Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Heid did Yak Yester Nicht

Variations on William Dunbar, I

My head hurt so much all last night
No hope, today, that I will write
This migraine has become my life
Cutting my forehead like a knife
I can barely look at the morning light.

Just now, after NPR,
I thought I had a thought to scrawl
But it was too damn hard to find
In my prickling unslept mind
The words escaped me at a crawl.

In the morning when I rise
Asleep in bed my courage lies
Whatever the music, fun, or play
Noise or dance or disarray
It will not open up its eyes.

The original, from James Kinsley's edition. Dunbar was a Scots poet of the 15th and 16th Century, best known for his wonderful "Lament for the Makers," but he wrote a remarkable variety of poems. I've been playing with some of them, translating or modernizing or whatever you call it.

My heid did yak yester nicht
This day to mak that I na micht,
So sair the magryme dois me menyie
Perseing my brow as ony ganyie,
That scant I luik may on the licht.

And now, schir, laitlie eftir mes
To dyt thocht I begowthe to dres
The sentence lay full evill till find;
Unsleipit in my heid behind,
Dullit in dulnes and distres.

Full oft at morrow I upryse,
Quhen that my curage sleipeing lyis;
For mirth, for menstrallie and play,
For din nor danceing nor deray
It will nocht walkin me no wise.

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