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The Lyrics

Jackie Kay chose a popular Scottish cartoon character, Maw Broon, as the speaker for her new poem. She chose to write in an exaggerated form of the Scottish language. At the beginning of the poem, Maw Broon has realised that her husband, Paw Broon, is having an affair. Jackie Kay also describes how the poem conveys Maw Broon's feelings of unhappiness and jealousy.

There's Trouble for Maw Broon by Jackie Kay
Porphyria's Lover, by Robert Browning

There's Trouble For Maw Broon by Jackie Kay
 Hear the poem |  Biography
It dawned on me, aw of a sudden
the sickening reason Paw wis changing.
I'd been the mug. I didnae want tae face
whit was staring me in the face.
It crept up on me bit by bit.
Till wan sudden day I saw Paw wis fit.
He'd had his tash clipped neatly.
He'd toyed wey the thocht o' a toupe, he telt me.
Really! He bought a brand new bunnet.
I couldnie hack it, the way he wore it.
There wis ither clues as weel
noo I come tae play back the reel.
He stapped drinking spilt tea
frae his saucer; he didnae belch and say
Guid fir me! He didnae tut at the TV.
If he dribbled he wiped his chin.
If he coughed he covered his mooth.
He chucked oot his auld tackety boots.
He threw oot his pipe and his baccie.
He lost interest in fitba.
He started eating his veggies raw.
It wis mair than I coud staund.
I'd find masell at the sink wey shaking haunds.
He wisnae a skinflint anymair.
He spent a wee fortune on a pair
o good leather shoes, a mint on a new jaicket.
I couldnie take it. I couldnie fake it.
Then he fixed oor shoogly table.
That wis it! I'd had my fill.
I wis on tae him. It wis guilt. Pure and simple.
Wiring plugs. Cleaning oor auld quilt.
I wis able tae see it clear as day.
There wis a fierce jalous wind blowing that day.
Bitter and bleak and bad like my thoughts.
This wis final. This wis ma lot.
I wis dreary and dowdy and dull
Sic tae the back teeth wey masell
And Paw wis looking swell,
aw spruced up and smelling o' old spice.
I wis finally sure, knew in a trice.
I wisnae going round the bend
efter a', I wisnae oot o' my mind,
I wisnae telling mysell wee lies.
I wisnae suspicious and paranoid.
Paw wis late hame eight nichts in ten.
He wisnae wan o' they drinking men.
I couldnie run from the truth anymair.
I'd had it up tae here.
I ken the truth, it's the truth I ken
Paw's been hauving it aff in oor but n' ben
under oor wee frail tin roof
in oor special place when - s'truth
efter a' we've been through thegither
through rain and stormy weather,
oor sacred but n' ben
oot o' toon fir a lang weekend.
Paw's let me doon.
I could staund maist onything
but no the thought o' oor but n ben.
It's spoilt noo. Ruined. Dirty.
Paw's been underhaund. Shifty.
I canny go tae ma wee haven.
I'm mental. Raving.
When I think o' me and Paw Broon,
how we slept the nicht thegither like spoons,
And noo, the dirty swine!
That braw wee place wis mine, mine.

Porphyria's Lover, by Robert Browning
 Hear how the jealous tones of Browning's poem inspired Jackie Kay

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.

When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm;
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form

Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,

She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,

Murmuring how she loved me - she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.

But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come thro' wind and rain.

Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshiped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before.
Only, this time my shoulder bore

Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!

Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now.
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

Jackie Kay

Poets on the Lyrics

 Andrew Motion

 Jackie Kay

 Paul Muldoon

 Fleur Adcock

Further Links

Biography of Jackie Kay

 Selected Poetry of Robert

 Robert Browning on the BBC

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