Mary Johnston

Mary Johnston is one of the poets we chose to feature for National Poetry Day 2009.

Cover of 'Ring O'Sangs'

Mary Johnston was born and brought up in Aberdeenshire and now lives in Midlothian. She considers herself bilingual, with the Doric she learnt from her grandparents as her first language.

Mary has been writing poetry since October 1999 and her poems have been included in publications such as 'North Words', Lallans' and 'New Writing Scotland'. Her own poetry pamphlets include 'Teuchat Storm' (2004) and 'Fa Dis She Think She Is?' (2009). All Mary's pamphlets contain audio CDs to preserve the sound of Doric.

Mary was short-listed for the McCash Poetry Prize in 2004 and has won Diplomas for Excellence in the Scottish International Poetry Competition in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004. Mary is working on Doric versions of lesser known Grimm's tales and a Doric version of 'Life in the Garden of Eden'.

These two poems are taken from 'Ring O'Sangs: Liederkreis Deutsch to Doric', published by Poetry Monthly Press and joint runner up in the 2009 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.


Moonlicht Nicht

It wis, als the welkin,
sae douce hid kisst the yird,
an it wi niddry fleer'shins
maan nocht bit drame o it.

A drucht gid throu the corn parks,
the shaifs shoudied saft,
the wids reeshelt gentie,
sae starn-bricht wis the nicht.

Ma sowl raxt oot its weengs
in braid bird-like flachts,
an ower the quait kintraside
gid fleein hamewith stracht.



In a Castell

Up there in his look-oot
the ald knight is sleepin,
reyn's dingin doon roon aboot him,
widland soons reeshles throu the yett.

Baird an hair are fankelt igither,
his breest an neck bands turnt ti steen,
mony a hunner year he's lain there,
up there in his quait lair.

Oot bye aathin is quait an lown,
aabdy doon in the howe,
nocht but widland birdies singin
in the toom windae frames.

A waddin pairty is sailin by
doon on the sunny Rhine,
musik-makars makin merry,
an the bonny bride is greetin.


National Poetry Day 2009


Speak me