Hansel / Regalo de Año Nuevo / New-Year Gift

Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash

Dorothy Lawrenson: In Scotland, it’s impossible to be more than 40 miles from the sea. I’ve been lucky to live near the coast most of my life, and I often go down to the beach if I’m in a pensive mood. Wormit Bay is located on the south shore of the estuary where the river Tay – the longest in Scotland – merges into the North Sea. The turn of the year is supposed to be an opportunity to look forward optimistically, but it can also be a time of apprehension.

Carlos Llaza: Poems that observe what it means for a river to merge into the sea are alluring. River and sea are effective metaphors for life and death, or for the passing of time and eternity. The speaker of this striking piece presents the reader with the indecisiveness of water when approaching its destiny. As the reader will notice, ‘shairds o a bottle no lang at sea, / its message tint’ are at the core of this arresting lyric.

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

bi Dorothy Lawrenson

Wormit Bay 01.01.21

Athort the strand, peens o ice glent
lik gless the bairns dinged
fae the bothy’s blin windaes.

Cranreuch on the auld waas
minds me o yestreen’s cauld,
een’s it blaws wi the day’s flooers.

Yince mair Aa’ve sprauchelt
ower the black craigs
at the snell end o the year,

doiterin on chuckies clottert wi frost,
crumpin jeeled wrack unnerfit,
an noo Aa skail thir shockles:

shairds o a bottle no lang at sea,
its message tint.
The morn’s morn, aiblins

Aa’ll forthink thon lowsed sklinters,
aiblins mak a hansel o thaim.
Anither oor or twa, an the bauch ice

will jyne the seawart fluid, whiles,
lik the muckle firth itsel, switherin
gin it’s weirdit tae be fresh or saut. 

Regalo de Año Nuevo
traducido al español por Carlos Llaza

Bahía de Wormit 01.01.21

En la playa, cristales de hielo rutilan
como el vidrio que los niños rompieron
en la ventana ciega de la cabaña.

La escarcha en las paredes viejas
me recuerda el frío de anoche,
incluso mientras brota con las flores del día.

Una vez más he trepado
con esfuerzo las rocas negras
hacia el amargo final del año,

tropezando con piedras cual coágulos de escarcha,
algas de hielo crujiendo bajo mis pies,
y ahora esparzo estos carámbanos:

fragmentos de botella no ha mucho en el mar,
el mensaje perdido.
Mañana, quizás

me arrepienta de aquellas astillas,
tal vez haga un regalo de buena suerte con ellas.
Una hora o dos, y el deshielo

se unirá a la inundación del mar, a veces,
como el gran fiordo mismo, indeciso
entre un destino dulce o salado.

New-Year Gift
translated into English by Dorothy Lawrenson

Wormit Bay 01.01.21

Across the beach, panes of ice glint
like glass the children smashed
from the bothy’s blind windows.

Hoar frost on the old walls
reminds me of last night’s cold,
even as it blooms with today’s flowers.

Once more I’ve clambered
over the black rocks
at the bitter end of the year,

stumbling on pebbles clotted with frost,
crunching frozen seaweed underfoot,
and now I scatter these icicles:

shards of a bottle not long at sea,
its message lost.
Tomorrow, perhaps

I’ll regret those released splinters,
perhaps make a good-luck gift of them.
Another hour or two, and the thawing ice

will join the seaward flood, sometimes,
like the great firth itself, swithering
whether it’s fated to be fresh or salt.


  1. How I’ve loved hearing or reading these poems. Not quite grasping the words but somehow knowing the meaning and memories of my Scottish childhood and a smattering of Spanish. Then reading the English and thinking – yes.
    Thank you for the work and to the funders. I don’t know why it came to me but I’m so glad it did.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Rose! It’s really great to hear how much you’ve been enjoying our project.

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