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June 2004

Beyond the Borders of English


Despite its spread around the globe, the English language has yet to dominate Britain and Ireland. The past thirty years have seen a resurgence in indigenous languages such as Scots, Welsh, Gaelic, Romany, Cornish, Shetlandic, and Ullans—especially in poetry. Iwan Llwyd pays homage to Welsh, Peter Constantine gives us a brief history of Scots, and Gaelic reveals its glories in the poetry of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Louis de Paor. We've included two poems from the Romany and a poem by Ray Edwards, who contemplates the fascinating history of "The Calendar" in Cornish. A sampling of poetry from the Scots includes work by Janet Paisley, Christopher Whyte, and Liz Niven. Christine de Luca serenades one of the world's most unforgiving climes in Shetlandic, and Charlie Gillen supplies a farmer's love song in Ullans, both descendants of the Scots language. Welsh Book of the Year finalist Owen Martell provides a preview of his short-listed novel, and Robin Llywelyn transports us to, and weirdly beyond, a Welsh prison. We also welcome our new poetry editor, Alissa Valles, a poet and translator from Russian and Polish.

Love Song

The pond of your breasts My pillow shall be; Your eyes my moons Like silver shine. Wait, my girl! Don't go away: What if I will not see you, Ever again?


Scots: The Auld an Nobill Tung

What is Scots? Is it Gaelic? A dialect of English? English with a Gaelic brogue? A hodgepodge of English and Gaelic? In fact, none of the above. Scots is "ane o the wee leids o Europe, ane

Oot Here Mae Lane

I lift't the harnesh fae ahint the oul doar, whur it haes hug fae iver I mine, The cullar an' hames maybe ouler than me, an' a bit o' a

Three Poems

Hawk Stones watching the procession to open Scotland's parliament ceased 25 March 1707 resurrected 1 July 1999 there is no stone where the hawk soars, no hawk where the stones stand


Two Poems

The Chinese Beetle In a certain region of China, in the southwest, not far from the mountains of Yunnan, a kind of apple is to be found with such an exquisite flavor that in ancient times


Three Poems

Criffel to Merrick In this poem, two of the region's hills speak to each other. When a vehicle was needed for telling the story of Foot and Mouth, the hills seemed appropriate; they are

Four Poems

Head over Heels From different vantage points, the island sharpens from old man laid out dead upon the skyline to three proud peaks upon the world's edge. And seen at different times,

The Circus

When I close my ears to the sounds of this circus my eyes rise to the paths where Will High-Bridge-Arm waits for me. The papers said it was the sovereign in his pocket that was bait for

from The Other Man

Davies, Anna, and Daniel have been as close as three people can be. But now Davies is dead in a car crash, and the two that are left must "take on the case": Davies' life, their own lives,

Llywelyn’s Breath

(at the Llanelwedd National Eisteddfod) The border is near, its rugged soil continuing to sear its history on the face of our language's acres, our no man's land. Our language is

In Praise of the Brothers of Bod Iwan

In Bod Iwan there have long been gods of words and gods of song, gods with feet sound upon this earth, wild gods and wise gods, for what it's worth: Gerallt, who's followed all the


The Calendar

In Egypt men of science reckoned a year precisely1 and worked out the days, a thing good for everyone. There came Julius Caesar and saw Cleopatra and learned about the science of calculating

The Two Boys

Two Romany boys were sent, sent across the great sea. Plato for brawling, Lasho for stealing the purse of a great lady. And when they came to the other land, The land that's over the


Two Poems

Blackberries She pricks blood from a bush, eyes as bright as time to come that casts no shadow on her years. If memory serves me right, she says, a year after her return, the blackberries


Standing Still for the Night

Cast your nets overseas / and land on your / shadow.



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