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Scot Verse

Flyting-The Scottish tradition of Flyting (Scot –scolding) is a public argument in verse between poets. The verse is satirical and often extreme. The poets with quick and lethal tongue have been known to attack each other's literary skills, intellect, moral character, and even sexual abilities. Flyting is a genre of verse turned poetic technique, the structure or frame is at the discretion of the poet. Tumbling Verse commonly framed this genre because it crossed over well to prose. This tradition is found in the earliest Scot court records and is even thought to go back to the 6th century oral works of the Gaelic poets. One source cites a section of Beowulf as the origin.

One of the more known examples of flyting is the 20th century," the folksong flyting", a series of letters published in Scot newspapers between poets Hugh MacDiarmid and Hamish Henderson and others. "Flyting also provides a uniquely Scottish context for the very public battles the concrete poet Ian Hamilton Finlay has fought with both cultural and taxing authorities regarding the artistic, religious, and financial status of the garden temple at his farm, Little Sparta." An Introduction to Scottish Poetry, Susan Tichy 2001.

The poetic technique, however, is not confined to Scottish verse. American verse has employed quick-witted argumentative dialogue inserted into the body of a narrative referred to as "flyting" in the Appalachian Jack Tales and in folk verse led by the African American character, Shine.

Shine and the Titanic --anonymous

It was a hell of a day in the merry month of May
When the great Titanic was sailing away.
The captain and his daughter was there, too,
And old black Shine, he didn't need no crew.

Shine was downstairs eating his peas
When the . . .water come up to his knees.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my peas
When the water come up to my knees."

He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."
Shine went downstairs looking through space.
That's when the water came up to his waist.

He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs looking through space,
That's when the water came up to my waist."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."

Shine went downstairs, he ate a piece of bread.
That's when the water came above his head.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my bread
And the . . .water came above my head."

He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."
Shine took off his shirt, took a dive. He took one stroke
And the water pushed him like it pushed a motorboat.

I'll give you more money than any black man see."
Shine said, "Money is good on land or sea.
Take off your shirt and swim like me."
And Shine Swam on.

Shine met up with the whale.
The whale said, "Shine, Shine, you swim mighty fine,
But if you miss one stroke, your black self is mine."
Shine said, "You may be the king of the ocean, king of the sea,

But you got to be a swimming son-of-a-gun to out-swim me."
And Shine swam on.
Now when the news got to the port, the great Titanic has sunk,
You won't believe this, but old Shine was on the corner damn near drunk.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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