On Hearin Auld Lang Syne tae a Different Tune / Escuchando Auld Lang Syne con Otra Melodía / On Hearing Auld Lang Syne to a Different Tune

Photo by Stefany Andrade on Unsplash

Dorothy Lawrenson: The ‘different tune’ that prompted this poem is not a new tune – in fact it’s the original tune that Robert Burns was familiar with. The tune we tend to use today – the one that is sung around the world at Hogmanay – is an alternative tune, and not the one that Burns had in mind. The original tune has made a bit of a comeback since being featured in the film Sex and the City. You can hear it here.

Carlos Llaza: Being a close friend of Robert Burns, I cherish this poem as a personal favourite. Although my rendering, once again, fails to reproduce the physicality of Scots, it does attempt to convey the surprise and embrace of Dorothy’s poem: the speaker leading Burns’s beloved song to the dancefloor.

Scroll down to see a video of poet and translator reading this poem, with English subtitles.

On Hearin Auld Lang Syne tae a Different Tune
bi Dorothy Lawrenson

Auld freen, yer new claes 
are braw – fur a meenit but, 
Aam stammagastert. Syne 
the unco casts the kent 
in a new licht. Forby, 
ye’re dumfoonert an aw 
at hoo Aa’ve chynged. Aa mind 
the turn o phrase the auld yins 
would yaise at pairtin: 
Aa’ll see ye when ye’re better 
dressed. This new rig-oot – 
Aa could get yaised tae it. 
So here’s a hand my trusty fiere – 
crossed hauns bring us aye nearer. 
An when we turn oot,

Aa cannae see ye, but it’s fine
Aa ken the feelin o yer haun in mine.

Escuchando Auld Lang Syne con Otra Melodía
traducido al español por Carlos Llaza

Vieja amiga, la ropa nueva
te queda bien – aunque por un minuto
me sorprendo. Entonces

lo desconocido proyecta lo conocido
bajo una nueva luz. Además,
tú también estás atónita

ante cómo he cambiado. Recuerdo
la frase que hombres mayores
solían decir al despedirse:

Nos vemos cuando estés mejor
vestida. Este nuevo atuendo –
me podría acostumbrar.

He aquí mi mano, confiada amiga
las manos cruzadas nos acercan más que nunca.
Y tras girar,

no puedo verte, pero no importa.
Sé cómo se siente tu mano en la mía.

On Hearing Auld Lang Syne to a Different Tune
translated into English by Dorothy Lawrenson

Old friend, your new clothes
are fine – for a minute though, 
I’m astonished. Then 
the unknown casts the known 
in a new light. Besides, 
you’re dumbfounded too 
at how I’ve changed. I remember 
the turn of phrase the old men 
would use at parting: 
I’ll see you when you’re better 
. This new outfit – 
I could get used to it. 
So here’s a hand my trusty fiere – 
crossed hands bring us ever nearer. 
And when we turn out, 
I can’t see you, but it’s fine 
I know the feeling of your hand in mine.

One comment

  1. ‘Vieja amiga’ – and ‘tu mano en la mia’: as moving and nostalgic in Spanish: but the Scots of ‘Auld freen’ and ‘yer haun in mine’ has the familiarity of countless such occasions for me! Still this poem ‘casts the kent/in a new licht’ – ‘una nueva luz’. Perhaps that is one of the chief functions of poetry; and this whole enterprise has certainly done that for me. Thank you, Dorothy and Carlos!

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