THE DEIL AT BETTY PERK'S
To S. P. C. A.
IT was up at Crainshaes.--We were bidin
Wi yon auld bizom Betty Perk;
Her byre was hard-up i' the riggin,
An sae we fell to sklatin wark.
Her hoosie was weel harl't an theekit,
A cosy bield whaur wunds blew saft;
We denner't i' the bodie's pairlor
An beddit nichtly i' the laft.
Her caut, I mind, haed yae bad trick
O lowpin on the denner table
'mang forks an plates to wave her tail
An adverteese her ain hint gable.
Yae day het kail, a mutton bane
An tatties claimed ilk yin's attention;
But Deil a sowp could we get doon
For Pussy's constant intervention.
Said Jock--"I'll gaur her reef her sail"
An raxin for the mustard spuin
He plaister't--but we'll draw the veil,
-Ye'll guess the placie gey an suin!
Puir Baudrons faund oot juist at yince!
An tried the afflictit pairt to ease;
But dod! it made things ten times waur,--
The cure was waur nor the disease!
She stappit intil Saundy's kail
An noo it was rinnin like a river;
She fuff't an spat, birl't roond an roond,--
I niver saw sic ongauns--niver!
Het at baith ends at the yae time!
Puir Baudrons' plicht was unco sair;
She cleared the lum shelf at yae lowp
O cheeny dugs an mugger ware.
Ower the piany syne she rattl't,
Till doon cam photy frames galore;
While gless flew up in a' directions,
Betty cam hirplin to the door.
But Puss gaed throu atween her legs
Like the fork't lichtnin an was seen
Nae mair ava aboot the place.
-Auld Bet still thinks it was the Foul Fien'.
Doon i' the dumps! Doon i' the dumps!
O for a crust to rax my stumps!
O for a pint o guid broun yil,
An some auld cronie to fit the bill
Doon i' the dumps!--in tattered duds,
Sellin laces an collar-studs;
In a hind's auld breeks, a serk yince a wummun's,
The trunk on my back fou o preens an ribbons!
Oot i' the glaur! Oot i' the snaw!
Oot i' the mirk whaur the cauld wunds blaws,
Oot i' the stour an the glarin sun,
Trampin the roads till my trampin's duin!
Doon i' the dumps! Doon i' the dumps!
O for a crust to rax my stumps! -
Life,--the road that a' maun tramp;
Daith,--a wundy wi'oot a lamp!
AHINT the dyke he lies an snores
In lousy duds an borrow't breeks,
His gapin buits betrays his sores--
The man's been on the road for weeks.
A butterflee wi comic pose
Dances an capers ower his face,--
It's taen his reid neb for a rose,
Spotchin for sweets i' the wrang place.
An as he snores--oot i' the field
The larks is lowpin on the wing;
But larks, like Joy, suin flees their bield,
In ither skies to soar an sing.
He's sleepin aff the drink he socht
Frae pub to pub i' the last toon;--
Obleevion's gey easy bocht,
But misery!--it's hard to droon.
I'M in the howe o fell despair!
I'm stuck at Burnhooses!--
I've lost the soles o baith my buits;
Life's fou o sic-like crosses.
Buits wi'oot soles, an lamed forby,--
A desperate seetuation!
An no a cairt on a' the road
To guarantee salvation.
My corns is hurtin maist atrocious,--
I'm sittin bi the burn;
Hoo I'm to get to Duns the nicht
Passes my wuts to lairn!
ABUIN THE TOON
O MERSE! what muisic's i' the name!
To sing o thee's to sing my hame;
Nae wizard at this liltin gemme
That folk ca's rhyme,
Yet for thy sake I'll try the same
An tak my time.
For cockin on Duns Law I see,
Atween the distant tides an me,
A' that is bonniest in thee,
Thoo Queen o Edens;
The vera dugs is lood wi glee,
The cocks on middens.
A simmer sun is i' the lift,
On simmer airs the white duds drifts,
Ower field an ferm their shedows shifts
Beneath the gaze,
While Cheviot veils ilk scaur an rift
Far i' the haze.
Spreid at my feet the slumberin toon,
Its ruifs an gables in a swoon
Beneath the fiery braith o nuin;
Nae echoes fa's
Save when the oor comes tinklin doon
Frae the Toon Ha'.
Some truant laddies spiels the dyke
Or bates the busses for a byke;
Amang their feet a terrier tyke
Rins in an oot,
Yappin at him that fain wad strike
Its eager snoot.
Sae pleesant are the paths o Error
The tinglin tawse haes lost their terror;
The morn's mornin, creepin nearer
Frae oot Time's luif,
Mey cost rampagin loon nae dearer
Than tell-tale cuif.
The shoutin laddies--a' are gane,
Peace fa's yince mair on law an plain;
Ayont the Covenanters' stane
Lie ripenin crops,
An here, whaur Leslie drilled his men,
A rabbit pops.
(On bein shown a deid oul bi an auld poacher)
GOD made a fleein cat to prey
At nicht upon the vermin,
Tho why He should elect to slay
His ain, I'll no determine.
An sae it chaunced, ae wunter's nicht,
Houlie, in murderous fettle,
Swoops frae the steeple's dizzy hicht
Upon a buryin beetle.
Sae choice a morsel he's no laith
To bury in his wame,
When bang!--a poacher, dealin daith,
Nails him, an taks him hame.
God made the beetles, burrowin ben,
He made the hungry houlets,
But whatna deil, I'd like to ken
Made poachers an their bullits?
THE roads is glaur frae side to side,
It rains as tho the lift wad fa';
To blurred horizons far an wide
The sodden landscape fades awa.
The burns in spate rins reid an foamin
Oot ower the hauchs on ilka haun,
An in the grey licht o the gloamin
The leafless trees leuks wae an wan.
Craws fidgets on the nakit bous,
Their black wings rufflt wi the blast,
An by the dyke where ragwort growes
A roosty couter's crumblin fast.
The cottage doors is steek't an barred,
An here an there a lichted wundy
Begins to glower on its kail-yaird
Reekin an streamin like a cundie.
Nae soond but the dour, drookin rain--
An whiles a souchin i' the brainches
Like speerits o the Damned in pain
Tossin their airms abuin their haunches.
Nicht pits an end to darksome day!--
In gairdens the last flouers is rottin,
While roond the kirk abuin the brae
The Deid lies, silent an forgotten.
I LOE thy grave, auld-farrand face,
Glowerin frae its weel polished case;
Lang mey thy posies, limned wi grace,
Defy the stour,
Thy girnin guts, lang mey they trace
The fleetin oor.
A wonderin wean, I've gazed on thee,--
Thoo was sae solemn an sae hie;
Thy hollow wame was aye to me
The goblin's den:
To keek inside or tirl the key
Micht bring him ben!
For i' the derk I've heard him squeal,
Or scamper on ilk gut an wheel,
An tho there couldna be a deil
In sic a box,
Yet fou o fear, to bed I'd steal,
An dream o clocks.
The mystery was but a moose
Thy soondin boards haed been its hoose;
An noo Time's turned the goblin lowse
That held me braithless
I smile to think that sic a ruse
Keepit thee scaithless.
THE congregation o the Lord
Assembles in its blacks
To herken to His Holy Wird
An a' the neebors' cracks:
On horny luif the beadle bears
Aloft the sacred Beuk,
A wee thing blate he taks the stairs
As grave as ony rook
On Peelie Braes.*
He launds the Bible wi a bang
That raises up the stour;
The youngsters, thinkin something's wrang,
Starts geeglin as they glower:
Or ye can wink he's doon again,
An suin the twa appears--
Auld "Blethers" pechin i' the van,
He, bringin up the rear
Wi dour respeck.
The preacher frae his perch, abuin,
Reproves wi patient ee
The hinmaist waggin tongue, an suin
Their lugs is cockin hie,
For the prezentor, on his feet,
His tunin fork a-dirlin,
Yerks oot Kilmernock wi a bleat,
That sets the meetin skirlin
Wi a' its micht.
Some weemen picks their neebor's hat
To pieces as they sing,
Or tries to pacify the brat
They'd little sense to bring;
An when at last the guid mon prays,
While lads at lassies peeps,
The deif, no hearin what he says,
Is temptit sair to sleep
In spite o a'.
A hush o expectation fa's
When oot the text he gies,
An suin the nakit saul he claws
For speeritual fleas
The bottle an the harlot baith
Come in for condemnation--
The guilty sich wi baited braith,
The sleepy wi vexation
At bein roused.
It's no in mortal mon to gie
The substance o his rantin,
An tho to giddy hichts he'd flee,
Yet praisently he's pantin--
For see!--he plods the Nerrow Wey
An aft inclined to greet is
The while the bairns wi pennies plays
Or settles doon to sweeties
An siclike trash.
In mental mist they sit like craws--
A patient congregation--
His seeventh heid nae dout the cause
O muckle speculation,
Till signs appear he's drawin near
The end o his lang tether,
An rustlin hymn-beuks maks it clear
They're weary o his blether
An wantin hame.
An noo they're feelin for their hats
Or trampin on folk's taes--
A hoosewife thinkin on her pats,
A sinner on his weys:
Syne oot an doon the steps they poor,--
His dreich harangue forgotten--
For wames reminds them o the oor
An hameward sets them trottin
To sup their kail.
*A rookery near Duns.
THE reek o burnin tattie shaws
Drifts throu the privet hedge, or fa's
In a blue haze on ruif an wa's,
An sends me postin
To seek some shelter,--
It's the cause o a' this hoastin.
The gairdner turns to clink the yett,
His day's darg duin--it's growin late;
A mavis ca'in to his mate
Staps short to listen;
On rockeries weel tent an nait
The dewdraps glistens.
Belated jeckdaws fleein ower
Is answered frae the Boston Touer
Bi a wheen brethren wi a shouer
O angry taunts--
(To wauken folk at sic an oor
Wad try the saunts).
A braith o Autumn stirs the air,
Deid leaves on grevel paths declares
The fashious truith--the gairden's bare,
Its grozets duin,
The aiples, pou'd wi jealous care
Is gether't in.
The curfew's ringin up the toon,
Auld Katie's skirlin--"It'll suin
Be bedtime," for the hervest muin
Glowers like a clock;
But to the happy, carefree loon
Time hes nae stroke.
Wi you an me it's itherwice--
The years haes pilfered mony a prize,
Yet hairts aye turns whaur childhood lies--
A played-oot gemme;
Shades i' the gloamin seems to rise
An ca' us Hame.
Oor poet hopes this grim review
Provides fuid for reflection;
Thae "ither folk" he sees in you,
For he himsel's perfection!
SOME folk maks gods o their ain bellies,
Aye gloatin ower the pat an pan,
Puddins, an pastries, beef an jellies--
A puir releegion for a man!
Some glorifies the god o siller,
They bless the brazen haunds that gies,
But aye ignores the real Giver
Till Nick draps in an claims his fee.
Some flees to whuskey as a saviour
Frae miseries they daurna tell;
The gossips, watchin folk's behaviour
Wi clash suin hurries them to hell.
A plague on wifes that catter-batters,
That rattles on wi micht an main;
Deivin folk wi din an clatter--
The tapmaist tongues is aye their ain!
An some puir doitit, feckless bodies
Spends a' their time ower claes an gear,
An lays sic stress on what the mode is--
They juidge ye bi the breeks ye wier.
An some attends baith kirk an meetin,
For it's genteel to praise an pray,
Some ower their pains or griefs is greetin
For want o something else to dae.
An some, they'll gie ye saxpence farthin
As tho it were the Holy Grail,
Ithers, the hale o their life's warslin
Wi hauns that speaks, but lips that fails.
SHE staun's, a buirdly Hoose o God,
Fowersquare to ilka wund that blaws,
A sitty but a classic sod
Surroonds her covenantin wa's.
An tho her Gospel barn's gey tuim
She's no wi'oot her mice an rats;
But e'en the Plagues o Egyp looms
As nocht aside her plague o cats.
They're lowpin on the auld heidstanes,
Or caterwaulin on a thruch,
Syne scuttlin aff ower martyrs' banes
To speel some wa' as hie's a heuch.
A tortoiseshell--a mangy bruit
Wi Maister Carstares* taks her nap,
Ithers wi Henderson**'ll sit
An sair defile that guid mon's lap.
Bluidy Mackenzie an the lave
Can get nae peace for their wild pranks,
Bi day an nicht, on ilka grave
They yell like wutches i' the branks.
They've pitched on Adam's mausoleum
To cairy oot their deevilish rites,
An ony nicht ye like ye'll see 'em
Desecratin oor sacred sites.
In a' this haly grund there's no
A spot but scabbit dowps hae sat on't,
Frae Jinglin Geordie's to the Raw***
There's no a stane but hes its cat on't.
But to the cure!--Gin I'd a gun
Amang the sancts I'd stalk the sinners,
I'd see the guid wark truly duin
An Greyfriars cats wad dee in hunners.
*William Carstares (1649-1715): the Presbyterian divine; friend an Scottish adviser of William Ill.
**Alexander Henderson (1583?-1646): leader of the Scottish church at the time of the National Covenant and the subsequent Civil War.
*** From Heriot's Hospital to Candlemaker Row.