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Friday, 25 January 2008

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There are attempts to promote the official use of a version of Scots, partly on nationalist/sentimental grounds and partly from greed for subsidies. The language which it is proposed to adopt is a rather synthetic creation which owes a lot to the malignant inventiveness of Hugh MacDiarmid, and which in terms of freshness and directness does not measure up to Dunbar.

As it was 25th of January and you were in a supposedly Scotland series, I was quite expecting the Address to the Haggis or Auld Syne Lang which are far more difficult to understand (for me).
First time I read that kind of old and Latin-influenced English but I quite understand it. It sounds like a prayer or a song indeed and it reminds me La ballade des Pendus by François Villon which sounds even more like a prayer.

This is a tremendous poem -- thanks for posting it.

Coincidentally, I've just read part of that poem in a book on the history of medicine in Scotland in which Henryson, on the subject of the plague, was quoted too.
In his "Ane Prayer for the Pest" he asks God to "half mercy of us, indigent and pure; That dois no wrang to puniss our offenss: o Lord, that is to mankynd haill succure, preserve us fra this perrelus pestilens".
You could do a whole series on death and disease, Lindsay!

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Quotidian

  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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