Aince upon a warm spring day
On a patch o grund aside a brae
A fermwife that had mooths tae feed
Went tae plant …
a wee neep seed.
‘Growe wee neep, growe guid an strang.
Growe roond an sweet aw simmer lang.’
The Muckle Michty Neep is a Scots rhyming version of the classic Russian folktale ‘The Enormous Turnip’, first published by Alexander Afanasyev in his collection of Russian Fairy Tales. It was further popularised by Alexei Tolstoy. Here is my copy of the latter’s stories, in an English language edition from the 1940s.
I have changed some of the characters and animals, so that the rhymes work better in Scots – and added a Scottish Halloween reference at the end – but otherwise the plot and progressive structure are the same as in the weel-kent story.
You can download a PDF copy of the whole rhyme from the link below.
The download includes a glossary and there is space for wee bairns to draw a picture at the end.
Eventually, I hope to do a more fantoosh version – maybe even with animation of some kind. But for now, it is illustrated with some simple (but lovely) images from a 1940s Russian version of the tale.
[Illustration above by Konstantin Kuznetsov (1886-1943), via Wikimedia Commons]