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April Showers Day

"One wet, early evening in the sheep-shearing season
I saw that occasional, rare thing --
Broken shaft of a rainbow with its trembling light
Beyond the downpour of the rain"

~ Hugh MacDiarmid: The Watergaw, 1925 (standard English approximation)

"April showers bring May flowers" ... . This tartan was designed to suggest a double rainbow in a "dreich" grey sky after a thunderstorm. The Scottish word "dreich" (meaning dreary, gloomy, bleak, miserable, grey, depressing, devoid of sunshine) was voted Scotland's most favourite word in a government poll! But even the gloomiest of weather eventually yields to the promise of brighter days with the appearance of rainbows of any type whether a single bow, the beautiful double rainbow , or even the "almost rainbow" called a "watergaw." While a rainbow is continuous, the classic watergaw is a single patch of rainbow which follows the end of a downpour. The word, which originated in the Borders, is probably best known as the subject of Hugh McDiarmid's poignant poem 'The Watergaw.' 🌧️🌈

"If you like the weather in Scotland, wait half an hour and it will change."


~ Traditional


Ae weet forenicht i’ the yow-trummle

I saw yon antrin thing,

A watergaw wi’ its chitterin’ licht

Ayont the on-ding;

An’ I thocht o’ the last wild look ye gied

Afore ye deed!

 

There was nae reek i’ the laverock’s hoose

That nicht -- an’ nane i’ mine;

But I hae thocht o’ that foolish licht

Ever sin’ syne;

An’ I think that mebbe at last I ken

What your look meant then.

Hugh MacDiarmid: The Watergaw, from Sangschaw, 1925

 

This poem is composed in what Hugh MacDiarmid called "Synthetic Scots". His standard-English approximation:


One wet, early evening in the sheep-shearing season
I saw that occasional, rare thing --
Broken shaft of a rainbow with its trembling light
Beyond the downpour of the rain
And I thought of the last, wild look you gave
Before you died.


The skylark’s nest was dark and desolate,
My heart was too
But I have thought of that foolish light
Ever since then
And I think that perhaps at last I know
What your look meant then.


***

 

The proverb "March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers", first recorded in 1886,and the shorter, trochaic version "April showers bring May flowers" (originally "Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers", part of a poem recorded in 1610 are common expressions in English speaking countries.

 

The phrase is referenced in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote".


By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan represents a double rainbow in a grey sky after a thunderstorm.


For a list of uniquely Scottish words and expressions for the weather, click the double rainbow over Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.