thy chittering wing
An close thy e'e?

Ev'n you in murd'ring errands toil'd
Lone from your savage home exil'd
The blood-stain'd roost, and sheep-cote spoil'd
My heart forgets,
While pityless the tempest wild
Sore on you beats.


Word To Use Today: brattle. This word can mean anything from a fight to a clattering noise, but here it chiefly means a sudden short spell of bad weather with wind, and rain or sleet. It comes from the Old Scots brattill, which means a rattle or sharp assault, and imitates the sound of its meaning. 

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