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Orkney Dialect Poems

2010 Year o Orkney Dialect

Poetry Competition – Winning Poems

See Videos featuring a Selection o the Winners here

Download a PDF o all the winning poems here


Overall Winner:  Marlene Mainland, Holm, Orkney (Home Truths)

Adult: Home – Marlene Mainland “Home Truths

Adult: Humour – Marlene Mainland “High Coo

Adult: The Land – Jane Harris, Stirling “Me Laand

Adult: The Sea – Fiona A Cowan, Finstown “Boreas domus mare amicus?

Secondary: Home – Courtney Peace, Stronsay “The ‘Guid’ Life

Primary: Home – Anja Hall, Evie “Poosack

There were no entries in the Primary/Secondary age groups for ‘Home’, ‘The Land’ or ‘The Sea’, so special prizes were awarded.


Best Use of Sounds – Ellen Forkin, Deerness “Sea o Dunder

Best Use of a Traditional Theme – Fran Flett Hollinrake, Quoyloo “Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm

The Judges Choice – Ragnhild Ljosland, Kirkwall “New


Overall Winner & Category, Adult: Home

Home Truths  by Marlene Mainland, Holm

Granny? Whar’s Bessie geen?
Shi’s geen tae whar the good dogs go, bairn.
Run thoo oot tae play
Thir’s kettleens in the barn.

Granny? Whar daes gablos come fae?
Fae atween the flags and in the wa
Don’t be faird o them
Thir aa hermless peedie things

Granny? Whar’s that uncan wife?
That’s Nellie the tinkler wae haar pack
If thoo’re a good lass
Thoo’ll mibbe get a bonie frock.

Whaar’s Granny at? Is shae ben?
Shae’s feelan trowie.  Laev haar be.
Run thoo oot and play
Wae the kettleens in the barn.


Category, Adult: Humour

High Coo by Marlene Mainland, Holm

Black coo on the brae
Lyan snushan chowan ceud
Tae the Mart the morn.

(Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.)


Category, Adult, The Land

Me Laand  by Jane Harris, Stirling

“Yur no gittan hid!”
Sharged the peedie ould wife.
Horn mad.
Laan har man hid bowt
An they hid wrowt

Wis hid har reuts?
The claas o the laan
Clewran at har hert?
Ur a last dugged whess
In the face o daeth?

I doot
Sheu’ll no can tak hid wae har.

“Dust to dust, ashes to ashes..”

Fur seun sheu’ll be
Cheust a grin o stoor


Category, Adult: The Sea

Boreas domus mare amicus?   by Fiona A Cowan, Finstown

The North is wur home, but is the sea wur freend?
Hid deudno seem that wey the streen.

Whitna’ freend wid himmer doon the door
Haeve salt apae the windows
Dad the shaws aff the tatties
Rummel doon the dykes
Fleud the new girse
And tak back the tangles wae’d gathered all winter?

…but this morneen

Glimmeran and sheenan’
Lappan quietly under the banks
Fleud tide clearan awey the tang
Nee more bruck fae the ebb
Six bonnie skiffs settan oot tae sail
Gae’an us ceuithes fur wur supper..
…a freend indeed.


Category Primary: Home

Poosack by Anja Hall, Evie

Sleekit puss wae his furry lugs
And his stripy tiger tail
He always comes in tae me bed,
Purran tae himsel.

I’m writing this upon me bed
Wae poosack sittan here.
Soon Dad’ll come in through the door
And say “Lights oot noo, Dear”.

And then he’ll notice poosack there
and say “That’s no alood!”
And tak the cat oot o me bed

I ken I’ve no been good!
Tonight I hiv a clever ploy –
When Dad comes up the stairs
I’ll stick puss under the cover
(And hope it doesna tear).

Here he comes – thump, thump, thump.
As I planned tae do,
I stick puss under the covers
Quiet poosack noo!

“Whaur is that blinkin cat” dad says
“He’ll be oot side again”
“You mind on whit I said last night”
“Poor puss oot in the rain”

We go tae sleep, the hoose is still
But then I feel a tickle
Pussy’s needan oot again
Noo I’m in a pickle.

Puss puss stop hid, listen noo!
I canna git tae the door
Fur me claes are all
Scattered on the floor

“Whit’s all that racket”, I hear dad say,
“The cat is in her room!”
Pussy girns and greets and pleeps –
Ah’m in fur it noo!


Category, Secondary: Home

The ‘Guid’ Life by Courtney Peace, Stronsay

I palled up me breeks, pit oan me baits,
Me glivs were waarm fae the fire,
Stack oan me pernee – hid lukked gey cauld ootside –
An heeded oot the dower.
The air wis theek, hid wisna warm,
The moon wis still in the sky,
I ambled doon by whaur the baes wur eatan,
An sterted tae dyte the byre.
Stow, ya hoarsegowk, yar still oot at this time?
No need fur yar squeckan noo,
in a guid puckle o hoors ye’ll be aff fae here,
An I’ll be bulderin doon tae school.
Scrapin at the walls, yin reek at six in the mornan,
Ah’m no carin fur being clerted in gutter,
Taakin the rookle oot tae the midden buddum,
Plitterin through hid wi me wheelbarra.
Yins the mornan’s wark doan but no fur the rest of the day,
Change oot o me claes an in summin clean,
An oan the rod tae school is whaur ah’m maakin me wey,
Aalready a herd mornans wark am deen!
I can jist hear yin teachar aye sayan,
When aall the ‘guid’ bairns, that hid bin ‘oan time’,
Wid’ve likly got mare o a lie in!


Special Prizes 

Best Use of Sounds

Sea o Dunder by Ellen Forkin

The icy jabble
And the frantic scrabble
O pebble ower pebble
The doonpour o icy drebble
The skelder o sea on shore
Ower the distant roar
Under the tinkle o shell
You wid nivver tell
The Finfolk King sits quiet
Amongst the dunder o riot


Best Use of a Traditional Theme

Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm by Fran Flett Hollinrake

Here’s a tale tae tell wur bairns – hid’s aal aboot this bonny isle,
Wi monsters, brave sowels, scary pairts, and mebbe waards tae mak ye smile.

Pityer a land o plenty, noo: wi oats and yows and kye (hid’s cattle);
And here’s a lad that’s good fur notheen – that’s oor hero, Assipattle!

Aa day he sits afore the hairth, ass gets in his hair and claes;
Aa aroond him, waark gies oan; a useless fleep, his mither says.

But Assipattle his high hops, that wan day soon he’ll save the land
‘Mither’, says he, ‘Ah’ll mak ye prood’: Ah’ll save the waarld wi me right hand!

Weel, right enough it wisnae lang afore a cry gaed through the air:
‘A muckle monster, oot at sea – hid’s craaled oot fae its secret lair!’

Hid’s wallie tail culd wrap aroond the earth an crush it wi a shak;
Fok called it Muckle Stoorworm, and they kennt whit hid culd brak!

Noo, Wormy et a haep of lasses, aa tied tae a graet big stane
And aa the dowters had tae gie their lives – the number spared wis….nane.

The Princess Gem-de-Lovely cam, the bonniest lass in aa the land
She wisne faerdie, nor yet prood, and strappit doon she lukked cheust grand.

‘Noo’s me chance,’ oor hero cried, laepin up to fetch his pail
I’ll tak this paet that’s burning yet – I’ve got this plan – it canna fail!

Assipattle took his paet and ran doon tae his peedie quill
Rowin hard he fund the Worm, and pocked it till it felt right ill.

Hid gied a roar and gullpit doon the peedie boat, the lad and paet
And Assipattle foond hissel right in the puggie’s stinkan haet!

He plittered here and yon until he fund the liver o the worm
And wi his gullie, cut a hale and stuffed the paet in good an firm!

The monster girned and gied a rift, and threw up ass and guffan reek
And up cam Assipattle’s boat, oor lad near feart tae tak a keek.

Noo, wormy’s heid wis shakkan bad, hid’s yackles brakked in muckle lumps:
Orkney, Shetland, Faroes too, were aa made fae they bits and bumps!

The Stoorworm died in aafil pain, hid’s body’s hot and burnan free:
Wi smok and bilin mud, it seems this is hoo Iceland cam tae be.

Assipattle took his quill and rowed hid tae the sandy shore
And fund the princess lying there, bonny as a flooer in voar.

The twa fell deep in love right there, and maerried after twathree days
And aa the fok were muckle glad and aal pit oan thur bonny claes.

They lived a heap o years I’m tellt, and not a single tear wis gret:
And if they arena deid, my freend, well surely then, thur livan yet!


The Judges Choice

New by Ragnhild Ljosland

I am new
Pittan new soonds in me mooth
I even hiv a new nem
Cus no-one here can pronounce me auld one
Me gear cam in a container across the sea
But Ah’ve left the auld me
wae me bruck
No-one kens
I wis
But aal ken who
I am noo
I am new
I am new noo


Download a PDF o all the winning poems here
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