SCOTS ENGLISH (prose)
tr. J.D.McClure
Gin ony cheil thare be wha’d seek tae lairn
amang the slidderie sweels
o eird’s affeirins, hou thay’re cheinged an connacht
frae heich an happie clouds o Fortune’s seil
tae dreich an dulie howes
o weird’s mischanciest an mirkest duims,
lat him tak tent o me, an luik tae me,
aye, luik tae me, langsyne a Queen decorit
wi splendant crouns a twasome, sceptres twa,
ringin the while ower France an Scotland baith,
a Keing my sire, a mauchtie Keing my spouse,
descendant o an auncient line o Keings,
a Keing eenou my son:
but preisoner nou, in nerra barrass steikit,
thirlit tae ithers’ pouer, tae ithers’ wull,
reft - o my majestie I speak nae mair,
nae mair o ryall pouer, sen e’en the name
o thon I scarce can myn -
reft, tae my teen, o mair:
o thon sweet caller air whilk Naitur gies
tae nouriss aakyn life,
I pass my nichts an days tweesh dreid an dule,
tweesh daith an life.
But gin ’tis true that aye wi doutsome airt
an aye wi cheingefu gait,
nou waesome, nou in seil,
a mauchtie hidlin haun
rowes roun the state o man,
hou can it be, efter the langsome course
o twenty dowie year, thare winna come
an enn, or cheinge at laest
tae dule or life? For never will I ken,
tho tentie I tell ower the weirdit pynes
I bude tae thole ilk day
o deidlie wanhope’s straiks,
ne’er will I ken whaur liggs the laichest howe,
the daurkest dule I dree,
the mirkest miserie:
a Queen, but preisoner wairdit,
a weida comfortless, by aa forlatten,
mither tae a merghless son,
wife tae a fause an feckless curn,
twynit frae counsel wyce,
wantin o gear, dwaiblie o corp an dwynin.
Mair can I say, or mair mishanters new
can life set up tae gie?
Is there nae ither mott
tae airt thaim, by’s at me alane, sae weariet?
Pyn’t aa an haill, alane,
o easedom nane, och nane!
Ochone, whit dour, whit daurk
ye raise, o sun, the day thon traitorous shore,
thon traitorous shore an truithless manswurn mouls
o Ingland titch’t tae this wanchancie fuit
that cairried me, beirin the name o Queen,
o crounit, honour’d Queen,
tae dree the weird o sclave,
o wairdit, sheckel’t sclave!
Wae’s me! For this wes I born
the dochter o a Keing, an syne the heir
tae his maist auncient kingrik,
bride tae a splendant Keing, an mither yet
tae a Keing wha reives frae me
my sceptre, robe an croun.
May Heiven heist me frae thir howes o dule,
for laicher still tae faa wad fung me doun
ablow the state o wumman,
nae mair mysel tae be,
but frae a teiran’s haun
takin my life tae hain
as ’t war a gracie aumous
frae my ill-hertit fae.
Och waesome weird, wanchance,
och pyne, och dule an teen:
hou brak ye na my hert?
If there is anyone who would seek to learn
among the unstable turns
of earthly affairs, how they are changed and ruined
from high and happy clouds of Fortune’s bliss
to gloomy and sorrowful depths
of fate’s unluckiest and darkest judgements,
let him take note of me, and look to me,
yes, look to me, long ago a Queen adorned
with a pair of splendid crowns, two sceptres,
reigning then over both France and Scotland,
a King my father, a mighty King my husband,
descendant of an ancient line of Kings,
a King my son still,
but now a prisoner, confined in a narrow enclosure,
bound to the power of others, to the will of others,
deprived - I speak no more of my majesty,
no more of royal power, since even the name
of those I scarcely can remember -
deprived, to my grief, of more:
of that sweet fresh air which Nature gives
to nourish all manner of life
I pass my nights and days between fear and sorrow,
between death and life.
But if it is true that always with doubtful aim
and always with changeable motion,
now woeful, now in bliss,
a mighty hidden hand
revolves the human condition,
how can it be, after the long course
of twenty sorrowful years, there will not come
an end, or a change at least,
to sorrow or to life? For never will I know,
though carefully I count over the fated torments
I have to endure every day
of deadly despair’s strokes,
never will I know where lies the lowest depth,
the darkest misery I suffer:

a Queen, but a guarded prisoner,
a comfortless widow, by all forsaken,
mother to a feeble son,
wife to false and useless people,
parted from wise counsel,
lacking wealth, weak and ailing in body.
Can I say more, or more new disasters
can life prepare to give?
Is there no other target
to aim them at, except for me alone, so weary?
Tormented in every respect, alone,
of comfort none, ah none!
Alas, how grim, how dark
you rose, o sun, the day that treacherous shore,
that treacherous shore and false perjured soil
of England touched this unlucky foot
that carried me, bearing the name of Queen,
of crowned, honoured Queen,
to suffer the fate of a slave,
of an imprisoned, shackled slave!
Woe is me! For this was I born
the daughter of a King, and then the heir
to his most ancient kingdom,
bride to a splendid King, and mother still
to a King who steals from me
my sceptre, robe and crown.
May Heaven raise me up from these depths of sorrow,
for to fall lower still would fling me down
below the state of woman,
no more to be myself,
but from a tyrant’s hand
taking my life to hold
as if it were a gracious alms
from my malicious enemy.
O woeful fate, misfortune,
o torment, o sorrow and grief,
how do you not break my heart?


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Trans. Copyright © J.D.McClure 2005