1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The First Eklog of Virgil, translated into Skottis Verse.

Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Volume I.

Rev. Alexander Geddes


Alexander Geddes, Scottish theologian and biblical translator, does Virgil's first eclogue into the Scots dialect. The article in which it appears is entitled "Three Scottish Poems, with a previous Dissertation on the Scot-Saxon Dialect." At the time the translations of Virgil and Theocritus appeared, the prolific Geddes was living in London and much involved with his translation of the Bible, his translation of the Iliad, and miscellaneous pamphleteering.

Alexander Geddes: "It is my opinion, that those who, for almost a century past, have written in Scots, Allan Ramsay not excepted, have not duly discriminated the genuine Scottish idiom from its vulgarisms. They seem to have acted a similar part with certain pretended imitators of Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton, who fondly imagine that they are copying from those great models, when they only mimic their antique mode of spelling, their obsolete terms, and their irregular construction. Thus, to write Scottish poetry, (for prose has been seldom attempted), nothing more was deemed necessary than to interlard the composition with a number of low words and trite proverbial phrases, in common use among the illiterate; and the more anomalous and farther removed from polite usage those words and phrases were, so much the more apposite and eligible they were accounted. It was enough that they were not found in an English lexicon to give them a preference in the Scottish glossary; nor was it ever once considered, that all the words truly Anglo-Saxon were as truly Scoto-Saxon words; and that every exotic term which the English have borrowed from other languages, the Scots had an equal right to appropriate" p. 403.

The barrister James Graham had translated several ode of Horace into Scots in his Poems, in English, Scotch, and Latin (1794).



MELEBEUS.
Huyl we fre nati' felds an' derest hem
Ar fors't to fle, in forran klyms to rem;
Thu raxt at ez, aniou the shaden bus
O that brad bech, meist wu the silvan mus
An tech the wu'ds, reponsif to thy leis
To ekho bak far Amarillis' pries.

TITIRUS.
A God he was, my frend! — At lest to me
The god-lyk man a god sal ivir be,
Hua ga this invy'd blis: hens aft, as du,
My fattist lam's his altar sal imbu.
He bad my bevs, as huylom fre to fed;
Me as y list, to tun my rustik red.

MELEBEUS.
Thy lot and luk, in thir unlukki deis,
Myn admirashon, not my invy reis:
Sith al arun' huare'r y turn myn e
Nokht but distrubil in the land y se.
Lo! her; thir gots wi' mikil pyn y dryv;
And en, that en, y drekhli drag alyv!
She, mang the hizils, kidan' on a rok,
Ther left hir tuins, the hop of a my flock.
Ah! gin sum glamor had ne bler't ur en,
Lang syn this ivil mokht we ha' forsen,
Hu aft the blastit ak an' bodan kra
Tald us, misfortun was ne far awa.
But Tit'rus! sei, gif it be far to sper,
Huat fav'ran God he is, hua keps the her.

TITIRUS.
O Melebeus! 'or y ged to Rem,
Y thokht that citi lyk ur an at hem;
To huilk, nu-sivir't fre their bletan dams,
We shephirds dryv, on markat-deis ur lams.
Huat ful was Y? For Rem as far exeds
All uthur tuns, as firs our-tap the reds.

MELEBEUS.
But, sei, to Rem huat motif mad the hy?

TITIRUS.
The best of motifs, frend! Far liberty;
Huilk, tho' but short-syn she on me dan'd,
And ne till eld had with his hori hand
Bespren't my tempils an' my chin wi' grei;
Yit dan'd at last, an' apain't into dei:
Sin (Galatea banis't fre my brest)
Suet Amarillis a' my sal posses't.
For Y confes, to ny it wer in vein,
Huyl Galatea held me in hir trhein,
Y nouther luk't for liberti; nor kar't
Hu wi' mysel' or wi' my floks it far't.
Tho' futh of fatlin's aften wer sent dun,
An' wal o kebbaks to th' ungratfu' tun;
Th' ungratfu' tun but ill repeid my kar;
My purs kam rarli ladin fre the far.

MELEBEUS.
Y wundir't huat mad Amarillis kry
To a the Gods that wun abun the sky:
Huy on the tres unpu'd hir apils hang,
And huy she ne mer ply'd the mirri sang.
Tit'rus was absint — Ilke shrub an' tre
An' bruk an' funtin, Tit'rus! murn't for the.

TITIRUS.
Huat su'd Y du? Nen uther men Y sa
To kep dred thraldom's hivi curs awa,
Nor ku'd Y hop in oni uthir huer
To met wi' Gods se bontiful as ther.
Ther Melebeus! ther my langan' en
First sa the Ghuth, belen't us frem aben,
To huam tuel tyms ur altars ilken gher
Wi' gratfu' viktims rekan'd sal aper.
'Twas fre his lips Y her'd thir wurds divyn:
"Suains! fed ghur floks (he sad) as ald-lang-syn."

MELEBEUS.
Happi ald man! An se thy felds reman
Thyn a'n poseshon? ilke thing thyn a'n!
Enukh, Y wat, for thy contentit mynd:
For tho' but bar an barran, in its kynd;
Tho' stens invad the hikhts, an segs the plan,
Yet still, O plesant thokht! 'tis a thyn a'n.
Thy pregnant ious ne fremit girs sal rot,
Ne murrin tant them fre a fremit kot.
Happi ald man! her, mid thy nati' burns
An' funtins bublan fre ther sakred urns,
Aniou the shad of odor-brethan' tres
Thu first an' katchist the refethan' brez:
Huyl, aft ghon osier-hedj (wha's arli flurs
The human' be with egernis devurs)
Sal with its gentil suzurashons step
Thy klosand en in blist an' bami step:
On t'uthir syd, the prunirs rustick sang
The bami slep sal plesantli prolang:
Nor sal the turtil or the kushi-du,
(Ghur kar) refus their lu-lorn nots to ghu.

TITIRUS.
An' therefor, suner sal the bunsan' der
Fed in the ar, an fish on land apper;
Suner sal Parthians o' the Atar drink
An' German Goths inhabit Tigris' brink;
(Beth wullan' exyls fre the spot thei luv't)
'Or fre my brest his imaj be remuv't.

MELEBEUS.
But we mun pas thro' traks unkent befor,
To Scytia's frezand, Afrik's burnan' shor;
To huer Oaxis rous his rapid tyd;
An Britan klift fre a the warld besyd.
Ah! sal Y nivir, in the kurs o' tym,
Ens mer revisit this my nati' klym?
Ens mer wi' joiful an' wi wundran' en
Behad my humbil kot beturft wi' gren.
An' reinstatit in myn ald doman,
Be lard of a' the tenement agan.
Or, sal sum sojer or sum sojer's boi,
My wel-fakht rigs for iver-mer injoi?
A vyl barbarian rep my goudin felds?
Se! citizens, huat civil discord ghelds!
Gang, nu, an' plant, inokulat an' graff,
An' prun ghur vyns, that fremit fouk mei quaff!
Awa! my gots! short-syn en happi flok,
Ne mer (huyl pendan' fre the tuftit rok
Ghe krap the tendir aromatick flur)
Sal Y, reklynand in sum shadoi bur,
Be had ghu bruzan' — ne mer, huyl ghe bruz,
Attun my pyp to the inspiran' Mus.

TITIRUS.
Yit her, at lest this nikht, unhappi suan!
In this wel-shadit bur wi' me reman.
A ruth o' nu-pu't apils ryp an' rar,
Tchesnuts, an' kruds, an' krem sal be ghur far.
Lo! kurls o' rek fre nib'ran knots ascend,
An' langir shados fre the hills protend!

[pp. 457-62]