“Scrunter”: The Cheeky Caroler



Home-Made Wine (Aye, Miss Gloria)

Lyrics by the Calypsonian “Scrunter”

(Irwin Reyes Johnson) from Trinidad and Tobago





“parang” is Trinidad Christmas music,

originally from Venezuela – and

“paranging” is caroling – singers and musicians

going from house to house and given food and

drink for Nativity/Good Will songs sung in Spanish

and English.


“wine” is a double-entendre – it means, of course,

the alcoholic drink, but also:  to dance freely, with

vitality and erotic possibility




Leh we go !

Ah went paranging by meh neighbour,

Ah went by Miss Gloria (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah say, madame – what you have to offer?
She said, ah have everyt’ing right here (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah doh buy whiskey – neither strong rum

– it is against my religion (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah have homemade wine in all description

Rude boy, you could sample any one.


Pommecité (pom pom pom), Hog Plum, Cashew and Guava
Banana, Five-Finger, Balata and Cane

Ah want some homemade wine, madame Gloria
Gimme some homemade wine, it nice
Ah want some homemade wine, madame Gloria
Gimme some homemade wine, it sweet
Pom pom, pom pom pom pom…….


Ah have black cake from Joan already

So right now ah doh want no more (aye Miss Gloria)
But all dem local wine you present me
Ah got to taste some a dem for sure (aye Miss Gloria)
Oh madame, which one is yuh favourite?
Bring it out, quick – lemme taste it (aye Miss Gloria)
Is you who make – and you must know

– Ah want a good head before ah go !
Citrus, Hibicus, Dandyroot, Passionfruit
Temawee, Strawberry, Aloes and Rice wine


She say, Cocoa wine does give me short breath

And sometimes it make me upset (aye Miss Gloria)
Maybe de seed does have it so strong
Or ah leave it in de jam too long (aye Miss Gloria)
When it comes to wine ah have de recipe

Go out deh – ask anybody (aye Miss Gloria)
Any function, any party

Dem people does come running-running to me !


Cocoa, Long mango, Carili, Temawee,
Guava, Balata, Plantain and Cane wine
Paw-paw, Aloes (aye Miss Gloria)
Corn wine, Ah have cane wine

Fig wine (aye Miss Gloria)
Pom pom, pom pom pom pom,
Coconut wine

Hard wine ! Aye Miss Gloria !

Pom pom, pom pom pom pom,
It sweet, it sweet,
It nice nice nice nice nice…




Jakuren: The First Day of Winter


Poems of Mediaeval Japan by

Jakuren (Buddhist monk and poet:  1139-1202)

* Transliterated Japanese on the left *



yomosugara                               throughout the night

kusa no iori ni                                      we kept the brushwood burning

shiba taite                                   in my lowly hut,

katarishi koto o                          and the words that we exchanged

itsuka wasuren                                     I never shall forget


*     *     *


miyamabi ni                               deep in this mountain

fuyugomorisuru                         I keep the winter indoors:

oi no mi o                                  who would care to call

tare ka towamashi                      on so aged a body,

kimi naranaku ni                        were it not for you?


*     *     *


izukuyori                                   you found a path in my dream

yoru no yumeji o                       the mountain

tadorikoshi                                 is deeply in snow now

miyama wa imada

yuki no fukakini


*     *     *


ikanishite                                   wondering how you

kimi imasuran                                      have been of late, as the breath

konogoro no                                        of snow in the wind

yukige no kaze no                      blows colder every day

hibi ni samuki ni


*     *     *

Mon Pays – c’est l’Hiver ! “Québécitude” in song


My country’s not a country, it’s winter,
my garden’s not a garden, it’s a vast plain,
my road is no road – it’s the snow !
My country’s not a country – it’s winter !

A ceremony all in white
where snow marries wind,
in this blizzard-land

my father built a house
and I’m going to honour
his ways, his example…
My guest room will be where
you return, season by season
and you’ll build too – right beside it.

My country’s not a country, it’s winter,
My refrain’s no refrain, it’s a gust of wind,
My house isn’t mine – it’s the winter-chill’s !

My country’s not a country – it’s winter !

All around my solitary land

I cry out before the silence,

to everyone on earth:
My house is yours, too.
Inside four walls of ice
with time and space
I make the fire, and a place
for People of the Horizon
– and these people are of my people.

My country’s not a country, it’s winter,
my garden’s not a garden, it’s the vast plain,
my road is no road – it’s  the snow !
My country’s not a country – it’s winter !

My country’s no country but the contrary
of country – neither land nor nation,
my song’s not a song – it’s my life !
And for you I wish to master these winters !



Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver
Mon jardin ce n’est pas un jardin, c’est la plaine
Mon chemin ce n’est pas un chemin, c’est la neige
Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.

Dans la blanche cérémonie où la neige au vent se marie
Dans ce pays de poudrerie mon père a fait bâtir maison
Et je m’en vais être fidèle à sa manière à son modèle
La chambre d’amis sera telle qu’on viendra des autres saisons
pour se bâtir à côté d’elle.

Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver
Mon refrain ce n’est pas un refrain, c’est rafale
Ma maison ce n’est pas ma maison, c’est froidure
Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.

De ce grand pays solitaire je crie avant que de me taire
A tous les hommes de la terre ma maison c’est votre maison
Entre mes quatre murs de glace je mets mon temps et mon espace
À préparer le feu, la place pour les humains de l’horizon
Et les humains sont de ma race.

Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver
Mon jardin ce n’est pas un jardin, c’est la plaine
Mon chemin ce n’est pas un chemin, c’est la neige
Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.

Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’envers
D’un pays qui n’était ni pays ni patrie
Ma chanson ce n’est pas une chanson, c’est ma vie
C’est pour toi que je veux posséder mes hivers.


Gilles Vigneault (born 1928) wrote “Mon Pays” for a 1965 NFB film,

La neige a fondu sur la Manicouagan.  This new folk song became an

instant classic – emblematic for Québec’s growing nationalist movement.

Editor’s note:

Almost two generations later the song does show its age, for the Canadian

essential-ideal of The Great White North – intrinsic to Canadians outside of

Québec as well – holds less sway in our collective identity.   Too, “Mon Pays”

is dated in that it captures the spirit of an isolated – if friendly – culture:

not the rumbling, restless Québec of the 1960s.  Rather the lyrics might well

describe a People more remote in time – the Far-North Inuit of the 19th-century.

Still, if there has been a place in Canada where winter is embraced and

not merely borne, it is Québec, where coureurs de bois and habitants

were the first of Canada’s White arrivals to adapt the Naskapi/Montagnais

Native People’s’ inventions – toboggans and snowshoes – to daily use both

practical and recreational.

And Québec leads the nation for Winter fun – not drear – with many jovial

outdoor festivals and an entrenched culture of open-air ice-skating parties !


Translation from French into English:  Alexander Best

Hanukkah Poems: Light the Candle !


Mark Strand (born 1934)

“The Coming of Light”



Even this late it happens:

the coming of love, the coming of light.

You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,

stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,

sending up warm bouquets of air.

Even this late the bones of the body shine

and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.







Aileen Fisher (1906-2002)

“Light the Festive Candles”



Light the first of eight tonight—

the farthest candle to the right.


Light the first and second, too,

when tomorrow’s day is through.


Then light three, and then light four—

every dusk one candle more


Till all eight burn bright and high,

honouring a day gone by


When the Temple was restored,

rescued from the Syrian lord,


And an eight-day feast proclaimed—

The Festival of Lights—well named


To celebrate the joyous day

when we regained the right to pray

to our own God in our own way.




Canciones sefardíes de la Turquía


Canciones sefardíes de la Turquía (2009)

en el idioma judeoespañol:



Sephardic songs from Turkey (2009)

in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish)


*     *     *


Avram Avinu / Abraham our Father



Kuando el rey Nimrod al kampo saliya

Mirava en el cielo la esteriya

Vide luz santa en la cuderiya

Ke aviya de naser Avram Avinu.


Avram Avinu

Padre kerido

Padre bendiço

Luz de Israel


La mujer de terah kedo prenyada

De diya el ediya él le preguntava

De ke teneş la kara tan demudada

Eya ya saviya el bien ke teniya.


Avram Avinu

Padre kerido

Padre bendiço

Luz de Israel


*     *     *


Irme Kero Madre / Mother, I want to go

to Jerusalem



Ir me kero madre a Yeruşalayim

A pizar las yervas i artarme d’eyas

En él me arrimo yo

En él m’afiguro yo

Él es senyor de todo’l mundo.


A Yeruşalayim lo veyo d’enfrente

Pedri ayi mis ijos i paryentes

En él me arrimo yo

En él m’afiguro yo

Él es senyor de todo’l mundo.

יהודה עמיחי / Yehuda Amichai : “The two of us together and each one alone”

יהודה עמיחי

שנינו ביחד וכל אחד לחוד

ילדה שלי, עוד קיץ עבר
ואבי לא בא ללונה פארק.
הנדנדות מוסיפות לנוד.
שנינו ביחד וכל אחד לחוד.

אופק הים מאבד ספינותיו –
קשה לשמר על משהו עכשיו.
מאחורי ההר חכו הלוחמים.
כמה זקוקים אנו לרחמים.
שנינו ביחד וכל אחד לחוד.

ירח מנסר את העבים לשניים –
בואי ונצא לאהבת בינים.
רק שנינו נאהב לפני המחנות.
אולי אפשר עוד הכל לשנות.
שנינו ביחד וכל אחד לחוד.

אהבתי הפכה אותי כנראה
כים מלוח לטפות מתוקות של יורה;
אני מובא אליך לאט ונופל.
קבליני. אין לנו מלאך גואל.
כי שנינו ביחד .כל אחד לחוד.



Look,  sweetie, one more summer’s turned dark
And my dad hasn’t come to the amusement park.
The swings keep swinging on their own.
The two of us together and each one alone.


The horizon loses its ships off the shore.
Hard to hold on to a thing anymore.
The fighters waited behind the hill.
How much we need of mercy still !
The two of us together and each one alone.


The moon is sawing the clouds in two.
Let hand-to-hand love bring me against you.
We alone will make love where the two camps fight.
Perhaps we can still make everything right.
The two of us together and each one alone.


As the first sweet rain was once salt sea
So,  it would seem,  has my love changed me.
I am brought to you slowly,  and fall.  My dear,
Receive me.   No angel redeems us here.
Because the two of us are together.  Each is alone.




Yehuda Amichai (1924 – 2000) was one of

the first poets to compose in colloquial Hebrew.

Written in 1955, this simple, complex poem

makes reference to lease contracts:

“the two of us together and each one alone” – direct

from Hebrew and equivalent to the English legal

phrase  “both jointly and severally” — which we

can now read as the Palestinian-Israeli land

struggle.   The poem also draws upon a popular Israeli

children’s song of the 1950s:

“Daddy, come, let’s go to the Amusement Park !”




We are grateful to A. Z.  Foreman for his translation

of the above poem from Hebrew into English.

Visit his website:   poemsintranslation.blogspot.com

О́сип Мандельшта́м / Osip Mandelstam: “Maddening cherry brandy”


Hagia Sophia


Hagia Sophia:  it was at this place

The Lord ordained that peoples and Caesars halt.

Your dome is, in a witness’s phrase,

As if hung by a chain from heaven’s vault.


And when Ephesian Diana allowed the looting

Of a hundred and seven green marble columns

For alien gods, it proved for ages yet to come

A monument to Justinian.


But what was it your generous builder meant

When he laid down apses and exhedrae,

As great his spirit as his intent,

Indicating to them east and west?


And bathing in the world, the shrine inspires awe,

Its forty windows are a celebration of light;

On the dome’s supporting vaults, the four

Archangels cause the most delight.


And the wisdom of his hemispherical dome

Shall outlive peoples, outlast the ages still to come,

While the full-voiced sobbing of the Seraphim

Shall not let its darkened gilding dim.








Я вернулся в мой город, знакомый до слез,
До прожилок, до детских припухлых желез.

Ты вернулся сюда, так глотай же скорей
Рыбий жир ленинградских речных фонарей,

Узнавай же скорее декабрьский денек,
Где к зловещему дегтю подмешан желток.

Петербург! я еще не хочу умирать!
У тебя телефонов моих номера.

Петербург! У меня еще есть адреса,
По которым найду мертвецов голоса.

Я на лестнице черной живу, и в висок
Ударяет мне вырванный с мясом звонок,

И всю ночь напролет жду гостей дорогих,
Шевеля кандалами цепочек дверных.






I returned to my city, familiar as tears,

As veins, as mumps from childhood years.


You’ve returned here, so swallow as quick as you can

The cod-liver oil of Leningrad’s riverside lamps.


Recognize when you can December’s brief day:

Egg yolk folded into its ominous tar.


Petersburg, I don’t yet want to die:

You have the numbers of my telephones.


Petersburg, I have addresses still

Where I can raise the voices of the dead.


I live on the backstairs and the doorbell buzz

Strikes me in the temple and tears at my flesh.


And all night long I await those dear guests of yours,

Rattling, like manacles, the chains on the doors.








Я скажу тебе с

последней прямотой…


"Mа Vоiх аigrе еt fаussе..."
Paul Verlaine

Я скажу тебе с последней
Все лишь бредни, шерри-бренди,
Ангел мой.

Там где эллину сияла
Мне из черных дыр зияла

Греки сбондили Елену
По волнам,
Ну а мне - соленой пеной
По губам.

По губам меня помажет
Строгий кукиш мне покажет

Ой-ли, так-ли, дуй-ли, вей-ли,
Все равно.
Ангел Мэри, пей коктейли,
Дуй вино!

Я скажу тебе с последней
Все лишь бредни, шерри-бренди,
Ангел мой.



I’ll tell you bluntly…


"Mа Vоiх аigrе еt fаussе..."
(My sour, false Voice...)
Рaul Verlaine

I’ll tell you bluntly

One last time:

It’s only maddening cherry brandy,

Angel mine.


Where the Greeks saw just their raped

Beauty’s fame,

Through black holes at me there gaped

Nought but shame.


But the Greeks hauled Helen home

In their ships.

Here a smudge of salty foam

Flecks my lips.


What rubs my lips and leaves no trace?

— Vacancy.

What thrusts a V-sign in my face?

— Vagrancy.


Quickly, wholly, or slowly as a snail,

All the same,

Mary, angel, drink your cocktail,

Down your wine.

I’ll tell you bluntly

One last time:

It’s only maddening cherry brandy,

Angel mine.







Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) was from a Polish-Jewish

family and grew up in St.Petersburg (later Leningrad), Russia.

His first poems appeared in 1913, and, after The Revolution

and Stalin’s increasing tendency toward totalitarianism,

Mandelstam made no effort to hide his non-conformist views.

Seized at a Moscow reading in 1934, he was banished from “the

big cities”.  During The Great Purge of 1937, accused of

anti-Soviet views, he was arrested again and died en route to a

Gulag camp in Siberia.


Translations from Russian into English:   Bernard Meares


Oración a La Virgen de Guadalupe: José Valdez

ZP_foto de la escultura gigante de La Guadalupana_12 diciembre 2011_Xicotepec de Juárez

Oración a La Virgen de Guadalupe

por José Valdez (México)

“A mi Virgen de Guadalupe”


Necesito tu ayuda

me siento perdido

mis ojos se nublan

no encuentro el camino

tú que eres buena

y muy milagrosa

te pido, morena,

muchísimas cosas

pido por la gente

que quiero yo tanto

que siempre se encuentren

bajo de tu manto

pido me des fuerzas

que encuentre el camino

y que me protejas

con tu manto fino

eres muy hermosa

linda virgencita

pareces una rosa

que nunca se marchita

con solo mirarte

me llenas de paz

con solo tocarte

la vida me das

me inspiras confianza

y mucha ternura

me das esperanzas

y también dulzura

esa verde manta

que cubre tu cabeza

te hace ver más santa

y llena de pureza

ese resplandor

que a ti te rodea

es un bello sol

que nunca te quema

esos lindos ojos

parecen dos diamantes

y tu vestido rojo

te hace ver radiante

sé que tú me quieres

yo siempre lo supe

por eso, para mí, eres

Mi Virgen de Guadalupe.


“To my Virgin of Guadalupe”


I need your help

I am lost

my eyes cloud over

I cannot find the path,

you who are good

so very miraculous

I ask of you, morena,

very very many things

I ask for those people that I love so,

that always they may find themselves

blanketed within your cloak,

I ask that you may give me strength

that I might find the way

and that you may protect me

within your fine cloak,

you are most beautiful

lovely dear Virgin

you seem like a rose

that never wilts

I merely gaze upon you

and you fill me with peace

I touch you, merely,

and you give me life,

you inspire trust in me

and much tender feeling,

hope you give me,

gentleness too,

that green scarf

that covers your head

makes you look most saintly

and full of purity,

that dazzling gleam

surrounding you

is a beautiful sun

that never burns,

those lovely eyes

are as two diamonds,

and your red robe

makes you radiant,

I know that you love me,

always I knew it,

and, for that reason, for me, you are

My Virgin of Guadalupe.


We thank Mr. Valdez for his

poem from the heart honouring

Our Lady of Guadalupe on this

her feast day, December 12th.

Translation from Spanish into English:

Alexander Best


¡Tlazocamati, Tonantzin! / Thank You, Sacred Mother!

Tonantzin Guadalupe

Poema de Nezahualcóyotl

(1402-1472, Rey nahua/mexica de Texcoco)



icuac nehuatl nimiquiz
xinechtoca notlecuilco
ihuan quemman ticchihuaz
motlaxcal xinechchoquili.
Ihuan tla aca mitztlatlaniz
Tonantzin. Tleica tichoca?
Xicnanquili; in cuahuitl xoxochuic
ihuan in poctli nechchoctia.



cuando yo muera
entiérrame junto a tu hoguera
y cuando hagas tortillas
llora por mí
y si alguien te pregunta
Madrecita ¿Por qué lloras?
Responde; Es que la leña que está verde
y es el humo que me hace llorar.


“Sacred Mother”

Little Mother,

when I die

bury me next to your cooking fire

and when you make tortillas

cry for me

and if anyone asks you:

Sacred Mother, why do you cry?

Tell them:  It’s only that the fire-wood’s green

and the smoke hurts my eyes…


Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin se encuentra con Santa María Totlaconantzin