Rough Scan
GOOSEBERRY FAIR





GOOSEBERRY FAIR

I STOOD in the mids’ o’ the merket square,
Deeved by the thrang o’ the Gooseberry Fair,
And I sichted a couple o’ colliers there,
=As merry as weel may be.
They elbowed owre to the coconut shy,
The sleeves o’ their sarks they buckled high,
And ettled hae’in a hertie try
=To prove they were true o’ ee.

I’ll no be suire but it seemed to me
They baith had supped at the barley bree,
And belike they graped whaur they couldna see,
=And the nits were sweir to faa.
But aince and again their lauchs wad droon
The dunt as at whiles they brocht ane doon,
Syne ilk wi’ a skirl wad turn him roun’
=And pick up anither baa.

I reckoned up they had wared that day,
A gowden sovereign atween the twae,
And the feck o’ the trock they took away,
=Ye wadna hae cairried hame.
A mutchkin gless and some bits o’ delf
Ye’d grue to set on the kitchen shelf,
A puir return to their squandered pelf-
=And I thocht, - but it’s aye the same!

In the croudit thrang o’ this mad warld’s strife
We loup to the squeal o’ a Warlock’s fife,
We spend oor siller, and stake oor life,
=And syne at the gloamin’ faa.
When we’re dune and broken, owre late we ken,
As we ponder, waesome, but wicer men-
We hae gethered noucht in the hirplin ben,
=For aa that we’ve thrawn awa.

As I cam doon frae the Gooseberry Fair,
I took my gate in the cool nicht air,
And quaetly breathed oot a hertsome prayer;
=A prayer on my hameward way.
God gar us look to the hinder end
O’ oor earthly day or the sun descend,
A hantle o’ mense to oor dull heids send,
=And shaw us the airt to gae.





THE COORTIN’ LASS

NAE dowieness can fash the lassie lang,
Save when anither’s dule comes pressin’ sair,
And syne the sough o’ sadness she can share:
But in her hert’s the owrecome o’ a sang.

The care o’ life she hasna een to see:
A warmer vision aye keeps breakin’ through:
The lad that comes her gate sae aft to woo,
The tender licht caas saftly to her ee.

For her the mavis sings a sweeter note;
For her the roses bloom a brichter hue.
The sky attour her heid’s a sunlit blue;
The love lilt comes unbidden to her throat.

The coortin’ lass has little need to tell.
I see it in the radiance o’ her face;
It whispers through her winsomeness and grace-
I fain could faa in love wi’ her mysel.





THE PIPES O’ HAME

Wi’ the green plaids their shouthers aroun’,
And the plumed bonnets noddin’ aboon,
They gang steppin’ licht-fit doun the toun
=To the skirl o’ an Island lilt.

In the drum beat my keen ear kens
The bicker o’ burns in the glens,
There’s a breath frae the Highland bens
=In the swing o’ the tartan kilt.

There’s a sough o’ the wind in the trees,
And the wild curlew’s wail on the breeze,
There’s a moan frae the Western seas
=In the drone o’ the pipes they blaw.

O’ my fit it grows licht to the strain,-
I am hame in the Northland again,-
And to follow the lads I am fain,
=For they’ve stolen my hert awa.





THE HIRING FAIR

WENCHES and hauflins, singin’ aa and lauchin’,
=Thrawin’ to the wind ilk care,
Trip to the green at the bottom o’ the clachan
=On the day o’ the Hiring Fair

Doon comes Robin wi’ his auld broon fiddle,
=Turns he a lichtsome air;
List to the hoochin o’ the couple in the middle
=On the day o’ the Hiring Fair.

Oot steps Ailison-fee’d to the miller-
=Sunlicht glintin’ in her hair;
Nane at the fling, can haud the can’le till her
=On the day o’ the Hiring Fair.

Dan gie’s a loup to the pipe o’ the sailors-
=Sooplest o’ callants there-
Aa join in to "The Deil amang the Tailors"
=On the day o’ the Hiring Fair.

Reels and schottisches till the reid sun’s sinkin’,
=Syne in the cool nicht air,
Lads and lasses in their pairs gang linkin’
=Hame frae the Hiring Fair.





THE HERD

WHEN the Fair day cam roun’
=In the years that are gane,
He wad tak the drove road a day sune:
Syne he’d traivel lang oors
=Through the hert o’ the hills,
By the licht o’ the stars and the mune.
=And the sheep were sair wabbit afore they made fauld,
=And the puir herd was blae wi’ the cauld.

When the Fair day comes roun’
=In the times we ken noo,
He allows a bit oor for the run;
Frae his place far ootbye
=He comes rattlin’ doun,
And he never pits fit to the grun’.
=Cooped up on the lorry, the sheep waesome sab,
=And the auld herd beams oot o’ the cab.





LAIRD AND HAUFLIN

WI’ a seep, seep, and a dreep, dreep,
=This mony an ‘oor,
The rain ‘s steedily faa’n, faa’n
=In an eendoon poor.
Says the auld laird - "We’ll hae nae crap,
=This drookit year."
Thinks the hauflin up in the bothy-
="But it’s snug here!"

The sun’s scowderin’ sair, sair
=On the laigh raws:
And brunt broon in the lang droot
=Are the neep shaws.
Says the auld laird - "We’ll be hard fashed
=For the want o’ weet."
But the hauflin streeks on the knowe back
=In the day’s heat.

The frost’s gruppen the ferm groun’
=Wi’ a ticht han’,
And the auld laird stappin’ hamewan,
=Is a soored man.
But oot yont neth the mune’s licht,
=At the coortin’ thrang,
The hauflin kens that the warld’s sweet,
=And there’s noucht wrang.





LICHTSOME LASS

THE lasses as braw as the roses o’ simmer,
=Or sweet as the warm tints o’ autumn are rare,
But she taks her lichtsomeness oot o’ the springtime,
=The lass wi’ the lauch that wad gliff awa care.

A ray o’ the sunlicht seems aye breakin’ owre her,
=And blythe is her banter, baith frien’ly and free,
She turns a bricht face to the steer o’ life’s stishie,
=But half o’ her hert’s wi’ her lad yont the sea.

Her gowden hair tossed in the cantrips o’ April
=Is like the ripe corn when the breeze ripples through:
The soun’ o’ her mirth is the merle’s clear singin’,
=Bewitchin’, the saft smiles that dimple her mou’.

May guid aye defend her, and luve aye attend her
=To keep the saut tear frae her dancin’ blue een;
And hasten the day when the lad owre the water
=Comes cheerily hame to his ain bonnie Jean.





THE PACKMAN

HE comes in the spring and he’s here at the faa,
=Wi’ his bundle slung owre his back:
A buirdly auld falla wi’ muckle to sell,
=And muckle to gie wi’ his crack-
"I hear that Rob Morris has lost his best yowe,-
I’ve a hank o’ black oo, gin ye’re knittin’ eenow!"

Syne aff frae his shouther’ll tummle his pack,
=As he gets himsel’ settin doon.
Wi’ the wale o’ his stock he will gie ye the clash
=Frae the countryside far aroun’-
"The fluidin’s gey bad aa the watergate lang,-
I’ve a fine pair o’ towels, as cheap as they’re strang!"

He cairries maist aathing ye’re likely to need,
=And aiblins, he’s no a bit sweir,
When the bairns come in wi’ their glaur-speldered shoon,
=To offer his orra gear.-
"A brush for the scrubbin’, and here’s a door bass,-
Fecks, the wather has come to an awfu’ pass!"

He’s no easy dooned gin there’s nocht ye can buy,
=And his ee never loses its licht;
He gethers his trappin’ and maks for the door,
=And he whustles awa oot o’ sicht.
He’s never owre blate, and he canna keep mim,
But the warld’s the better o’ bodies like him!





WHUP THE CAT

IN the bitter back end
He will link doun the glen,
=A wiry wee cratur and yauld.
Wi’ his bundle and shears
At the guidwife he speirs
=Gin we’re aa keepin’ clear o’ the cauld.

Let him on to the fluir
And I’m geyan weel suire
=He will wairn us o’ dour dowie days,
When we aa will be gled
To be coosily cled
=In the coorsest o’ hodden grays.

Gin we grant that he’s richt
He’ll pit up for the nicht
=And set in, come the morn, to the job
O’ shapin’ the claith
For the bairns and us baith,
=And aa frae the ae shoddy wob.

He will leave us nae doots
That his tongue wad clip cloots,
=And as shairp as a needle’s his ee.
His is nae mealy-mooth,
He’s a sutten-doon drooth,
=But his crack is aye herty and free.

A day or twa noo
Will see him weel through,
=Syne he’ll gether his hirin’ and gae
Alang on his roun’,-
The skeely auld loon,
=He winna be turned away.





SALOME

HEROD the Tetrarch was thrawn as a cuddy,
A big, bauld, bang, cantankerous buddie,
Wi’ his rowth o’ gowd he had need o’ noucht,
But the mair he gethered, the mair he soucht.
His een, as greedy as gled’s for gear,
Wad settle whiles on a sonsie dear;
For sleekit dealin’ and cairryin’ on,
There never yet was a man like yon.
His brither Philip, a sackless chiel,
Had a strappin’ wife, and a douchter as weel;
And things had gotten to sic a pass
That the braw guid-sister Herodias,
Had left her man, and was crawin’ crouse
Owre the Tetrarch’s heft, in the Tetrarch’s hoose.

There cam a man o’ the preachin’ cless,
Ae day to the royal coort, nae less;
And he didna caa for the laird’s amusin’,
But pointin’ a finger, straucht, accusin’,
Wi’ a voice like doom, and a glower as black,
He cam to the bit like a thunner crack.
"Ye micht be the ruler o’ aa this airt-
And, prood as a peacock, ye look the pairt-
And ye micht coont human affection cheap,
But ye oucht to ken there’s a hairst to reap.
In the Lord’s ain name ye’ll gie up this wumman,
Or, ruler or no, there’s a judgment comin’."

The Tetrarch’s face gaed as reid as fire,
His thrapple wrastled wi’ wordless ire:
But ever sin’ prophets first cam shoutin’
There’s aye been a way to stap their spoutin’.
And syne, in the dungeon’s cauld and mirk,
They pen the man like a tethered stirk.
"He’ll lairn," thoucht Herod, "to keep his place.
He can preach doon there till he’s black i’ the face."

Frae bad to worse went the dour auld sinner,
Richt to the nicht o’ the birthday dinner.
The wine was flowin’, the haa was ringing
Wi’ drucken lauchs, and the soun’ o’ singing.
His een grew bricht, and his senses dimmer,
And noucht wad please till the saucy limmer
Salome slipped at her mither’s glance,
Oot on the fluir and begood to dance.
The lauchs dee’d doon and the bawdy clatter,
There cam a hush owre the catter-batter;
And only the lilt o’ the lyre kept playin’
As into the middle the lass cam swayin’.

There’s a glisk o’ heaven that’s sweir to fade,
In the sicht o’ a winsome, modest maid;
And there’s noucht to marrow the tender grace
That lichts the smile o’ a lassock’s face.
But the Deil is in’t when the jaud’s a hizzie
Wad thirl your thouchts and ding them dizzy.
Wha’s een are peeps o’ the lowein’ flame,
Wha never was hauden doon to shame.

Salome flang like a wanton, free,
A lunt, the flash o’ her witchin’ ee.
The rubies sparkled across her broo,
A hauntin’ smile lit her scarlet mou’.
Her airms were white as the marble stane,
Her form as lissome as Venus’ ain,
Her step as licht as the thistle-doon,
Wi’ easy grace she gaed dancin’ roun’.

And ilka chord frae the tunefu’ lyre
Was heapin coals on the searin’ fire
That scowdered sair in the Tetrarch’s een,
For a bonnier sicht he had never seen.
She leapt as she’d never leapt afore-
She was little fashed by what claes she wore-
And the sicht o’ her limbs and her soople body,
Gaed straucht to the auld man’s heid like toddy.
"And wow!" said he, "but afore ye aa
I’ll pledge my word in this royal haa.
The half o’ the gear that is mine this oor,
Or anything ither within my poo’er
To gie ootricht, or to bring to pass,
I’ll lay at the feet o’ this bonny lass."
He wasna blate, he was rale ram-stam-
He’d swallowed a wee thing mair than a dram-
But he cam to ken that the voice o’ drink
Comes ringing back as ye least micht think.

Nae gowd or jewels Salome soucht,
To silks and satins she gied nae thoucht.
But brash and brazent she raised her voice
And tell’t her grim and deevilish choice.
(Her mither’s choice, to be fair to the lass,
For a spitefu’ dame was Herodias).
"And if ye please," rang the words o’ hate.
"I’ll hae ae piece o’ your siller plate;
And if it’s no owre much like greed,
Set on it-the flytin’ prophet’s heid!"

The Tetrarch turned as white as daith,
But afore the coort he had taen his aith.
Fain wad he bitten his tongue in twa,
But the promise made was ayont reca’.
And doon in the dungeon dank and dreid,
He gied consent to the black mis-deed.
The lassie gethered her gruesome prize;
They were fashed nae mair wi’ the prophet’s cries.
But richt till the day he cam to dee,
The sairchin’ gaze o’ the prophet’s ee
Gaed hauntin’ Herod, and truith to tell,
He cam by a scunnersome end himsel’.

The times hae changed, and it’s naething now
To lichtly cherish the mairriage vow.
The prophet’s thunner is waxin’ less,
A sma’ voice raised i’ the wilderness.
But there’s a lesson in this auld readin’
For fuils that are followin’ Herod’s leadin’.
Ye may cleave the heid frae the Croon’s first witness,
But, if ye wad ettle to moral fitness,
And gang carefree through the steer o’ life,
Ye maun keep your een aff your neebor’s wife.
And if ye are tempted on aith to sweir,
Just ponder this, if ye’ve lugs to hear:
She micht be aa that ye aye hae thoucht her,
But - nae rash vows to your neebor’s douchter!





TOCHER

SHE has nae rowth o’ gowd set to her name,
=Nor jewel stanes to busk her braw;
She disna caa a castle haa her hame,
=Her hope o’ meikie fortune’s sma.

But there’s a gowden lustre in her hair,
=That glints wi’ sic a glistenin’ sheen;
The rubies gang to mak her witchin’ mou’,
=And diamonds are her sparklin’ een.

She steps licht-fit wi’ easy, careless grace,
=Her smittle lauchter echoes clear.
A siller cadence fills her mellow voice
=That faa’s like bird-sang on the ear.

O’ laddie, there are better things than gowd,
=But few to match yon een sae blue:
That tell the tocher o’ a leal Scots lass-
=The oot-gleam o’ a hert that’s true.










CALF COUNTRY

CARTER BAR

THIS is the cradle of glamour,
=This is the lap of romance,
Here where the hill-birds wheel over,
=Here where the moor fairies dance.
This is the song of the singer,
=This is the breath of the bard,
Where the grim peaks of the homeland,
=Over the Border stand guard.

Keen blows the wind through the passes,
=Foraging in from the north,
Calling the spirits long sleeping,
=From their dim drowsiness forth.
Here is the glitter of halbert,
=There the bright flash of a spear:
Caught in the spell of the Border,
=Shades of her story appear.

Fair are the green open places,
=Rich are each meadow and glen,
Kind are the hearts of her women,
=Friendly and frank are her men.
This is the portal of wonder,
=Beckoning early and late,
Over the threshold of Cheviot,
=Beauty and brotherhood wait.

Here where the white road from England
=Drops to the Rule and the Jed,
Leaps the proud pulse of the exile,
=Back to the motherland sped.
Here on the crest of the Carter,
=Far though her children may roam,
Scotland with arms wide open,
=Welcomes her wanderers home.





BORDERLAND

A HAUNTED land, where stalks the spectral form
=Of buckled reiver, driving stolen kine;
Where still sit mailed knight and ladye fair
=Quaffing, in battled hall, the blood-red wine.
Still on her hillsides, round the guarded Word,
=Cower noble Peden’s persecuted band:
E’en yet, discerning eyes by Melrose see,
=Becowled, a faithful brother, sombre stand.
For, to the world ‘tis but a tale,
=The Borderland.

But as from out the water and the flame,
=The iron comes, full tempered through and through:
So from those stark, unyielding days of old,
=Issues a Border breed, both staunch and true.
Ready to rally to a nation’s call,
=For right, for truth and liberty to stand,
Yet trusting aye that quietude and rest
=Shall dwell in this, their hard won natal land.
That peace be born of strife within
=Their Borderland.

And so, this land, to you still but a tale,
=Means more than all romance’s spell to me;
My forebear’s might, their rigid faith, their blood,
=Have bought me this, the homeland of the free.
And those green hills, the rugged uplands bare,
=Each silver river, linking hand in hand;
Yon moor, where homing wheels the wailing fowl,
=This haugh, this dale, yea all this glorious land,
Is home to me, God’s given, guarded home,
=My Borderland.





THE SONG OF TWEED

THE song of the Rhine is of red, red wine,
=And the filling of cups again;
The Volga speaks of the rowlock creaks,
=And the echoing shouts of men.
Of the dancing feet, sings the Danube sweet;
=But a tune more dear to me
Is the Tweed’s own song as she rolls along
=From the muirs to the grey North Sea.

For the song she’s singing is of red grouse winging
=To their nests in the uplands bare;
To the time she’s keeping there are salmon leaping,
=Leaping home to their hill-burn lair.
Where the hounds run trooping is a tired fox stooping
=By the haggs at her water’s edge;
When the dew lies soaking, there’s a brown toad croaking
=To her song in the marshy sedge.

O it’s Nature’s ode, as she roams abroad
=From her home in the mist clad hills,
That the wild Tweed sings, and her singing brings
=A joy that my proud heart fills.
Then no dirge be mine when my brief days dwine,
=But this be the tune for me-
Tweed’s glorious song, as she rolls along
=To her tryst with the grey North Sea.





BORDER CLACHANS

FAR away from forge and mill,
Arm in arm with wood and hill,
=Lie the clachans of the Borderside.
There is music in the rhythm
Of the names they carry with them,
=They’re a song to sing the country wide.

Hear the melody begin
At the door of Cleikiminn,
=East a mile or so of Timpendean.
Drown the echo of your grief
In the joy of Lilliesleaf,
=Or the merriment of Redfordgreen.

Catch the laughter-waking chords
In the lilt of Clovenfords,
=Or the lullaby of Apple-tree-hall.
Hear the slumber song of Ewes,
And the mirth of Yarrow-feus
=Ringing over furrow, tree and wall.

Far away from city street,
Hand in hand with moss and peat,
=They’re the music of the country wide.
And the very names they bear
Are the banishment of care,
=The clachans of the Borderside.





TEVIOT

RIVER of dreams, you are dear to us ever,
=Dear where the broad haughs invite you to Tweed;
Dear where the willows dip low to your crooning
=Songs that you murmur through valley and mead.

Where you slip sullenly under the shadows
=Skirting the feet of old Roxburgh’s tower:
Where you take, lover-like, close to your bosom,
=Kale, and the music of coppice and bower.

Dear to us too as you linger by Chesters,
=Hugging the haggs where the still grayling lie;
Dear where you dance through the gray Denholm arches,
=Lapping the piers in your hurrying by.

Over the caulds or across the weirs foaming,
=Soiling the hems of your skirts as you run
Down the mill town, to lend power to our toiling;
=Dear to us, under the smoke or the sun.

Ever more dear where the echoes are ringing
=Out through the green glades by Goldilands’ wall;
Where the sheep bleat to the sound of your going,
=In the lush pastures by fair Branxholm hall.

And where the peat bog and moss of the moorland
=Send you out carolling gaily alone;
Under the blue sky of heaven we love you,
=Love your first laughter in far Teviot-stone.

River of dreams, you are dear to us ever,
=Light is the measure your gay footsteps lead;
Soft is the song that you sweetly go singing
=Down from the hills to the welcome of Tweed.





THE HILL BURNS

MEGGAT Water and Tema,
=They tumble down from the hills,
With the scent of peat
In their tinkling feet,
=And the brown trout breasting their rills.

A breath of the caller moor winds
=They bear from the heather braes,
And the wild fowls’ song
Where they dance along,
=Is a song to the hill-burns’ praise.

Tarras and Dod and Douglas,
=Tinnis Water and Trow;
To the drone of bees
On the clovered leas,
=Would sing me a welcome now.

The home of the whaup is calling,
=Is wooing the heart of me,
And my light foot turns
To the Border burns,
=And the breadth of the moorland free.





BORTHWICK WATER

BORTHWICK Water, fairest daughter
=Of the moorland dew;
As you linger, mystic singer,
=Strike your harp anew.
Sing of battle, driven cattle,
=Martial, your refrain!
Tell of danger, warn the ranger
=Harden rides again.
Peal it longer, louder, stronger,
=Ring the message true;
Set the rustling robbers bustling
=From the Bold Buccleuch.

"Am I laden," quoth the maiden,
="With a dirge of war?
Are the blazing beacons raising
=Warriors near and far?
Nay!  A-sleeping in my keeping
=Rest the men-at-arms;
Pleasant shadows haunt the meadows,
=Peaceful lie my farms.
Childhood revels on the levels
=Where my hirsels graze;
Stillness hovers where the plovers
=Wheel above my braes.

Gone the jarring clash of warring,
=Vanished now for aye:
Nature’s glory claims the story
=Where I take my way."
Borthwick Water, moorland’s daughter,
=Yours the tune for me!
Bear it fleeter, sing it sweeter,
=Pour it forth in glee.
Merry maiden, laughter laden,
=As you dance along;
May you ever, happy river,
=Lilt your joyous song.





OUR GREY OLD CASTLES

THEIR riven bastions athwart the sky,
=And their square sides stout to the storms,
Our grey old castles have cast their spears,
=And dream of the steel-clad forms.

Hermitage wistfully lifts her head,
=Where the mists on the lone moors fall:
Ferniehurst, lulled by the crooning of Jed,
=Lies wrapped in her sylvan shawl.

Gone is the shout of the rallying call,
And the ash of the bale-fires dead;
The tracks o’ergrown by the grass of years,
Where the summoned troopers sped.

Roxburgh huddles her shattered shell
=In the folds of her mossy plaid;
Gazing at ease o’er the meadowed Merse,
=Hume towers, in her green arrayed.

Our grey old castles have cast their spears,
=But they colour our quiet days;
With their riven bastions athwart the sky,
=In the gleam of the warm sun’s rays.










FURTHER BEN

THEY SAY

THEY say there is no God,-
=And yet,
My early springtime bulbs
=I set;
Beneath the mould I leave them,
I leave them - and
=Forget.

And someone sends the heat,
=The wet:
And somehow all their need
=Is met.
Their latent charm discloses,
Unhindered and
=Un-let.

They say there is no God,-
=And yet,
Methinks, as here my blooms
=I set;
‘Tis not to mortal labour
These flowers stand
=In debt.





NO ROOM

DAILY He was the Father’s own delight,
=In glory He, the highest honour shared,
=The while, in darkness, groping man despaired,
Nor found the dawn, eternal seemed the night.

Then forth He came, a ray of Heaven’s own light
=To guide men through the bitter straits of sin:
=To find-no rest, no shelter in the inn,-
No room for Him, though kingly in His right.

No paean heard the sent One from above,
Few loving hearts to greet Him, yet in love
=To vile, rebellious man Himself He gave.
"Away with Him!"  Not His on earth to dwell:
But, since His passion crushed the hosts of Hell,
=His, through His death, alone the power to save.





PRAYER FOR THE QUEEN

O LORD of Heaven, by Whose powerful hand
=Earth took her form, at Whose supreme decree,
=From out eternity’s un-tided sea
Arose the shores that gird our pleasant land:
Who ‘stablished firm and stayed our Nation’s throne,
=Who, through the adverse barrage of the years
=Pouredst Thine oil upon the rising fears
Of each who, by Thy mercy, sat thereon.

This day, as one we bring in lowly mien,
A people’s common prayer-God save the Queen.
=Grant her Thy blessing, rid of woe’s surcease:
Hedge Thou, we pray, her pathway by Thy might,
Lift, of Thy countenance, on her the light,
=And give, O Lord of Heaven, give her peace.





A TALE OF TWO CITIES

THE sin of Sodom rose, a foul offence
To Heaven, and a bitter recompence
Rolled ominous, as clouds that sweep the sky,
When rent by Nature’s vivid panoply.
Amid the squalor and the sordid lust,
A righteous man sat humbled in the dust:
His mind, once schooled to godliness, perplexed,
His soul, with the iniquity, sore vexed.
Thus Lot, the man who chose the watered plains,
Fast held a prisoner, in self-forged chains:
And when the judgment of Jehovah fell,
The man was plucked as from the jaws of Hell.

The fame of Athens spread across the earth;
Of Grecian sage and scholar was no dearth.
Stoic and seer contended to relate
Ethics of early origin and late.
Yet could their knowledge serve alas, alone
To please their minds ;- they bowed to wood and stone.
Each wayside shrine, each titled altar reared,
As monuments of ignorance appeared;
And Paul, whose spirit mightily was moved,
Such superstition fearlessly reproved.
Where the proud lords of culture held their tryst,
He preached the crucified, the risen Christ.

We find our calling in the same world still,
The world of wickedness that spurns His will:
That casts its Maker's counsel hence away,
And kneels in blindness to the gods of clay.
And whether we must sit with fettered hands,
Powerless to meet the peril’s stark demands;
Or whether we shall rise and dauntless be
As heralds of the truth that makes men free,
The cities of our sojourning shall know,
As, pilgrims, through the thronging streets we go.
Whether for self, the wordly way we trod,
Or selfless, witnessed to the grace of God.





BETHANY

To serve the Master was the woman’s aim,
When to her home in Bethany He came.
=To set the water for His wearied feet,
=To spread the table that He might have meat.
These are the tasks we link with Martha’s name,
And Martha was sore cumbered in the same.

To shew the Lord her love ere He depart,
For all the grace His presence did impart;
=To sit awhile and hearken to His voice,
=To learn His will, and in it to rejoice:
These are the marks of Mary’s better part,
Mary of quiet mien and tender heart.

The labour of our hands for Thee must rest
Until our hearts have learned to yield their best:
=And all our service shall of care be free,
=That springs from deep devotion Lord to Thee.
Give us to wait before Thee, Master, lest
We toil in vain, not knowing Thy behest.





THE PEARL O’ PSALMS

I’M in the Maister’s flock, He is my herd;
=And sin’ He loo’es His ain, I’ve aa that’s best;
By caller burns He airts my thowless feet,
=And in the guid green haughs, He bids me rest.

He kens my failin’s, merks my ilka turn,
=And whiles, when frae the track I gang astray,
Wi’ tender care He taks me in His airms,
=And sets me doon in His ain richteous way.

Though death suld cuist her shadow in my gate,
=And eerie seem the valley, mirk and lang;
I’m suire nae hand daur fash or daunton me,
=For Ye are there, my comfort and my sang.

Ye’ve gien me meat amang my verra foes,
=Ye’ve shoo’ered your blessin’s on my worthless heid;
My cup o’ joy is fu’ and rinnin’ owre,
=I’ve mair in Thee than meets my ilka need.

My Maister’s guidness, and His mercy strang,
=Hae gane wi’ me, and will through aa the days;
Till in His hame I dwall for evermair-.
=Mine then the bliss, but His be aa the praise!





THE HILL PSALM

To the green hills when I am sad,
=I’ll cast my langin’ ee,
And mind that God, wha fashioned them,
=Is carin’ noo for me.

Gin wi’ your faith set firm aboon,
=Ye staucher on alane,
He’ll keep your fit weel on the way,
=For aye He guairds His ain.

He watches owre them by the day,
=And through the lang dark nicht
His een ne’er close: their ilka step
=He hauds still in His sicht.

Though in the sunlicht, or at e’en,
=Dour trials ye may meet,
At your richt hand He’ll ever stand,
=A calm and safe retreat.

Gin ye are young and licht o’ limb,
=Or auld and hirplin sair;
Frae ilka sin He’ll fend your soul
=Baith noo, and evermair.





THE LICHT

THERE wasna snaw on the braes then,
=But the cranreuch glistened white;
For the mune lichted the braid lift,
=And a star shone clear and bricht.
=And a star shone clear and bricht
On that bonnie, bonnie morn,
=When the word cam by the angel,
That the Holy Bairn was born.

Their een set to a queer sicht,
=Three mensefu’ maisters stude,
For the bricht star caa’d them on, on,
=And they followed whaur it bid.
=And they followed whaur it bid
Till they cam whaur the Bairnie lay;
=They left their gifts at the wee feet
On that bonnie, bonnie day.

And the thoucht’s croudin’ my heid noo-
=For the warld’s a sorry sicht-
Gin we’d set liftward oor vision,
=We surely wad see the Licht.
=We surely wad see the Licht
That wad lead us quaetly ben
=To yield oor gifts to the Saviour,
And herald guid-will to men.





AULD MAN’S CRACK

TWA had rase high in the warld’s een,
=But ane was puir:
They cracked o’ wisdom whaur they sat
=Sae couthie there.

"Gin I hadna traivelled," the first ane said,
="I had never lairned."
"Gin I hadna my buiks," quo the second ane,
="I had naething airned."

And the third, he said "Lads, the little lear
=In this auld heid stored,
Were a hantle less gin I’d never come
=To fear the Lord."

Noo twa for their wisdom held oot a price
The ane couldna pay, - but the ane was wice!





HAIRST

IT’S lang sin’ I gaed doon the furrows sawin’,
=And eerie’s the sough o’ the wun’;
The dreep o’ the rain is aye faain’, faain’,
=Waes me for a glint o’ the sun!

Yet still, as I think on the seasons I’ve wathered,
=I daurna weel gie a froon;
For aa that I’ve sawn I’ve a guid crap gathered,
=The hervest has aye come roun’.

Noo aften I think,-as I work, I’m leevin’,
=Aye drappin’ the seeds as I gang;
A kindly bit word to a hert sair grievin’,
=A straigler helpit alang.

And whiles I ken but the dreich wun’s blawin’-
=God grant me the een to see
A gowden hairst to my humble sawin’,
=Broucht hame in eternitie.










HEATHER MIXTURE

MUCKLE MOU’D MEG

DOON in the depths o’ the auld gray castle,
Shut in alane wi' his thouchts to wrastle,
Wull Scott sat on the cauld stane fluir,
And kent that his hopes o’ the morn were puir.

Blithe was he as he ettled roamin’
Yester een at the faa o’ gloamin’,
Up frae the glen by the tall trees hidden,
Oot at his bonny mither’s biddin’:
Amang them aa there was nane to marrow
Auld Harden’s leddy, the "Flooer o’ Yarrow."
And she had set, says the lang tauld fable,
The callant’s spurs on the kitchen table.
Noo aft afore he had taen the road
At a sign sae droll and a hint sae broad;
But no alane for the love o’ his mither
Did Wull gang reivin’ withoot a swither.
The Laird o’ Elibank, ee to ee
Wi’ Wat o’ Harden could never see;
Sae it seemed that the least the lad could dae
Was to lift a wheen kye in the forenicht gray,
And herd them cannily, stot and stirk,
Frae the Tweedside braes in the rowk and mirk.

The rustler’s cunning, the raider’s fire,
Young Wull had heired frae his dauntless sire.
Frae Etttick Forest to Lammerlaw
He was heid and shouthers aboon them aa.
But the windin’ waters aye reach the sea,
And the thief gangs seldom the lang gate free.
Unfashed he won owre the muirs o’ Ale,
By ditch and covert, by knowe and dale,
But the hinner end, it was Murray’s day
And the price o’ a dizzen raids to pay.
Sae Wull sat crooched wi’ his hurdies chilled,
His heid wi’ the black forebodin’ filled;
A bitter, a wabbit, disjaskit man,
In sixteen hunder and-guid kens whan.

Sir Juden sat till the oors were sma’,
Wi’ his ain douce wife in the castle ha’.
The crack was guid, no a feckless blether
Aboot the chancy state o’ the weather.
The Laird’s lauch rummled wi’ muckle glee,
But the leddy glowered wi’ an angry ee.
"It’s no" said he, "that there’s doobt ava,
In this heid o’ mine, o’ the end on’t aa.
To the gallows tree I will suirely bring him;
It’s juist,-on which o’ the trees to hing him?"
Syne he up and he leuch at the baur he uttered,
And missed the aith that the leddy muttered.
"He’d better hae tholed wi’ a half toom wame,
Or airted Sooth frae his Bordet hame;
But Wat o’ Harden this nicht will ken
To keep his neb in his ain gate en’."

And the guidwife sat till she couldna bide
The clack o’ the tongue at her ain hearthside;
Her birss was up, and she coost her plan
I’ the teeth o’ her prood and heidstrong man.

"O’ Juden Murray, ye craw and threep
Like a struttin’ cock on the midden heap.
There’s deil a heid o’ your braw beas’s missin’,
Gie owre your havers, sit doon and listen!
The lad’s a Scott wi’ his faither’s pride,
And his faither’s aye been a thorn i’ your side;
But the lad’s a man, and to look aboot ane,
It’s plain to see there’s a wheen withoot ane!
Your douchters three will be thowless things
Gin they bide aye tied to my apron strings;
And, sin’ they’ve aa taen their looks frae you,
There’s nane that’ll come their gate to woo.
Gie Wull the chance o’ oor Meg to mairry
Afore ye dae onything owre contrairy.
I’ve mense to ken he’ll be sweir to dee
When a nod o’ the heid micht set him free.
A new guid-son is a thoucht mair cheery
Than thrawin’ craigs i’ the mornin’ eerie.
Forbye, gin the deed ye noo mak siccar,
‘Twill be a stap in the auld man’s bicker."

Noo Agness Murray was far frae bonny;
O’ winsome cunning she hadna ony.
She’d ne’er been schuled i’ the artfu’ wiles
That jauds betray wi’ their hauntin’ smiles.
Her face was wan and her een aye sleepin’,
Nae bloom o’ roses cam owre her creepin’.
Her banes were big and her shape was hidden
In drab claes worn at her faither’s biddin’.
The lads that herded the maister’s kye,
Ne’er turned their heids as they passed her by.
To fair or merket she walked alane,
At best, the lassie was unco plain:
But some wad ventur a wee thing strauchter
Wi’ frank opinions o’ Juden’s douchter.
In loan or steedin’ whene’er they saw her,
Muckle Mou’d Meg was the name they’d caa her.

The frost was keen and the wind was snell
When Wull was broucht frae his murky cell.
The Laird put plainly the thing afore him,
And vowed it was sma’ ill-will he bore him.
"In fact," said he, "we’ve a wey o’ dealin’
Wi’ forritsome callants that come here stealin’,
Their prayers are short or we leave them hingin’
Aneth the trees in the dawn air swingin’.
But you, my lad, are a sicht owre herty
To hae the braith o’ your life desert ye:
You’re juist the kind that, this twa three year,
We’ve hoped micht caa for oor Meg to speir.
Young life is sweet and I’m keen to spare it,
Gin but wi’ the lass you’ll agree to share it.
The choice is set ye, and I’m jalousin’
That thieves get seldom the chance o’ choosin’."

When lowsed at een be it hairst or plooin’,
The thoucht o’ the haiflin turns to wooin’.
For ilka lad there is noucht surpasses
The gloamin’ tide and the mirth o’ lasses;
The munelicht glintin’ on een sae fair,
The lips like rowans, the gowden hair;
And noucht can marrow the tender greetin’
That warms the hert at the lovers’ meetin’;
When ilk ane kens as he stoonds wi’ pride,
That the pick o’ the basket’s at his side.
But coortin’ days and their dear regardin’
Were rudely plucked frae the heir o’ Harden.
Nae walin’ blithely the brawest bloom,
It was Murray’s Meg - or the tree o’ doom.
Sae he lookit close and he lookit lang,
And he vowed to the gallows he wad gang!-
-But a saft licht cam owre the lassie’s face,
And her wistfu’ look shed an air o’ grace;
A look that pled na her single state,
But fain wad order the callant’s fate.
That cried, "In me there is mair lies hidden
Than ever yet to the licht was bidden.
I hing my heid afore Yarrow’s Flooer,
But to warm your bluid is within my pooer.
And you’re maist glaiket o’ glaiket men
Gin ye think, a lass by her face to ken."

O callants!  Toom are your braggin’ speeches
When eident woman your hert beseeches.
Gin owre ye fairly she thraws her glances,
And into her blue een the luve lowe dances.
Wull read the signs in the lassie’s ee.
And bid farewell to the hangin’ tree.
The bond was made, and the auld folk’s blessin’
The couple kent, or they kent caressin’.
The priest was soucht, and aneth the boughs
By the auld gray castle they took their vows.
And syne to Harden the young laird broucht her,-
They say Wat grued at his new guid-douchter,-
But Meg was canty, and settled crouse,
And she made a hame o’ her guidman’s hoose.
Aye, they tell it still when the tale they raise,
Hoo the pair lived couthily aa their days.

A woman’s beauty, I’ve heard men threep,
Is juist as deep as her skin is deep.
But noo awat, it is shallower far,
When sae aft it’s slaigered oot o’ a jar.
By thae fause notions the lass had naething
To caa her bonny,-but she had ae thing:
A hert o’ kindness that sent a glimmer
O’ honest grace to the graceless limmer.
A glow that saftly cam breakin’ through,
That lit the lowe in her een sae true;
That broucht a warmth to her cheeks sae wan,
And sent a stoond through the glowerin’ man.

O’ siclike beauty, ye jauds be fain,
Nor tilt your nebs i’ the air again.
Your painted bloom ye maun suirely tine,
But the inner comeliness disna dwine.
The grace that needna the arts employ
Shall aye remain as a thing o’ joy.
But for borrowed beauty oot o’ a bottle-
I wadna gie ye a pipey dottle!





FRAE ARTHUR’S SEAT

THE toun is smoored in the clingin’ hap
=O’ the reek and the haar thegither:
And it’s dreich, gey dreich on this rouch hill held
=Whaur the cauld air gars ane nither;
But the hert is stane that disna warm
=To the auld gray buskit mither.

Hither and yont throu the hodden mist
=Rise the merks o’ her classic story;
The lift o’ the ruifs to St Giles’s croon
=And the castle, grim and hoary;
Oot frae the shawl comes the liltin’ sang
=O’ her sorrow and her glory.

In owre the Firth a clean wind blaws
=And the fauldin’ plaid is gethert;
College and Kirk and Schule uprear
=Waas that are sere and wethert;
The cranes stand oot at the Port o’ Leith
=Whaur the boats lie trigly tethert.

This is the lesson Royal toun,
=That the cantiest scholar lairns:
Ye keep a grip o’ the fadeless past
=But are sib wi’ the day’s concerns;
And oh, ye offer the hamely hearth
=To your wayward, stravaigin bairns.





ON THE TRAIN SOUTH FROM WAVERLEY

FRAE the grey auld city it started oot
=Wi’ an unco herty will;
But it hirpled alang like a sair dune man
=Or it breested Fala-hill.

Syne, up on the tap, wi’ a thankfu’ sigh,
=That its wark was gey weel throwe,
Like a het-fit callant chased on by a whulp,
=It cam scamperin’ doon to Stow.





THE VOICE OF YARROW

WHEN it’s lanesame that I wad be,
Frae the toun and its thrangity free,
There’s a voice wad be cryin’ to me
=Frae the wild Yarrow knowes:
When the snell wind is nirlin sair,
Blawin’ in owre the muirland bare,
Wi’ nae soun’ but the whaup’s on the air,
=And the sab o’ the yowes.

Whaur the mists on the black hills hing,
And the broon burns that, oot o’ the ling,
The scent o’ the peat moss bring,
=Jouk fleet through the howes.
When it’s lanesome that I wad be,
Frae the toun and its thrangity free,
It’s the heid o’ Yarrow for me,
=And the Loch o’ the Lowes.





THE CANDIDATE

A WHEEN o’ new hooses?  Aye, suire we’ll hae that,
=I’ll get ane for ilk leevin’ soul;
Wi’ aa kind o’ ferlies to halve the wife’s wark,
=Gin you’ll pit me on top o’ the poll.

Spare grund for the bairns?  That’s wice-like nae doobt;
=Juist think on the road’s awfu’ toll.
I’ll see that they’re kept frae the bizz o’ the streets,
=Gin you’ll see that I’m top o’ the poll.

A dryin’ green?  Aye man, it’s no afore time!
=Yon’s a sicht that I canna weel thole-
White claes hingin’ oot owre the winda aa day;
=Weel, mind ye, - the top o’ the poll!

The what?  Oh, the sewerage, I’m aye on for that:
=You’re lauchin’ ; but that’s no sae droll!
I’ll pit the place richt gin you’ll gie me your vote,
=And see that I’m top o’ the poll.

==*=*=*=*=*

Ah weel, they were wairned, they maun suffer for’t noo,
=The auld toun is fair doon the hole.
My plans, into naething hae faa’n wi’ stramash,
=Whaur I sit, at the fit o’ the poll.





FAR AND NEAR

WHEN the sang o’ the pipes owre the green hill comes stealing,
=The breath o’ the moorland is fresh in the strain;
The mirth o’ the glen and the warmth o’ the shelling
=Are broucht to the wynds o’ the grey toun again.
The battle march borne from afar is a summons,
=The pibroch a plaint to the lost days awa:
But licht grows the step and mair jaunty the gait
=As the mad music breaks owre the nicht’s quiet faa.

When the skirl o’ the pipes through the wee hoose is ringing,
=The place wi’ the eldritch oration is deaved;
The weemen gang haudin’ their lugs at the dinging,
=The clack’s like a litter o’ grumphies bereaved.
The wail o’ the chanter’s a bairn’s penny blether,
=The girn o’ the drones is a lood bellin’ coo;
The hoose is nae place for a body like me
=When the wheeze o’ the bagpipes comes skellochin’ through.





THE DOMINIE’S EE

HE’D sit in the lang backit chair,
=And glower oot owre his glesses;
A lean auld mannie, and shrewd
=As a Heiland body can be.
He’d hae us aye weel in hand-
=The steivest o’ sair, thrawn clesses-
We’d suner hae fand the tawse than kenned
=The glint o’ his sairchin’ ee.

And noo, in the schule o’ the warld,
=A hantle o’ heidstrong loons
Wad tak the owerance o’ aa,
=And fin’ nae tawse for their pains.
O’ giff they could feel like us,
=When we pictur’d the getherin’ froons,
As the dominie glowered oot owre his specs-
=I wot they’d be better weans!





IN LIDDESDALE

WHEN I’m scunnered by aa the stramash
=O’ the thrang, croodit streets in the toun;
When the stishie has smoored oot my rest,
=I’ll slip on my weel caukered shoon:
And lang or the birds leave the hedge,
I’ll stride owre the Limekilnedge.

Oot yont wi’ the first glint o’ morn,
=I’ll trail doon the Liddle side;
And there whaur the calm waters rowe,
=Wi’ God for a wee I’ll bide;
Till the lost joy that gar’d me roam,
I recaptur by Copshawholm.

And gin I suld fin’ on my cheek,
=The smirr o’ a guid weetin rain,
I’ll think na o’ takin my gate
=To my hame in the mirk reek again.-
I’ll keek through the mist to an age
O’ glamourie roun’ Hermitage.

For whaur is there peace for the soul,
=Or whaur quaet rest to the ee,
Mair sweet than amang the green howes
=Whaur this hill water airts to the sea?
And what to me fresher eenow
Than the seep o’ a Liddesdale drow?





FLOUER O’ THE GLEN

A MAVIS croons in the gean tree high,
And a blackbird warbles to the sky;
A lassie sings at her darg forbye,
=As she busies but and ben,
In her hame whaur the Borthwick bickers by,
=She’s the flouer o’ aa the glen.

The lilac blossoms in clusters braw,
And the bluebells dance in the birken shaw,
The wild rose buds in the green hedge-raw,
=And the may is oot again;
But the sweetest bloom amang them aa
=Is the flouer o’ aa the glen.

The village hail on a Friday nicht,
When the wark is through, is a bonny sicht,
The lasses come wi’ their dresses bricht
=To jig wi’ the lads they ken.
But nane can dance wi’ a step sae licht
=As the flouer o’ aa the glen.

Her hair is a flame and her een are blue,
Her face is as fresh as the morning dew,
And the lad that ettles her hert to woo
=Will the envy be o’ men,
For he’ll find nae ither sae leal and true
=As the flouer o’ aa the glen.





HAME TOUN

How micht I come to the auld toun?
=Sall I the New Road spurn,
And glint the taps o’ the lang lums
=Frae the brow o’ Howdenburn?
Or doon whaur the croonin’ Teviot
=Slips quaetly by Haugh-heid,
To catch a glimpse ‘yont the grey reek,
=O’ the distant ruifs o’ reid?

In through the knowes o’ bracken
=That huddle roun’ Winnington Rig:
Or slowly alang the ribboned road
=That saiddles Crawbyres Brig?
Owre the lang brae frae Stouslie,
=Frae the Mains o’ Stirches doon;
How micht I come at the day’s end
=To the bonny Border toun?

Sall I come skirtin’ the braid muirs
=When the gloamin’ tide is still,
And meet the track aboon Whitehaugh,
=Or the road by Chapelhill?
To see far doon in the valley,
=The flicker o’ mony lichts,
Sall I come in by the laigh gate,
=Or owte the wind-blawn heichts?

O step I by howe or hill pass,
=Or come I the High Road through,
The leal hands haud oot a welcome,
=The sib herts still beat true.
And come I frae sooth or nor-ward,
=My rest sall but be the same
In the dear auld toun in the hollow-
=For the dear auld toun is hame!





WHEN WE WERE BAIRNS

WE werna ill to please when we were bairns,
=A penny went a lang way then;
And broucht as muckle pleesure as a pound
=Will bring us noo that we’re aa men.
I whiles wad gan wi’ mine to Lambert’s shop,
=(I’m Sandbed born, and prood o’ it as weel!)
I liked to see the big man twirl the poke,
=And stap it fu’ o’ sugar and brose meal.

Across the road auld Shielie did us braw
=For bawbees we wad ware owre there:
A licorice stick, a neivefu’ monkey nits,
=A bag o’ locust - titbits rare.
And Jess McVeetie offered, up the Wynd,
=The grandest sticky taffee in the toun;
I’ve seen oo ventur oot as fer as that,
=And come, chafts champin’, cheery doon.

Fornenst the Knowe was Jimsie Tamson’s place,
=The queerest store your een micht see:
Aathing frae leather sookers and gless beads,
=To comics, bools and haberdashery.
My mither aince for lestic sent me roun’,
=A yird o’ black to dae her need.
"My boy," said Jims, "I’m oot o’ that eenow,
=Wull yalla ribbon dae insteed?"

We werena muckle taen wi’ fancy fare,
=But aye we got the best though plain;
I whiles think yet o’ things we relished then,
=And as I think, my hert grows fain:
A plate o’ stovie tatties birstied broon,
=A kail pot steamin’ owre the fire,
Scones on the girdle, made wi’ loupered milk,
=A jug o’ cream still warm frae the byre.

On winter nichts we micht be bid to gan,
=When derkness broucht an end to play,
To fetch frae Teenie Elder’s by the Haugh,
=A can o’ tripe in piping brea.
I loved to see the rainbow bubbles soak
=The honeycomb like blabs o’ dew,
And sniff the ingan heavy steam that rase-
=I sometimes get a waft o’t noo!

Miss Ellit taen the feck o’ us to schule,
=Each day we’d wait to see her gan;
Syne we wad scamper off, five ell a wund,
=To be the first to grab her han’.
The little body’s kindly face wad licht
=And faa apairt in smile sae broad,
As, six or seeven o’ us on either airm,
=She’d herd us, bletherin’, up the road.

At fower o’clock we’d oot wi’ top or gird,
=And whiles, gin we could boast a baa,
I’ve seen oo play for oors at "Still an’ yow,"
=Stottin’t on Drummond’s gable waa.
The Haugh was aye oor haunt for wilder ploys,
=Games that we never lairned at schule,
Like gumpin’ eels ablow the Albert Brig,
=Or ‘katies’ in the deep Cat’s Pule.

The Band o’ Hope was suire to be a draw,
=To Orrock weekly we wad steer;
Oor mates oot at the front to speak or sing,
=Was worth a mint o’ gowd to hear.
The Toun Hall whiles wad show a special treat,
=A kinderspiel when Christmas came,
But entertainment wasna fer to seek-
=We’d mony a pantomime at hame!

To Sabbath Schule we aa were trained to gan,
=And ken the blessin’ o’ it still;
We lairned oor Bible in the Templar’s Hall
=Aback o’ Wattie Wulson’s Mill.
There we wad hear Rob Anderson declare,
=(The proof o’t written on his face),
The grand auld gospel news that disna fade,
=The message o’ the Father’s grace.

But Lambert, Shiel, and Jimsie aa are gane,
=Teenie and Jess are lang passed on,
The shops hae changed hands owre and owre again,
=Nae mair at Orrock, nichts like yon.
And whiles I think that muckle o’ life’s fun,
=The satisfaction kent langsyne,
Has taen the gate, wi’ dear familiar folk
=That lit thae laddie days o’ mine.

We were that easy pleased when we were bairns,
=The simplest things oor herts wad cheer;
But noo it’s wha’s to be the brawest cled,
=And wha can gether in maist gear.
God gie us gumption juist to think awee:
=The guid days needna be the lang awa.
Faith and contentment are the rustless keys,
=To mak oor days - the verra best ava!