The Burnie – by Walter Wingate (1865-1918)

Over the next twelve months or so, I will be doing a series of posts under the category “Scottish Poets & Their Poems“. Most of these poems will have an English translation from the Scottish dialect version.

Walter Wingate was born on 15th April 1865, in Dalry in Ayrshire (NE Scotland). He was a schoolmaster and a poet, he taught mathematics at St. John’s Grammar School in Hamilton, near Glasgow, for most of his adult life. Even though he never published any books of his poetry, he was a regular contributor to the Glasgow Herald and Evening News.

The Burnie – Original Version

Here’s a bonnie burnie
Singin’ a’ its lane,
Singin’ frae a happy heart,
Like a sinless wean!

What a worl’ to sing to!
Grey auld hills around;
Rowin’ mists about their heads
Ilk ane sleepin’ sound’!

‘Mang the heather rovin’,
Sheep and Hielan’ kye;
Hillward airt their heads, the while
The burn gaes singin’ by.

E’en the shepherd laddie,
Whistlin’ on the scaur,
Hears nae music but his ain!
Where could fate be waur

Than yours, my bonnie burnie,
To sing for ever mair?
Sing your sweetest and your best,
Wi’ nane to ken nor care

But the happy burnie,
Carin’ nocht ava
What may hear or what may heed
Sings and sings awa!

 

Wee Burn - Lomond Hills

Wee Burn – Lomond Hills

 

The Burnie – English Translation

Here’s a pretty stream
Singing along its way,
Singing from a happy heart,
Like a sinless child!

What a world to sing to!
Grey old hills around;
Rolling mists about their heads
Each one sleeping sound!

Moving amongst the heather,
Sheep and Highland cattle;
Their heads directed towards the hill,
while the stream goes singing by.

Even the shepherd lad,
Whistling on the steep hill,
Hears no music but his own!
What could a fate be worse

Than yours, my pretty stream,
To sing for ever more?
Sing your sweetest and your best,
With none to know nor care

But the happy stream,
Cares not at all
Who may hear or who may heed,
Sings and sings away!

 

Wee Moorland Burn

Wee Moorland Burn

 

Wee Burn

Wee Burn

 

 

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72 thoughts on “The Burnie – by Walter Wingate (1865-1918)

      • That’s very true Laura, even within West Cornwall, the dialect is different from the north coast to the south coast, and that’s only ten miles apart!!
        And as you say, some of the old language has been all but lost in everyday speech now unfortunately.
        I’m most envious of your accent, virtually all Scottish accents sound wonderful to me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Obviously I have a Fife accent. To my ear, it wasn’t much different from a Midlothian accent but when I started teaching in Edinburgh my students would mention my accent frequently and some even complained that my accent was too “sing songy”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol!!! I think a sing songy type of accent sounds quite nice, but I’m not fae Edinburgh!! Lol!
        My wife often worries that she has lost her Glaswegian accent, but whenever we are out and about, Fifers will often comment about her being from Glasgow 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes. Even after over a decade of living on the west coast of Scotland, people would pick me out as a Fifer instantly. Emigration has made me slow down and reduce the Scots words in my public sentences but otherwise my accent is as strongly Fifer as ever. My uncle has been in Australia since 1960 and still sounds specifically Aberdonian so I guess my family cling to their accents.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well Mr Pict has a plummy English accent because he was raised in SE England in his formative years. My kids never had very strong Scottish accents (compared to me anyway) but the middle two sound American to me already. I guess it’s about trying to fit in at school. Their friends say they sound British though. My oldest might retain his accent because he was ten when we moved. Oddly the wee one has his accent still even though he was 4 when we emigrated. He doesn’t feel the need to fit in perhaps.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Mr Pict is English/American dual national and was reared on both sides of the Atlantic. His English accent is smattered with American and Scottish words though. He’s a bit of a mongrel quite honestly.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I read the first version thinking it WAS the English translation because I was presuming that the original was in Gaelic! At what point did the Scots switch from Gaelic (which has experienced a rebirth in Maritime Canada) to Scottish dialect? Love your photos and the series concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bunty 🙂 I should have explained at the beginning, that Gaelic is the true Scottish/Irish/Celtic language of Scotland – it’s still the first language of many of the ‘Highlanders’ to the north of us in the central belt of Scotland. The Scottish dialect – which varies a fair bit from area to area – is mainly spoken to the south of the Highlands and in the cities.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great idea, Andy, and I’m glad you’re going to ‘translate’ them as well! I have never studied much Scots writing – in fact I never really appreciated the fact that it was a distinct language, until we moved up here. Love your photos to go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. fabulous! love the photo it is so fresh and perfect for the post. I’m fascinated by all things Scots, so this idea of yours is one I’ll look forward to. I’m very glad you’ll have Both translations. happy New Year! cheers, Debi

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a lovely idea! And a fun poem to get things started for the year 🙂 I really like having both versions and seeing how they compare when read aloud (once I sounded the first one out of course – luckily there’s no one to hear me maim the Scots but the cats!). Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Meredith 🙂 I’m glad you like the two versions of the poem. that makes two of us who maimed the Scottish version! LOL!!! Unfortunately my wife was the person who had to suffer whilst I read out the Scottish version!!
      And a Very Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

      Like

  5. A great idea you have here Andy! It’s great to read the Scottish version and then see the English translation. I just love the dialect. I find it endearing that a stream is called a burnie and a child is called a wean. Such a beautiful language and with your stunning captures it’s just more beautiful. Thanks for sharing. 😀 ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sophia 🙂
      The Scottish dialect is brilliant, I’ve learnt a fair number of new words since I’ve been living up here!! And of course, there are often different words in different parts of Scotland. In Glasgow, a child is a wean (pronounced wain), but in Edinburgh (60 miles away), a child is called a bairn!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Scots tell it well ! I too am glad about the translation Andy but it is very lyrical as one runs through it in the head 😉 A great idea for a project I expect to learn an awful lot more about Scottissh poets !
    Lovely burnie captures – must be plenty in full flow at the moment .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Poppy 🙂
      Oddly enough, up until now we haven’t had the quantity of rain that everyone else has had, but I think we are forecast to make up for that over the next couple of days! 😦
      The great thing for me about this project is that, I too, will be learning about various bits of Scottish poetry, something I hadn’t really paid much attention to till now 🙂

      Like

  7. Nice!
    I wonder if the verse has some religious humour and skeptical tone E’en, even can also mean evening and poetry often referred to the night halloween or a saints feast. Which also fits rather well with the rest of the verse and with cultural attitudes of the time towards ‘peasant superstition.’

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Both are beautiful, as are your photos. I love the fact that there is so much variation in regional language. I remember a college lecturer inviting we students to offer words that other members of the class might not know. At first, there was silence. After all, how do you know what is an unknown to another? He gave a few examples and then the floodgates opened. Although there were people from all over Scotland there, in Bearsden, some of the biggest surprises were from people who only lived a few miles apart!
    Lanarkshire and Glasgow I remember particularly.
    My own offering was ‘ a stank’. And, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of an alternative word to explain it. No one seemed to know. I ended up waffling on about water, ‘in the sheuch’, going down it. ‘The sheuch? What’s the sheuch?’ It was like a game of Articulate, where you have to explain the word without using the word. Eventually, someone said, ‘Oh, the drain!’ Water in the gutter going down the drain!’ Yeah, that.
    I work in Hamilton where the kids call their grandads, ‘dai’. I was lost when I first heard it. Thought they meant their ‘da’ was picking them up from school. The staff from the area were all, yup, thats what we call grandad. It’s only a few miles from me!
    Language, all over, is a wonder. I’m sure I’d be equally lost in Cornwall or Yorkshire or any number of places but you kind of expect to be able to understand every word from people next door. 🙂
    My maternal gran, from Glasgow, wasn’t impressed when she heard my dad’s family say things like, ‘Come away ben fae the loabby.’ The hallway, she told my mum. Don’t start talking like a bumpkin!
    I’ll look forward to this project. And be glad of the translations. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you ScottishMomus 🙂
      The variations in language from area to area are really fascinating – when you started talking about ‘a stank’ I knew what it was you meant, it’s a word my wife uses on occasion – she’s from Glasgow too 🙂
      But it’s amazing when places only a few miles apart have differing dialects, it’s amazing that kids in Hamilton call their grandads ‘dai’, but in Glasgow you don’t! I know in West Cornwall, there is quite a big difference in the Cornish dialect from north coast to south coast, and that too is only a few miles 🙂
      I love the quote from your maternal Gran, about your Dad’s family – I associate bumpkins with English counties like Somerset or Norfolk!! 🙂
      Thank you again for your fantastic and insightful comment, I’ll be looking forward to more in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful poem and pictures! The language is lovely; it’s so nice to read the original and translation. 😉 My dad’s grandparents were from Aberdeen. He has said that as a child, he was the only one who could understand his grandmother- her accent was so thick. I had a similar experience. My mom’s parents were Irish, from Belfast. Whenever my grandmother visited us she would get a chance to meet and chat with my friends, after which they would inevitably ask, “What did your grandmother say???” So funny to me, because I couldn’t even hear her brogue.

    I love the idea of this series and am really looking forward to the next posts! ~Jean

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jean 🙂
      Accents and dialects are really fascinating. I don’t notice my wife’s accent any more, but my parents still struggle at times! LOL! 🙂
      I can understand why some people would struggle with the Belfast accent, it’s like a more extreme Scottish accent! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A beautiful poem in either version, but I love some of the words in the Scottish dialect. Burn, and even more so, burnie, sounds so much more poetic than stream – as does wean for child. This is a really good idea for a regular post, Andy, and I’ll look forward to reading more lovely poems.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t agree more Millie 🙂
        I just wish that I would pick up some of the accent, but alas, I didn’t pick up a Cornish accent from growing up in Cornwall, there’s little to no chance of me picking up a Scottish accent now! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Accents are a funny thing. I haven’t picked any up either, no matter where we’ve lived. I obviously have the ‘northern’ vowel sounds -eg grass with a short’a’ and not ‘ar’ so that it sounds like grarss. (That’s difficult to explain in writing!) It’s odd you haven’t got a Cornish accent, though – unless your parents didn’t either. My mum was brought up in Liverpool, but fortunately, I didn’t pick up any Scouse! Keep trying with the Scottish It is a lovely sound.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is odd how some people pick up accents at the drop of a hat, whilst others of us just seem accentless! (I know that’s not a real word, but it sounds right! Lol!)
        I would ‘blame’ my Mum on my lack of Cornish accent, she was originally Mancunian, but her parents moved to Cornwall when she was 16. And my older brother still has a Cornish accent, even though he hasn’t lived in Cornwall for almost 40 years! But I shall keep persevering with the Scottish dialect, maybe a wee bit of the accent will rub off too. 🙂

        Like

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