The Montgrew Poem

Montgrew Days

The poetic memories of an unknown WWII soldier from Keith (most likely a farm worker or maybe just a friend of the family) serving somewhere in the MiddleEast.  It has been hoped and assumed that the soldier returned to Keith – any update on that will be posted here.

In Original ‘Doric Language’ A Prosaic Translation To non-Doric English
As I lie in my dug-out o’ sandbags an’ san’,
I’m thinkin’ o’ days gan lang syne
O’ peace an’ contentment faun time were sae gran’,
An’ a’ een had peace o’ the min’
As I lie in my dug-out of sandbags and sand,
I’m thinking of bygone days
Of peace and happiness when times were so good
And everyone had peace of mind
That three-pair place jist oot o’ the toon,
Ayont the Kincain in the howe,
Faun sallyin’ forth tae visit the loons,
An’ Mistress McKay o’ Montgrew.
The farm with three pairs of horse (Growies)
Beyond the Kincain in the hollow,
When wandering down to visit the boys,
And Mrs McKay of Montgrew.
Roger an’ Jock, aye keen for a lark,
The Bylie – a big strappin’ cheil,
Young Bert Ettles, an’ fyles Willie Clark,
Wi tricks ‘it wad ootwit the deil.
Roger and Jock, always keen for a laugh,
The Bailie – a muscular chap,
Young Bert Ettles, and sometimes Willie Clark,
With antics that would outwit the devil.
For sport then I wight that neen wis gamer
Faun simmer gyas lang o’ its licht,
We’d hae a bit bung o’ the wechts an the haimmer,
An’ faith fyles the margins were ticht.
For sport then I’d swear that none were keener
When summer gives long daylight,
We’d throw weights and hammer (as in Highland Games),
Honestly, sometimes the competition was close.
Or tak a bit stroll doon Isla-side green,
Wi’ a bamboo an’ preen for a hook,
In the hopes wi the Bylie we widna be seen,
An’ feenish the nicht wi’ a dook.
Or take a walk by the banks of the river Isla,
With a cane rod and a pin for a fishing hook,
Hoping the Bailie wouldn’t see us,
And finish the night with a swim.
Faun winter sae cauldrif cam sweepin’ the howe,
An’ the frost gya sweet Isla the stammer,
The dykesides blown fu’ tae the e’et-most knowe,
We socht the bricht cheer o’ the chaumer.
When cold winter swept over the fields,
And the river Isla was frozen over,
The stone walls were covered with snow,
We sought the cheery warmth of the bothy.
The beds for the men, aye two ilka side,
Forsooth there was room in the middle,
Whaur wi’d dance tae a tune o’ some lively Strathspey,
For Roger hid knack o’ the fiddle.
The beds for the men, always two on each side,
Made sure there was room in the middle,
Where we’d dance to a tune, a lively Strathspey,
For Roger could fairly play the fiddle.
Sometimes the fiddle wis playin’ its lane,
An’ fu’ we enjoyed the aul’ waltz,
Syne sum’ane wid fish oot the paper an’ caim,
An’ vamp tae a braw Scottish march.
Sometimes it was the fiddle on its own,
And how we enjoyed the old waltz,
Then someone would bring out paper and comb,
And vamp to a fine Scottish march.
At acht o’clock or a few minutes bye,
We’d roll up the nicht wi’ a sang,
Syne mak’ for the kitchie o’ Mistress McKay,
For oor usual tae, breid, an’ jam.
At eight o’clock or thereabouts,
We’d finish with a song,
Then head to the kitchen of Mrs McKay,
For our usual tea, bread, and jam.
An’ a smoke by the fire, aye burnin’ bricht,
An fyles a wee chaff wi’ the maids,
Syne ane wid bid ither a cheery guid nicht,
An’ we’d a’ mak’ tracks tae oor beds.
And a smoke by the fire, always burning bright,
And sometimes having a laugh with the maids,
Then we’d bid each other a very good night,
And head away off to our beds.


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August 2018