Document 130

Scots Haiku II

Author(s): Mr Bruce Leeming

Copyright holder(s): Mrs Dorothy Leeming



Scots is now mainly a literary language, although the rudiments of its vocabulary and particular idioms are today being taught in many Scottish schools. Drawing on several origins - the Inglis of the Northumbrian Angles, the tongues of the Picts, the Celtic Gaels and the Scandinavian Norsemen, as well as, later, Dutch and the French of the Auld Alliance - Scottis was at one time the principal language at the Scottish court and used in legal documents. It was quite distinct from the English of the period (13th-16th centuries).

Great literature in Scots was produced by writers like Barbour, Henryson and Dunbar, the 'Makars'. A revival took place under Ramsay, Ferguson and Burns, then again in the time of Walter Scott. During the Scottish Literary Renaissance in the first half of the 20th century Hugh MacDiarmid, Douglas Young, Maurice Lindsay and others once more recreated the art of writing in Scots, referring to their lexis as 'Lallans'.

Scots speech lives on all over Scotland in lively dialectal versions which show marked regional variations, particularly in pronunciation. My poems are cast in a literary register of the Auld Leid. The English translations are as near literal as possible.

There is debate over a standard Scots orthography. I have tried to follow the emerging modern consensus by, for example, representing the oo sound, as in loom, by the letters ou: so trout is written thus in preference to troot. It follows that, say, the word for leap is written as lowp and not loup.


THis form of poetic expression, deriving from ancient Chinese models, was perfected by Matsuo Basho in Japan during the 17th century. The Imagists first introduced it to the West early in the 20th century. Today haiku are being composed in the United States and all other English-speaking countries, in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Croatia and Romania, in the Philippines, China, India and of course Japan. They are also being written in fringe languages such as Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and now Scots.

The Haiku is restricted to three lines in a maximum syllabic pattern of 5-7-5, frequently divided by a caesura. However, this framework provides for certain Japanese linguistic devices - for example, our word 'rain' would contain three 'syllables' by Japanese reckoning - and so haiku in other languages tend to a shorter length. There is no rhyme or metrical requirement. Usually a seasonal or nature reference is incorporated. Haiku are untitled.

This is a deceptively simple poetry. It aims to keep personal feelings largely submerged and eschews 'poetical' words, similes or metaphors, preferring to deal in concrete elements, tastes, smells, sounds and textures. Its true endeavour is to capture fleeting epiphanies, 'haiku moments', insights into the heart of things, animate or inanimate. A poem's meaning may be obvious, pictorial perhaps, even gently humorous, but not uncommonly intimations of a profound character will arise, intensified by the compression of the words and, sometimes, by an unexpected internal comparison.

Moods typical in haiku are humility, compassion, serenity, paradox, acceptance, joy in nature and the company of others of like mind, paradox, wonder. It is never a vehicle for epigrams, squibs, self-referential statements or, least of all, critical moralizing.
Edinburgh, December 1999 BL


Laverocks tweedlin:
twa weans vizzy the lift

Larks singing:
two children study the sky

Mairch blouster:
warslin corbies stertit
bi a fliein news

March gale:
struggling rooks startled
by a flying newspaper

Yon muckle dug
sneevlin - scauldit
bi a thrie year bairn

That great dog
whining - scolded
by a three year old

Throu the haar
a waik sin - fowk pass
talkin sma

Through the sea fog
a weak sun - people pass
speaking quietly

Doun i the haugh
dwammy wi haw fume -
a wumman greitin

Down by the river bank
languid with hawthorn scent -
a woman weeping

In Glesca toun
a piper sterts -
the stuckies depairt

In Glasgow town
a piper starts up -
the starlings depart

the yalla puppies

the yellow poppies


Caller broun trout
skirlin for brakefast -
leevin is cantie!

Fresh brown trout
frying for breakfast -
life is pleasant!

Sweltrie morn
ilkane thrang: the auld cheet
steiks her een

Sweltering morning:
everyone busy: the old cat
closes her eyes

Throu the Grampians
a jet skreichs: faur abuin
an earn fidderin

Through the Grampians
a jet screams: far above
an eagle hovering

Yon fou gangrel -
doverin on a bink
in new baffs!

That drunk tramp -
dozing on a bench
in new slippers!

Aw day yon gowk
has cawed eesomelie:
a weirdlie soun

All day that cuckoo
has called seductively:
a sinister sound

Butterie drounin
i the dub: shuin pass

Butterfly drowning
in the puddle: shoes pass

This bonnie wee wick
o saun an sprots - claggit
wi plastic wrack

This pretty little cove
of sand and reeds - clogged
with plastic rubbish

At Lochranza
une het: plowtin our feet
i the jeel caul burn

At Lochranza
oven hot: plunging our feet
in the ice cold stream

I the mirknin paurk
heilant beasts staun:
gaffs frae the change

In the darkening field
highland cattle stand:
loud laughs from the inn




The lammer burn
lowpin: hou wechtie
the bouders

The amber stream
leaping: how solid
the boulders

Up bi Glencorse
quait kintra: i the hedder
tuim airmy bullets

Up by Glencorse
quiet country: in the heather
spent army bullets

Hairst onding:
the tawie kye stauns

Autumn downpour:
the obedient cattle stand

Computer rowp:
outside a larrie laidit
wi neeps

Computer sale:
outside a lorry loaded
with turnips

Back-end efternuin
lown: ane leaf
birls doun slaw

Autumn afternoon
utterly still: one leaf
spins slowly down

Owre Embro
at een the lift

Over Edinburgh
at dusk the sky

neep lantrens -

turnip lanterns -

Peat reik straught
frae the lane biggin -
he's leevin yet

Peat smoke straight
from the lonely cottage -
he's still alive

Near Spean Brig
caur rummle kemps
wi rowtin herts

Near Spean Bridge
car noise competes
with roaring stags

lowpin slee:
hou quait the sprots

Autumn run salmon
leaping stealthily:
how still the reeds


Rimie morn
laddies sclyin -
an auld chiel smirks

Frosty morning
boys sliding -
an old man smiles

the lest oor o sin -
windaes smouderin

Hoar frost:
the last hour of sun -
windows smouldering

Janwar gowsts:
the maw paurliament

January winds:
the gull parliament

At Tarbet
ilka day the snawline
a bittock nether

At Tarbet
each day the snowline
a little lower

Sin passin doun
the linn skinkles reid:
a scoukin tod gawks

Setting sun
the waterfall sparkles red:
a skulking fox stares

In Aiberdein
a tuim maw ettlin ti eat
yon guttie die

In Aberdeen
a hungry gull trying to eat
that rubber toy

Sowpin usque
wi twa friens -
bidin the snaw

Drinking whisky
with two friends -
waiting for the snow

athort the frozent loch
a lassie kecklin

across the frozen loch
a girl chuckling

This work is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


Cite this Document

APA Style:

Scots Haiku II. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Scots Haiku II." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 23 February 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Scots Haiku II," accessed 23 February 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 130

Scots Haiku II


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Children (under 13s)
Teenagers (13-17)
General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition N/A
Year of composition 1995
Word count 1175
General description Second collection of Haiku in Scots with an English version.

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Thistle Press
Publication year 2000
Place of publication Edinburgh
ISBN/ISSN 0 9537727 0 5
Edition 1st

Text setting


Text type

Other Collection of poems.


Author details

Author id 539
Title Mr
Forenames Bruce
Surname Leeming
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Educational attainment Highers/A-levels
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired businessman and writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Midlothian
Residence CSD dialect area midLoth
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation General Manager
Father's place of birth Nottingham
Father's region of birth Nottinghamshire
Father's country of birth England
Mother's place of birth Port Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Renfrew
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Renfr
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work and daily living
Malayalam Yes Yes No No Basic level. Lived in Far East for 14 years
Scots No Yes Yes Yes Literary language