“… Wow, but your letter made me vauntie!
And are ye hale, and weel, and cantie?
I kenn’d it still your wee bit jauntie
Wad bring ye to:
Lord send you ay as weel’s I want ye,
And then ye’ll do.
The ill-thief blaw the Heron south!
And never drink be near his drouth!
He tauld mysel’ by word o’ mouth,
He’d tak my letter:
I lippen to the chiel in trouth,
And bade nae better. …”
vaunty, vantie, vannie: proud.
The Scottish Word: vaunty with its definition and its meaning illustrated and captioned with the word used in context in the Scots language and in English.
And proud he should be. His Tam O Shanter is one of the best narrative poems I know for pace and drama. And should be read in the native Scots-language to fully appreciate the din and clang of the narrative.
And even if Scots is beyond you, listening to it read well by someone with care for the English listener you will still enjoy it.
Dr. Thomas Blacklock.
The above is an extract of a letter from Burns replying in verse to a good friend and sponsor Rev. Thomas Blacklock in Edinburgh who also put his letters in verse.
Poets must be like illustrators. Any blank surface or friend who appreciates a sketch on a postcard and it’s an excuse to rhyme and off they go. Just like illustrators can’t help adding a drawing to an envelope or in the margin.
I don’t want to make a poor effort to translate The Bard’s poetry even if it is just dashed off for a letter. So I’ll give a glossary of most of the words below.
And also ‘blow the Heron South’ is not a poetical metaphor. It’s a dig at a Robert Herron who promised verbally to deliver a previous letter of Burns and failed to do so.
Vauntie, vaunty: proud, hale, hail: whole, weel: well, ill-thief: devil, cantie, canty: cheerful, kenn’d: known, jauntie: a small jaunt, wad: would, blaw: blow, drouth, drooth: thirst, tauld: told, lippen: took his word, chiel: young man, trouth: truth, bade: fared, nae: no.