The First Idillion of Theokritus. Translatit into Skottis Vers.

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

Rev. Alexander Geddes

Alexander Geddes pursues the true Doric in a fine translation of the first Idyl of Theocritus. The connection between the Sicilian and Scots dialect had been made long before by John Dryden, and had inspired a tradition of Scots poetry, though it was the purpose of Geddes, a true son of the Enlightenment, to cut through the tradition and to establish the dialect on a rational and authoritative basis. He employs a phonetic spelling, which in the original bristles with diacritical marks. The verses are printed without notes, though with the accompaniment of a long essay on the Scots tongue. The translations of Virgil and Theocritus into Scots were much more highly regarded than Geddes's attempt to translate Homer into English.

James Grant Wilson: "He was an accomplished scholar, being familar with various ancient and modern languages; a voluminous prose writer, and the author of numerous now forgotten poems and translations from Homer, Horace, &c.; but he is chiefly entitled to remembrance as the writer of popular and pleasing songs" Poets and Poetry of Scotland (1876) 1:170.

Suet, suet, o gyt-hird! is the gentil brez
That blas thro' ghon'er firs, by yon wel es.
But suetir far thy pyp! — Not Pan denys
Thy rival skil; but ghelds the secund pryz.
Gif, then, a buk wi buttan' horns be du
To him; a teman' gyt belangs to ghu.
Of gif a gyt he klem for his propyn,
Then sal a gimmar (ne sma' ben) be thyn.

Sueter, O Shep-hird! ar the nots ghu sing
Than water triklan' fre ghon rok-born spring!
Se gin the Meses in ghou delikht,
A fat fat lam is thyn undurit rikht.
Or gin thei levir tchus to ha' the lam,
Then, shep-hird, then, thy pryz sal be the dam.

Wult'u (lat me by a the nyn intret)
Wult'u on this brem-hillok tak thy set;
An ten thy fussil to sum tendir ar?
Men-huyl thy gyts sal be my speishal kar.

Na! shep-hird, na! 'Tis nu the nen of dei;
Huan o' the pyp we gyt-hirds dar na plei,
For fer o' Pan; hua tyr't wi' silvan sports,
To sum quil kov, to rest himsel', resorts:
A kankirt god he is — an' gif he sha
His atri snut, he'll farli fleig us a'.
Rathir, O shep-hird — fo ghe kan relat
In miakles numbirs Daphnis' wefu' fat—
Kum! sit we dun, aniou this elm's brun shad,
Huar hirdlik hands a verdant bink th' mad:
Huar Nimph-devoted springs perennial flow,
An' spring-fed aks, arun, luxuriant grou.
Kum, sit we dun! — An Thirsis! gif thy stran
Be si'k as Khromis (of the Libian plan)
Erst try'd to match, but vanli try'd — To the
A gyt, that ilken gher brings tuins, Y'l ge:
A gyt, hua, tho' she sukkil beth the twei,
Sal fill utour the milk kog tuys a' dei.
An', huat, than gyt Y value mukil me
A bran-nu kap, 'lang wi' the gyt sal ge;
Tua-luggit, larg, wi' wax wel sentit; and
Evn yit redolent o' the wark-man's hand.
Arund its lip the mimik ivi tuyns;
Thru huilk the goudin heliokhrysus shyns:
Ner this a vyn's luxuriant tendrils shet;
And on the tendrils hing the klustir't fret.
Within en 'uman sits, divynli far;
A rob hir lim's, a sned adorns her har:
On either syd, a wel-kem't spark is sen
Etlan to wun hir smyls an' katch hir en;
Huyl she, unmevt, at t'en an' t' ither lers;
An' seman' beth to sorn, at beth she sners.
Yet, still, thei stryv, wi' le-lorn luks to gan
Hir rules hart — but stryv, lyk fels, in van.
A bizi fishir, nisht, groun grei with ghers,
Haland his net upon a krag appers:
Si'k wun'rous vigur the ald man displeis,
Ghu'd think he still wur in his ghuthfu' deis:
Si'k fresh floresenc suels in ilke vein:
Si'k brani shino's he appers to strein.
Ne far fre him, a vynyard purpil't o'er
Wi ryp'nan' berris, lys alang the shor:
A kallan keps it — or, at lest su'd kep,
But (hedles he) tua wyli todlins krep
Thru' the thin hedj — an', huyl this en distrois
The joici graps, that en his art implois
To rob the bag; nor wil he ces, Y wen,
Until the lad be left withut disjen.
He, silli sal, for grasopirs prepars
O reds an' rashes wel-kompakit snars;
An' neither for the bag nor vynghard kars.
A ritsh akanthus, she dan' frum aniou
Its cirklan' levs, sems, wunnifu! to grou!
A Kalidonian seilor sald it me:
A gyt it kost me, and a kebbak te.

This kap, as yit unpre'd by mortal mu,
This kap unequal't wil Y gi to ghu:
Gin ghu'l but sing, an' sing wi' wentit fyr
The der, tho dismal, ditti Y desyr.
In me ne menli jelus rival dred:
Huy su'd ghur sangs ge wi' ghu to the ded.

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein:
Thirsis invoks; lat net his preir be vein.
Haur wur ghe, Nimphs! huar, huan th' il-fatit Suan
Ghur datit Daphnis, liak't o' le-sik pan?
Did Pindus, or did Peneus ghu posses,
Haun he lei ling'rand in si'k dep distress.
For, neither huar Anapus' water's glyd,
Nor haur gret Etna rers, wi' mukil pryd
His lafti tap; nor by suet Akis' wav
Ku'd ghe be fun', the unhappi Suan to sav!

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein,
Ev'n wufs an tygirs murn't the dian' Suain,
An' lyons in the wu'ds wur hard to gran.

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein.
His faithfu' nout kum routan' fre the plan;
The milk-huyt heifers ters o' piti shed;
The sullan bull hings dun his languid hed;
And sportif kafs, desportif nu ne me,
Neglek the uddir, and express their we!

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein.
The Gods themsel's ku'd piti Daphnis pein.
Frist gentil Hermes kam, an' kyn'li seid,
"Hua kills the Daphnis! huat hard-hartit meid?"

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein.
Nor ku'd Priapus, thokh a wag, refrein
Fre pitian' Daphnis — "Daphnis! tel me, hua
Has stou'n thy hart, an' te'n thy wits awa?
Daft man! huy duynst'u? huyl wi' skornfu' gle
She trips the fluri lan, an' lakhs at the!"

Se thei: To a their wurds the dian' hynd
Mad ne reply, but fed his gref an' pyn'd.

Sing, Meses! sing the sad bukolik strein.
At lenth Dam Venus kam to seth his pein:
Kam smylan'; but hir smyls (the fret of art)
But ill concel't hir hiviness of hart.
"Daphnis, she sad, ghu voustit ens, that ghy
Ku'd vinkis lev — sei, hua has vinkis't nu?"

Sing Meses! sing the sad bukolik strain.
To Venus Daphnis thus reply'd agein:
"Ah! kruil Goddes! Hua but ghu's to blam,
That kendil't in my brest this sliakles flam?
Odius to mankynd! — Lo! hu sen my sun
His rapid curs, throu thy vyl arts is run!
The sal of Daphnis sinks this veri hur
To hell — sad sampil o' thy murd'ran pur!
Suyth! to munt Ida, huar, gin fam sei tru,
A nout-hird, ens, did — huat we ken — wi' ghu!
Suyth! to Ankises; and on Simois' banks
Mid cyprus-grovs, plei our ghur wentit pranks.
Or to Idalian hills wi' sped reper;
Ghur paramur Adonis weits ghu ther;
Ther tends his floks, an' smits the bristli ber!
Syn hy to Diomed, an' bostfu' sei:
Y vinkis't Daphnis — fekht me, gin ghe mei!"

"Ghe wufs! ghe bers and a' ghe silvan rac
Farwel! — Ne me ghur hants sal Daphnis trac."

"Suet Arethusa an' ghe sillir rills,
That water Thimbris fre the nib'ran' hills,
Farwel! — Y'm Daphnis, hua se aftin drav
His wel-fed bevs to drink ghur kristal wav."

"O Pan! O Pan! huare'r ghu hap to rov;
Or on the hill that halloit is to Jov;
Or on thyn an Menalian muntin gei;
Bak to Sikelian meds, ah! sped ghur wei.
Lat the nor Helika's intchantan' mein,
Nor Menelus' prud monument detein:
Kum! king of hirds! — an' fre a dian suein,
The pyp, that erst ghu ga', recev agein:
The suetist e'r was bla'n by mortal breth
Yet kanna tsharm awa' the goblin Deth!"

End, Meses! end the sad bukolik strein.
He spak ne me — but, stryk't upon the plein,
Expyran' lys. — In vein the Quen o' luv
Attemps to reis him, an' the Fats to muv.
His thred is kut; the flouan' fleds o' Deth
Quensh lyf's fant fyr, an' stap his gaspan' breth:
The Meses darlin' an the Nimph's delikht;
Daphnis is plunj't in ivirlastan' nikht.

Be natur tshanj't! — Let brumils vy'lits ber;
An' prikli huins produc the joici per;
Lat daffindillis on the etnagh grou,
An' doui ders led mastifs in a tou;
Lat hulits rival Philomela's ar,
Sin' Daphnis, luvli Daphnis, is ne mar.

End, Meses! end the sad bukolik strein.
Nu, gi the pryz; nor lat me sing in vein:
Gi kap an' gyt; that, milkan' hir, Y mei
A du libashion to the Meses pei.
Hal, Meses! hal — Gin ghe inspyr, er lang
Y'll sing a lastier and a sueter sang.

O shep-hird! mei thy mu be ivir fil't
Wi fragrant henni fre the kem distil't:
Eigitian figs, and ilka thing that's rar,
Intchantan' sangstir! be thy deili far.
Her, tak the kap! observ hu wel it smels:
Ghu'd think the Hurs had dipt it in their wels.
Ge, Kissitheia! bring the gyt beden,
An' milk hir her befor our Thyrsis en.
Men-huyl, my gimmirs! be ghur sports forborn!
Or dred the mukil buk's mistchivus horn.

[pp. 462-68]