Robert Louis Stevenson


Far 'yont amang the years to be
When a' we think, an a' we see,
An a' we luve, 's been dung ajee
Bi time's rouch shouther,
An what was richt an wrang for me
Lies mangled throu'ther,
It's possible--it's hardly mair--
That some ane, ripin efter lear--
Some auld professor or young heir,
If still there's aither--
Mey finnd an read me, an be sair
Perplexed, puir brither!
"What tongue dis your auld beukie speak?"
He'll spier; an I, his mou to steek :
"No bein fit to write in Greek,
I wrote in Lallan,
Dear to my hert as the peat reek,
Auld as Tantallon.
"Few spak it than, an noo there's nane.
My puir auld sangs lies a' their lane,
Their sense, that aince was braw an plain,
Tint a'thegither,
Like runes upon a standin stane
Amang the heather.
"But thinkna you the brae to speel;
You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel;
For a' yer lear, for a' yer skeel,
Ye're nane sae lucky;
An things is mebbe waur than weel
For you, my buckie.
"The hale concern (baith hens an eggs,
Baith beuks an writers, stars an clegs)
Noo stachers upon lowsent legs
An weirs awa;
The tack o mankind, near the dregs,
Rins unco law.
"Your beuk, that in some braw new tongue,
Ye wrote or prentit, preached or sung,
Will still be juist a bairn, an young
In fame an years,
Whan the hale planet's guts is dung
Aboot your ears;
"An you, sair gruppin to a spar
Or whammled wi some bleezin star,
Cryin, to ken whaur deil ye are,
Hame, France, or Flanders--
Whang sindry like a railway car
An flees in danders."


Frae nirly, nippin, Eas'lan' breeze,
Frae Norlan' snaw, an haar o seas,
Weel happit in your gairden trees,
A bonny bit,
Atween the muckle Pentland's knees,
Secure ye sit.
Beeches an aiks entwines their theek,
An firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique.
A' simmer day, your chimleys reeks,
Couthie an bien;
An here an there your windaes keeks
Amang the green.
A pickle plats an paths an posies,
A wheen auld gillyflouers an roses:
A ring o wa's the hale encloses
Frae sheep or men;
An there the auld hoosie beeks an dozes,
A' bi her lane.
The gairdner crooks his weary back
A' day in the pitaty-track,
Or mebbe stops awhile to crack
Wi Jane the cook,
Or at some buss, worm-eaten-black,
To gie a leuk.
Frae the hiech hills the curlew ca's;
The sheep gangs baain by the wa's;
Or whiles a clan o roosty craws
Cangles thegither;
The wild bees seeks the gairden raws,
Weariet wi heather.
Or in the gloamin douce an gray
The sweet-throat mavis tunes her lay;
The herd comes linkin doun the brae;
An bi degrees
The muckle siller müne maks wey
Amang the trees.
Here aft hae I, wi sober hert,
For meditation sat apairt,
When orra loves or kittle ert
Perplexed my mind;
Here socht a balm for ilka smert
O humankind.
Here aft, weel neukit bi my lane,
Wi Horace, or perhaps Montaigne,
The mornin oors haes come an gane
Abüne my heid--
I wadnae gien a chuckie-stane
For a' I'd read.
But noo the auld city, street bi street,
An winter fou o snaw an sleet,
Awhile shuts in my gangrel feet
An goavin mettle;
Noo is the soopit ingle sweet,
An liltin kettle.
An noo the winter winds complains;
Cauld lies the glaur in ilka lane;
On draigled hizzie, tautit wean
An drucken lads,
In the mirk nicht, the winter rain
Dribbles an blads.
Whan bugles frae the Castle rock,
An beaten drums wi dowie shock,
Waukens, at cauld-rife sax o'clock,
My chitterin frame,
I mind me on the kintra cock,
The kintra hame.
I mind me on yon bonny bield;
An Fancy traivels far afield
To gaither a' that gairdens yields
O sun an Simmer:
To herten up a dowie chield,
Fancy's the limmer!


When aince Aprile haes fairly come,
An birds mey bigg in winter's lum,
An pleisure's spreid for a' an some
O whatna state,
Love, wi her auld recruitin drum,
Than taks the gate.
The hert plays dunt wi main an micht;
The lasses' een are a' sae bricht,
Their dresses are sae braw an ticht,
The bonny birdies!--
Puir winter virtue at the sicht
Gangs heels ower hurdies.
An aye as love frae land to land
Tirls the drum wi eident hand,
A' men collects at her command,
Toun-bred or land'art,
An follows in a denty band
Her gaucy standart.
An I, that sang o rain an snaw,
An weary winter weel awa,
Noo busks me in a jaiket braw,
An taks my place
I' the ram-stam, harum-scarum raw
Wi smilin face.


A mile an a bittock, a mile or twa,
Abüne the burn, ayont the law,
Davie an Donal' an Cherlie an a',
An the müne was shinin clearly!
Ane went hame wi the ither, an then
The ither went hame wi the ither twa men,
An baith wad return him the service again,
An the müne was shinin clearly!
The clocks wis chappin in hoose an ha',
Eleeven, twal an ane an twa;
An the guidman's face was turnt to the waa,
An the müne was shinin clearly!
A wind got up frae affa the sea,
It blew the stars as clear's could be,
It blew in the een o a' o the three,
An the müne was shinin clearly!
Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his heid,
"The best o freen's maun twine," he said;
I'm weariet, an here I'm awa to my bed."
An the müne was shinin clearly!
Twa o them walkin an crackin their lane,
The mornin licht cam gray an plain,
An the birds they yammert on stick an stane,
An the müne was shinin clearly!
O years ayont, O years awa,
My lads, ye'll mind whate'er befa'--
My lads, ye'll mind on the bield o the law,
When the müne was shinin clearly.


The clinkum-clank o Sabbath bells
Noo to the hoastin rookery swells,
Noo faintin laich in shady dells,
Soonds far an near,
An throu the simmer kintra tells
Its tale o cheer.
An noo, to that melodious play,
A' deidly awns the quiet sway--
A' kens their solemn holiday,
Bestial an human,
The singin lintie on the brae,
The restin plooman.
He, mair than a' the lave o men,
His week completit joys to ken;
Hauf-dressed, he daunders oot an in,
Perplexed wi leisure;
An his raxed limbs he'll rax again
Wi painfü plaesur.
The steerin mither strang afit
Noo shoos the bairnies but a bit
Noo cries them ben, their Sinday shüit
To scart upon them,
Or sweeties in their pootch to pit,
Wi blessin's on them.
The lasses, clean frae tap to taes,
Are busked in crunklin underclaes;
The gairtened hose, the weel-filled steys,
The nakit shift,
A' bleached on bonny greens for days,
An white's the drift.
An noo to face the kirkward mile:
The guidman's hat o dacent style,
The blackit shuin, we noo maun fyle
As white's the miller.
A waefü peety tae, to spile
The warth o siller.
Oor Marget, aye sae keen to crack,
Douce-stappin in the stoury track,
Her emeralt goun a' kiltit back
Frae snawy coats,
White-ankled, leads the kirkward pack
Wi Dauvit Groats.
A thocht ahint, in runkled breeks,
A' spiled wi lyin by for weeks,
The guidman follows closs, an cleeks
The sonsie missis;
His saerious face at aince bespeaks
The day that this is.
An aye an while we nearer draw
To whaur the kirkton lies alaw,
Mair neebors, comin saft an slaw
Frae here an there,
The thicker thrang the gate an caw
The stour in air.
But hark! the bells frae nearer clangs;
To rowst the slaw, their sides they bang;
An see! black coats a'ready thrang
The green kirkyaird;
An at the yett, the chestnuts spangs
That brocht the laird.
The solemn elders at the plate
Stand drinkin deep the pride o state:
The practised hands as gash an great
As Lords o Session;
The later named, a wee thing blate
In their expression.
The prentit stanes that marks the deid
Wi lengthened lip, the saerious reads;
Syne wags a moraleesin heid,
An then an there
Their hirplin practice an their creed
Tries hard to square.
It's here oor Merren lang haes lain,
A wee bewast the table-stane;
An yon's the grave o Sandy Blane;
An further ower,
The mither's brithers, dacent men!
Lies a' the fower.
Here the guidman sall bide awee
To dwall amang the deid; to see
Auld faces clear in fancy's ee;
Belike to hear
Auld voices fa'in saft an slee
On fancy's ear.
Thus, on the day o solemn things,
The bell that in the steeple swings
To fauld a scaitered faimly rings
Its walcome screed;
An juist a wee thing nearer brings
The quick an deid.
But noo the bell is ringin in;
To tak their places, folk begin;
The minister himsel will shüne
Be up the gate,
Filled fou wi claivers aboot sin
An man's estate.
The tünes are up--French, to be shüre,
The faithfü French, an twa-three mair;
The auld prezentor, hoastin sair,
Wales oot the portions,
An yirks the tüne into the air
Wi queer contortions.
Follows the prayer, the readin next,
An than the fisslin for the text--
The twa-three last to finnd it, vexed
But kind o prood;
An than the peppermints are raxed,
An southernwood.
For noo's the time whan pows are seen
Nid-noddin like a mandareen;
When tenty mithers staps a preen
In sleepin weans;
An nearly hauf the parochine
Forgets their pains.
There's juist a waukrif twa or three:
Thrawn commentautors sweer to 'gree,
Weans glowerin at the bumblin bee
On windae-glesses,
Or lads that taks a keek a-glee
At sonsie lasses.
Hirnsel', meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks
An bobs belaw the soundin-box,
The treisures o his wirds unlocks
Wi prodigality,
An deals some unco dingin knocks
To infidality.
Wi sappy unction, hoo he burkes
The hopes o men that trusts in works,
Expoonds the fauts o ither kirks,
An shaws the best o them
No muckle better than mere Turks,
When a's confessed o them.
Bethankit! what a bonny creed!
What mair wad ony Christian need?--
The braw wirds rummles ower his heid,
Nor steers the sleeper;
An in their restin graves, the deid
Sleeps aye the deeper.

Note.--It may be guessed by some that I had a certain parish in my eye, and this makes it proper I should add a word of disclamation. In my time there have been two ministers in that parish. Of the first I have a special reason to speak well, even had there been any to think ill. The second I have often met in private and long (in the due phrase) "sat under" in his church, and neither here nor there have I heard an unkind or ugly word upon his lips. The preacher of the text had thus no original in that particular parish; but when I was a boy, he might have been observed in many others; he was then (like the schoolmaster) abroad; and by recent advices, it would seem he has not yet entirely disappeared.


O, I wad like to ken--to the beggar-wife says I--
Why chops is guid to brander an nane sae guid to fry.
An siller, that's sae braw to keep, is brawer still to gie.
--It's gey an easy spierin, says the beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken--to the beggar-wife says I--
Hoo a' things comes to be whaur we finnd them when we try,
The lasses in their claes an the fishes in the sea.
--It's gey an easy spierin, says the beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken--to the beggar-wife says I--
Why lads is a' to sell an lasses a' to buy;
An naebody for dacency but barely twa or three
--It's gey an easy spierin, says the beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken--to the beggar-wife says I--
Gin daith's as shüre to men as killin is to kye,
Why God haes filled the yearth sae fou o tasty things to pree.
--It's gey an easy spierin, says the beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken--to the beggar-wife says I--
The reason o the cause an the wherefore o the why,
Wi mony anither riddle brings the teir into my ee.
--It's gey an easy spierin, says the beggar-wife to me.

THE BLAST-- 1875

It's rainin. Weet's the gairden sod,
Weet the lang roads whaur gangrels plods--
A maist unceevil thing o God
In mid July--
If ye'll juist curse the sneckdraw, dod!
An sae wull I!
He's a braw place in Heeven, ye ken,
An lea's us puir, forjaskit men
Clamjamfried in the but an ben
He ca's the earth--
A wee bit inconvenient den
No muckle worth;
An whiles, at orra times, keeks oot,
Sees what puir mankind is aboot;
An if He can, I've little dout,
Upsets their plans;
He hates a' mankind, brainch an ruit,
An a' that's man's.
An whiles, whan they tak hert again,
An life i' the sun leuks braw an plain,
Doun comes a jaw o droukin rain
Upon their honours--
God sends a spate ootower the plain,
Or mebbe thunners.
Lord safe us, life's an unco thing!
Simmer an Winter, Yule an Spring,
The damned, dour-hertit seasons brings
A feck o trouble.
I wadnae try't to be a king--
No, nor for dooble.
But since we're in it, willy-nilly,
We maun be watchfü, wice an skilly,
An no mind ony ither billy,
Lassie nor God.
But drink--that's my best coonsel till 'e:
Sae tak the nod.


My bonny man, the warld, it's true,
Was made for naither me nor you;
It's juist a place to warstle throu,
As Job confessed o't;
An aye the best that we'll can dae
Is mak the best o't.
There's rowth o wrang, I'm free to say:
The simmer brunt, the winter blae,
The face o earth a' fyled wi cley
An dour wi chuckies,
An life a ruch an land'art play
For country buckies.
An food's anither name for clart;
An beists an brummles bites an scarts;
An what wad we be like, my hert
If bared o claethin?
--Aweel, I cannae mend your cairt:
It's that or naething.
A feck o folk frae first to last
Haes throu this queer experience passed;
Twa-three, I ken, juist damns an blasts
The hale transaction;
But twa-three ithers, east an wast,
Fand satisfaction.
Whaur braid the briery muirs expand,
A waefü an a weary land,
The bumblebees, a gowden band,
Is blithely hingin;
An there the canty wanderer fand
The laverock singin.
Troot in the burn growes great as herrin,
The simple sheep can finnd their fairin;
The wind blaws clean aboot the cairn
Wi caller air;
The muircock an the barefit bairn
Are happy there.
Sic-like the howes o life to some:
Green loans whaur they ne'er fash their thoum,
But mark the muckle winds that comes,
Soopin an cool,
Or hear the powrin burnie drum
In the shilfa's puil.
The evil wi the guid they tak;
They ca' a gray thing gray, no black;
To a stey brae, a stubborn back
Addressin daily;
An up the rude, unbieldy track
O life, gangs gaily.
What you wad like's a palace ha',
Or Sinday parlour dink an braw
Wi a' things ordered in a raw
Bi denty leddies.
Weel, than, ye cannae hae't: that's a'
That to be said is.
An since at life ye've taen the grue,
An winna blithely hirsle throu,
Ye've fund the very thing to dae--
That's to drink speerit;
An shüne we'll hear the last o you--
An blithe to hear it!
The shuin ye coft, the life ye lead,
Ithers will heir when aince ye're deid;
They'll heir your tasteless bite o breid,
An finnd it sappy;
They'll to your dulefü hoose succeed,
An there be happy.
As whan a glum an fractious wean
Haes sat an sullened bi his lane
Till, wi a rowstin skelp, he's taen
An shooed to bed--
The ither bairns a' fa's to playin,
As gleg's a gled.


It's strange that God should fash to frame
The yearth an lift sae hie,
An clean forget to explain the same
To a gentleman like me.
Thae gutsy, donnered ither folk,
Their weird they weel mey dree;
But why present a pig in a poke
To a gentleman like me?
Thae ither folk their parritch eats
An sups their sugared tea;
But the mind is no to be wyled wi meat
Wi a gentleman like me.
Thae ither folk, they coort their joes
At gloamin on the lea;
But they're made o a commoner cley, I suppose,
Than a gentleman like me.
Thae ither folk, for richt or wrang,
They suffer, bleeds, or dees;
But a' thir things is an empy sang
To a gentleman like me.
It's a different thing that I demand,
Tho humble as can be--
A statement fair in my Makker's hand
To a gentleman like me:
A clear accoont writ fair an broad,
An a plain apologie;
Or the deevil a ceevil wird to God
Frae a gentleman like me.


Dear Thamson cless, whaure'er I gang
It aye comes ower me wi a spang:
"Lordsake! thae Thamson lads--(deil hang
Or else Lord mend them!)--
An that wanchancy annual sang
I ne'er can send them!"
Straucht, at the name, a trusty tyke,
My conscience girrs ahint the dyke;
Straucht on my hinderlands I fyke
To finnd a rhyme t' ye;
Pleased--altho mebbe no pleased-like--
To gie my time t'ye.
"Weel," an says you, wi heavin breest,
"Sae far, sae guid, but what's the neist?
Yearly we gaither to the feast,
A' hopefü men--
Yearly we skelloch 'Hang the beast--
Nae sang again!'"
My lads, an what am I to say?
Ye shürely kens the Muse's wey:
Yestreen, as gleg's a tyke--the day,
Thrawn like a cuddy:
Her conduck, that to her's a play,
Daith to a body.
Aft whan I sat an made my mane,
Aft whan I laboured burd-alane
Fishin for rhymes an findin nane.
Or nane wis fit for ye--
Ye juidged me cauld's a chuckie stane--
No carin a bit for ye!
But saw ye ne'er some peendgin bairn
As weak as a pitaty-parin--
Less üsed wi guidin horse-shae airn
Than steerin crowdie--
Packed aff his lane, bi moss an cairn,
To ca' the howdie.
Wae's me, for the puir callant than!
He wambles like a poke o bran,
An the lowse rein, as hard's he can,
Pous, tremmlin haunit;
Till, blaff! upon his hinderlan'
Behaud him landit.
Siclike--I awn the weary fack--
Whan on my muse the gate I tak,
An sees her gleed ee raxin back
To keek ahint her;--
To me, the brig o Heeven gangs black
As blackest winter.
"Lordsake! we're aff," thinks I, "but whaur?
On what abhorred an whinny scaur,
Or whammled in what sea o glaur,
Will she desert me?
An will she juist disgrace? or waur--
Will she no hurt me?"
Kittle the quaere! But at least
The day I've backed the fashious beast,
While she, wi mony a spang an reist,
Flang heels ower bunnet;
An a' triumphant--for your feast,
Hae! there's your sonnet!


The Lord Himsel in former days
Waled oot the proper tünes for praise
An named the proper kind o claes
For folk to preach in:
Preceese an in the chief o weys
Important teachin.
He ordered a' things late an air';
He ordered folk to stand at prayer,
(Altho I cannae juist mind where
He gae the warnin)
An pat pomatum on their hair
On Sabbath mornin.
The hale o life bi His commands
Was ordered to a body's hands;
But see! this corpus juris stands
Bi a' forgotten;
An God's religion in a' lands
Is deid an rotten.
While thus the lave o mankind's lost,
O Scotland still God maks His boast--
Puir Scotland, on whase barren coast
A score or twa
Auld wifes wi mutches an a boast
Still keeps His law.
In Scotland, a wheen canty, plain,
Douce, kintra-leevin folk retains
The Truith--or did sae aince--alane
O a' men leevin;
An noo juist twa O them remains--
Juist Begg an Niven.
For noo, unfaithfü, to the Lord
Auld Scotland jines the rebel horde;
Her human hymn-beuks on the board
She noo displays:
An Embro Hie Kirk's been restored
In papish weys.
O punctum temporis for action
To a' o the reformin faction,
If yet, bi ony act or paction,
Thocht, wird, or sermon,
This dark an damnable transaction
Micht yet determine!
For see--as Doctor Begg explains--
Hoo easy 't's düne! a pickle weans,
That in the High Street gaithers stanes
Bi his instruction,
The uncovenantit, pentit panes
Ding to destruction.
Up, Niven, or ower late--an dash
Laich in the glaur that carnal hash;
Let spires an pews wi gran' stramash
Thegither fa';
The rummlin kist o whustles smash
In pieces sma'.
Noo chuize ye oot a walie hammer;
Aboot the knottit buttress claumer;
Alang the steep ruif stoyt an stammer,
A gate mis-chancy;
On the aul' spire, the bells' hie chaumer,
Dance your bit dancie.
Ding, devel, dunt, destroy, an ruin,
Wi carnal stanes the square bestrewin,
Till your lood chaps frae Kyle to Fruin,
Frae Hell to Heeven,
Tell the guid wark that baith are daein--
Baith Begg an Niven.


In a letter frae Mr. Thomson to Mr. Johnstone.

In mony a foreign pairt I've been,
An mony an unco ferlie seen,
Since, Mr. Johnstone, you an I
Last walkit upon Cocklerye.
Wi gleg, observant een, I pass't
Bi sea an land, throu East an Wast,
An still in ilka age an station
Saw naething but abomination.
In thir uncovenantit lands
The gangrel Scot uplifts his hands
At lack o a' sectarian füshion,
An cauld religious destitütion.
He rins, puir man, frae place to place,
Tries a' their graceless means o grace,
Preacher on preacher, kirk on kirk--
This yin a stot an thon a stirk--
A bletherin clan, no warth a preen,
As bad as Smith o Aiberdeen!
At last, across the weary faem,
Frae far, ootlandish pairts I cam.
On ilka side o me I fand
Fresh tokens o my native land.
Wi whatna joy I hailed them a'--
The hilltaps standin raw bi raw,
The public hoose, the Hielan' birks,
An a' the bonny U.P. kirks!
But maistly thee, the bluid o Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to John o Grots,
The king o drinks, as I conceive it,
Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet!
For efter years wi a pockmantie
Frae Zanzibar to Alicante,
In mony a fash an sair affliction
I gie't as my sincere conviction--
O a' their foreign tricks an pliskies,
I maist abominates their whiskies.
Nae dout, themsels, they ken it weel,
An wi a hash o leemon peel,
An ice an siccan filth, they ettle
The stawsome kind o goo to settle;
Sic wersh apothecary's broos wi
As Scotsmen scorn to fyle their moo's wi.
An, man, I was a blithe hame-comer
Whan first I syndit oot my rummer.
Ye should hae seen me then, wi care
The less important pairts prepare;
Syne, weel contentit wi it a',
Poor in the speerits wi a jaw!
I didnae drink, I didnae speak,--
I only snowkit up the reek.
I was sae pleased therein to paidle,
I sat an plowtered wi my ladle.
An, blithe was I, the morrow's morn,
To daunder throu the stookit corn,
An efter a' my strange mishanters,
Sit doun amang my ain dissenters.
An, man, it was a joy to me
The poupit an the pews to see,
The pennies dirlin in the plate,
The elders leukin on in state;
An 'mang the first, as it befell,
Wha should I see, sir, but yoursel.
I was, an I will no deny it,
At the first gliff a hantle tryit
To see yoursel in sic a station--
It seemed a doubtfü dispensation.
The feelin was a mere digression;
For shüne I understuid the session,
An mindin Aiken an M'Neil,
I wondered they haed düne sae weel.
I saw I haed mysel to blame;
For haed I but remained at hame,
Aiblins--tho no ava deservin 't--
They micht hae named your humble servant.
The kirk was filled, the door was steeked;
Up to the poupit ance I keeked;
I was mair pleased than I can tell--
It was the minister himsel!
Prood, prood was I to see his face,
Efter sae lang awa frae grace.
Pleased as I was, I'm no denyin
Some maiters wisna edifyin
For first I fand--an here was news:--
Mere hymn-beuks cockin in the pews--
A humanised abomination,
Unfit for ony congregation.
Syne, while I still was on the tenter,
I scunnered at the new prezentor;
I thocht him gesterin an cauld--
A sair declension frae the auld.
Syne, as tho a' the faith was wreckit,
The prayer was not what I'd expeckit.
Himsel, as it appeared to me,
Was no the man he üsed to be.
But juist as I was growin vexed
He waled a maist juideecious text,
An, launchin into his prelections,
Swoopt, wi a skirl, on a' defections.
O what a gale was on my speerit
To hear the pynts o doctrine clearit,
An a' the horrors o damnation
Set furth wi faithfü ministration!
Nae shauchlin testimony here--
We were a' damned, an that was clear.
I awned, wi gratitude an wonder,
He was a pleisure to sit under.


Late in the nicht in bed I lay,
The winds wis at their weary play,
An tirlin wa's an skirlin wae
Throu Heeven they battered;--
On-ding o hail, on-blaff o spray,
The tempest blattered.
The masoned hoose it dinnled throu;
It dung the ship, it cowped the coo;
The rankit aiks it owerthrew,
Haed braved a' weathers;
The strang sea-gleds it teuk an blew
Awa like feathers.
The thraws o fear on a' wis shed,
An the hair rose, an slumber fled,
An lichts wis lit an prayers wis said
Throu a' the kintra;
An the cauld terror clum in bed
Wi a' an sindry.
To hear in the pit-mirk on hie
The brangled collieshangie flee,
The warl', they thocht, wi land an sea,
Itsel wad cowpit;
An for auld airn, the smashed debris
Bi God be rowpit.
Meanwhile frae far Aldeboran,
To folks wi talescopes in haun,
O ships that cowpit, winds that ran,
Nae sign was seen,
But the wee warl' in sunshine span
As bricht's a preen.
I, tae, bi God's especial grace,
Dwalls denty in a bieldy place,
Wi hosened feet, wi shaven face,
Wi dacent mainers:
A grand example to the race
O tautit sinners!
The wind mey blaw, the heathen rage,
The deil mey start on the rampage--
The seek in bed, the thief in cage--
What's a' to me?
Cosh in my hoose, a sober sage
I sit an sees.
An whiles the bluid spangs to my bree,
To lie sae saft, to live sae free,
While better men maun dae an dee
In unco places.
"Whaur's God?" I cry, an "Whae is me
To hae sic graces?"
I mind the fecht the sailors keep,
But fire or caunle, rest or sleep,
In darkness an the muckle deep;
An minds beside
The herd that on the hills o sheep
Haes wandered wide.
I mind me on the hoastin weans--
The penny joes on causey stanes--
The auld folk wi the crazy banes,
Baith auld an puir,
That aye maun thole the winds an rains
An labour sair.
An whiles I'm kind o pleased a blink,
An kind o fleyed forby, to think,
For a' my rowth o meat an drink
An waste o crumb,
I'll mebbe have to thole wi skink
In Kingdom Come.
For God whan jowes the Judgment bell,
Wi His ain Hand, His Leevin Sel,
Sall ryve the guid (as Prophets tell)
Frae them that haed it;
An in the reamin pat o Hell,
The rich be scaddit.
O Lord, if this indeed be sae,
Let daw that sair an happy day!
Again' the warl', grawn auld an gray,
Up wi your aix!
An let the puir enjoy their play--
I'll thole my paiks.


O a' the ills that flesh can fear,
The loss o freen's, the lack o gear,
A yowlin tyke, a glandered mear,
A lassie's nonsense--
There's juist ae thing I cannae bear,
An that's my conscience.
Whan day (an a' excüse) haes gane,
An wark is düne, an duty's plain,
An to my chaumer a' my lane
I creep apairt,
My conscience! hoo the yammerin pain
Stends to my hert!
A' day wi various ends in view
The hairsts o time I haed to pou,
An made a hash wad staw a sou,
Let be a man!--
My conscience! whan my hauns wis fou,
Whaur wis ye than?
An there wis a' the lures o life,
There plaesur skirlin on the fife,
There anger, wi the hotchin knife
Grund shairp in Hell--
My conscience!--you that's like a wife!--
Whaur was yersel?
I ken it fine: juist waitin here,
To gar the evil waur appear,
To clart the guid, confüse the clear,
Misca' the great,
My conscience! an to raise a steer
Whan a's ower late.
Sic-like, some tyke grawn auld an blinnd,
Whan thieves brek throu the gear to pynd,
Haes lain his dozened length an grinned
At the disaster;
An the morn's mornin, wud's the wind,
Yokes on his maister.


(Whan the dear doctor, dear to a',
Was still amang us here belaw,
I set my Pipes his praise to blaw
Wi, a' my speerit;
But noo, Dear Doctor! he's awa,
An ne'er can hear it.)
Bi Lyne an Tyne, bi Thames an Tees,
Bi a' the various river-Dee's,
In Mars an Manors 'yont the seas
Or here at hame,
Whaure'er there's kindly folk to please,
They ken yer name.
They ken yer name, they ken yer tyke,
They ken the honey frae yer byke;
But mebbe efter a' yer fyke,
(The trüth to tell)
It's juist yer honest Rab they like,
An no yersel.
As at the gowf, some canny player
Should tee a common baa wi care--
Should flourish an deleever fair
His souple shintie--
An the baa rise into the air,
A leevin lintie:
Sae in the gemme we writers plays,
There comes to some a bonny day,
When a dear ferlie shall repay
Their years o strife,
An like your Rab, their things o cley,
Spreid wings o life.
Ye scarce desairved it, I'm afraid--
You that haed never learned the trade,
But juist some idle mornin strayed
Into the schüle,
An picked the fiddle up an played
Like Neil himsel.
Yer ee was gleg, yer fingers dink;
Ye didnae fash yersel to think,
But wove, as fast as puss can link,
Your denty wab:--
Ye stapped yer pen into the ink,
An there was Rab!
Sinsyne, whaure'er your fortune lay
Bi dowie den, bi canty brae,
Simmer an winter, nicht an day,
Rab was aye wi ye;
An a' the folk on a' the wey
Wis blithe to see ye.
O sir, the gods are kind indeed,
An haud ye for an honoured heid,
That for a wee bit clarkit screed
Sae weel rewaird ye,
An lend--puir Rabbie bein deid--
His gaist to gaird ye.
For tho, whaure'er yersel mey be,
We've juist to turn an glisk a wee,
An Rab at heel we're shüre to see
Wi gledsome caper:--
The bogle o a bogle, he--
A gaist o paper!
An as the auld-farrand hero sees
In Hell a bogle Hercules,
Pit there the lesser deid to please,
While he hirnsel
Dwalls wi the muckle gods at ease
Far raised frae hell
Sae the true Rabbie far haes gane
On kindlier business o his ain
Wi aulder freen's; an his breest-bane
An stumpie tailie,
He birstles at a new hearth stane
Bi James an Ailie.


It's an owercome suith for age an youth,
An it brooks wi nae denial,
That the dearest freends is the auldest freends,
An the young are juist on trial.
There's a rival bauld wi young an auld,
An it's him that haes bereft me;
For the sürest freends is the auldest freends,
An the maist o mines haes left me.
There's kind herts still, for freends to fill
An fuils to tak an brek them,
But the nearest freends is the auldest freends,
An the grave's the place to seek them.