Childhood Memory
Unreal May Day
The Linden is in Bloom, and It is Night
After the War

Author: Reiner Kunze
Translator: Kay McBurney



When the swallows gathered to fly away,
the bird-barbed wire
strung between the electricity poles
fenced off the village from the sky

And the people were
imprisoned, sentenced
to winter

To telegraph wires
with no birdsong

To the empty nest
within their breast

When the swallows gathered
and their tail- and wingtips
marked the border




The cherry and pear trees flowered in such abundance
that they metamorphosed
into white clouds

Enblossomed, the village
floated up

With our white hair
we affected belonging
and became weightless




The air … so warm and deathly still
Adalbert Stifter

The linden is in bloom, and it is night
The droning bees are silent now, instead
the air is teeming with stars

Man, that itinerant beekeeper flitting by night to pastures new,
the bolts of his hives slid into place, air flaps open,
wheels rasping,
for other honey

He has measured the curvature of the firmament
and sets off
to those distant shimmering swarms

Eve’s genes murmuring within him

But no matter how far he extends the radius of his heaven’s sphere
into boundless space, he will only ever fly
along the inside

If we wanted to understand the otherness of the world,
we would have to be

We humans under linden trees, in bloom,
at night




The farmers hoed over the harvested fields
until the furrow mounds
were trenches

Strangers who dared
venture too close were shown
the horsewhip

Hunkering in the undergrowth,
we waited in the wood
until above the smouldering haulm fires
the moon rose

and to our hungry mind’s eye
an unattainable,
potato glowed




[Varlam Shalamov / Kolyma]


Reiner Kunze, Lindennacht.  S. Fischer Verlag, 2007.

Ach Goddla fell …
Neia Reifn drauf

Author: Helmut Haberkamm
Translator: Alexander Hutchison, Donal McLaughlin, Kay McBurney, Robert Alan Jamieson

[Translations into Shetlandic by Robert Alan Jamieson; into Scots by Alexander Hutchison and Donal McLaughlin; and into English by Donal McLaughlin and Kay McBurney]

Wurri herkumm, wirri haaß, wemi
Gleichsiech, wemi noochgrood

Wosmer kaaßn hemm, wosmi
Baggd, wosmi miedgnumma hadd

Wossi gsehng hobb, wurri
Gweesn bin, wossi glernd hobb

Weni droffn hobb, wossi
Derlebbd hobb, wossi waaß

Wossi kann, wossi kenn, wossi
Du, wossi sooch, wossermer denk

Wos dief drinhoggd, wosmi
Ausmachd, wosmer noochgehd

Wossermer aufkalsd, wossermer
Kolld hobb, wosmer oodoo hemm

Mid wossi wos oofang, wosmer
Wos oogehd, aus wossermer wos mach

Fier wossi groodsteh
Fier wossermi grummleech

Obber wossi woor, binni nämmer, wossi
Bin, bleibi nedd, wossi sei meecherd

Binni nunni – Ach
Wos waaßn iech?

Quhar A’m kum fæ, quhit I ans ta, quha A’m
Da læklie o, quha I takk eftir

Quhit d’ir kaad me, quhit’s
Grippt me, quhit it is’at’s shiftit me

Quhit A’m led een apo, quhar A’m
Gien till, quhit ler A’m hed

Quha A’m kum apo, quhit A’m
Livt trow, quhit I wat

Quhit I kan, quhit I ken, quhit I
Dø, quhit I sæ, quhit I miesel tink

Quhit hookers doon ati’me, quhit’s ati’
Mie makk-up, dat’at byds wie me

Quhit A’m yoakkit me ta, quhit A’m
Gottin t’miesel, quhit d’ir døn t’me

Dat’at I dø wie, quhit ta me
Hæs wirt, dat’at I makk wie

Fir quhit A’m upstaandin
Fir quhit I krug me owir

Bit quhit iens I wis, I im næ mær, quhit I
Im, A’ll no byd, quhit I wiss I wis

A’m no yit bien – Ach
Quhit dan ken I?

Where I come from, what my name is, who I
Look like, who I take after

What they promised me, what
Grabbed me, what swept me along

What I’ve seen, what
I’ve been, what I’ve learned

Who I’ve met, what I’ve
Been through, what I know

What I can do, what I know well,
What I do, what I say, what I think to myself

What’s deep within me, what
Makes me different, what’s on my mind

What I’ve brought upon myself, what I’ve
saddled myself with, what they did to me

How I begin something, what is
My business, what matters to me

What I accept responsibility for
What I pinch and scrape for

But what I was I am no more, what I
Am I won’t remain, what I’d like to be

I’m not yet. Och –
What do I know?

Helmut Haberkamm
Frankn lichd nedd am Meer,
ars vivendi verlag, Cadolzburg, 1992
Shetlandic by Robert Alan Jamieson
English by Donal McLaughlin
Ach Goddla gell mei Guuderla
Loard Abøn, Feth, mie Pierie ting
Oh lordy-me, rightey-oh, my babykins
hobberla sodderla siggsdersla etzerdla
hammer des aa widder gell

mei Guuderla

sabberlodder bloß a Momendla nu hobberla siggsdersla
braungmers scho morng nämmer machn no fraali gell

mei Heichderla

ach Godderla iech soogs ja bloß a wengala
bloß a Momendla nu siggsdersla

mei Muscherla

bloß a Hämpferla a Habbla a Hardla a Hafdla
bloß a Schieberla a Straiberla a Fardla a Steigla

mei Schlaggersla

gell nacherdla haddmer hald gschwind a Drimmla
un a bisserla sei Ruh aa widder gell

mei Waggersla

mei Bobberla mei Engerla mei Zeiserla
gell des säggsd du aa mei Scheißerla


O waatch noo, dat’s de noo, sies du dis, noo
jun’s wis nierlie don noo, feth

mie pierie ting

mersie me, choost a pierie start, O waatch, sies du dis
we winna hæ dis t’dø da moarn, trootæl, feth.

mie pierie swiet

O Loard abøn, A’m sayin, choost a pierie græn a’dis
Choost a pierie start mær, sies du dis

mie pierie spoot

choost æ haandfu, æ kælhert, æ gadderie, æ koos
choost æ løffu, æ bowlfu, æ kyshiefu, æ kjist

mie pierie tingaboadie

feth we’ll hæ wis wir pukkil in a mienit
an dan spell wis a pieriemintie start, willin we

mie pierie jooil

mie poppit, mie pierie aenchil, mie lintie
feth døs du no sæ da sam mie pierie skittrie-ers

na sies du, don

Oopsadaisy, there we goesy-woesy,
that’s-a-better now, rightey-oh

my babykins

bless my soul, just a wee minute, oopsadaisy, there we goesy-woesy,
now we won’t need to do it tomorrow, will we now

my sweetykins

oh lordy-me, only just a little-bitty more now
just a wee minute, there we goesy-woesy

my honeykins

just a teensy-weensy handful, a spriglet, an itsy-bitsy clump, a titchy-witchy heap,
just a bunchy-wunchy, a posy-wosy, a sacky-wacky, a boxy-woxy

my cheekykins

rightey-oh, we’ll have a piley in just a jiffy-wiffy
and then we’ll be able to relaxykins, won’t we now

my cutykins

my poppet, my angelkins, my little chickadee
you think so too, don’t you, my shittiekins

here we goesy-woesy

Helmut Haberkamm From:
Des sichd eich gleich,
ars vivendi verlag, Cadolzburg, 2001

Shetlandic by Robert Alan Jamieson

English by Kay McBurney
Neia Reifn drauf
nooch Bertolt Brecht
Njoo Quhiels On
eftir Bertholt Brecht
New Tyres On
after Bertolt Brecht
Iech hogg auf der Staffl am Oostraafer doddn.
Mei Vadder dudd di Winderreifn nooschraum.
Wui herkumm, moochi nedd grood noo.
Wui hie will, moochi aa nedd grood noo.
Is Gscheidsde wär, iech langerd mied noo
Un dääd helf derzu bein Schraum. Obber
So hoggi bloß doo un hald mei Goschn
Un schau un waaß nedd, wossi meecherd.
Sixd, etz sinn di Reifn aa scho droo.
Mei Vadder wingd, iech fohr dervoo.
A’m hookirt’po da briggstenns, bie da bøt-daddir.
Mie fædir snøds da wintir-quhiel bolts doon.
Quhar A’m kum fæ, I hæna will t’gjing dær.
Quhar A’m set fir, neddir hae I will t’gjing daer.
Da thing wid be fir me t’rekk a haand dær
An gie a pierie spell apo da bolts. Bit
Dær I hookir me, haddin mie chaas
an gaan, no kennin quhit A’m eftir.
Sies du, fu shøn da quhiels ir gød t’læv.
Mie fædir wævs, as oot a’dær I dræv.
I’m on the front step beside the shoe-scraper.
My father’s putting on the winter tyres.
I don’t want to go to where I’m from right now.
I don’t want to go where I want to go to, either.
The best thing would be to lend a hand
and help put the tyres on. I remain
sitting there just, though, and keep my mouth shut.
And watch, not knowing what I want.
Look – that’s the tyres on already.
My father waves, I drive off.
Helmut Haberkamm From:
Frankn lichd nedd am Meer,
ars vivendi verlag, Cadolzburg, 1992
Shetlandic by Robert Alan Jamieson English by Donal McLaughlin

New Tyres Oan

ahm on the front step aside the shoescraper.
ma faither’s pittin the winter tyres oan.
where ah come frae, ah dont wantae go right now.
where ah want tae get tae, ah dont wantae go either.
The best thing wid be tae get a grip
an’ help pit the tyres oan. ah keep
sittin there just but an’ keep ma gob shut.
An’ watch, no knowin whit ah want.
Look – that’s the tyres oan awready.
Ma faither waves, ah drive off.   Scots by
Donal McLaughlin
New Tyres Fittit

A’m oot front on the step aside the buit-scratter.
Ma faither’s pittin on the winter tyres.
Far a’m fae, a dinna wint t’ ging richt noo.
Far a micht seek t’ging, a dinna wint t’ ging aither.
Giein him a haun t’ fit the tyres wid be
The thing t’ dee. Hoowivver, I jist bide
Humphin here an zip ma moo.
An watchin: nae kennin fit a wint.
Aye, look, at’s the tyres on aready:
Ma faither gies us a wave, an I heid aff.
Scots by Alexander Hutchison