morra an the morra

Acclaimed poet Edwin Morgan, who translated Cyrano de Bergerac into Scots for Communicado’s award-winning production, gives the thumbs-up to a new Scots translation of Macbeth.

Shakespeare‘s ‘Scottish play' translated into Scots and why not? The idea is an attractive one, and the result here impressive. What strikes the reader most forcibly is that in a diligent and thoughtful Scots translation, there is very little that cannot be accommodated; the new text reads naturally in its different. though obviously related. language. In his preface. Lorimer calls it ‘a relatively modern Scots‘. but admits that the range of Shakespeare‘s vocabulary required him to bring in many obsolete or rare words. As no

. glossary is provided. the reader will


The were corbie’s rauk

at crowps the weirdit coming-in 0 Duncan

aneth my harmekin. C’awa, ye spirits

at waits on mortal thochts, relve me my sex;

tuil my haill bouk irae heels tae held pang-tou

o iellon crueltie; thicken my blude;

stap alt innate an througate tae remord,

sae’s nane o naitur's auntrin conscience-stance can slack my ettie, nor mak trews twixt it

an its eitect. Come, iin’ my wumman’s brelsts, an tak my milk for paw, ye ill-deed-duers, whauriver in your unseen essences

ye iettle naitur’s deiviltrie. Come, nicht,

shroud ye yoursel in Hell’s maist keir-black reek, latna my gleg knife see the wound lt maks,

nor litt keek throu the piaidlng o the mirk

an skrelch, ‘Haud sael’


The raven himself is hoarse

That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan

Under my battlements. C ome, you spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here; And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full Ofdirest cruelty. Make thick my blood,

Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,

That no compunctious visitings of nature

Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman ’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances

You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,

That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark To cry ‘Hold, hold.

Excerpt from Act I Scene v; Gruoch’s ‘unsex me’ speech.

no can sweeten thir sma haunds . . . The morra an the morra an the morra/creeps in wi huilie pass frae day to day/till the last tick, tack o clockit time . . . At times a certain stiffness and sense of strain are evident. and there are a few uneasy kailyardy touches (haith, fegs, sair’s, weilt-a-wat) but anyone examining the text will also find pleasing serendipities, as when Macbeth, before the murder, plans to keelmark the two chamberlains with blood from their own daggers, using a metaphor from the dyeing of sheep with red ochre (keel).

Is it stageable? That surely is the final test. Lorimer in his preface refers to ‘my readers’, and the dust- jacket calls the translation ‘a major contribution to the study of the Scots language through

need to be gey gleg on the uptak to take in his or her stride the likes of bityach (dagger), inkirlie (earnestly), sunket (something), stiven (outcry), eem (uncle) and discurrior (sentinel). It would be a very bristly text. for actors. But the familiarity of the play. and the fact that the translation is generally a close one, means that with a bit of goodwill we are never really at a loss, and can in fact gain a renewed admiration for the resources of Scots.

The characters of both Macbeth and his wife, here called by her historical and nicely grim name Gruoch, come across vividly. The famous speeches are always recognisable. yet subtly different: ‘Aa the maumie waffs 0 Arabic will

Saturday 17 - Saturday 31 October


ROBIN Blitl. Friday 16 October 7 pm Bittersweet Within my Heart - a new look at Mary Queen of Scots

through her poetry James 'l‘hin, 733 South Bridge, Edinburgh (031 556 67-13)

JIM CRLTMLEY AND BRIDGET MACCASKILI. Monday 19 October 7 pm Wildlife special - Waters of the Wild 5mm and (hi the Swirl of the Tide ()xgangs library, Oxgangs Road North, Edinburgh (03] 445 5699)


JULIE LACOMl-L Wednesday 21 October 10.30-11.15 am A was Once an Apple Pie - painting workshop for young readers Iladdington Library, Newton I’ort, IIaddington (062 082 253])

HUGH Scorr Wednesday 21 October 10.30-11.30 am The Gargoyle spooky stories for school children! Waterstone's, I’rinces Square, Glasgow (041 221 9650)

Information on books in SBF '92 and free events is available from SBMC}, I37 Dundee Street, Edinburgh El I1 1 186 Tel: 03] 228 6866

literature.’ Well enough, but a director would want to know whether this most atmospheric, exciting and morally disturbing of Shakespeare‘s tragedies is viable in a version which swings between I kemp again the undivulgate drift/o raisonabte dole and what’s made them steamin fou hes made me bauld (the humour of the latter line is not Shakespeare’s). Really, there is no answer to the question except that it ought to be attempted; it would be a formidable challenge to actors and director alike, but I hope someone will i -I moved to see whether Lorimer’s sinewy and ingenious lines can make the move from the book to the boards.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, translated into Scots by R. L. C. Lorimer, is published by Canongate at £12. 95.

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Late Bar

Tuesday 20 October 7 pm The l'V'itehiiig Stone - a magical novel exploring the nature of destiny pLUS James Thin, 53 South Bridge Edinburgh (031 556 67-13) Music from


A benefit to raise funds to publish a book of drawings and poems by


Monday 2 November, 1992 7.30 - late ' , '

Norman MacCaig, Sorley MacLean, Liz Lochhcad, Hamish Henderson, George Bruce, Iain Crichton Smith, Ellie McDonald, Billy Kay and Matthew Fitt lead the celebrations

Sheena Wellington, Dave Whyte, piper Martyn Bennett, Davy Steele from Ceolbeg and friends, and a dramatic presentation led by Gerda Stevenson of Sydney's best and most hilarious poems.

Tickets: £7 (concession £4) available from the Queen's Hall Box Office, Clerk Street, Edinburgh Tel: 031-668 2019. If you can't come, please give a donation to the fund of what you can

afford. Send to: The New Auk Society, c/o The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 ITE.

70 The List 9 22 October 1992