Da ship's carpenter: letters hame fae da SS Great Britain

Alexander Pearson (1842-1889), great grand-father
of the author

Ee letter hame (27 November 1872)

My dear midder an faider

You'll lickly no get dis letter fur a while
but I hed ta write ta tell you awfil uncans
at canna keep fur Voar whin I win hame.
Dastreen, jöst oot o Melbourne, we lost wir skipper.
Nivver wis der een sae loved is Captain Gray.
He wisna weel: we tink he man a fa'an owreboard.
Suddern waves is happit him, sae A'm bön spared
da makkin o his coffin. He telt me eredastreen
at he wis lippenin Mrs Gray an der five dochters
at da landing stage at Yöl. Hit barely can be tocht o.

Men still mind foo weel he served da troops
at fowt i da Crimea an Indian Mutiny;
foo he took turns at weariest o watches,
climmed masts, hauled sabbin ropes.
Da crew is wirkin aa da wyes he dreeled wis;
da passengers is ta'en hit badly tö an, wid you wat,
da very kye an sheep aboard is brölin. I varg on
wi brokken spars an plenishin; oot an in among
A'm wirkin on a model: wir aa dat prood ta sail her.
Hit taks mi mind aff aa dis gödless watter.

Wir makkin owre göd time an sood see England
ithin da sixty days nae budder. I wiss at I could jöst
come hame; no face anidder vaege. I ken
at you could fine dö wi anidder pair o hands.
Pör Hugh. You man be missing him. Jöst whan
he'd redded up da hoose, med room fur aa o you.
I hoop dis fins da femily baith hael an haerty. Noo,
der a queer quiet fa'in on da deck da nicht.
Sae, bliss me, whit can I say, my dear fock, but
Göd be wi you. Your ever-loving son.

Alexander Pearson - studio portrait taken during the
late 1870s or during the 1880s

uncans: news; Voar: Spring; man a: must have; happit: wrapped up; eredastreen: night before last; lippenin: expecting; Yöl: Christmas; fowt: fought; wid you wat: would you believe; brölin: bellowing; varg: hard, messy work; budder: bother; redded up: set in order

Christine De Luca, Hansel Cooperative Press, 2004


  • "The poems paint pictures, and bring people vividly to life...This is a fascinating book."The New Shetlander, No. 230 - Yule Issue 2004
  • "Drops in Time's Ocean is the unravelling of a complex family history, the author's own."Chapman Literary Magazine, January 2006
  • "Each verse seems to resonate with a sense of place"The Shetland Post, November 2004
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