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My senses wad be in a creel Should I but dare a hope to speel Wi' Allan, or wi' Gilbertfield,
The braes o' fame; Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,
A deathless name.
Or is't the paughty, feudal thane,
But lordly stalks,
As by he walks ?
Through Scotland wide; Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
In a' their pride !"
We learn our creed.
(O Fergusson! thy glorious parts Ill suited law's dry, musty arts ! My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
Ye Enbrugh gentry! The tithe o' what ye waste at cartes,
Wad stow'd his pantry!)
For thus the royal mandate ran, When first the human race began, “ The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be, 'Tis be fulfils great nature's plan,
An' none but he !"
In glorious light,
Are dark as night. Though here they scrape, an' squeeze, an'
growl, Their worthless nievefu' of a soul May in some future carcass howl,
The forest's fright;
May shun the light.
In some mild sphere,
Each passing year.
Yet when a tale comes i' my head,
(O sad disease !) I kittle up my rustic reed ;
It gies me ease.
But tune their laye,
Her weel-sung praise. Nae poet thought her worth his while, To set her name in measured style; She lay like some unkenn'd-of isle
Beside New Holland, Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
Besouth Magellan. Ramsay an' famous Fergusson Gied Forth an' Tay a list aboon; Yarrow an' Tweed to monie a tune,
Owre Scotland rings, While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an' Doon,
Naebody sings. Th’ Illyssus, Tiber, Thames, an' Seine, Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line! But, Willie, set your fit to mine,
An' cock your crest, We'll gar our streams and burnies shine
Up wi' the best. We'll sing auld Coila's plains an’ fells, Her moors red-brown with heather bells, Her banks an' braes, her dens and dells,
Where glorious Wallace Aft bure the gree, as story tells,
Frae southron billies.
TO W. S***** N,
An' unco vain,
Your flatterin strain.
On my poor musie; Though in sic phrasin' terms ye’ve penn'd it,
I scarce excuse ye.
At Wallace' name what Scottish blood But boils up in a spring-tide flood ! Oft have our fearless fathers strode
By Wallace' side, Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,
Or glorious dyed.
0, sweet are Coila’s haughs an' woods, When lintwhites chant amang the buds, And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,
Their loves enjoy, While through the braes the cushat eroods
E’en winter bleak has charms for me, When winds rave through the naked tree; Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
Are hoary gray ;
Darkening the day!
Wi' life an' light,
The lang, dark night! The muse, nae poet ever fand her, Till by himsel he learn'd to wander, Adown some trotting burn's meander,
An' no think lang;
A heartfelt sang!
And I, wi' pleasure,
Bum owre their treasure. Fareweel,“ my rhyme-composing brither!” We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither: Now let us lay our heads thegither,
In love fraternal: May envy wallop in a tether,
Black fiend, infernal!
In Robert Burns.
This past for certain, undisputed;
An'ca'd it wrang ;
Baith loud and lang. Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk, Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk ; For 'twas the auld moon turn'd a neuk,
An' out o' sight, An' backlins-comin, to the leuk,
She grew mair bright. This was denied, it was affirm'd; The herds an' hissels were alarm’d: The reverend gray-beards raved an' storm'a,
That beardless laddies Should think they better were informid
Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks; Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks ; An' monie a fallow gat his licks,
Wi' hearty crunt; An' some, to learn them for their tricks,
Were hang'd an' burnt. This game was play'd in monie lands, An'auld-light caddies bure sic hands, That faith the youngsters took the sands
Wi’ nimble shanks, The lairds forbade, by strict commands,
Sic bluidy pranks.
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin’d stick-an’-stowe, Till now amaist on every knowe,
Ye'll find ane placed; An' some, their new-light fair avow,
Just quite barefaced. Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin ; Their zealous herds are vex'd an’sweatin; Mysel, I've even seen them greetin
Wi' girnin spite, To hear the moon sae sadly lie'd on
By word an’ write. But shortly they will cowe the louns ! Some auld-light herds in neebor towns Are mind't in things they ca' balloons,
To tak a flight, An’ stay a month amang the moons
An' see them right.
By this “new-light, 'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
Maist like to fight. In days when mankind were but callans At grammar, logic, an' sic talents, They took nae pains their speech to balance,
Or rules to gie, But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
Like you or me. In thae auld times, they thought the moon, Just like a sark, or pair o'shoon, Wore by degrees, till her last roon,
Gaed past their viewing, An' shortly after she was done,
They gat a new one.
Guid observation they will gie them ; An' when the auld moon's gaun to leave them, The hindmost shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them,
Just i’ their pouch, An' when the new-light billies see them,
I think they'll crouch!
Sae, ye observe that a' this clatter Is naething but a “ moonshine matter;" But though dull prose-folk Latin splatter
In logic tulzie, I hope, we bardies ken some better,
Than mind sic brulzie.
*“New-light” is a cant phrase in the west of Scotland, for those religious opinions which Dr. Taylor of Norwich has defended so strenuously.
EPISTLE TO J. R******,
ENCLOSING SOME POEMS.
O ROUGH, rude, ready-witted R******, The wale o cocks for fun an' drinkin! There's mony godly folks are thinkin,
Your dreams* an' tricks Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin,
Straught to auld Nick's.
Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants, And in your wicked druncken rants, Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
An' fill them fou ; And then their failings, flaws, an' wants,
Are a' seen through.
But, by my gun, o' guns the wale,
I vow an' swear!
For this, niest year.
For my gowd guinea :
For’t in Virginia.
Scarce through the feathers; An' baith a yellow George to claim,
An' thole their blethers!
When time's expedient:
Your most obedient.
Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
The lads in black !
Rives 't aff their back. Think, wicked sinner, wha ye’re skaithing, Its just the blue-gown badge an’claithing O’ saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
To ken them by,
Like you or I.
I will expect
And no neglect.
An' danced my fill ! I'd better gane an' sair't the king,
At Bunker's Hill.
Of brownyis and of bogilis full is this buke.
'Twas ae night lately in my fun, I gaed a roving wi' the gun, An' brought a paitrick to the grun,
A bonnie hen, And, as the twilight was begun,
Thought nane wad ken. The poor wee thing was little hurt; I straikit it a wee for sport, Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me fort;
But, deil-ma-care! Somebody tells the poacher-court
The hale affair.
WHEN chapman billies leave the street,
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
Some auld used hands had ta’en a note, That sic a hen had got a shot; I was suspected for the plot;
I scorn'd to lie; So gat the whizzle o' my groat,
An' pay't the fee.
* A certain humorous dream of his was then making a noise in the country side.
A song he had promised the author.
Ah, gentle dames ! it gars me greet,
And near the thorn, aboon the well, To think how mony counsels sweet,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel.How mony lengthen'd, sage advices,
Before him Doon pours all his floods ; The husband frae the wife despises !
The doubling storm roars through the woods :
The lightnings flash from pole to pole ; But to our tale: Ae market night,
Near and more near the thunders roll; Tam had got planted unco right;
When, glimmering through the groaning trees, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze ; Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely;
Through ilka bore the beams were glancing ; And at his elbow souter Johnny,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither ;
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi’ usquabae we'll face the devil!
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious :
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle. The souter tauld his queerest stories ;
But Maggie stood right sair astonish'd, The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'a, The storm without might rair and rustle,
She ventured forward on the light; Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance; Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
Nae cotillon brent new frae France, E’en drown'd himself amang the nappy ;
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure,
Put life and mettle in their heels. The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure;
A winnock-bunker in the east, Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast; O'er a' the ills o life victorious.
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, But pleasures are like poppies spread,
To gie them music was his charge : You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
He screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. -
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses ; That fit ere you can point their place ;
And by some devilish cantraip slight, Or like the rainbow's lovely form
Each in its cauld hand held a light,Evanishing amid the storm.
By which heroic Tam was able Nae man can tether time or tide ;
To note upon the haly table, The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns ; That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
Twa span lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns ; That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
A thief new cutted frae a rape, And sic a night he taks the road in,
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape ; As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red rusted ;
Five cimiters, wi' murder crusted ;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu',
Which e'en to name wad be unlawfu'. Weel mounted on his gray mare Meg,
As Tammie glowr'd, amazed and curious, A better never lifted leg,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious : Tam skelpit on through dub and mire,
The piper loud and louder blew; Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
And linket at it in her sark!
Now Tam, 0 Tam! had they been queans,
A' plump and strapping, in their teens ; By this time he was cross the ford,
Their sarks, instead o’creeshie flannen, Whare in the snaw the chapman smoord; Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! And past the birks an’ meikle stane,
Thir breeks o’mine, my only pair, Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck bane; That ance were plush, o'guid blue hair, And through the whins, and by the cairn, I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies.
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Ae spring brought off her master hale, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,
But left behind her ain gray tail: Lowping an' flinging on a crummock,
The carlin claught her by the rump, I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump. But Tam kennd what was what fu' brawlie,
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, There was ae winsome wench and walie,
Ilk man and mother's son, tak heed : That night enlisted in the core,
Whene'er to drink you are inclined, (Lang after kennd on Carrick shore !
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, For mony a beast to dead she shot,
Think, ye may buy the joys o'er dear, And perish'd mony a bonnie boat,
Remember Tam O'Shanter's mare.
WHEN o'er the hill the eastern star,
Tells bughtin-time is near, my jo ; But here my muse her wing maun cour;
And owsen frae the furrow'd field, Sic flights are far beyond her power ;
Return sae dowf and weary, 0; To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
Down by the burn, where scented birks, (A souple jade she was and strang,)
Wi’ dew are hanging clear, my jo, And how Tam stood like ane bewitch'd,
I'll meet thee on the lea-rig, And thought his very e’en enrich'd ;
My ain kind dearie, 0. E'en Satan glowr'd, and fidged fu' fain,
In mirkest glen, at midnight hour, And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main :
I'd rove and ne'er be eerie, 0, Till first ae caper, syne anither,
If through that glen, I gaed to thee, Tam tint his reason a'thegither,
My ain kind dearie, 0. And roars out,“ Weel done, cutty-sark !"
Although the night were ne'er sae wild, And in an instant all was dark:
And I were ne'er sae wearie, 0, And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
I'd meet thee on the lea-rig, When out the hellish legion sallied.
My ain kind dearie, 0. As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
The hunter lo’es the morning sun, When plundering herds assail their byke ;
To rouse the mountain deer, my jo, As open pussie's mortal foes,
At noon the fisher seeks the glen, When, pop! she starts before their nose;
Along the burn to steer, my jo ; As eager runs the market-crowd,
Gie me the hour o'gloamin gray, When “ Catch the thief !” resounds aloud ;
It maks my heart sae cheery, 0, So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
To meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, 0.
TUNE_" Ewe-bughts, Marion."
Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary, There at them thou thy tail may toss,
And leave auld Scotia's shore ? A running stream they dare na cross.
Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary, But ere the key-stane she could make,
Across th’ Atlantic's roar? The fient a tail she had to shake!
O sweet grows the lime and the orange, For Nannie, far before the rest,
And the apple on the pine ; Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
But a' the charms o' the Indies, And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle ;
Can never equal thine. But little wist she Maggie's mettle
I hae sworn by the heavens to my Mary,
I hae sworn by the heavens to be true; *It is a well known fact that witches, or any evil spirits,
And sae may the heavens forget me, have no power to follow a poor wight any farther than When I forget my vow ! the middle of the next running stream. - It may be proper likewise to mention to the benighted traveller, that when
O plight me your faith, my Mary, he falls in with bogles, whatever danger may be in his
And plight me your lily-white hand; going forward, there is much more hazard in turning
O plight me your faith, my Mary, back
Before I leave Scotia's strand.