Rab Wilson


Professor Sharmanka’s Magick Sheddae Schaw


Wheesht! Whit’s gaun oan in the Burns Museum,
In the howe-dumb-deid o the wee sma hours,
Thair’s eldritch whigmaleeries cam alive,
Tae fleg the weans oan this All-Hallow’s Eve!

Professor Sharmanka’s traivellin schaw,
Trundles ower the Brig O’Doon’s auld keystane,
An frae his cairpet-bag cam’s crawlin oot,
A damned menagerie o infernal craiturs!

Whan nae-yin is abraid they tak their post,
Heizin scrap-yaird treasuirs intil place,
Bits o cast-iron Singer shewin machines,
A pair o auld pram wheels, a lavvie cistern.

The doors frae a bracken doll’s hoose kythe,
Blinkin de’ils Hieronymous Bosch wid ken,
Biggin their Heath Robinson contraptions,
Ilk beam an ratchet fixed, when naethin steers.

Uncanny bears an wolves an burly bulls,
Rax an jundy, streetch an rax an puhl,
Wi aa their micht an main, wi sweit an thew,
Til evri gear an wheel an pinion’s fixt.

Sharmanka taks his concert-maister’s place,
Syne shoogles his sauch wan an gies a tap,
Ilk craitur in their place taks tentie care,
An then a kist o whustles girns tae life!

Rid lichts lowe oot, glentin lik damnation,
The eerie music rises tae its pitch,
The strainin chains growe taut, the gear-wheels catch,
An syne the hale clanjamfrie jyne the dance!

Sharmanka’s airm flails lik a Tattie-Bogle,
Claucht in some back-end November storm,
Whiles oan their heich trapeze the ferlies birl,
The Tod an Yowe, a Bear wi bairn in airms,

Lood an looder screichs the Deevils score,
The hale queer unco’s gaun lik a fair!
The ragged Gaberlunzie’s Hurdy-gurdy,
Adds its timmer-tuned vyce tae the choir.

Chained in their wee bit hoosie, backs tae the licht,
The ‘Children o the Daurk’ jalouse frae sheddaes,
The warld they ken frae saicent-haund daylicht;
Cantrips dancin oan the wa afore thaim.

An aa the hoose around is sleepin soundly,
Anely a doverin Houlet blinks an ee,
Douce fowk o Ayr! Gin anely ye cuid see!
Sharmanka’s diabolical Kinetics!

When aa a suddent, chanticleer dis craw,
The dancin stoaps an lichts aa fade awa,
Sharmanka pynts his wan i the risin sun,
The Houlet shaks his feathers, aa’s gaen lown.

The Gallery door’s flang apen tae the public,
A mither wi her twa bit bairns gangs furth,
The auldest lassie rugs her mither’s sleevie,
‘Mammy, mammy! Thon bear winkt its ee!’


Sheddae: shadow | howe: the middle or most intense part | eldritch whigmaleeries: unearthly fantastic contraptions | fleg: scare | weans: children | heizin: hauling | intil: into | kythe: reveal | ilk: each | rax: reach | jundy: jostle | thew: muscle | shoogle: wobble | sauch wan: willow wand | tentie: attentive | kist: box | lowe: glow | clanjamfrie: jumble, crowd | Tattie-Bogle: scarecrow | claucht: caught | ferlies: marvels | birl: whirl | Tod: Fox | Yowe: ewe | unco: strangeness | Gaberlunzie:  beggar or awkward person | timmer: unmelodious | jalousie: surmise | cantrip: antic | doverin: dozing | Houlet: owl | douce: sedate | gin: if | chanticleer: cockerel | lown: hushed | bit: small | gangs: goes


The sheddae shaw can be seen in action here.


Rab Wilson is a poet wha screives maistly in Scots. In 2004, he published his Omar Khayyam in Scots. His collection, Accent O The Mind wis publisht tae critical acclaim bi Luath Press o Embra in 2006. In November, 2007 he took up post as Robert Burns Writing Fellow in Reading Scots for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association. He hus twice bin winner o The McCash Poetry Prize. In 2009 he published a saicent collection, Life Sentence, and an anthology o poetry bi contemporary Dumfries and Galloway poets, exclusively in the Scots leid, entitled Chuckies fir the Cairn. In 2010 he produced a poetry-led film documentary anent coal mining in the South West Scotland, caa’d Finding the Seam. In 2011 he launcht his new collection A Map for the Blind (Luath 2011). He premiered a sonnet redouble/jazz music suite collaboratioun 1957 Flying Scot at Wigtown Leeterary Festival in 2013. In 2016 he published the collection Zero Hours on Luath Press. As of 2017, Rab wis made Convenor o the Scots Language Centre an is currently Scots Scriever in Residence at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Rab is a leal-heirtit advocate fir aathing Scots, ettlin tae further Scots language, an gie her a heize up oan the global leeterary stage!

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