Rab Wilson is one of Scotland’s most accomplished poets. His poetry in Scots is distinguished by its oral quality and its technical assurance. The author of a number of highly praised volumes of poetry, he is also a Burns scholar. He has worked with the artist Calum Colvin on a book of responses to Burns, and until recently was the scriever in residence for the National Trust for Scotland, based at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr.
The Auld Professor
‘A Glorious 12th indeed’, he thinks,
Glimmerin at the lift abune the Bens.
Nicht’s daurk mantle faws upon the Cuillins,
Syne black as velvet pickt wi gliskin pearls;
Natuir’s stairk Graund Orrery,
Ne’er failin in its pouer tae dumfouner!
Aa is still, an ceptin fir the heivins naethin steers,
Till aa a suddent a timorsome deer
Nervously stegs athort the field;
Lugs twitch, she yerks her heid,
Daurk een drink in the tentless starns,
Syne swith, turns tail an dairts awa.
Swipperly she’s swallaed bi the forest.
Prof patientfu leans oan the drystane dyke,
That’s claithed in rime o hoary moss,
Nursin the gless o whisky in his haund,
A stiff dram o his favourite Talisker,
Bides cannie the musica universalis.
Then thair they are! Siccar as the mornin Sun!
Flashin, gliskin, glentin sparks o fire!
The Perseids, wingin their endless wey,
Athort the braid black welkin o the nicht.
He hauds the gless o whisky tae his ee,
An keeks fir fun oot throu its pepper smeek,
The Amber o his nectar’s fremt meniscus,
A skime o licht glints past his eident gaze…
He clamps a haund doun oan the gless,
Luiks round tae speir that nane hae seen this daftness,
Then steikin baith his een, taks aff his dram;
An drinks the perfect fire o the cosmos.
From Oor Big Braw Cosmos (Luath, 2019)