Private Gentle

The Smedum Test

(This piece is from the above. I have great admiration for the courage and determination of Mrs Gentle.)


Private Gentle


(Deed Iraq, June 2004)


At ower six fuit yer hert,


Micht hae beat in a pine tree,


Ye deed in Iraq blawn apairt,


Whiles Whitehaa mandarins socht WMD.



Somme, Goose Green an mair,


On mony a village or toun stane,


A nation still bottom o Europe’s eco-stair,


As yer mither is racked wi pain.



Nae chiel sent fae London toun,


A PM’s son sent tae fecht,


A litmus test niver pit doun,


Huid up tae harsh daylicht.


Lik the best pub stories his muckle nieve,


Lik the closest family ye went in peace,


Lik the emptiness thae cannae believe,


Lik thaim we want murderin tae cease.



Throw politics and history aside,



Excuse mere wirds intae a bleckwell,



Jist A wid honour yer son Gentle


And tell.



An illegal war, a Party that lost its soul, June 2016.





Sad to hear of another giant of literature and vision passing awa. I translatit his ‘Night’ some time ago. As a national figure presented a racist, Fascist poster recently I was reminded of Primo Levi’s words about a would-be tyrant and the beautiful words on his lips. Even if they were brought up in Scotland.

From Elie Wiesel, ‘Night’. 2006 Marion Wiesel translation in Penguin Paperbacks (2008): ‘Born into a Jewish family in Romania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were rounded up by the Nazis, corralled into trains, and transported first to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald..

Nicht-A Scots Translation

Niver wull A unnerstaun thon nicht, the

furst nicht in camp, thon turned ma

life intae ane lang nicht seeven times steekit.

Niver wull A forgit thon reek.

Niver wull A forgit the sma faces o the bairns whase bodies A Seen transformit

Intae reek unner a silent lift.

Niver wull A forgit thae flames that consumed ma faith foriver.

Niver wull A forgit the nocturnal seelence thon took fae me fer aw eternity o the desire tae live.

Niver wull A forgit thae moments thon murderit ma God an ma saul an turned ma dwams tae ashes.

Niver shall A forgit thae things, e’en wur A condemned tae live as lang as God



Scots Translation o Elie Wiesel


Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never. Elie Wiesel

Even if only one free individual is left, he is proof that the dictator is powerless against freedom.