Werena My Heart Licht I Wad Dee by Grisell Hume Baillie (with rough translation by flusteredduck)

There ance was a may1, and she lo’ed na men;
She biggit2 her bonnie bow’r doun in yon glen;
But now she cries, Dool and a well-a-day!
Come doun the green gait3 and come here away!

When bonnie young Johnnie cam owre the see,
He said he saw naething sae lovely as me;
He hecht4 me baith rings and mony braw things—
And werena my heart’s licht, I wad dee.

He had a wee titty5 that lo’ed na me,
Because I was twice as bonnie as she;
She raised sic a pother ’twixt him and his mother
That werena my heart’s licht, I wad dee.

The day it was set, and the bridal to be:
The wife took a dwam6 and lay doun to dee;
She maned and she graned out o’ dolour and pain,
Till he vow’d he never wad see me again.

His kin was for ane of a higher degree,
Said—What had he do wi’ the likes of me?
Appose7 I was bonnie, I wasna for Johnnie—
And werena my heart’s licht, I wad dee.

They said I had neither cow nor calf,
Nor dribbles o’ drink rins thro’ the draff,
Nor pickles8 o’ meal rins thro’ the mill-e’e—
And werena my heart’s licht, I wad dee.

His titty she was baith wylie and slee:
She spied me as I cam owre the lea;
And then she ran in and made a loud din—
Believe your ain e’en, an ye trow not me.

His bonnet stood ay fu’ round on his brow,
His auld ane look’d ay as well as some’s new:
But now he lets ’t wear ony gait it will hing9,
And casts himsel dowie10 upon the corn bing.

And now he gaes daund’ring about the dykes,
And a’ he dow do is to hund11 the tykes:
The live-lang nicht he ne’er steeks12 his e’e—
And werena my heart’s licht, I wad dee.

Were I but young for thee, as I hae been,
We should hae been gallopin’ doun in yon green,
And linkin’13 it owre the lily-white lea—
And wow, gin I were but young for thee!

1may: maid.
2biggit: built.
3gait: way, path.
4hecht: promised.
5titty: sister.
6dwam: sudden illness.
7appose: suppose.
8pickles: small quantities.
9hing: hang.
10dowie: dejectedly.
11hund the tykes: direct the dogs.
12steeks: closes.
13linkin’: tripping arm-in-arm.

Were Not My Heart Light* I Would Die by Grisell Hume Baillie (translated by flusteredduck)

There once was a maid, and she loved no men;
She built her bonny bower down in yonder glen;
But now she cries, Woe and ah well-a-day!
Come down the green path and come here away!

When bonny young Johnnie came over the sea,
He said he saw nothing so lovely as me;
He promised me both rings and many beautiful things—
And were it not my heart’s light, I would die.

He had a wee sister that loved not me,
Because I was twice as bonny as she;
She raised such a stir ‘twixt him and his mother
That were it not my heart’s light, I would die.

The day it was set and the bridal to be:
The mother took poison and lay down to die;
She moaned and she groaned out of dolour and pain,
Till he vowed he never would see me again.

His kin were for one of a higher degree,
Said—what had he to do with the likes of me?
Suppose I was bonny, I wasn’t for Johnnie—
And were it not my heart’s light, I would die.

They said I had neither cow nor calf,
Nor dribbles of drink running through the dregs,
Nor bits of meal running through the mill-eye—
And were it not my heart’s light, I would die.

His sister she was both wily and sly:
She spied me as I came over the meadow;
And then she ran in and made a loud din—
Believe your own eyes, if you don’t believe me.

His bonnet stood well round his brow,
His old one looked as well as some that are new:
But now he wears anything that will fit,
And casts himself down upon the oat heap.

And now he goes meandering about the hedges,
And all he does is hound the dogs:
The live-long night he never closes his eyes—
And were it not my heart’s light, I would die.

Were I but young for you, as I have been,
We should have been galloping down in yonder green,
And arm-in-arming it over the lily white meadow—
Ah, if I were but young again for you!

*Licht in this sense is very hard to translate – it can mean light/fair/bright but it can also mean enlightened as in the religious sense with the suggestion of purity/innocence. Not being sure whether it is being used in the ironic sense here (which seems doubtful given the earnestness of the rest of the poem) or whether as a comment on the maid’s purity of heart/religiosity, I have stuck to the straightforward translation of light and leave it to the reader to decide how it should be interpreted.

And, as I’m doing lengthy footnotes for once, the poet’s first name of Grisell appears in multiple variants – eg Grizel, Grizell, Grisel. I have opted for Grisell as that it is how appears on her grave stone (the full inscription of which can be read here: http://www.politicalandfeministeconomists.com/people/?Baillie+of+Jerviswood+(born+Hume)/Lady+Grisell)..

From: http://users.compaqnet.be/cn127848/obev/obev113.html

Date: 1725

By: Grisell Hume Baillie (1665-1746)

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