Celtic Studies Resources

My Heid did Ake

Teresa wrote “Oh god my head somebody please just shoot me now.” My friend Jasmin also suffers from migraine. I thought of this poem, by William Dunbar, (c. 1460 – c. 1520) one of the so-called Scottish Chaucerians. The text is is in Middle Scots, rather then the more usual Chaucerian Middle English, so there are various dialectical differences, most of them northern forms (even Norse forms), rather than southern or London dialect, and some rare borrowings from Gaelic.

On His Heid-ake

MY HEID did yak yester nicht,
This day to mak that I na micht,
So sair the magryme dois me menyie,
Perseing my brow as ony ganyie,
That scant I luik may on the licht.

And now, schir, laitlie, eftir mes,
To dyt thocht I begowthe to dres,
The sentence lay full evill ill find,
Unsleipit in my heid behing,
Dullit in dulnes and distres.

Full oft at morrow I upryse,
Quhen that my curage sleipeing lyis,
For mirth, for menstrallie and play,