David Watson Hood, visual artist
The Ballad of Kynd Kittock.
The Ballad of Kynd Kittock.
Attributed to William Dunbar.
My Gudedame was a gay wif, bot scho
was ryght gend,
Scho duelt furth fer into France, apon Falkland fellis;
Thay callit her Kynd Kittock. quhasa hir weill kend:
Scho was like a caldrone cruke cler under kell;
Thay threpit that scho deit of thrist, and maid a gude end.
Efter her dede, scho dredit nought in hevin for to duell,
And sa to hevin the hieway dreidless scho wend.
Yit scho wanderit and yeid by to an elriche well.
Scho met thar, as I ween,
Ane ask ridant on a snaill,
Scho cryit, "ourtane fallow haill!"
And rade ane inche behind the taill,
Till it wes neir evin.
Sa scho had hap to be horsit to her
Att an ailhous neir hevin it nyghttit thaim thare;
Scho deit of thrist in this warld, that gert hir be sa dry,
Scho never eit, bot drank our mesur and mair.
Scho slepit quhill the morn at none, and rais airly;
And to the yettis of hevin fast can the wife fair,
And by Sanct Petir, in at the yet scho stall prevely;
God lukit and saw hir lattin in, an lewch his hairt sair.
And thar, yeris sevin,
Scho levit a gud life,
And was oor Ladyis hen wif;
And held Sanct Petir at strif,
Ay, quhill scho wes in hevin.
Sche lukit out on a day, and
thoght ryght lang
To se the alehous beside in till ane evill hour;
And out of hevin the hie gait cought the wif gaing
For to get hir ain fresche drink the aill of hevin wes sour.
Saint Petir hat hir with a club, quhill a gret clour
Rais in hir heid, becaus the wif yeid wrang.
Than to the alehouse agane scho ran, the pycharis to pour,
And for to brew and baik.
Frendis, I pray yow hertfully,
Gif you be thristy or dry,
Drink with my Guddame, as ye ga by,
Anys for my saik.
For those of you without a knowledge of archaic Scots a translation into standard English.
The Ballad of Kind Kittie
My Grandmother was some woman but she was
She lived a long way into France on Falkland moors.
(although this fits the surrealist paradoxes of the poem it may also refer to the influence of French style in the area)
Those that knew her well called her Kind Kittie.
She was the shape of the hook a cauldron hangs from, beautiful under her headdress.
They put it about that she died of thirst, and made a good end.
After she died she was not afraid to live in heaven.
And so without fear she followed the road to heaven.
But she strayed and came to an elfin well.
There she met a newt riding on a snail,
She called out "hi overtaken fellow!"
And rode an inch behind its tail,
till it was nearly evening.
So it turned out she got a lift to her lodging,
When night fell they were at an alehouse near heaven;
It was dying of thirst in this world that made her so thirsty,
She never ate but drank enough and more.
She slept till noon and got up early;
Then the woman went quickly to the gates of heaven;
She sneeked past St. Peter secretly;
God looked and saw her getting in, and laughed till his heart was sore.
And there for seven years,
She led a good life,
And she looked after our Lady's hens;
And was unfriendly with St. Peter
all the time she was in heaven.
One day she looked out and thought a long time
To see the nearby alehouse at an unfortunate time;
And she went out of heaven by the main road.
To get her own fresh drink, as the ale of heaven was sour.
St Peter hit her with a club, until she had a big bump on her head, because the woman went wrong.
Then she ran back to the alehouse, the jugs to pour,
And to brew and bake.
Friends, I ask you with feeling,
Whether you are thirsty or not,
Have a drink with my Grandma, as you go past,
Once for my sake.