Document 729

The Retour o Troilus

Author(s): Tom Hubbard

Copyright holder(s): Tom Hubbard


Ill-thriven laund, eenou ti me sae deir,
Cauldrife an courin fae the daithlie drow:
Lang-cowpit waas, owre mony ghaists ablow;
An yit I mynd the bluid-reid wine flowed here.

Why suid my youth feel auncient as thir stanes,
Why suid my prieven virr sae faa fae me,
Why suid my een, aye vieve efter the years
o cruellest sains o fechtin, cryne fae this sicht?
Here at the burn that mirrors me throu time
I leuk upo mysel as yince I wis,
Like faither ti a son, leevin ti daid,
The past o Troy an Troilus. In this glen
I cam late ti manheid: she, the forehand
o aa the queans that ti my breist hae won,
The rare Cresseid; she, whase flichterin hairt
Felt delicat as ony timorsome mavie
That liltit owre oor heids; she, whase quick muivement
In guidin me ti a neuk, wis sib ti the con
Wha derts athort the pad, then vainishes ...
Here at the sacrit crag upon whase brou
Oor forefowk biggit the dun an steidit Troy,
We were twa glaikit bairns: the merest smitches
That an ever-twynin linn
Kests on the seg as, tentless, it hauds forrit.
Aye bydes the auld Troy fir Troilus. In this cave
A queen made her orisons, an we oor luves;
Whaur noo it's daurk, then glintit my leman's een,
Whaur noo it's foustie, then fufft her body's scent,
Whaur noo hing cobwabs, she cleikit me in her hair.

Thon wis the folly that first made me wyce,
Chynged the heich-heidit halflin wha kent aa
- Or sae he thocht - aboot the courss o the state,
The macklik policies o peace an weir,
Wha laucht at ither men whase caa ti airms
Wis ti the airms o a mere paramour:
This wis your Troilus, buirdliest chiel o the land,
The rival o the gods, an no yit twinty!
I staun the day, at the hinner-en o youth,
Amang the wrack o a kinrik an its fowk:
Ithers hae peyed mair deirlie nor mysel
Fir weivin o mishanter an mistak,
That skufft us fae oor umwhile eminence
Ti the untentit airts ayont the port:
Rickle o bleckened banes in the aise-midden
Or gruggilt beauty i the lazar-houss ...

Cuid I but see the thristin o new life
Up throu the cleavin o the palace flair,
Ti spreid o emerant in the simmer sun -
Yit I maun leave, an come here nevermair.

But I can hear this ferlie: a deid-bell.
There's mair come back ti murn here nor mysel,
Aa wabsters, an the last o their trade in Troy,
In slaw processioun:
Yin o their feres is ti by yirdit sune.
Nane sall gang pairt o the road and then gie owre,
Nane but sall cairry the corp, or else attend it,
Ti the kirkyaird aa the wey.

Abune us nou
the crummlin temple floats upon the haar.

Owre mony ghaists, fir me ti gang my lane;
Owre mony ghaists, the kinrik's, an my ain.

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APA Style:

The Retour o Troilus. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"The Retour o Troilus." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 21 May 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Retour o Troilus," accessed 21 May 2024,

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


Information about Document 729

The Retour o Troilus


Text audience

General public
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Word count 508

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)
Other Scotsoun cassette tapes; SCRAN audio resource

Text performance/broadcast details

Where performed/broadcast Many performances since 1988, at home and abroad

Text publication details

Publisher Aberdeen University Press
Publication year 1988
Place of publication Aberdeen
ISBN/ISSN 0-08-036417-9
Edition 1st
Part of larger text
Contained in Four Fife Poets
Page numbers 110-111

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 232
Forenames Tom
Surname Hubbard
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs N/A
Occupation Academic, librarian and writer
Place of birth Kirkcaldy
Region of birth Fife
Birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Kirkcaldy
Region of residence Fife
Residence CSD dialect area Fif
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Caterer
Father's place of birth Dysart
Father's region of birth Fife
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Caterer
Mother's place of birth Dysart
Mother's region of birth Fife
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Fif
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Everyday
Italian Yes Yes Yes Yes Work, holiday, fluency fluctuating
Polish No No No No Smattering. Work, holiday
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Everyday. Scots spoken in relaxed circumstances