Writing in Shetland

Robert alan jamieson111
North atlantic drift11
Soor hearts11
Thin wealth1111
Ootadaeks is a series of five poems in Shetlandic by Robert Alan Jamieson. The series draws its inspiration from the semantics of place expressed in five words of Norse origin used in the topography of Shetland. Transcript prints two here. Read the original texts in Shetlandic here.

KAILYARD: 'an enclosed area, generally to the rear of the crofthouse, used for storing field crops and growing vegetables'.
Your eighteenth spring is as cold as wind-blown cloth on the breasts of those who go against the winter gale; you're adrift, without a sail as those who court the storm's beginning must know their course will finally be.

Lass, you'll turn and trample over fields for mischief, your nonsense claims that laws are wrong because they're old. Inside the dyke, the shapes your mind would naturally draw go squint. Your blustering hurry sickens all.

No farmyard steading's big enough to hold it. You won't take up your knitting, the patterns you'd create are wasted here on those so governed by tradition, they're always cramping somebody. Wherever you would sit, there's someone sitting.

Wherever you would dig there's someone digging, nagging on where you must put your spade, from Christmas embers dwindling in January's darkness, till Easter orders everyone must work. You must find a path away, for none will bear your presence here much longer. Inside the dykes, your tether's tied ...

TRØBA: 'a small piece of land not included in the division of allotments among families in a village'. Compare Old Norse troð.

Outcast, though you make loud sounds, here no neighbour listens to your spluttering arguments. Go softly with sore-worn foot. There's no one to force your bent-backed bow ~ but keep a weather eye wide open. Maybe sister familiar walks with you no more, no more she takes your food, your place, your Sunday shoes.

Maybe no more your brother wrestles and laughs your temper up. Still and all, you've stood too often in their company, to go away and not to miss them. Before you leave your family, three times you'll go, three times you'll drift back home, hoping to find something you've left behind you - or maybe someone, there in the old house watching for the prodigal wandering home, to shake hands and sit, two friends, two halves together whole.

But when you arrive, no one's gone to look for you, and you find nothing to warm your frozen hand, nothing but a sour word for neighbour on your bitter tongue, because they let you leave and never urged you stay. So move yourself. Your path's away, over the ditch, where brown earth's next to green.

To the far pasture you'll take the cattle, and away a summer, you'll ease the stinging in your limbs, and let the spring exhaust you. When the spade-sores in the palm of your hand are healed, you'll turn that hand to love. And when the north wind halts its wild, loud roar, you'll lift your ears and learn the skylark's song ...

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