Northwords Now Issue 39

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Back Fae Da Edge

by James Sinclair

James H. Wheldon (1830-1895). Oil on canvas.  Whaling Ships Diana and Anne in the Arctic
James H. Wheldon (1830-1895). Oil on canvas. Whaling Ships Diana and Anne in the Arctic

Aa rodds head Nort
da laand o da skraelin
a pinnishin o frost.

An iron blue ocean, mooskit lift
an laand med oot o sharny broon an sabbit strae
drifted intae view trowe da haar.

Low haerts, neebit, sprang fae dir lang sleep.
Wir we in a dwaam or wis dis da mieds o hame,
or did da mellishon hae ee mair trick up his sleeve?

Wir we laek da phantom crew o da fleein Dutchman,
a feyness set ta drift apo da oceans o da wirld,
wi hit’s rancid currents an foul bitin winds aa wir days?

Yet da hills an high banks grew i wir ee,
an wha wis able, riggit a jib ta steer wis bye
atween Galti Stack an Ketilgill head

inta da boasie o dat muckle Ronas Hill
an in trowe da raem-calm waater o da voe.
Someen said, “ Dere’s Heylor boys, wir med hit. “

Da local men rowed aff ta wis an clamb aboard.
We hed damn all ta say an coored fae dir luiks.
Dir een said aa dat hed ta  be said. ( Da fricht, da fricht, )

fur we wir nae idder as rag bags o banes.
Wir skien sookit ticht ta wir skulls.
We most a lookit laek demented wraiths.

Da fock, dey wir kindness hitsel, comin wi
waarm blankets ta hap aboot wis, an maet.
Some o wir eans fell apo dis da sam as baess.

Stappin as muckle i dir mooths as dey could,
dan curlin up itil a baa whin da cramps grippit,
faain asound, niver ta waaken more, athin da sicht o hame


The Hull whaleship Diana, trapped in the Greenland ice

A sequence of Shetland dialect poems as an interpretation of the ill-fated voyage of the Hull whaleship Diana, trapped in the Greenland ice over winter 1866-1867.

Back Fae Da EdgePoem by James Sinclair
Honest GraftPoem by James Sinclair
Laevin HamePoem by James Sinclair
Lang LippenedPoem by James Sinclair
LossPoem by James Sinclair
Lost SowlsPoem by James Sinclair
Makkin a Run Fur HitPoem by James Sinclair
MellishonPoem by James Sinclair
Mirrie DancersPoem by James Sinclair
Shaestin a FeynessPoem by James Sinclair
Shaestin wir PreyPoem by James Sinclair
Slippin AwaPoem by James Sinclair
StarvationPoem by James Sinclair
TrappitPoem by James Sinclair