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Edited by A.B. Jackson

Published on 18 April 2024

ISBN: 9781915108203


The Fusslin Thrang gathers together Alexander Hutchison’s poems
in Scots written between 1973 and 2015, with the majority being
previously uncollected or unpublished. Included are a wide range
of translations, featuring poets such as Catullus, Pierre de Ronsard,
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ernesto Cardenal, and Mikhail Lermontov.
Of particular note is Hutchison’s Scots version of ‘Medea’, based on
the extract in English by Robinson Jeffers, and published here for
the first time. Every poem includes a glossary and contextual notes.




Aye, Plenty, an Mair

A’m nae aa that sure aboot Glumsh or Glunsh —
bit Grizzel an Happit are in aboord onywye.
Is the back door snibbit ? Mak sure it’s wide open.
There micht be some neebors cam throwe the back
gairden or in ower the waa. Golach and Glit were nivver
my bosom freens, bit ye winna keep them oot if there’s
ither fowk in. A’m nae haein Drittle nor Fouter, though —
nane o them — there’s aye some scutter or sotter wi yon.
Hud back the fancies — bit pit them oot later. Shortbreid
an tablet, an twa or three panjotteries — there wis nae
oofum-ploofums at the baker’s the day. Bit there’s broon
breid and pan loaf an butter an honey, an plinty o sassidges,
fae Tommy, the best. Ye can aye pit on tatties, there’s broth
on the simmer, an fish winna keep. Oh, there’s galshach
o some kind — jist mindit this meenit — in the press
oot the back. So rowe up the cairpets, redd the fleer,
space for dancin. Bring aabody ben as seen as they’re in.
An mind noo fit I tell’t ye : the finest particles are langest
suspendit, so maist o oor relatives are still t’ come doon.



Glumsh and Glunsh are here just names, but associated with sour or grumpy looks. Grizzel is a good old Scottish name (from Grizelda). Happit covered, wrapped (fowk ging oot weel-happit agin the caal) ; in aboord on board. Golach is short for horny-golach : an earwig or forky-tail. Glit is slime or mucous. Drittle (or druttle) is a general term of abuse — for someone who’s too slow or a waste of time. Fouter (or footer) is likewise to dither, or somebody fussy and inept. A bit like scutter, which has the sense of faffing around in an irksome or unsatisfactory way. Sotter is another kind of tangled mess. Fancies are fancy cakes or biscuits. Tablet is Scots fudge, which is harder, but not less sweet, than other types. Panjotteries are pancakes. Oofum-ploofums are
probably meringues.* I only heard the word used once, vaguely indicating the more exotic or creamy items on a baker’s crowded counter top. Mindit is remembered ; press a cupboard or dresser, sometimes large and built-in. Galshach (pronounced galshick) where I grew up meant something tasty or attractive, but rubbish really, and likely a waste of money. Redd is to clear or tidy ; fleer is floor. Bring aabody ben is take everyone through. — AH

* In response to my enquiry about this word on the Buckie Facebook group, 5 February 2024, June Maver from Keith in Moray replied as follows : ‘My gran made oofum floofum : it was melted jelly whipped-up with evaporated milk ; light, with air bubbles through it. “Oofum floofum” was also used in a sarcastic way to describe fluffy things in general, like a big flouncy ball gown or wedding dress.’ Other group members also recognized the word in the sense of the aerated dessert, with the alternative name ‘fluff ’ also used, i.e. what is also known as ‘jelly fluff ’ or ‘milk jelly’. Response edited and reproduced with permission. — ABJ


The Fusslin Thrang: Collected Poems in Scots, by Alexander Hutchison

  • Deef the Mirk

    Deef the mirk, the shadda, the haar,
    deef the birk, the cassay-stane ;
    deef the haimmer t’ the anvil-heid,
    deef the sea, the houlat his lane.

    Blin the bumlick, blin the mirk,
    blin the girss, the barley-heid ;
    blin the mowdie aneth the grun,
    blin the roddan, blin the seed.

    Dumb the mirk, the deepest dool,
    dumb the sangs, an dumb the laich ;
    dumb the glimmer o the lift,
    dumb the wid, the watter, the craik.

    The hale hypothec’s totteran noo :
    totteran baists, totteran stanes ;
    totteran tee the likeness drawn,
    a totteran yaff t’ shift yer banes.

    Bit faa glisks, faa kens,
    faa spiks a wird o’t yet ?

    — Raymond Queneau, ‘Sourde est la nuit’

    deef deaf ; mirk dark or night ; shadda shadow ; haar a mist off the sea ; birk birch tree ; cassay-stane cobblestone ; houlat owl ; his lane on his own ; blin blind ; bumlick pebble ; girss grass ; mowdie mole ; aneth the grun underneath the ground or earth ; roddan rowan ; dool pain or grief ; laich a stretch of low-lying land ; lift sky ; wid wood ; craik a harsh cry ; hale hypothec the whole of everything, the works ; baists beasts ; tee too ; yaff an ignorant or useless person ; glisks sees, catches sight of ; kens knows ; spiks speaks




    ‘Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus’

    Love, Leebie, lat’s — an tak
    wir taik, an coont a maik for aa
    the havers o coorse aal men.
    Suns ging doon an sclim anither day :
    tae us, oor tottie flichter tint,
    nicht’s a sweven strecks forivver.
    A thoosan smoorichs gie’s, a hunner syne,
    anither thoosan, a secont hunner,
    anither thoosan, forby a hunner mair.
    An fan there’s thoosans eftir thoosans,
    dicht the sclate, an dinna reck,
    or ony golach gaurs us ill, gin it’s jaloust
    hoo lang or aft we’ve clapt an cleekit.

    — Catullus, poem V

    lat’s let’s ; tak wir taik go our way ; maik halfpenny ; havers nonsensical talk ; coorse ill-willed, severe ; sclim climb ; tottie small, brief ; flichter glimmer ; tint gone, lost, finished ; sweven dream ; strecks extends, stretches ; smoorichs kisses, caresses ; syne next, directly after ; forby in addition ; fan when ; dicht the sclate wipe the slate ; dinna reck pay no heed ; or lest, before ; golach earwig, insect, odious person or spirit ; gaurs does, causes ; gin if, when ; jaloust suspected, guessed ; aft often ; clapt an cleekit kissed and embraced




    Aul Mither Gings Blae an Awa

    Aul mither gings blae an awa,
    ‘Dinna lat ma heid faa dunt on the grun.
    A’m blin an deef.’ Deid fae the hert,
    a thummle in her pyock.

    ‘Sin the ither nicht’s a lang day-daw.
    Gie’s scowf. It’s fleers
    a’m seekin. Dicht the fleers, Lorine —
    wesh claes. Git oot the scartle !’

    —Lorine Niedecker, ‘[Old Mother turns blue and from us ]’

    gings blae goes blue ; dinna lat don’t let ; dunt thud or bump ; fae from ; thummle thimble ; pyock pocket ; sin since ; day-daw dawn ; gie’s scowf give me room, scope ; fleers floors ; dicht wipe ; wesh wash ; claes clothes ; scartle scraper, scrubber

  • Alexander Hutchison was born in Buckie on 20 October 1943. He graduated from the University of Aberdeen with joint MA Honours in English Literature and Psychology in 1966, and emigrated to Canada that same year to teach English and Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. He took Canadian citizenship in March 1975, and was awarded his PhD (on Theodore Roethke) at Northwestern University in Chicago. From 1977 to 1984 he taught at North Island College (Campbell River Centre) on Vancouver Island. His first full-length poetry collection, Deep-Tap Tree, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1978.

    On returning to Scotland in 1984 he lived first in Edinburgh and, from 1991, in the Southside of Glasgow with his wife Meg and their two children, Lucy and Max. The Moon Calf was published by Galliard in 1990, followed by Carbon Atom under his own Link-Light imprint in 2006. His final collection Bones & Breath, published by Salt in 2013, won the Saltire Award for Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2014. He held the post of Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Academic and Professional Development, University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in Paisley until his retirement in 2010. He died in Glasgow on 22 November 2015.

    A.B. Jackson was born in Glasgow in 1965 and graduated from the University of Edinburgh with MA Honours in English Literature in 1987. He has an MSc in Information and Library Studies (University of Strathclyde, 2000) and a PhD in Creative Writing from Sheffield Hallam University (2015). His first poetry collection, Fire Stations, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2003, and his poem ‘Treasure Island’ won first prize in the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition 2010. Two further collections are published by Bloodaxe Books : The Wilderness Party (2015) and The Voyage of St Brendan (2021). He now lives in Pitlochry.

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