Magnus, da Yöl pony

Born and raised in Shetland, Christine De Luca’s poetry is steeped in the rich linguistic heritage of the islands. Her work is a testament to the enduring influence of Shetlandic, a dialect that bears the imprints of Norse, Scots, and Norn, and is at the heart of the islands’ cultural identity. We hope you enjoy this beautiful poem in Shaetlan for children (with an English version further down), originally in Wast wi da Valkyries, published by The Shetland Library in 1997.

‘We’ll have to hurry, there’s a lot to be done,
a time-zone to cross every hour
or sunrise will catch us out in the east
so ‘chase him!’ Use all your power!’

Magnus, da Yöl pony
Bairn rhyme

Santy cam in trowe da lambie-hoose door
whaar Magnus wis neebin his lane.
‘A’m needin dy help, fir een o mi deer
is snappered an med himsel lame.’

‘But I canna flee’ said Magnus, ‘in truth
A’m telt dat A’m clushit an crabbit.’
‘Nivver leet’ said aald Santy, ‘I need dee da nicht
fir dis bag is sae haevy an stappit.’

Sae he yokit up Magnus wi bend an wi bells
an left da hirplin deer beddit;
‘Noo tak a deep braeth an we’r up i da cloods!’
Dey liftit aff jöst as he said hit.

‘We’ll hae ta hurry, de’r a lock ta be dön,
a time-zone ta cross ivery ooer
or da dimriv ’ll catch wis oot i da aest
sae ‘sigg im!’ Use aa dy poo’er!’

Dey med ivery hoose bi da end o da nicht
as da wirld turned roond tae da sun;
dan dey slippit aff Magnus, wi tanks an a wave
at da lambie-hoose whaar dey’d begun.

As peerie bairns waakened apö da Yöl moarn
dey wir blyde ta see Santy wis bön.
Little tocht dey a pony wis sped trowe da lift.
Ta Magnus hit seemed laek a draem.

snowflake divider

You can read the English version below:

Magnus, the Christmas pony
Children’s rhyme

Santa came in through the little barn door
where Magnus was dozing alone.
‘I’m needin your help, as one of my deer
has stumbled and made himself lame.’

‘But I cannot fly’ said Magnus, ‘in truth
I’m told I’m so clumsy and grumpy.’
‘Don’t worry’ said Santa, ‘I need you tonight
for this bag is so bulky and heavy.’

So he yoked up Magnus with harness and bells
and left the cripple deer bedded;
‘Now take a deep breath and we’re up in the clouds!’
They lifted off just as he said it.

‘We’ll have to hurry, there’s a lot to be done,
a time-zone to cross every hour
or sunrise will catch us out in the east
so ‘chase him!’ Use all your power!’

They reached every house by the end of the night
as the world turned round to the sun;
then they slipped off Magnus, with thanks and a wave
at the little barn where they’d begun.

As children wakened on Christmas morning
they were glad to see Santa had been.
Little thought they a pony had sped through the sky.
To Magnus it seemed like a dream.

Christine De LucaBy Christine De Luca
Christine De Luca is a poet, novelist and children’s writer who writes in English and Shaetlan, her mother tongue. She particularly enjoys collaborating with musicians and visual artists and was appointed Edinburgh’s Makar (laureate) for 2014-2017. Find out more at

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