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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

Camo-Gillie Pawnie birks My men-engni shall be; Yackors my dudes Like ruppeney shine: Atch meery chi! Ma jal away: Perhaps I may not dick tute Kek komi.   English

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

For the English translations, please click here. An Daolag Shonach Ann an ceàrn àraidh de Shìona, san iar-dheas, chan fhada bho bheanntan Iunnàn,

Two Poems

For the Scottish Gaelic originals, please click here. The Chinese Beetle In a certain region of China, in the southwest, not far from the mountains of Yunnan, a kind of apple

Three Poems

For the Scots originals, please click here. 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

Four Poems

For the Shetlandic originals, please click here. Head over Heels From different vantage points, the island sharpens from old man laid out dead upon the skyline to three proud peaks upon

Four Poems

For the English translations, please click here. Tirlin headicraa Seen fae different erts, da island sharpens fae auld man streekit oot apö da skyline ta tree prunk peaks

The Circus

For the Welsh original, please click here. 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

Y Syrcas

For the English translation, please click here. Dim ond geiriau yn fy mhen ydyn nhw bellach a finnau'n cau fy llygaid. Dwi'n cau fy llygaid a'm clustiau am byth o sŵn y syrcas

from The Other Man

For the Welsh original, please click here. 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

Llywelyn’s Breath

For the Welsh original, please click here. (at the Llanelwedd National Eisteddfod) The border is near, its rugged soil continuing to sear its history on the face of our

Anadl Llywelyn

For the English translation, please click here. (ar achlysur Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llanelwedd) Mae'r ffin yn y cyffiniau, pridd ei gwytnwch yn parhau i serio'i hanes ar

In Praise of the Brothers of Bod Iwan

For the Welsh original, please click here.   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

Cywydd Mawl Brodyr Bod Iwan

For the English translation, please click here.   Mae duwiau ym Mod Iwan, duwiau'r gair, brodyr y gân, yn dduwiau traed ar ddaear, duwiau gwyllt, eneidiau gwâr:

The Calendar

For the Cornish original, please click here. 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

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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