Poems for March


The Attributes of a Gentleman

Chess I’m eager to play,

nine skills I know,

I scarcely forget runes,

book and handicraft are my custom,

I can glide on skis,

I shoot and row as will serve,

I know how to consider

both harp-playing and poetry.


Earl Rongvald Kali (St Ronald of Orkney) (d.1158)

Translated from the Old Norse by Paul Bibire. Image shows a statue of Rognvald Kali.



Spend the years of learning squandering

Courage for the years of wandering

Through a world politely turning

From the loutishness of learning.


Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989)

From The New Penguin Book of Scottish Verse ed. Robert Crawford and Mick Imlah (Penguin:2000) and Samuel Beckett: Collected Poems In English and French (Grove Press:1977). 

Two perspectives on cultural life. We read the twelfth-century Earl to glimpse a vanished world. In Beckett our own world looks back at us.