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Scots poem of the month - May 2005

The Fable o the Selkie and the Souses

The Fable o the Selkie and the Souses
Thae craiturs aa were inby there
when in she cam, naukit.
They'd been boozin, they got spittin at her.
She kennt nocht, juist oot the watter,
a Selkie wha'd missed her bearins.
And aa that abuse ran aff her,
doun her sheenin skin, thae profanities
deluged her gowden breists.
She kenntna tears, she grat nae tears
she kennta claes, she had nae claes.
They gart her black wi brennt corks and fag-ends,
and rowed aboot hee-hawin on the fluir.
She said nae word, she had nae speak,
her een were the tint o faurawa luve,
she had twa airms o white topaz.
Her lips muved soondless, in a coral licht.
Oot the door she wes, suddentlike,
Clean aince mair back in the river she sheened
like a quarz pebble washin in faain rain,
and wi nae glance backwart wes again
soomin intil tuimness, soomin intil daeth.

Pablo Neruda, translated by Robert R Calder

 About the poet

Robert R Calder

Robert R. Calder, born in 1950 in the north of Lanarkshire, now freelances between South Lanarkshire and South Western Germany.

He studied at Edinburgh University with George Davie, has published (and taught classes) on Scottish philosophy and intellectual life, written numerous reviews and literary criticism (Edwin Muir, W.S.Graham), tales and a fair amount of verse (some poems longer than some of the tales) variously published, collected and uncollected, including translations. He writes both in English and Scots.

Associated from the early 1970s and 1980s-1990s as an editor with Chapman, briefly editor of Lines Review, and involved with the Edinburgh Review (1980s) and other periodicals, he has also been an editor and reader for the Scotsoun poetry cassettes series. Robert is also a trained singer and is staff music writer (jazz and folk music) for the Chicago 'journal of global culture' Popmatters, and edited Narcissism, Nihilism, Simplicity by the German exile psychotherapist K.M. Abenheimer (AUP, 1991). His one substantial verse collection thus far is Serapion (Chapman, 1996).

If you have enjoyed this poem, you can borrow a range of poetry from the Scottish Poetry Library who also lend by post.  Telephone 0131 557 2876 or email reception@spl.org.uk for more information.  For an online catalogue, poetry events listings and more featured poems, please visit the Scottish Poetry Library website


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