Rough Scan

Hot youth ever is a ranger,
New scenes ever its desire;
Cauld Eild, doubtfu' o' the stranger,
Thinks but o' haudin' in the fire.

Midway, the wanderer is weary,
Fain he'd be turnin' in his prime
Hamewith-the road that's never dreary,
Back where his heart is a' the time.

~The Alien~ 

In Afric's fabled fountains I have panned the golden sand-
Caught crocodile with baviaan for bait-
I've fished, with blasting gelatine for hook an' gaff an' wand,
An' lured the bearded barbel to his fate:
But take your Southern rivers that meander to the sea,
And set me where the Leochel joins the Don,
With eighteen feet of greenheart an' the tackle running free-
I want to have a clean fish on.

The eland an' the tsessebe I've tracked from early dawn,
I've heard the roar of lions shake the night,
I've fed the lonely bush-veld camp on dik-kop an' korhaan,
An' watched the soaring vulture in his flight;
For horn an' head I've hunted, yet the spoil of gun and spear,
My trophies, I would freely give them all,
To creep through mist an' heather on the great red deer-
I want to hear the black cock call.

In hot December weather when the grass is caddie high
I've driven clean an' lost the ball an' game,
When winter veld is burned an' bare I've cursed the cuppy lie-
The language is the one thing still the same;
For dongas, rocks, an' scuffled greens give me the links up North,
The whins, the broom, the thunder of the surf,
The three old fellows waiting where I used to make a fourth-
I want to play a round on turf.

I've faced the fremt, its strain an' toil, in market an' in mine,
Seen Fortune ebb an' flow between the "Chains,"
Sat late o'er starlit banquets where the danger spiced the wine,
But bitter are the lees the alien drains;
For all the time the heather blooms on distant Benachie,
An' wrapt in peace the sheltered valley lies,
I want to wade through bracken in a glen across the sea-
I want to see the peat reek rise.

~The Whistle~

He cut a sappy sucker from the muckle rodden-tree,
He trimmed it, an' he wet it, an' he thumped it on his knee;
He never heard the teuchat when the harrow broke her eggs,
He missed the craggit heron nabbin' puddocks in the seggs,
He forgot to hound the collie at the cattle when they strayed,
But you should hae seen the whistle that the wee herd made!

He wheepled on't at mornin' an' he tweetled on't at nicht,
He puffed his freckled cheeks until his nose sank oot o' sicht,
The kye were late for milkin' when he piped them up the closs,
The kitlins got his supper syne, an' he was beddit boss;
But he cared na doit nor docken what they did or thocht or said,
There was comfort in the whistle that the wee herd made.

For lyin' lang o' mornin's he had clawed the caup for weeks,
But noo he had his bonnet on afore the lave had breeks;
He was whistlin' to the porridge that were hott'rin' on the fire,
He was whistlin' ower the travise to the baillie in the byre;
Nae a blackbird nor a mavis, that hae pipin' for their trade,
Was a marrow for the whistle that the wee herd made.

He played a march to battle, it cam' dirlin' through the mist,
Till the halflin' squared his shou'ders an' made up his mind to 'list;
He tried a spring for wooers, though he wistna what it meant,
But the kitchen-lass was lauchin' an' he thocht she maybe kent;
He got ream an' buttered bannocks for the lovin' lilt he played.
Wasna that a cheery whistle that the wee herd made?

He blew them rants sae lively, schottisches, reels, an' jigs,
The foalie flang his muckle legs an' capered ower the rigs,
The grey-tailed futt'rat bobbit oot to hear his ain strathspey,
The bawd cam' loupin' through the corn to "Clean Pease Strae";
The feet o' ilka man an' beast gat youkie when he played-
Hae ye ever heard o' whistle like the wee herd made?

But the snaw it stopped the herdin' an' the winter brocht him dool,
When in spite o' hacks an' chilblains he was shod again for school;
He couldna sough the catechis nor pipe the rule o' three,
He was keepit in an' lickit when the ither loons got free;
But he aften played the truant-'twas the only thing he played,
For the maister brunt the whistle that the wee herd made!

~Skeely Kirsty~

A STANE-CAST fae the clachan heid
An auld feal dyke enclosed a reed
O' garden grun', where flower an' weed
In spring grew first aye;
An' there the humble hauddin' steed
O' Skeely Kirsty.

Upon the easin' sods a fou
Thick-leaved an' sappy yearly grew,
Which, for a scrat or scabbit mou',
Beat aught in "Buchan";
An' draughts fae herbs she used to brew
That drank like brochan.

To heal a heid, or scob a bane,
To ease a neebour's grippit wean,
Or thoom a thraw, there wasna ane
Could e'er come near her;
Nae income, fivver, boast, nor nane

Would ever steer her.

She cured for pleasure, nae for fees;
Healed man an' beast wi' equal ease:
She gae a lotion for the grease
To Spence the carrier,
That cured his mear, when the disease
Gaed ower the farrier.

Was there a corp to streek or kist,
She aye was foremost to assist;
She grat to think "how he'd be miss't,
Sae good and gifted"!
Syne handed roon' anither taste
Afore they lifted.

Ae morn grim Death-that poacher fell-
Gat Kirsty in his girn hersel';
Nae epitaph her virtues tell,
It needs nae vreetin':
On ae thing maistly Fame will dwell-
Her gift o' greetin'.

~The Antiquary~

A LITTLE mannie, nae ower five feet three,
Sae bent wi' eild he lookit less than that,
His cleadin' fashioned wi' his tastes to 'gree,
Fae hose an' cuitikins to plaid an' hat.

His cot stob-thackit, wi' twa timmer lums,
A box-bed closet 'tween the but an' ben,
A low peat fire, where bauldrins span her thrums,
Wat dried his beets, an' smoked, an' read his lane.

The horn-en' fu' o craggins, quaichs, an' caups,
Mulls, whorls, an' cruisies left bare room to stir;
Wi' routh o' swourds an' dirks a' nicks an' slaps,
An' peer-men, used langsyne for haudin' fir.

He'd skulls in cases, lest the mouldy guff
Should scunner frien's, or gather muckle flees;
He'd querns for grindin' either meal or snuff,
An' flints an' fleerishes to raise a bleeze.

Rowed in a cloutie, to preserve the glint,
He had a saxpence that had shot a witch,
Sae stark, she hadna left her like ahint
For killin' kye or giein' fouk the itch.

He kent auld spells, could trail the rape an' spae,
He'd wallets fu' o' queer oonchancie leems,
Could dress a mart, prob hoven nowt, an' flay;
Fell spavined horse, an' deftly use the fleems.

He lived till ninety, an' this deein' wiss
He whispered, jist afore his spirit flew-
"Gweed grant that even in the land o' bliss
I'll get a bield whaur some things arena new."


IT'S but a fortnight since we laid him doon,
An' cut the sods to hap his narrow lair-
On Sunday still the grass was dry an' broon;
An' noo they're up again the kist is bare,
For Bell this day we e'en maun lay aboon,
An' face in fun'ral blacks the drift ance mair.

Twa Fiersdays back she seem'd baith swak an' strang,
A' day her clogs were clankin' roon' the closs;
An' tho' an income she'd complained o' lang

It never kept her yet fae kirk or moss.
Wha would hae thocht she'd be the next to gang
That never grieved a grain at Jeames's loss?

It seem'd richt unco-faith, 'twas hardly fair,
Just when he thocht to slip awa' at last
An' drap for aye the trains o' wardly care-
The muckle gates aboon were barely fast
Ere she was pechin' up the gowden stair,
An' fleechin' Peter till he let her past.

When Jeames-I'se warrant ye, wi' tremblin' shins-
Stands forrit, an' they tak' the muckle beuk
To reckon up his shortcomes, slips, an' sins,
She'll check the tally fae some canny neuk,
An' prod his memory when he begins
Should there be ony he would fain o'erleuk.

That Scuttrie Market when he was the waur-
He thocht the better-o' a drap o' yill,
An' fell at Muggart's door amo' the glaur,
Forgot the shaltie ower the hindmost gill,
Syne stoitered aff alane, he kent nae whaur,
An' sleepit wi' the sheep on Baadin's hill.

That Fast-day when he cawed an early load,
When craps were late an' weather byous saft,
Instead o' daund'rin to the Hoose o' God
An' noddin' thro' "fourteenthly" in the laft;
Or how he banned the Laird upon the road-
His bawds an' birds that connached sae the craft.

Nae chance for him to discount or excuse
The wee'est bit, wi' her there keen to tell
How a' was true; but yet, gin he should choose
To bid them look the credit side as well-
Ae conter claim they canna weel refuse-
The mony patient years he bore wi' Bell.

~The Miller~

WHEN riven wicks o' mou's were rife,
An' bonnets clad the green,
Aye in the thickest o' the strife
Auld Dusty Tam was seen.
Nae Tarlan' man daur flout his fame
Had he a chance to hear;
The Leochel men slid canny hame
When he cam' aff his mear.
At Scuttrie or at Tumblin' Fair
Nane ordered in sae free,
Or kent sae weel the way to share
A mutchkin amo' three.
An' when he took the road at nicht,
His bonnet some ajee,
Ye seldom saw a baulder wicht-
Till Isie met his e'e.
She waited whaur the muirlan' track
Strikes wi' the hamewith turn;
An' ower him there her anger brak'
Like some spate-ridden burn.
The ouzel, startled, left the saugh
An' skimmed alang the lade,
The kitty-neddies fae the haugh
Gaed pipin' ower her head.
But still she flate till Tammas, now
Dismounted on the loan,
Ran to the mill an' pu'd the tow
That set the water on;
Syne busy banged the girnal lids,

An' tossed the sacks about,
Or steered again the bleezin' sids,
While aye she raved without.
She bann'd the moulter an' the mill,
The intak, lade, and dam,
The reekit dryster In the kil',
Syne back again to Tam.
Till dark-the minister himsel'
I'll swear he couldna stap her-
Her teethless mou' was like a bell,
Her tongue the clangin' clapper.
Neist mornin' she laid doon the law-
He'd gang nae mair to fairs;
An' sae he held the jaud in awe
He kept it-till St. Sairs.

~The Miller Explains~

THE byword "as sweer as the Miller"
Disturbs me but little, for hech!
Ye'll find for ane willin' to bishop
A score sittin' ready to pech.
But come to the brose or the bottle,
There 's few need less priggin' than me;
While they're busy blessin' the bannock,
I'm raxin' a han' to fa' tee.
The neighbours clash lood o' my drinkin',
An' naething hits harder than truth;
But tales micht be tempered, I'm thinkin',
Gin fouk would consider my drooth.
Nae doot, at the Widow's displenish
Gey aften I emptied the stoup;
But thrift is a thing we should cherish,
An' whisky's aye free at a roup.
Week in an' week oot, when I'm millin',
The sids seem to stick in my throat;
Nae wonder at markets I'm willin'
To spend wi' a crony a groat.
An' if I've a shaltie to niffer,
Or't maybe some barley to sell,
An oonslockened bargain's aye stiffer-
Ye ken that fu' brawly yersel'.
Fae forbears my thirst I inherit,

As others get red hair or gout;
The heirship 's expensive: mair merit
To me that I never cry out.
An' sae, man, I canna help thinkin'
The neighbours unkindly; in truth,
Afore they can judge o' my drinkin'
They first maun consider my drooth.

~The Packman~

THERE was a couthy Packman, I kent him weel aneuch,
The simmer he was quartered within the Howe o' Tough;
He sleepit in the barn end amo' the barley strae
But lang afore the milkers he was up at skreek o' day,
An' furth upon the cheese stane set his reekin' brose to queel
While in the caller strype he gied his barkit face a sweel;
Syne wi' the ell-wan' in his neive to haud the tykes awa'
He humpit roon' the country side to clachan, craft an' ha'.

Upon the flaggit kitchen fleer he dumpit doon his pack,
Fu' keen to turn the penny ower, but itchin' aye to crack;
The ploomen gaithered fae the fur', the millert fae the mill,
The herd just gied his kye a turn an' skirtit doon the hill,
The smith cam' sweatin' fae the fire, the weaver left his leem,
The lass forgot her comin' kirn an' connached a' the ream,
The cauper left his turnin' lay, the sooter wasna slaw
To fling his lapstane in the neuk, the elshin, birse an' a'.

The Packman spread his ferlies oot, an' ilka maid an' man
Cam' soon on something sairly nott, but never missed till than;
He'd specs for peer auld granny when her sicht begood to fail,
An' thummles, needles, preens an' tape for whip-the-cat to wale,
He'd chanter reeds an' fiddle strings, an' trumps wi' double stang,
A dream beuk 'at the weeda wife had hankered after lang,
He'd worsit for the samplers, an' the bonniest valentines,
An' brooches were in great request wi' a' kirk-gangin' queyns.

He'd sheafs o' rare auld ballants, an' an antrin swatch he sang
Fae "Mill o' Tiftie's Annie," or o' "Johnnie More the Lang,"
He would lilt you "Hielan' Hairry" till the tears ran doon his nose,
Syne dicht them wi' a doonward sleeve an' into "James the Rose";
The birn that rowed his shou'ders tho' sae panged wi' things to sell
Held little to the claik he kent, an' wasna laith to tell,-
A waucht o' ale to slock his drooth, a pinch to clear his head,
An' the news cam' fae the Packman like the water doon the lade.

He kent wha got the bledder when the sooter killed his soo,
An' wha it was 'at threw the stane 'at crippled Geordie's coo,
He kent afore the term cam' roon' what flittin's we would see,
An' wha'd be cried on Sunday neist, an' wha would like to be,
He kent wha kissed the sweetie wife the nicht o' Dancie's ball,
An' what ill-trickit nickum catched the troot in Betty's wall,
He was at the feein' market, an' he kent a' wha were fou,

An' he never spoiled a story by consid'rin' gin 'twas true.

Nae plisky ever yet was played but he could place the blame,
An' tell you a' the story o't, wi' chapter, verse an' name,
He'd redd you up your kith an' kin atween the Dee an' Don,
Your forbears wha were hanged or jiled fae auld Culloden on,
Altho he saw your face get red he wouldna haud his tongue,
An' only leuch when threatened wi' a reemish fae a rung;
But a' the time the trade gaed on, an' notes were rankit oot
Had lang been hod in lockit kists aneth the Sunday suit.

An' faith the ablach threeve upon't, he never cried a halt
Until he bocht fae Shou'der-win' a hardy cleekit shalt,
An' syne a spring-cairt at the roup when cadger Willie broke,
That held aneth the cannas a' that he could sell or troke;
He bocht your eggs an' butter, an' awat he wasna sweer
To lift the poacher's birds an' bawds when keepers werna near;
Twa sizzens wi' the cairt an' then-his boolie rowed sae fine-
He took a roadside shoppie an' put. "Merchant" on the sign.

An' still he threeve an' better threeve, sae fast his trade it grew
That he thirled a cripple tailor an' took in a queyn to shue,
An' when he got a stoot guidwife he didna get her bare,
She brocht him siller o' her ain 'at made his puckle mair,
An' he lent it oot sae wisely-deil kens at what per cent-
That farmers fan' the int'rest near as ill to pay's the rent;
An' when the bank set up a branch, the wily boddies saw
They beet to mak' him Agent to hae ony chance ava'

Tho' noo he wore a grauvit an' a dicky thro' the week
There never was a bargain gaun at he was far to seek,
He bocht the crafter's stirks an' caur, an' when the girse was set
He aye took on a park or twa, an' never rued it yet;
Till when a handy tack ran oot his offer was the best
An' he dreeve his gig to kirk an' fair as canty as the rest,
An' when they made him Elder, wi' the ladle it was gran'
To see him work the waster laft an' never miss a man.

He sent his sons to college, an' the auldest o' the three-
Tho' wi' a tyauve-got Greek aneuch to warsle thro 's degree,
An' noo aneth the soundin' box he wags a godly pow;
The second loon took up the law, an' better fit there's fyou
At chargin' sax an' auchtpence, or at keepin' on a plea,
An' stirrin' strife 'mang decent fouk wha left alane would 'gree;
The youngest ane 's a doctor wi' a practice in the sooth,
A clever couthy cowshus chiel some hampered wi' a drooth.

The dother-he had only ane-gaed hine awa' to France
To learn to sing an' thoom the harp, to parley-voo an' dance;
It cost a pretty penny but 'twas siller wisely wared
For the lass made oot to marry on a strappin' Deeside laird;
She wasna just a beauty, but he didna swither lang,
For he had to get her tocher or his timnier had to gang:
Sae noo she sits _My Lady_ an' nae langer than the streen
I saw her wi' her carriage comin' postin' ower Culblean.

But tho' his bairns are sattled noo, he still can cast the coat
An' work as hard as ever to mak' saxpence o' a groat;
He plans as keen for years to come as when he first began,
Forgettin' he 's on borrowed days an' past the Bible span.
See, yon 's his hoose, an' there he sits; supposin' we cry in,
It's cheaper drinkin' toddy there than payin' at the Inn,
You'll find we'll hae a shortsome nicht an' baith be bidden back,
But-in your lug-ye maunna say a word aboot the Pack.

~The Lettergae~

ON Sundays see his saintly look-
What grace be maun be feelin',
When stridin' slawly ben the pass,
Or to the lettrin speelin'!
What unction in his varied tones,
As aff the line he screeds us,
Syne bites the fork, an' bums the note,
Ere to the tune he leads us!
Plain paraphrase, or quirky hymn,
Come a' the same to Peter,
He has a tune for ilka psalm
Nae matter what the metre.
"St. Paul's" or "University"
Wi' equal ease is lifted;
At "Martyrdom" he fair excels-
Eh! keep's sirs, but he's gifted!

But see him now, some workin' day
When aproned in his smiddy,
An' mark the thuds 'at shape the shoon,
An' dint the very studdy;
Or when he cocks his elbuck up
To work the muckle bellows,
An' tells the clachan's latest joke
To loud-lunged farmer fellows;
Or hear him in the forenicht lilt,
Wi' sober face nae langer,
Some sang, nae fae a Sunday book,
A tune that isna "Bangor":
To recognize him then, I'll wad,
A stranger it would baffle;
On Sabbath he's the Lettergae,
The Smith at roup or raffle.

~Margaret Dods~

Late Vinter in St. Ronans

NAE mair the sign aboon the door
Wi' passin' winds is flappin';
Fish Nellie comes nae as afore
Wi' nervous chappin'.
The Captain's followed Francie Tyrell-
Mind ance he gaed to seek him,
An' felt your besom shaft play dirl
Doon-by at Cleikum.
Wi' thrift as great as made you build
To save the window taxin',
Death closed your e'en when greedy Eild
Cam' schedule raxin'.

How gladly would we lea' the Clubs,
"Wildfire" or "Helter Skelter,"
Dicht fae our feet a' earthly dubs,
Had ye a shelter
Whaur trauchled chiels- "an' what for no?"
Gin sae it pleased the gods-
Could rest an' fish a week or so
At Marget Dods'.
'Twould hearten strangers gin they saw
Across some caller loanin'
A wavin' sign whaur crook an' a'
Hung auld St. Ronan.

Then haudin' hard to new-won grace,
Rejectin' aucht 'at's evil,
Ye wouldna thole in sic a place
Dick Tinto's Deevil,
But send him sornin' doon the howe
To some tamteen or hottle,
Whaur birselt vratches fain, I trow,
Wad dreep a bottle.
An' since you're bye wi' anger noo,
Send wi' him something caller-
As muckle's slock the gizzened mou'
O' ae damned "Waller."

~The Back o Beyont is Dry~

FAE the Back o' Beyont the carlie cam',
He fittit it a' the wye;
The hooses were few, an' the road was lang,
Nae winner the man was dry-
He was covered wi' stoor fae head to heel,
He'd a drooth 'at ye couldna buy,
But aye he sang as he leggit alang
"The Back o' Beyont is dry."

He'd a score o' heather-fed wethers to sell,
An' twa or three scrunts o' kye,
An unbroken cowt to niffer or coup,
A peck o' neep seed to buy;
But never a price would the crater mak',
The dealers got "No" nor "Ay,"
Till they tittit the tow, he'd dae naething but sough
"The Back o' Beyont is dry."

I' the year o' short corn he dee'd a' drooth,
But they waked him weel upbye,
'Twas a drink or a dram to the cronies that cam',
Or baith an they cared to try.
When the wag-at-the-wa' had the wee han' at twa
Ye shoulda jist heard the cry,
As the corp in the bed gied a warsle an' said
"The Back o' Beyont is dry."

Fae Foggyloan to the Brig o' Potarch,
An' sooth by the Glen o' Dye,
Fae the Buck o' the Cabrach thro' Midmar,
Whaurever your tryst may lie;
At ilka toll on the weary road
There's a piece an' a dram forbye,
Gin ye show them your groat, an' say laich i' your throat
"The Back o' Beyont is dry."

"The Back o' Beyont is dry,
The Back o' Beyont is dry,
To slocken a drooth can never be wrang,
Sae help yoursel' an' pass it alang,
The Back o' Beyont is dry."

~A Green Yule~

I'M weary, weary houkin', in the cauld, weet, clorty clay,
But this will be the deepest in the yaird;
Its nae a four fit dibble for a common man the day-
Ilk bane I'm layin' by is o' a laird.
Whaever slips the timmers, lippens me to mak' his bed,
For lairds maun just be happit like the lave;
An' kistit corps are lucky, for when a'thing's deen an' said,
There's lythe, save for the livin', in a grave.

Up on the watch-tower riggin' there's a draggled hoodie craw
That hasna missed a funeral the year;
He kens as weel's anither this will fairly ding them a',
Nae tenant on the land but will be here.
Sae up an' doon the tablin' wi' a gloatin' roupy hoast,
He haps, wi' twistit neck an' greedy e'e,
As if some deil rejoicin' that anither sowl was lost
An' waitin' for his share o' the dregie.

There's sorrow in the mansion, an' the Lady that tak's on
Is young to hae sae muckle on her han',
Wi' the haugh lands to excamb where the marches cross the Don,
An' factors aye hame-drauchted when they can.
Come spring, we'll a' be readin', when the kirk is latten oot,
"Displenish" tackit up upon the yett;
For hame-fairm, cairts an' cattle, will be roupit up, I doot,
The policies a' pailined aff an' set

Twa lairds afore I've happit, an' this noo will mak' the third,
An' tho' they spak' o' him as bein' auld,
It seerly seemed unlikely I would see him in the yird,
For lang ere he was beardit I was bald.
It's three year by the saxty, come the week o' Hallow Fair,
Since first I laid a divot on a grave;
The Hairst o' the Almighty I hae gathered late an' ear',
An' coont the sheaves I've stookit, by the thrave.

I hae kent grief at Marti'mas would neither haud nor bin'-
It was sair for even unco folk to see;
Yet ere the muir was yellow wi' the blossom on the whin,
The tears were dry, the headstane a' ajee.
Nae bairns, nae wife, will sorrow, when at last I'm laid awa',
Nae oes will plant their daisies at my head;
A' gane, but I will follow soon, an' weel content for a'
There's nane but fremt to lay me in my bed.

Earth to earth, an' dust to dust, an' the sowl gangs back to God:
An' few there be wha think their day is lang;
Yet here I'm weary waitin', till the Master gies the nod,
To tak' the gait I've seen sae many gang.
I fear whiles He's forgotten on his eildit gard'ner here,
But ae day He'll remember me, an' then
My birn o' sins afore Him I'll spread on the Judgment fleer,
Syne wait until the angel says "Come ben."

There noo, the ill bird's flaffin' on the very riggin' stane,
He sees them, an' could tell ye, did ye speer,
The order they will come in, ay, an' name them ilka ane,
An' lang afore the funeral is here.
The feathers will be noddin' as the hearse crawls past the Toll,
As soon's they tap the knowe they'll be in sicht;
The driver on the dickey knappin' sadly on his mull,
Syne raxin' doon to pass it to the vricht.

The factor in the carriage will be next, an' ridin' close
The doctor, ruggin' hard upon his grey;
The farmers syne, an feuars speakin' laich aboot their loss,
Yet thank fu' for the dram on sic a day.
Ay, there at last they're comin', I maun haste an' lowse the tow
An' ring the lang procession doon the brae;
I've heard the bell sae aften, I ken weel its weary jow,
The tale o' weird it tries sae hard to say.

Bring them alang, the young, the strang,
The weary an' the auld;
Feed as they will on haugh or hill,
This is the only fauld.

Dibble them doon, the laird, the loon
King an' the cadgin' caird,
The lady fine beside the queyn,
A' in the same kirkyaird.

The warst, the best, they a' get rest;
Ane 'neath a headstane braw,
Wi' deep-cut text; while ower the next
The wavin' grass is a'.

Mighty o' name, unknown to fame,
Slippit aneth the sod;
Greatest an' least alike face east,
Waitin' the trump o' God.

~At The Loanin' Mou'~

THE tears were drappin' frae baith her een
When I was sayin' good-bye yestreen;
An' we baith were wae, as we weel micht be-
The wife, at the mou' o' the loan, an' me.

Yet what could I do at a time like this
But lift her chin for a pairtin' kiss,
An' leave her to look to the bairns an' kye,
An' warsle her lane till the war was by?

Wi' the country cryin' for mair to come,
What man could bide at the lug o' the lum,
Or sleep upon feathers or cauf for shame
To think he was lyin' sae saft at hame?

What scaith may come man canna foresee,
But naething waur can a mortal dree
Than leavin' a wife at a time like noo,
Greetin' her lane at the loanin' mou'.


THERE'S a wee, wee glen in the Hielan's,
Where I fain, fain would be;
There's an auld kirk there on the hillside
I weary sair to see.
In a low lythe nook in the graveyard
Drearily stands alane,
Marking the last lair of a' I lo'ed,
A wee moss-covered stane.

There's an auld hoose sits in a hollow
Half happit by a tree;
At the door the untended lilac
Still blossoms for the bee;

But the auld roof is sairly seggit,
There 's nane now left to care;
And the thatch ance sae neatly stobbit
Has lang been scant and bare.

Aft as I lie 'neath a foreign sky
In dreams I see them a'-
The auld dear kirk, the dear auld hame,
The glen sae far awa.
Dreams flee at dawn, and the tropic sun
Nae ray o' hope can gie;
I wander on o'er the desert lone,
There 's nae mair hame for me.

~Spring in the Howe o' Alford~

THERE'S burstin' buds on the larick now
A' the birds are paired an' biggin';
Saft soughin' win's dry the dubby howe,
An' the eildit puir are thiggin'.

The whip-the-cat's aff fae hoose to hoose,
Wi' his oxtered lap-buird lampin',
An' hard ahint, wi' the shears an' goose,
His wee, pechin' 'prentice trampin'.

The laird's approach gets a coat o' san',
When the grieve can spare a yokin';
On the market stance there's a tinker clan,
An' the guidwife's hens are clockin'.

The mason's harp is set up on en',
He's harlin' the fire-hoose gable;
The sheep are aff to the hills again
As hard as the lambs are able.

There's spots o' white on the lang brown park,
Where the sacks o' seed are sittin';
An' wily craws fae the dawn to dark
At the harrow tail are flittin'.

The liftward lark lea's the dewy seggs,
In the hedge the yeldrin's singin';
The teuchat cries for her harried eggs,
In the bothy window hingin'.

Nae snaw-bree now in the Leochel Burn,
Nae a water baillie goupin'-
But hear the whirr o' the miller's pirn,
The plash where the trouts are loupin'.

~The Hint o' Hairst~

O FOR a day at the Hint o' Hairst,
With the craps weel in an' stackit,
When the farmer steps thro' the corn-yard,
An' counts a' the rucks he's thackit:

When the smith stirs up his fire again,
To sharpen the ploughman's coulter;
When the miller sets a new picked stane,
An' dreams o' a muckle moulter:

When cottars' kail get a touch o' frost,
That mak's them but taste the better;
An' thro' the neeps strides the leggined laird,
Wi''s gun an' a draggled setter:

When the forester wi' axe an' keel
Is markin' the wind-blawn timmer,
An' there's truffs aneuch at the barn gale
To reist a' the fires till simmer.

Syne O for a nicht, ae lang forenicht,
Ower the dambrod spent or cairtin',
Or keepin' tryst wi' a neebour's lass-
An' a mou' held up at pairtin'.


NOW Winter rides wi' angry skirl
On sleety winds that rive an' whirl,
An' gaberlunzie-like plays tirl
At sneck an' lozen.
The bairns can barely bide the dirl
O' feet gane dozin.

The ingle's heaped wi' bleezin' peats
An' bits o' splutt'rin' firry reets
Which shortly thow the ploughmen's beets;
An' peels appear
That trickle oot aneth their seats
A' ower the fleer.

The auld wife's eident wheel gaes birr,
The thrifty lasses shank wi' virr;
Till stents are finished nane will stir
Lest Yule should come,
When chiels fae wires the wark mith tirr
To sweep the lum.

The shepherd newly fae the hill
Sits thinkin' on his wethers still;
He kens this frost is sure to kill
A' dwinin' sheep:
His collie, tired, curls in its tail
An' fa's asleep.

Now Granny strips the bairns for bed;
Ower soon the extra quarter fled
For which sae sairly they had pled
But there, it chappit;
An' sleepy "gweed words" soon are said,
An' cauld backs happit.

The milkers tak' their cogues at last,
Draw moggins on, tie mutches fast,
Syne hap their lantrens fae the blast
Maun noo be met;
An' soon the day's last jot is past,
Milk sey'd an' set.

Syne Sandy, gantin', raxes doon
His fiddle fae the skelf aboon,
Throws by the bag, an' souffs a tune,
Screws up a string,
Tries antics on the shift, but soon
Starts some auld spring.

Swith to the fleer ilk eager chiel
Bangs wi' his lass to start the reel,
Cries "Kissin' time"; the coy teds squeal,
An' struggle vainly:
The sappier smacks whiles love reveal,
But practice mainly.

An opening chord wi' lang upbow
The fiddler strikes, syne gently now
Glides into some Strathspey by Gow,
Or Marshall 't may be;
The dancers lichtly needle thro';
Rab sets to Leebie.

Wi' crackin' thooms "Hooch! Hooch!" they reel.
The winceys, spreadin' as they wheel,
Gie stolen glints o' souple heel
An' shapely queet.
The guidman claps his hands, sae weel
He's pleased to see 't.

The wrinkles leave the shepherd's broo,
For see the sonsy mistress too
Shows what the aulder fouks can do,
An', licht's a bird,
Some sober country dance trips thro'
Wi' Jock the herd.

Syne lads wha noo can dance nae mair
To cauldrife chaumers laith repair;
An' lasses, lauchin', speel the stair,
Happy an' warm.
For liftin' hearts an' killin' care
Music's the charm!

When frost is keen an' winter bauld,
An' deep the drift on muir an' fauld;
When mornin's dark an' snell an' could
Bite to the bane;
We turn in thocht, as to a hauld,
To some sic e'en.


HE hears nae mair the Sabbath bells
Borne on the breeze amang Lowden's dells,
Nor waukens when the bugle tells
The dawn o' day.

Fate was the flute the Gauger played,
Cheerin' him on wi' its hopes ahead;
Now "O'er the hills" the master's laid
"An' far away."

Tho' frail the bark, O he was brave,
Nor heedit the stormy winds that drave;
But lanely now the sailor's grave
Across the faern.

The deer unhunted roam at will,
The whaup cries sair on the dreary hill,
The chase is o'er, the horn is still:
The hunter's hame.

~Burns' Centenary~

"I'll be more respected a hundred years after I am dead than I am at present."- R. B., 1796.

"MY fame is sure; when I am dead
A century," the Poet said,
"They'll heap the honours on my head
They grudge me noo";
To-day the hundred years hae sped
That prove it true.

Whiles as the feathered ages flee,
Time sets the sand-glass on his knee,
An' ilka name baith great an' wee
Shak's thro' his sieve;
Syne sadly wags his pow to see
The few that live.

An' still the quickest o' the lot
Is his wha made the lowly cot
A shrine, whaur ilka rev'rent Scot
Bareheadit turns.
Our mither's psalms may be forgot,
But never Burns.

This nicht, auld Scotland, dry your tears,
An' let nae sough o' grief come near's;
We'll speak o' Rab's gin he could hear's,
Life 's but a fivver,
And he 's been healed this hundred years
To live for ever.


I SAW a truant schoolboy chalk his name
Upon the Temple door; then with a shout
Ruts off; that night a weary beggar came,
Leant there his ragged back and rubbed it out.

Dry-lipped she stands an' casts her glance afar,
Ae hand across her brows to shield her een,
Her horn flung careless on the tapmost scaur,
Where names deep chiselled in the rocks are seen.
An' far below, on ilka ridge an' knowe,
A warslin' thrang o' mortals still she spies,
Wha strive an' fecht an' spurn the grassy howe-
Thro' whins an' heather ettlin' aye to rise.
Ane whiles she sees, wha, perched upon a stane,
Proclaims that he at least the goal has won,
But shortly finds he's shiverin' there his lane
Wi' scores aboon, between him an' the sun.
Another, sair forfochen wi' the braes,
Enjoys the view while he has strength to see;
"Weel 's better aye than waur," content, he says,
"Thus far is far an' far aneuch for me."
Some wise, or lazy, never quit the glen,
But stretched at easedom watch the hill aboon,
Glad whiles to see ane gettin' up they ken,
But aft'ner pleased to see him rumblin' doon.
Ane, better shod or stronger than the lave,
Gets near aneuch to grip her skirts at last;
She lifts her horn an' o'er a new-made grave
Awakes the echoes wi' a fun'ral blast.

~The Ae Reward~

GAE wauken up the Muses nine;
Tho' we've nae plaited bays
Aroon' their curly pows to twine,
We winna stent them praise.
Gin music tak' her chanter doon,
Her sister start a sang,
The other saeven join the tune
An' lift it lood an' lang.

First set the tune to suit the time
When we were loons at school,
The sang can be a careless rhyme
Nae measured aff by rule.
We stole our pleasures then, prepared
Wi' hands held out to pay;
Were aulder sins as easy squared,
Oor slates were clean the day.

Syne twa three bars in safter key
For days o' youthfu' love,
When lasses a' to you an' me
Were angels fae above.
Lang-leggit Time, but he was fleet
When we'd a lass the piece,
When bondage aye o'er a' was sweet,
An' freedom nae release.

Noo stamp an' blaw a skin o' war-
The times that noo we hae,
An' gin the need be near or far
We're ready for the day.
The tykes are noon' the lion's lair,
We've seen the like before,
An' seldom hae they wanted mair
When ance they heard him roar.

Syne choke the drones - ae reed's enew
To play the days to come,
When auld Age stachers into view
An' adds up a' the sum.
We've loved an' focht an' sell't an' bocht
Until we're short o' breath;
The auld kirkyard the ae reward,
An' that we get fae Death.

~"My Lord"~

NAKIT tho' we're born an' equal,
Lucky anes are made Police;
An' if civil life's the sequel,
Honours but wi' age increase,
Till a Baillie, syne selected
Ruler ower the Council Board,
An' tho' never re-elected,
"Ance a Provost, aye 'My Lord.'"

Credit's got by advertisin'
Ye hae siller still to lend;
Get the word o' early risin',
Ye can sleep a week on end.
Gie a man a name for fightin'-
Never need he wear a sword;
Men will flee afore his flytin'-
"Ance a Provost, aye 'My Lord.'"

But for mischief name a body,
He can never win aboon 't,
Folk wad swear he chate the wuddy
In the lint-pot gin he droon't;
For unless ye start wi' thrivin',
A' your virtues are ignored,
Vain a' future toil an' strivin'
"Ance a Provost, aye 'My Lord.'"

~In The Gloamin'~

WHY sinks the sun sae slowly doon
Behind the Hill o' Fare?
What restless cantrip's ta'en the moon?-
She's up an hour an' mair.
I doubt they're in a plot the twa
To cheat me o' the gloamin';
Yestreen they saw me slip awa',
An' ken where I gang roamin'.

The trees bent low their list'nin' heads
A' round the Loch o' Skene;
The saft winds whispered 'mang the reeds
As we gaed by yestreen.
The bee, brushed fae the heather bell,
Hummed loudly at our roamin',
Syne hurried bame in haste to tell
The way we spent the gloamin'.

The mavis told his mate to hush
An' hearken fae the tree;
The robin keekit fae a bush
Fu' pawkily an' slee.
An' now they sing o' what they saw
Whenever we gang roamin';
They pipe the very words an' a'
We whispered in the gloamin'.

The wintry winds may tirr the trees,
Clouds hide baith sun an' moon,
An early frost the loch may freeze,
An' still the birdies' tune.
The bee a harried bike may mourn,
An' mink o'ertak' the gloamin',
But aye to thee my thochts will turn,
Wherever I gang roamin'.

~The Maid o' the Mill~

THE cushie doos are cooin' in the birk,
The pee-weets are cryin' on the lea,
The starlings in the belfry o' the kirk
Are layin' plans as merry as can be.
The mavis in the plantin' has a mate,
The blackbird is busy wi' his nest,
Then why until the summer should we wait
When spring could see us happy as the rest?

There's leaves upon the bourtree on the haugh,
The blossom is drappin' fae the gean,
There's buds upon the rantree an' the saugh,
The ferns about the Lady's Well are green.
A' day the herd is liltin' on the hill,
The o'ercome o' ilka sang's the same:
"There are ower mony maidens at the Mill,
It's time the ane I trysted wi' cam' hame!"

~The Witch o' the Golden Hair~

AULD carlins ride on their brooms astride
Awa' thro' the midnight air,
But they cast nae spell on a man sae fell
As the Witch o' the Golden Hair.

Nae a fairy free 'neath the hazel tree
That dances upon the green
Ever kent a charm that could heal or harm
Like the glint o' her twa blue een.

Fae the earth she's reived, fae the Heav'n she 's thieved,
For her cauldron's deadly brew;
She laughs at the stounds o' the hearts she wounds,
For what recks the Witch o' rue?

Lang, lang may the vine in its envy twine
To compass a bower sae rare,
As will peer, I trow, wi' her broad low brow
An' her wavin' golden hair.

The bloom fae the peach that we ne'er could reach,
The red that the apple missed,
You'll find if you seek on the Witch's cheek,
Left there when the summer kissed.

The blue drappit doon fae the lift aboon
To shine in her dancin' een;
An' the honey-bee sips fae her red, red lips,
Syne brags o' the sweets between.

Wi' a magic wile she has won the smile
That the mornin' used to wear,
An' the gold the sun in his splendour spun
Lies tangled amang her hair.

The saft south wind cam' to her to find
A haven to sink an' die,
An' the breath o' myrrh it bequeathed to her
You'll find in the Witch's sigh.

The dimples three that you still can see
Are a' she can claim her ain,
For in Nature fair naught can compare
With them; they are hers alane.


FOR arles he gae me a kiss,
An' twa ilka day was my fee;
A bargain nae surely amiss,
If paid where naebody could see.

But scarce was the compact complete
Ere I would hae broken 't again,
The arles he gae were sae sweet,
For mair o' them, Sirs, I was fain.

It's braw wi' the tweezlock to twine
Lang rapes in the barn sae lythe,
Yet better by far when it's fine,
An' I gaither after his scythe.

O busy 's the banster at e'en
Till bedtime he sits an' he glooms,
An' aye he cries "Lassie, a preen"
An' worries the stobs in his thooms.

The laddie is tired wi' the rake,
Sleep soon puts a steek in his e'e,
An' I slip awa' to the break
An' cannily gather my fee.

~Where Love Was Nane~

AT farmers' faugh lairds still may laugh,
An' the tinker sing as he clouts the pan;
But what will cheer my bairnie dear
When he kens his father's a witless man?

Bought by a ring, puir silly thing,
An' bent by the wind o' my kinsfolk's breath,
Wha would gang braw, if that were 't a'?-
O! a loveless life it is waur than death!

Will land or hoose seem good excuse
For a mither married where love was nane?
It's hard for me, this weird to dree,
But it's waur that I canna bear't my lane.

My puir wee bairn, ye'll live to learn
How heavy the burden ye hae to bear.
What's gold or name when born to shame,
An' o' sic a twasome to be the heir?

~The Deil an' the Deevilock~

THE muckle Deil lay at the mirk pit mou',
An' hard at his heel lay a Deevilock;
While the brimstane reek wi' an upward spew
Swirled roon' baith the Dell an' the Deevilock
As their tails like flails were fannin' the air,
Said the big ane then to the wee ane there:
"In colour an' scouk we are sib as sins,
Wi' a half ell mair we would pass for twins."
("A wee toad spits," quo' the Deevilock.)

"Since the warl' was made"-'twas the auld Dell spak'-
("That's a far cry noo," quo' the Deevilock.)
"I hae wandered far but I've aye come back."
("To a het hame too," quo' the Deevilock.)
"Since first I set oot wi' a teem new creel,
Haena mortals changed an' their ways as weel!
For then I was thin an' had wark enew,
Noo I'm fat as creesh, an' the furnace fu'."
("Improve the draught," quo' the Deevilock.)

"Then aften I swore at the cloven hoof,"
("It's gey ill to shee," quo' the Deevilock.)
"An' the horns an' tail scared mony a coof."
("Faith they hamper me," quo' the Deevilock.)
"Gin' I taul' ye noo ye would scarce believe
The bother I had wi' that besom Eve;
But forbid her noo, ye would find, I ween,
She would eat the crap while it yet was green."
("Syne lift the tree," quo' the Deevilock.)

"In the early days I would aften fail,"
("Syne sae lood God leuch," quo' the Deevilock
"To wile them awa' to my henchman Baal."
("Wasna auld Job teuch?" quo' the Deevilock.)
"The brawest an' best o' my weel waled flock
Struggled lang an' sam wi' a reeshlin' pock;
I nickit him tho', at the hinder-end,
Wi' the thirty croons that he couldna spend.
("He'd lots o' heirs," quo' the Deevilock.)

"But willin' an' keen they come half roads noo,"
("Saul! in fair big croods," quo' the Deevilock)
"An' the backward anes are baith far an' few."
("Curse your platitudes," quo' the Deevilock.)
"They crack roon' the fire, an' are nae mair blate
Than a bonnet laird wi' a new estate;
Their hands playin' smack on their birslin' shins
As they lauch an' brag o' their former sins."
("Hame's aye hame-like," quo' the Deevilock.)

"An' you, ye're the warst o' my horny crew";
("I'm sorry I spak'," quo' the Deevilock.)
"Nae an' antrin jot leavin' me to do."
("An' I aye blush black," quo' the Deevilock.)
"For a hungry chiel ye've an open gate,
Help the elder pooch fae his ain kirk plate;
Nae a leein' man nor a faithless dame
But is coontin' kin, when they hear your name."
("I'm 'Canny-chance,'" quo' the Deevilock.)

"Wi' the ministers ye are mair than thrang,"
("Took a Sunday twice," quo' the Deevilock.)
"Aye giein' them texts to support a wrang."
("Guid halesome advice," quo' the Deevilock.)
"When in Auchterless ye suggest the prayer-
'Show my duty, Lord, lies in Auchtermair';
An' when stipens shrink wi' the fa' in fiars,
Siccan sizzons ban as ye mix your tears."
("We're a' ae claith," quo' the Deevilock.)

"Ye hae even dealt amo' stocks an' shares,"
("Selled some to arrive," quo' the Deevllock.)
"An' made likely men into millionaires."
("Hoot, our bairns maun thrive," quo' the Deevilock.)
"Ye startit a war, an' to raise a loan
Showed a spen'thrift king how to wadset's throne;
An' raikit them in fae the bench an' cell,
Till the Fact'ry Act is in bits in Hell."
("Nae half-time there," quo' the Deevilock.)

"Nae; pleasant thing hae ye left aneth,"
("There's the company," quo' the Deevilock.)
"An' a weary Deil canna look for death."
("Here's lang life to me," quo' the Deevilock.)
"It's Hell to hae naething to do but sit
An' curse at the creak o' the birlin' spit;
I'm red, red wi' rust, save the jinglin' keys,
I'd swap wi' a god wha is fond o' ease."
("Ha! ha!-ha! ha!" quo' the Deevilock.)

~A Backcast~

HOW lanely the nichts by the auld ingle cheek,
Ohone, but a mither is nae like a wife,
Regret on the creepie sits watchin' the reek,
An' whaur are the bairnies to comfort my life?

The backcast is dreary o'er years that are spent,
The rowan is withered, an' leafless the gean,
They're gane noo for ever, but, eh! had I kent,
Grim winter is reignin' where summer was queen

I dammed for the lade that had never a wheel,
The chickens were bonnie but noo they're awa',
The castles I biggit gie other folk biel'.
O wae tak' the gled that gaed aff wi' them a'.

A lassie proved fickle, unfaithfu' a frien',
Tho' soorocks an' tansies grow green in the ha',
An' a mither is a' I hae left o' my ain,
The ivy sae kindly aye covers the wa'.

~The Lawin'~

THE way o' transgressors is hard;
There cometh a day
The Wicked will get their reward,
The Devil his pay.

Cauld Death is the wages o' Sin:
Stents finished, we rue:
The thread, tho' sae pleasant to spin,
Has connached the woo'.

As soon as we've emptied the caup
The lawin's to clear;
Tho' thistles be only the crap
The sawer maun shear.

Sae let us consider it weel
Ere joinin' the fling,
The dancer when tired o' the reel
Maun pay for the spring.

Then coont on the Lawin', the Lawin', the Lawin',
Keep mind o' the Lawin', forget na the score;
We pay what we're awin', we're awin', we're awin',
We pay a' we're awin' when Death 's at the door.

~The Gypsy~

O WASNA he bauld for a tinker loon,-
Sim leant on his rake an' swore-
To fling a' his wallets an' bawd-skins doon,
An' rap at the castle door.

Wi' my Lord awa' at the Corbie's linn
There was man nor dog at hame,
Save a toothless bitch 'at was auld an' blin',
An' the gard'ner auld an' lame.

When my Lady heard she cam' doon the stair,
An' ben thro' the antlered ha',
Whaur, bonnet in hand, stood the gypsy there
As raggit as she was braw.

"O I hinna kettles to clout," she said,
"An' my spoons an' stoups are hale,
But gin ye gang roon' to the kitchen maid
She'll gie ye a waucht o' ale."

"It's never the way o' the gentry, na,
When visitin' 'mang their frien's,
To drink wi' the maids in the servants' ha'
Or speak about stoups an' speens.

"An' we are mair sib than ye think," quo' he,
"For his Lordship's father's mine;
Tho' the second wife was o' high degree,
His first was a gypsy queyn.

"An' the younger son got the lands an' a',
But the gypsies bettered me;
He is only laird o' a fairm or twa,
I'm king o' the covin-tree.

"Sae I am guid-brither to you, my lass,
An' head o' the auncient name;
An' it wouldna be richt for me to pass
Withoot cryin' in by hame."

O a hantle then did the twasome say,
An' muckle passed them between;
But at last 'twas "Sister, a fair good day,"
"Guid-brither, a fair good e'en."

"My Lord comes hame fae the huntin' soon,
An' he's big, weel-faured, an' braw,
But he isna a man like the tinker loon,
Wi' wallets an' rags an' a'."

"Gin she were as free as the maids I ken,
Dancin' bar'fit on the green;
As I am the King o' the gypsy men,
This nicht she would be my Queen."

But the bluid ran thin in the gard'ner Sim,
He'd heard o' the cairds afore,
An' the auld romance had nae charms for him,
He lockit the ken-hoose door.


THERE'S a yellow thread in the Gordon plaid,
But it binds na my love an' me;
And the ivy leaf has brought dool and grief
Where there never but love should be.

For my lad would 'list: when a Duchess kiss't
He forgot a' the vows he made;
And he turned and took but ae lang, last look,
When the "Cock o' the North" was played.

O, her een were bright, an' her teeth were white
As the silver they held between;
But the lips he pree'd, were they half as sweet
As he vow'd 'at mine were yestreen?

A poor country lass, 'mang the dewy grass,
May hae whiles to kilt up her goon;
But a lady hie sae to show her knee,
And to dance in a boro' toon!

Gin I were the Duke, I could nae mair look
Wi' love on my high-born dame;
At a kilt or plaid I would hang my head,
And think aye on my lady's shame.

By my leefu' lane I sit morn an' e'en.
Prayin' aye for him back to me;
For now he's awa' I forgie him a'
Save the kiss he was 'listed wi'.

~The Outlaw's Lass~

DUNCAN'S lyin' on the cauld hillside,
Donal's swingin' on the hangman's yew:
Black be the fa' o' the sergeant's bride
Wha broke two trotks to keep ae tryst true.

The red-coats march at the skreek o' day,
An' we maun lie on the brae the night;
Then here's to them safely on their way,
Speed to the mirk brings the mornin's fight.

Here's luck to me if you chance to fa',
An' here's to luck if it favours you;
For she's but ane, an' o' us there's twa,
To him that's left may she yet prove true.

In days to come, when the reivers ride,
They'll miss ae sword that was swift an' keen,
An' you or I, as the Fates decide,
Will curse the glint o' a woman's een,

A parting cup, we will drink it noo,
Syne break the quaich to a shattered faith;
Here's happiness to the lass we lo'e,
The lying lass wha deceived us baith.

The soldiers drink in the change-house free,
The tinker's clinkin' a crackit quaick;
But cuddlin' there on the sergeant's knee
Wha is the lass that is lauchin' laich?

~Charon's Song~

ANOTHER boat-load for the Further Shore,
Heap them up high in the stern;
Nae ane o' them ever has crossed before
An' never a ane'll return.
Heavy it rides sae full, sae full,
Deep, deep is the River,
But light, light is the backward pull,
The River flows silently on.

A cargo o' corps that are cauld I trow-
They're grippy that grudge the fare-
An' the antrin quick wi' his golden bough
That 's swappin' the Here for There.
Heavy it rides sae full, sae full,
Slow, slow is the River,
But light, light is the backward pull,
The River flows silently on.

In vain will they look wha seek for a ford,
Where the reeds grow lank an' lang:
This is the ferry, an' I am the lord
An' king o' the boat an' stang.
Heavy it rides sae full, sae full,
Black, black is the River,
But light, light is the backward pull,
The River, my River, flows on.

~Virgil in Scots~

~Aeneid, Book III, 588-640~

NEIST mornin' at the skreek o' day
The mist had newlins lifted;
The sky, a whylock syne sae grey,
To fleckit red had shifted:
When suddenly our herts gaed thud
To see a fremt chiel stalkin',
Wi' timorous steps fae out the wud,
As fleyed-like as a mawkin.
Lod! sic a sicht, half hid in glaur,
It made us a' feel wae, man;
His hams were thin, his kyte was waur,
It hung sae toom that day, man.
His mattit beard was lang an' roch's
Gin it had ne'er been shorn;
His kilt could barely fend his houghs
Fae stobs, it was sae torn.
A Greek was he, wha short afore
At Troy was in the brulzie,
An' tho' a halflin then, be bore
A man's pairt in the tulzie.
As soon's he spied our Trojan graith
He nearhan' swarfed wi' fear;
But maisterin' his dread o' skaith
At last he ventured near.
"I charge you by the stars," he cried,
"And by the powers on high,
To snatch me hence, nor lat me bide
At Cyclops' hands to die.
I'll no deny that I'm a Greek,
Or that I was at Troy;
Nor yet to hide the part, I'll seek,
That I took in the ploy.
Sae gin ye judge my fau't sae sair
That grace ye daurna gie,
Tear me to bits, fient haet I care,
And sink me in the sea.
I'll meet my death without a wird,
If dealt by men like these,"
He said: syne flang him on the yird,
An' glammoched at our knees.
Wi' kindly mint we stilled his fear,
Enquired his name an' clan,
An' what fell bluffert blew him here
Wi' sic a hertless flan.
To set him further at his ease
Anchises gae him 's han',
An' heartened by our kindliness
The chiel at last began:
"My name is Achaemenides,
An' Ithaca my land;
An' some ooks syne I crossed the seas
Wi' poor Ulysses' band.
Oh, why left ever I my hame?
I'd troubles there enew;
My comrades left me, to their shame,
When fae Cyclops they flew.
Cyclops himsel', wha can describe?
The stars are ells below him;
Gude send we ne'er may hae to bide
Within a parish o' him.
His dungeon large, a hauddin' fit
For sic an awsome gleed;
There at his fae's dregies he'll sit
And spairge aboot their bleed.
Wi' horrid scouk he frowns on a'
An' heedless o' their skraichs,
He sweels their monyfaulds awa'
Wi' wauchts fae gory quaichs.
I saw him, sirs, as sure's I live,
Ance as he lay at easedom,
Twa buirdly chiels tak' in his neive,
Syne careless fae him heeze them.
They fell wi' sic a dreadfu' thud,
Whaur stanes lay roun' in cairns;
The causey ran wi' thickened blood
Like stoorum made wi' harns.
I watched him tak' their limbs an' cram
Them ower his weel-raxed thrapple;
The life scarce left the quivering ham
That shivered in his grapple.
But never was Ulysses slack
To pay where he was awin',
An' starkly did he gie him't back,
An' bravely cleared the lawin'.
For while the hoven monster snored,
An' rifted in his dreams,
We first the great God's help implored
An' blessing on our schemes;
The kavils cuist: a feerious thrang
Syne gaithered roond aboot,
An' wi' a sturdy pointed stang
We bored his ae e'e oot."

~Horace in Scots~

Car. I, II

Tu ne quaesieris

YE needna speer, Catriona, nae spaewife yet could tell
Hoo short or lang for you an' me the tack o' life will rin,
We'll better jist dree oot the span as we hae dane the ell,
Content gin mony towmonds still we're left to store the kin,
Or this the last we'll see the rocks tashed wi' the weary seas;
Hae sense an' set the greybeard oot; wi' life sae short for a'
They're daft that plan ae ook ahead; Time keeks asklent an' flees
E'en as we crack; the nicht is oors, the morn may never daw.

~Horace In Scots~

Car. I, 38

Persicos odi

FOREIGN fashions, lad, allure you
Hamespun happit I would be;
Bring nae mair, for I assure you
Ferlies only scunner me.

Fancy tartans, clanless, gaudy,
Mention them nae mair, I say;
Best it suits your service, laddie,
An' my drinkin', hodden-grey.

~Horace In Scots~

Car. II, 10

Rectius vives

TEMPT not the far oonchancie main,
Nor fearin' blufferts, frien',
Creep noon' fause headlan's; haud your ain
Tack fair atween.

The gowden mids, wha aims at it
Will shun the tinker's lair,
Nor gantin' in a castle sit
Whaur flunkeys stare.

The heichest fir storms aft'nest bow;
Lums fa' wi' sairest dunt;
When lightnings rive, bauld Morven's pow
Drees aye the brunt.

Come weel, come wae, wi' hope or fear
Prepare your heart for a';
The same Power sends the rain will clear
The cloods awa'.

Tho' here the day ye've waes galore
The morn may see them gone;
Fate whiles lays by the dour claymore
An' tunes the drone.

In trouble bauidly bear yoursel';
When thrivin', mind the fret-
"Tho' lang the pig gangs to the well,
Its ae day's set."

~Horace In Scots~

Car. III, 9

Donec gratus eram

"WHEN Leebie lo'ed me ower them a',
An' deil a dearer daured to fling
An airm aboot her neck a' snaw,
I struttit crouser than the king."

"When I was Hairry's only care,
Afare he lo'ed me less than Jean,
Wha spak' o' love at kirk or fair
Set Leebie aye aboon the queen."

"Noo Hielan' Jean has witched me sae,
She harps an' sings wi' siccan skill,
Cauld Death can streek me on the strae
Gin he but spare my marrow still."

"Far Colin dear, my heart's alowe
As his for me, Glen Nochty's heir,
Fate twice at me may shak' his pow
Gin he will still my laddie spare."

"Gin tinker Love wi' clinks o' brass
Bind baith oor hearts, an' I forget
Red-headit Jean, an' you my lass-
Lang left-again see wide the yett?"

"Tho' steady as a starn is he,
An' you're like bobbin' cork, it's true,
Wi' temper grumhie as the sea,
I'd love an' live an' dee wi' you."

~Horace in Scots~

Car. III, 15

Uxor pauperis Ibyci

KIRSTY, ye besom! auld an' grey,
Peer Sandy's wrunkled kimmer,
Death's at your elbuck, cease to play
Baith hame an' furth the limmer.

Ongauns like yours lads weel may fleg
Fae lasses a' thegither;
Tibbie may fling a wanton leg
Would ill set you her mither.

She Anra's bothy sneck may tirl
An' loup like ony filly;
Love stirs her as the pipers' skirl
Some kiltit Hielan' billie.

Nane pledge or bring you posies noo;
Auld wives nae trumps set strummin',
For runts like you the Cabrach woo'-
It's time your wheel was bummin'.

~Horace in Scots~

Car. III, 26

Vixi puellis

O' LIFE an' love I'm by wi' a',
Tho' I've had cause o' baith to brag;
Hang dirk an' chanter on the wa',
Nae mair I'll reive or squeeze the bag.

Whaur on the left my lantren gleams
Weel gairdit by the sea-born queen,
I lay my love an' war worn leems,
Hae mony a midnicht tulzie seen.

O Venus, fae your island fair
Wi' snawless mountains, hear an' help,
Rax back your rung, an' ance-nae mair-
Gie saucy Meg a canny skelp.

~Horace in Scots~

Epod. II

Beatus ille

HAPPY is he, far fae the toon's alairm
Wha wons contentit on his forbears' fairm;
Whistlin' ahint his owsen at the ploo,
Oonfashed wi' siller lent or int'rest due.
Nae sodger he, that's piped to wark an' meat,
Nae bar'fit sailor, fleyed at wind an' weet,
Schoolboard nor Session tempt him fae his hame,
Provost or Baillie never heard his name;
His business 'tis to sned the larick trees
For lichened hag to stake his early peas,
Or on his plaid amang the braes to lie
Herdin' his sleekit stots an' hummel kye,
Here wi' his whittle nick a sooker saft,
There mark a stooter shank for future graft;
Whiles fae a skep a dreepin' comb he steals,
Or clips the doddit yowes for winter wheels.
When ower the crafts blythe Autumn lifts her head
Buskit wi' aipples ripe an' roddens red,
He speels the trees the hazel nits to pu',
An' rasps an' aivrins fill his bonnet fu',-
Fit gifts awat, for gods o' wood an' yaird
To show the gratefu' husbandman's regaird.
Ah, then 'tis pleasant on saft mossy banks
'Neath auncient aiks to ease his wearied shanks,
Whaur hidden burnies rumblin' onwards row,
An' liltin' linties cheer the peacefu' howe,
An' babblin' springs, as thro' the ferns they creep
Wi' ceaseless croonin' lull to gentle sleep.
When stormy winter comes an' in its train
Brings drivin' drift an' spates o' plashin' rain,
Wi' dog an' ferret then he's roon' the parks
Whaur rabbits in the snaw hae left their marks;
Or brings wi' smorin' sulphur thuddin' doon
The roostin' pheasant fae the boughs aboon,
Or daunders furth wi' girn an' gun to kill
White hares an' ptarmigan upon the hill.
Wha mid sic joys would ever stop to fash
Wi' trystin' queyns, their valinteens an' trash?
But gin a sonsy wife be his, she'll help
Wi' household jots, the weans she'll clead an' skelp,
An'-Buchan kimmers ken the way fu' weel
Or Hielan' hizzies-tenty toom the creel
O' lang hained heath'ry truffs to reist the fire
Against her man's return, fair dead wi' tire,
An' byre-ward clatter in her creeshie brogues
To fill wi' foamin' milk the scrubbit cogues,
Syne fae the press the cakes an' kebbuck draw
An' hame-brewed drink nae gauger ever saw-
Plain simple fare; could partans better please
Or skate or turbot fae the furthest seas,
Brocht to the market by the trawler's airt
Hawkit fae barrows or the cadger's cairt?
Nae frozen dainties, nae importit meat,
Nae foreign galshochs, taste they e'er sae sweet,
But I will match them fast as ye can name
Wi' simple berries that we grow at hame-
Wi' burnside soorocks that ye pu' yoursel',
Wi' buttered brose, an' chappit curly kail,
Wi' mealy puddins fae the new killed Mart,
Or hill-fed braxy that the tod has spar'd.
What happier life than this for young or auld?
To see the blackfaced wethers seek the fauld,
The reekin' owsen fae the fur' set free
Wear slowly hamewith ower the gowan'd lea,
An' gabbin' servants fae the field an' byre
Scorchin' their moleskins at the kitchen fire.

The banker swore 'mid siccan scenes to die,
"Back to the land" was daily his refrain;
A fortnicht syne he laid his ledgers by,
The nicht he's castin' his accoonts again!

~The Remonstrance~

NOO man, hoo can ye think it richt
To waste your time, nicht after nicht,
An' hunker in the failin' licht
Wi' moody broo,
Like some puir dwinin' thewless wicht
Wi' death in view?

I've taul' ye aft aneuch it's nae
As if ye'd aught 'at's new to say,
Or said auld things some better way,
Or like some callants
Gat fouk to praise your sangs an' pay
Ye for your ballants.

Instead o' vreetin' like a clerk
Till bed-time brings alang the dark,
Ye should be sportin' in the park
An' hear the clamour
Wad greet ye, should ye pass my mark
Wi' stane or hammer.

Or tak' a daunder roan' the braes
An' hear the blackies pipe their lays,
The liftward laverock's sang o' praise,
An' syne, my billie,
Mak' nae mair verses a' your days-
Shut doon your millie.

~The Reply~

THO' loud the mavis whistles now
An' blackbirds pipe fae ilka bough
An' laverocks set the heart alowe-
Mid a' the plenty
You'd miss upon the wayside cowe
The twitt'rin' lintie.

An' think you, when the simmer's gane,
When sleet blaws thro' the leafless plane,
An' bieldless birds sit mute an' lane,
The woods a' cheerless,
The hamely robin on the stane
Sings sweet an' fearless.

So tho' my sangs be as you say
Nae marrow for the blackbird's lay,
They may hae cheered somebody's way
Wha wanted better,
An' sent him happier up the brae
My welcome debtor.

Nae care hae I, nor wish to speel
Parnassus' knowe, for many a chiel
Has tint his time, his life as weel,
To claim a bit o't:
t only crave a wee bit biel'
Near han' the fit o't.

~Scotland Our Mither~

SCOTLAND our Mither-this from your sons abroad,
Leavin' tracks on virgin veld that never kent a road,
Trekkin' on wi' weary feet, an' faces turned fae hame,
But lovin' aye the auld wife across the seas the same.

Scotland our Mither-we left your bieldy bents
To hunt wi' hairy Esau, while Jacob kept the tents.
We've pree'd the pangs o' hunger, mair sorrow seen than mirth,
But never niffer'd, auld wife, our rightfu' pride o' birth.

Scotland our Mither-we sow, we plant, we till,
But plagues that passed o'er Egypt light here an' work their will.
They've harried barn an' basket till ruin claims us sure;
We'd better kept the auld craft an' herdit on the muir.

Scotland our Mither-we weary whiles and tire;
When Bad Luck helps to outspan, Regret biggs up the fire;
But still the hope uphaulds us, tho' bitter now the blast,
That we'll win to the auld hame across the seas at last.

Scotland our Mither-we've bairns you've never seen-
Wee things that turn them northward when they kneel down at e'en;
They plead in childish whispers the Lord on high will be
A comfort to the auld wife-their granny o'er the sea.

Scotland our Mither-since first we left your side,
From Quilimane to Cape Town we've wandered far an' wide;
Yet aye from mining camp an' town, from koppie an' karoo,
Your sons richt kindly, auld wife, send hame their love to you.

~It Wasna His Wyte~
It wasna his wyte he wis beddit sae late
An' him had sae muckle to dee:
He'd rabbits to feed, and the fulpie to kame,
An the hens to hish into the ree.
The mason's mear, syne, he set up i' the close
An' coupit the ladle fu' keen,
An' roun' the ruck foun's wi' the lave o the loons
Played "takie" by licht o the meen.
Syne he rypit his pooches an' countit his bools,
The reid-cheekit pitcher an' a',
Took the yirlins' fower eggs fae his bonnet, an' fegs
When gorbell't they're fykie to blaw.
But furth cam' his mither an' cried on him in,
Tho' sairly he priggit to wait,
"The'll be nae wird o' this i' the mornin', my laad,"
But it wasna his wyte he wis late.
"Och hey," an' "och hum," he wis raxin' himsel'
An' rubbin his een when he raise,
"An' far was his bonnet an' far was his beets,
An' fa had been touchin' his claes?
Ach, his parritch was caul'. They'd forgotten the saut,
There was ower muckle meal on the tap.
Was this a' the butter-milk? Far was his speen?
An' fa had been bitin' his bap?
His pints wasna tied, an' the back o his lugs
Nott some sma' attention as weel--
But it wasna as gin it was Sunday, ye ken,
An' onything does for the squeel.
Wi' his piece in his pootch he got roadit at last,
Wi' his beuks an' his skaalie an' sklate.
Gin the wag-at-the-wa' in the kitchen wis slaw,
Weel, it wasna his wyte he wis late.
The fite-fuskered cat wi' her tail in the air
Convoyed him as far as the barn,
Syne, munchin his piece, he set aff by his leen,
Tho' nae very willin', I'se warran'.
The cairt-road wis dubby, the track thro' the wid,
Altho' maybe langer, wis best,
But whan loupin' the dyke a steen-chackert flew oot,
An' he huntit a fyle for her nest.
Syne he cloddit wi' yowies a squirrel he saw
Teetin' roun' by the end o' a tree,
An' jinkit the Gamie, oot teemin' his girns--
A ragie aul' billie was he.
A' this wis a hinner, an up the moss side
He ran, noo, at siccan a rate
That he fell i' the heather an' barkit his shins,
Sae it wisna his wyte he wis late.
Astride on a win'-casten larick he sat
An' pykit for rosit tae chaw,
Till a paitrick, sair-frichten't, ran trailin' a wing
Fae her cheepers tae tryst him awa'.
He cried on the dryster when passin the mull,
Got a lunt o' his pipe an' a news,
An' his oxter pooch managed wi' shillans to full--
A treat to tak hame till his doos.
Syne he wadit the lade, an' crap under the brig
To hear the gigs thunder abeen,
An' a rotten plump't in an gaed sweemin' awa,
Afore he could gether a steen.
He hovered to herrie a foggy-bee's byke
Nae far fae the mole-catcher's gate,
An' the squeel it was in or he'd coontit his stangs,
But it wasna his wyte he was late.
He tried on his taes to creep ben till his sate,
But the snuffy aul' dominie saw,
Sneckit there in his desk like a wyver that waits
For a flee in his wob on the wa'.
He tell't o' his tum'le, but fat was the eese
Wi' a mannie in sic an ill teen,
An' fat wis a wap wi' a spainyie or tag
To hands that were hard as a steen?
Noo, gin he had grutten, it's brawly he kent
Foo croose a' the lassies wad craw,
For the mornin afore he had scattered their lames
An' dung doon their hoosies an' a'.
Wi' a gullie tae hooie, tho', seen he got ower
The wey he'd been han'led by fate.
It was coorse, still an' on, to be wallop't like thon
When it wasna his wyte he was late.
It's thirty year, said ye? it's forty an' mair
Sin' last we were lickit at squeel.
The dominie's deid an' forgotten for lang,
An' a' oor beuk-learnin' as weel.
The size o' a park--wi' the gushets left oot--
We'll guess geyan near, I daur say,
Or the wecht o' a stot, but we wadna gang far
Gin we tried noo the coontin' in "Gray."
"Effectual Callin'" we canna rin throu'
Wha kent it aince clear as the text.
We can say "man's cheif en'" an' the shorter "Commands,"
But what was the "Reason Annexed"?
Oor heids micht be riddels for a' they haud in
O' Catechis, coontin', or date,
Yet I'll wauger ye'll min' on the mornin' langsyne
When it wasna oor wyte we were late.