Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ben Nevis

The following poem is reputed to have been written in the visitor's book of the Ben Nevis Hotel in the late 19th century. Ben Nevis and Fort William below get some of the highest rainfall in Scotland...

Roll by, thou dense and damp pea-soupy shroud!
Do we thus reach the highest point in vain?
Roll by! we say, and leave behind no cloud
Our view to mar; but, should'st thou still remain,
Mark well the threat - "Never shall we come again."
If at first you don't succeed, try again:
Mist and rain you should not heed, try again;
When the clouds have rolled away,
And the sun holds glorious sway,
Climb the path without delay, come again,
All your labours he'll repay - grand old Ben.

We climbed thy stony sides, oh Ben!
We groped around thy cloudy head,
We peered and jeered and swore - and then,
In sheer disgust, we went to bed.

We toiled along with saddened hearts - and grief,
And found - ah, well, just mist and tinned Australian beef.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ben Lomond

The apparent unchanging nature of mountains has prompted Thomas Campbell to contrast their longevity with the passing nature of humanity and its buildings.

Hadst thou a genius on thy peak,
What tales, white-headed Ben,
Could'st thou of ancient ages speak,
That mock th' historian's pen!
Thy long duration makes our lives
Seem but so many hours;
And likens, to the bees' frail hives,
Our most stupendous towers.

Temples and towers thou seest begun,
New creeds, new conquerers sway;
And, like their shadows in the sun,
Hast seen them swept away.

Thy steadfast summit, heaven-allied
(Unlike life's little span),
Looks down a mentor on the pride
Of perishable man.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bed in Summer

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on November 13, 1850. Here is one of his simple poems from "A Child's Garden of Verses" which highlights the long summer days in Scotland - and the long winter nights.

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Bard's Epitaph

When he was preparing to publish the first edition of his poems, Robert Burns was having an affair with Jean Armour - much to the distress of her family. Burns then decided to make a new life by sailing to Jamaica. So it is perhaps understandable that the last poem in the Kilmarnock edition of his poems was this epitaph, in which he acknowledges his "thoughtless follies". Of course, the actual publication and success of his book of "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" changed his plans completely.

Is there a whim-inspired fool,
Owe fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool?
Let him draw near;
And owre this grassy heap sing dool,
And drap a tear.
Is there a Bard of rustic song,
Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
That weekly this area throng?
O, pass not by!
But, with a frater-feeling strong,
Here, heave a sigh.

Is there a man, whose judgment clear
Can others teach the course to steer,
Yet runs, himself, life's mad career,
Wild as the wave? -
Here pause - and, thro the starting tear,
Survey this grave.

The poor inhabitant below
Was quick to learn and wise to know,
And keenly felt the friendly glow,
And softer flame;
But thoughtless follies laid him low,
And stain'd his name!

Reader, attend! whether thy soul
Soars Fancy's flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs in this earthly hole.
In low pursuit;
Know, prudent, cautious, self-control
Is wisdom's root.

Meaning of unusual words:
frater-feeling=brotherly feeling

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sir Walter Scott (1771- 1832) wrote this graphic account of the Battle of Bannockburn (June 23/24, 1314) in his epic poem "Lord of the Isles" (Canto vi, stanza 26).

Unflinching foot 'gainst foot was set,
Unceasing blow by blow was met;
The groans of those who fell
Were drown'd amid the shriller clang
That from the blades and harness rang,
And in the battle-yell.
Yet fast they fell, unheard, forgot,
Both Southern fierce and hardy Scot;
And O! amid that waste of life,
What various motives fired the strife!
The aspiring Noble bled for fame,
The Patriot for his country's claim;
This Knight his youthful strength to prove,
And that to win his lady's love;
Some fought from ruffian thirst of blood,
From habit some, or hardihood.
But ruffian stern, and soldier good,
The noble and the slave,
From various cause the same wild road,
On the same bloody morning, trode,
To that dark inn, the Grave!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Banks o' the Dee

Here is a poem by George Outram which tells of a man who is as happy as can be, walking on the banks of the river Dee, despite his obvious misfortunes - and then explains why! The meanings of words which may not be familiar are listed at the end.

I met wi' a man on the banks o' the Dee,
And a merrier body I never did see;
Though Time had bedrizzled his haffits wi' snaw,
An' Fortune had stown his luckpenny awa',
Yet never a mortal mair happy could be
Than the man that I met on the banks o' the Dee.

When young, he had plenty o owsen an' kye
A wide wavin' mailin, an' siller forbye;
But cauld was his hearth ere his youdith was o'er,
An' he delved on the landss he had lairdit before;
Yet though beggared his ha' an' deserted his lea,
Contented he roamed on the banks o' the Dee.

'Twas heartsome to see the auld body sae gay,
As he toddled adoun by the gowany brae,
Sae canty, sae crouse, an' sae proof against care;
Yet it wasna through riches, it wasna through lear;
But I fand out the cause ere I left the sweet Dee -
The man was as drunk as a mortal could be!

Meaning of Unusual Words:
owsen an' kye=oxen & cattle
delved=dug over
gowany brae=daisy covered hill

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ballade of Wordly Wealth

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) is certainly not the first nor the last to argue that money, despite its undoubted power, isn't everything, and cannot "bestow youth, and health, and Paradise."

Money taketh town and wall,
Fort and ramp without a blow;
Money moves the merchants all,
While the tides shall ebb and flow;
Money maketh Evil show
Like the Good, and Truth like lies:
These alone can ne'er bestow
Youth, and health, and Paradise.
Money maketh festival,
Wine she buys, and beds can strow;
Round the necks of captains tall,
Money wins them chains to throw,
Marches soldiers to and fro,
Gaineth ladies with sweet eyes:
These alone can ne'er bestow
Youth, and health, and Paradise.

Money wins the priest his stall;
Money mitres buys, I trow,
Red hats for the Cardinal,
Abbeys for the novice low;
Money maketh sin as snow,
Place of penitence supplies:
These alone can ne'er bestow
Youth, and health, and Paradise.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ballade of True Wisdom

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) was very much an academic and a scholar who worked hard to transform information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. So it is not surprising that one of his many poems should be on the subject of "True Wisdom".

While others are asking for beauty or fame,
Or praying to know that for which they should pray,
Or courting Queen Venus, that affable dame,
Or chasing the Muses the weary and grey,
The sage has found out a more excellent way -
To Pan and to Pallas his incense he showers,
And his humble petition puts up day by day,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.
Inventors may bow to the God that is lame,
And crave from the fire on his stithy a ray;
Philosophers kneel to the God without name,
Like the people of Athens, agnostics are they;
The hunter a fawn to Diana will slay,
The maiden wild roses will wreathe for the Hours;
But the wise man will ask, ere libation he pay,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

Oh! grant me a life without pleasure or blame
(As mortals count pleasure who rush through their day
With a speed to which that of the tempest is tame)!
O grant me a house by the beach of a bay,
Where the waves can be surly in winter, and play
With the sea-weed in summer, ye bountiful powers!
And I'd leave all the hurry, the noise, and the fray,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.


Gods, grant or withhold it; your "yea" and your "nay"
Are immutable, heedless of outcry of ours:
But life IS worth living, and here we would stay
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Ballade Of Tobacco Smoke

This poem by Alexander Anderson was written long before concerns about tobacco and passive smoking. Instead, it is very positive about the "dreams seen through tobacco smoke".
The reference in the poem to "Alnaschar" is a character in The Arabian Nights whose dreams of wealth are shattered when he wakes up and knocks over and breaks the glassware he had hoped to sell in order to make his fortune!

What fretting loads we mortals bear
Through life, whose fading rainbows mock
And Time, who drives a splendid pair
Of steeds he never will unyoke,
Sweeps his lean fingers through our hair,
He scarcely leaves a decent lock,
Yet chide him not, if still he spare
The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.
We each must have our little care
To add by contrast to our joke,
A laugh that spreads in vain its snare
To catch the lips of solemn folk.
Well, let us walk through all the fair,
And watch the crowds that sway and shock;
They follow what we see elsewhere--
The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

Dreamers of dreams in ships of air,
Whose keels have never entered dock,
I wish you may have sounder ware
Than did Alnaschar when he woke!
Statesmen, when strife is high, forswear
For half an hour the wordy stroke,
I fain would hint of better fare--
The dreams seen through tobacco smoke!


Prince, when you weary of the chair
From which you govern realms and folk,
Your faithful bard would have you share
The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ballade of the Summer Term

This poem by Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) is sub-titled, somewhat pedantically: "Being a Petition, in the form of a Ballade, praying the University Commissioners to spare the Summer Term." Lang, who was a student at Edinburgh as well as Balliol College Oxford, was later a fellow of Merton College at Oxford. Clearly this was a light-hearted suggestion for academic reorganization.

When Lent and Responsions are ended,
When May with fritillaries waits,
When the flower of the chestnut is splendid,
When drags are at all of the gates
(Those drags the philosopher "slates"
With a scorn that is truly sublime),
Life wins from the grasp of the Fates
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!
When wickets are bowl'd and defended,
When Isis is glad with "the Eights,"
When music and sunset are blended,
When Youth and the summer are mates,
When Freshmen are heedless of "Greats,"
And when note-books are cover'd with rhyme,
Ah, these are the hours that one rates -
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!

When the brow of the Dean is unbended
At luncheons and mild tête-à-têtes,
When the Tutor's in love, nor offended
By blunders in tenses or dates;
When bouquets are purchased of Bates,
When the bells in their melody chime,
When unheeded the Lecturer prates -
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!


Reformers of Schools and of States,
Is mirth so tremendous a crime?
Ah! spare what grim pedantry hates -
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!

Meaning of unusual words:
Responsions=first examination for BA degree at Oxford University
fritillaries=type of butterfly
Isis=the River Thames at Oxford
the Eights=rowing boat with crew of eight
prates=talks too much in a boring or silly way

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ballade of the Royal Game of Golf

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) was educated at both Edinburgh and Oxford universities and was one of the ablest and versatile writers of his day. He published a large number of books of poetry as well as novels and books on Scottish history.
While most of his works were written in plain English, the short poem below, on that very Scottish game of golf, is in fairly broad Scots - there is a glossary at the end.

There are laddies will drive ye a ba'
To the burn frae the farthermost tee,
But ye mauna think driving is a',
Ye may heel her, and send her ajee,
Ye may land in the sand or the sea;
And ye're dune, sir, ye're no worth a preen,
Tak' the word that an auld man'll gie,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green!
The auld folk are crouse, and they craw
That their putting is pawky and slee;
In a bunker they're nae gude ava',
But to girn, and to gar the sand flee.
And a lassie can putt - ony she, -
Be she Maggy, or Bessie, or Jean,
But a cleek-shot's the billy for me,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green!

I hae play'd in the frost and the thaw,
I hae play'd since the year thirty-three,
I hae play'd in the rain and the snaw,
And I trust I may play till I dee;
And I tell ye the truth and nae lee,
For I speak o' the thing I hae seen -
Tom Morris, I ken, will agree -
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green!


Prince, faith you're improving a wee,
And, Lord, man, they tell me you're keen;
Tak' the best o' advice that can be,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green!

Meaning of unusual words:
mauna=must not
heel=hit with the shank of the club
aye tent=always take care
crouse=confident, eager
craw=boast, brag
pawky and slee=shrewd and sly
ava'=at all

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ballade of Roulette

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales, but was also a prolific poet and novelist. After obtaining a first class degree at Balliol College, Oxford, he became a fellow of Merton College there. The poem below, about the roulette wheel of life, comes from a book of poetry "Ballades in Blue China" published in 1880.

This life - one was thinking to-day,
In the midst of a medley of fancies -
Is a game, and the board where we play
Green earth with her poppies and pansies.
Let manqué be faded romances,
Be passé remorse and regret;
Hearts dance with the wheel as it dances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.
The lover will stake as he may
His heart on his Peggies and Nancies;
The girl has her beauty to lay;
The saint has his prayers and his trances;
The poet bets endless expanses
In Dreamland; the scamp has his debt:
How they gaze at the wheel as it glances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette!

The Kaiser will stake his array
Of sabres, of Krupps, and of lances;
An Englishman punts with his pay,
And glory the jeton of France is;
Your artists, or Whistlers or Vances,
Have voices or colours to bet;
Will you moan that its motion askance is -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette?


The prize that the pleasure enhances?
The prize is - at last to forget
The changes, the chops, and the chances -
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ballade of the Bookworm

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) was an academic who graduated from both Edinburgh and then Oxford Universities. As well as poetry, he co-wrote a prose translation of Homer's "Odyssey" and the "Iliad" and produced other scholarly books on Homer and his times.
Nearer home, he threw fresh light on the life of Mary Queen of Scots and wrote monographs on "The Portraits and Jewels of Mary Stuart" and "James VI and the Gowrie Mystery". His unfavourable view of John Knox in his book "John Knox and the Reformation" produced considerable controversy when it was published in 1905. So he was well versed to produce a humorous poem on the subject of a "bookworm".

Far in the Past I peer, and see
A Child upon the Nursery floor,
A Child with books upon his knee,
Who asks, like Oliver, for more!
The number of his years is IV,
And yet in Letters hath he skill,
How deep he dives in Fairy-lore!
The Books I loved, I love them still!
One gift the Fairies gave me: (Three
They commonly bestowed of yore)
The Love of Books, the Golden Key
That opens the Enchanted Door;
Behind it BLUEBEARD lurks, and o'er
And o'er doth JACK his Giants kill,
And there is all ALADDIN'S store, -
The Books I loved, I love them still!

Take all, but leave my Books to me!
These heavy creels of old we bore
We fill not now, nor wander free,
Nor wear the heart that once we wore;
Not now each River seems to pour
His waters from the Muses' hill;
Though something's gone from stream and shore,
The Books I loved, I love them still!


Fate, that art Queen by shore and sea,
We bow submissive to thy will,
Ah grant, by some benign decree,
The Books I loved - to love them still.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Ballade Of "Churchwardens"

This poem is by Alexander Anderson (1845-1909) who was born in Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire. He usually wrote under the pseudonym of "Surfaceman" and indeed worked as a surfaceman on the railway, laying and repairing the tracks. Like many of his day, however, he spent much of his spare time on self-education, mastering German, French, and Spanish. He published a number of poetry books in the 1870s - one was entitled "Songs of the Rail". In 1880 he became assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh. After an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution, he returned as Chief Librarian to the University.

Why, hang it all, let life go by,
It is but bubbles we pursue;
They burst at last, and then we sigh
And pay what folly claims as due.
We have our time to smile and sigh,
Who knows the false from all the true?
Let us enjoy before we die,
Churchwardens and a friend or two.
For these are things that will not fly
Nor fade, as other pleasures do;
Nay, trust me, for I would not lie -
At least I would not lie to you.
There is a time when earth and sky
Unite - when lovers bill and coo -
A happy time; but let us try
Churchwardens and a friend or two.

Alas! what grief when you descry
White strangers - just a very few -
Among your hair. A friendly eye
Detects them, though you never knew.
Well, let them come, nor look awry,
But trust the gods to pull you through;
They'll do it if they but supply
Churchwardens and a friend or two.


Prince should your royal eyes espy
A white hair - this is entre nous -
Remember you are very nigh
Churchwardens and a friend or two.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ballade of Autumn

Many poets do seem to revel in writing about the feelings of a jilted lover and Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) proves to be no exception. It must have been a change from his other writings - he translated works of Homer, wrote "leaders" for the Daily News, produced well researched books on Scottish history, investigated and wrote about folklore and anthropology and was one of the founders of the study of "Psychical Research". On top of al that, he wrote a beautifully produced and illustrated book of fairy tales and then an annual book of fairy tales and romances drawn from many sources. So if he is the jilted lover in the poem below, he certainly had plenty of other interests to keep him busy!

We built a castle in the air,
In summer weather, you and I,
The wind and sun were in your hair, -
Gold hair against a sapphire sky:
When Autumn came, with leaves that fly
Before the storm, across the plain,
You fled from me, with scarce a sigh -
My Love returns no more again!
The windy lights of Autumn flare:
I watch the moonlit sails go by;
I marvel how men toil and fare,
The weary business that they ply!
Their voyaging is vanity,
And fairy gold is all their gain,
And all the winds of winter cry,
"My Love returns no more again!"

Here, in my castle of Despair,
I sit alone with memory;
The wind-fed wolf has left his lair,
To keep the outcast company.
The brooding owl he hoots hard by,
The hare shall kindle on thy hearth-stane,
The Rhymer's soothest prophecy,
My Love returns no more again!


Lady, my home until I die
Is here, where youth and hope were slain:
They flit, the ghosts of our July,
My Love returns no more again!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Babbity Bowster

Babbity Bowster was an old Scottish country dance which was often used to finish off a ball; it also became a children's game with different rules in various parts of the country. "Babbity" means "bob" and "bowster" was the wheelshaft in a watermill.
The illustration is the Babbity Bowster restaurant in Glasgow's Merchant City.

Wha learned you to dance,
Babbity Bowster, Babbity Bowster?
Wha learned you to dance,
Babbity Bowster, brawly?
My minny learned me to dance,
Babbity Bowster, Babbity Bowster,
My minny learned me to dance,
Babbity Bowster, brawly.

Wha gae you the keys to keep,
Babbity Bowster, Babbity Bowster?
Wha gae you the keys to keep,
Babbity Bowster, brawly?

My minny gae me the keys to keep,
Babbity Bowster, Babbity Bowster,
My minny gae me the keys to keep,
Babbity Bowster, brawly.

Meaning of unusual words:
learned you=taught you
minnie=an affectionate name for mother

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Australian Sunrise

James Lister Cuthbertson (1851-1910), who wrote this poem, was born in Scotland and was educated at Glenalmond in Perthshire and then Merton College, Oxford. He emigrated to Australia in 1874 and taught as a Senior Classical Master at Geelong Grammar School, in Victoria for 21 years. Australians may recognise his description of sunrise in their part of the world. The poem was written in 1880.

The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim,
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie’s note was heard,
And the wind in the sheoak wavered and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.

Meaning of unusual words:
The Cross - The constellation of the Southern Cross, which appears to become lower in the sky towards morning.
The fiery Scorpion - The constellation of Scorpio which contains the first magnitude star Antares, which shines with a reddish light.
sheoak - a tree which is not as heavy and hard as oak (the Englsh settlers declared it weaker than English oak but similar so "She-oak"). It grows primarily in a small area on the south coast of Southwest Western Australia.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Auld House

This poem by William Soutar (1898-1943) could refer to any one of the many derelict houses scattered around the Scottish countryside - no longer needed as the owners go off to build something newer and better.

There's a puckle lairds in the auld house
wha haud the wa's thegither:
there's no muckle graith in the auld house
nor smeddum aither.
It was aince a braw and bauld house
and guid for onie weather:
kings and lords throng'd in the auld house
or it gaed a'smither.

There were kings and lords in the auld house
and birds o monie a feather:
there were sangs and swords in the auld house
that rattled ane anither.

It was aince a braw and bauld house
and guid for onie weather:
but it's noo a scrunted and cauld house
whaur lairdies forgaither.

Lat's caa in the folk to the auld house,
the puir folk a' thegither:
it's sunkit on rock is the auld house,
and the rock's their brither.

It was aince a braw and bauld house
and guid for onie weather:
but the folk maun funder the auld house
and bigg up anither.

Meaning of unusual words:
puckle=good few
muckle graith=large furniture
smeddum=force of character, good sense
gaed a'smither=went to pieces
maun funder=must uproot

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Atholl Road

"East, west, home's best" runs the saying and who can disagree? Certainly not Christine Orr in this poem about the road through Atholl and the Pass of Kiliecrankie in Perthshire which she regards as the best, despite recounting such a list of other evocative Scottish placenames.

There are some that love the Border-land and some the Lothians wide,
And some would boast the Neuk o' Fife and some the banks o' Clyde,
And some are fain for Mull and Skye and all the Western Sea;
But the Road that runs by Atholl will be doing yet for me.
The Road it runs by Atholl and climbs the midmost brae
Where Killiecrankie crowns the pass with golden woods and gay;
There straight and clean 'twas levelled where the Garry runs below
By Wade's red-coated soldiery two hundred years ago.

The Road it strikes Dalwhinnie where the mountain tops are grey
And the snow lies in the corries from October until May;
Then down from bleak Ben Alder by Loch Ericht's windswept shore
It hastes by Dalnaspidal to the howes of Newtonmore.

The Road it runs through Badenoch, and still and on it rings
With the riding of the clansmen and a hundred echoings;
Oh, some they rode for vengeance and some for gear and gain,
But some for bonnie Charlie rode, and came not home again.

The Road it runs by Alvie - you may linger if you list
To gaze on Ben Muich-Dhuie and the Larig's cup of mist;
There are pines in Rothiemurchus like a gipsy's dusky hair,
There are birch-trees in Craigellachie like elfin silver-ware.

The Road it runs to Forres, and it leaves the hills behind,
For the roving winds from Morayshire have brought the sea to mind;
But still it winds to northward in the twilight of the day,
Where the stars shine down at evening on the bonny haughs of Spey.

Oh, there's some that sing of Yarrow stream, Traquair and Manor-side,
And some would pick the Neuk o' Fife, and some the banks o' Clyde;
And some would choose the Pentlands, Cauldstaneslap to Woodhouselee,
But the Road that runs by Atholl will be doing yet for me!

Monday, January 12, 2009


The island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde is often decribed as "Scotland in miniature" with its coastline, mountains, rivers and lochs. This poem covers just about every aspect of this enchanted island (except maybe its golf courses!) and was originally written by an anonymous author in Irish Gaelic and was translated by Kenneth Jackson.

Arran of the many stags,
the sea reaches to its shoulder;
island where companies are fed,
ridges whereon blue spears are reddened.
Wanton deer upon its peaks,
Mellow blaeberries on its heaths,
cold water in its streams,
mast upon its brown oaks.

Hunting dogs there, and hounds,
blackberries and sloes of the dark blackthorn,
dense thorn-bushes in its woods,
stags astray among its oak-groves.

Gathering of purple lichen on its rocks,
grass without blemish on its slopes;
over its fair shapely crags
gambolling of dappled fawns leaping.

Smooth is its lowland, fat are its swine,
pleasant its fields, a tale to be believed;
its nuts on the boughs of its hazel-wood,
sailing of long galleys past it.

It is delightful when fine weather comes,
trout under the banks of its streams,
seagulls answer each other round its white cliff;
delightful at all times is Arran.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Any Singers, Any Songs?

Here's a wee poem from Christina Forbes who now lives in Canada. If you have ever experienced "Any singers, any songs?" in a Scottish pub where customers (usually a bit drunk) are asked to volunteer to sing, you will immediately recognise this situation!

Gei's a song, ach no the noo.
Whit's wrang hen? that's no' like you.
Ah'm jist no ready, ah canny think,
Mibbe ah need some mair tae drink.
"Gei hur annurrer" wis the command.
Then she'll sing tae beat the band.

Efter a few, poured withoot measure,
She said "Cum oan noo, name yer pleasure"
Whit's it tae be? Ah'll sing whit ye want.
She wis confident, she could chant.
"Is it Rabbie, Shirley, or Lena Martell?"
This lassie wis said tae hiv a voice like a bell.

By this time people wur gettin' fed up wi' the patter.
Fur guidness sake sing, it disny matter.
If she disny sing, ah'll no borra,
Ye see, ah'm up fur work the morra.

The lassie finally stood up,
Drinkin' Lanny fae a china cup.
Her song wis long, bit no' forgotten.
She could sing nane, she wis BLOODY ROTTEN!!!

Meaning of unusual words:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Ancient Town of Leith

William McGonagal (1825-1902) became a well known figure in the 19th century giving public readings of his poetry. His combination of irrelevance, odd rhymes and confused scansion have earned him the title of "the world's worst poet". Despite that he is viewed with affection - and some degree of amusement! Here is (part) of his long poem on that most poetic of subjects - the port of Leith!

Ancient town of Leith, most wonderful to be seen,
With your many handsome buildings, and lovely links so green,
And the first buildings I may mention are the Courthouse and Town Hall,
Also Trinity House, and the Sailors' Home of Call.
Then as for Leith Fort, it was erected in 1779, which is really grand,
And which is now the artillery headquarters in Bonnie Scotland;
And as for the Docks, they are magnificent to see,
They comprise five docks, two piers, 1,141 yards long respectively.

And there's steam boat communication with London and the North of Scotland,
And the fares are really cheap and the accommodation most grand;
Then there's many public works in Leith, such as flour mills,
And chemical works, where medicines are made for curing many ills.

Then there's Bailie Gibson's fish shop, most elegant to be seen,
And the fish he sells there are beautiful and clean;
And for himself, he is a very good man,
And to deny it there's few people can.

The suburban villas of Leith are elegant and grand,
With accommodation that might suit the greatest lady in the land;
And the air is pure and good for the people's health, --
And health, I'm sure, is better by far than wealth.

The old town of Leith is situated at the junction of the River of Leith,
Which springs from the land of heather and heath;
And no part in the Empire is growing so rapidly,
Which the inhabitants of Leith are right glad to see.

Ancient town of Leith, I must now conclude my muse,
And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse,
Because the inhabitants to me have been very kind,
And I'm sure more generous people would be hard to find.

They are very affable in temper and void of pride,
And I hope God will always for them provide;
May He shower His blessings upon them by land and sea,
Because they have always been very kind to me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Almae Matres

Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) was an academic who graduated from both Edinburgh and then Oxford Universities. As well as poetry, he co-wrote a prose translation of Homer's "Odyssey" and the "Iliad" and produced other scholarly books on Homer and his times.

He also published a large number of books of poetry as well as novels and books on Scottish history, including a life of Mary Queen of Scots and one on "James VI and the Gowrie Mystery".

In the poem below, there is no doubt which of his "almae matres" (St. Andrews in 1862 and Oxford in 1865) he prefers!

St. Andrews by the Northern Sea,
A haunted town it is to me!
A little city, worn and grey.
The grey North Ocean girds it round,
And o'er the rocks, and up the bay,
The long sea-rollers surge and sound.
And still the thin and biting spray
Drives down the melancholy street,
And still endure, and still decay,
Towers that the salt winds vainly beat.
Ghost-like and shadowy they stand
Dim mirrored in the wet sea-sand.
St. Leonard's chapel, long ago
We loitered idly where the tall
Fresh-budded mountain ashes blow
Within thy desecrated wall:
The tough roots rent the tomb below,
The April birds sang clamorous,
We did not dream, we could not know
How hardly Fate would deal with us!

O, broken minster, looking forth
Beyond the bay, above the town,
O, winter of the kindly North,
O, college of the scarlet gown,
And shining sands beside the sea,
And stretch of links beyond the sand,
Once more I watch you, and to me
It is as if I touched his hand!

And therefore art thou yet more dear,
O, little city, grey and sere,
Though shrunken from thine ancient pride
And lonely by thy lonely sea,
Than these fair halls on Isis' side,
Where Youth an hour came back to me!

A land of waters green and clear,
Of willows and of poplars tall,
And, in the spring-time of the year,
The white may breaking over all,
And Pleasure quick to come at call.
And summer rides by marsh and wold,
And Autumn with her crimson pall
About the towers of Magdalen rolled;
And strange enchantments from the past,
And memories of the friends of old,
And strong Tradition, binding fast
The 'flying terms' with bands of gold,—
All these hath Oxford: all are dear,
But dearer far the little town,
The drifting surge, the wintry year,
The college of the scarlet gown.
St. Andrews by the Northern Sea,
That is a haunted town to me!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Address to the Unco Guid or the Rigidly Righteous

Robert Burns suffered at the hands of the self-rghteous folk in Alloway when he was held to account for his love affairs and illegitimate children. This poem takes a dig at them but also gets over the idea that "every man even the worst, have something good about them".

My Son, these maxims make a rule,
An lump them ay thegither:
The Rigid Righteous is a fool.
The Rigid Wise anither;
The cleanest corn that e'er was dight
May hae some pyles o caff in;
So ne'er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o daffin.
O ye, wha are sae guid yoursel,
Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye've nought to do but mark and tell
Your neebours' fauts and folly!
Whose life is like a weel-gaun mill,
Supplied wi store o water;
The heapet happer's ebbing still.
An still the clap plays clatter!

Hear me, ye venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals
That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door
For glaikit Folly's portals:
I for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
Would here propone defences
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
Their failings and mischances.

Ye see your state wi theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer:
But cast a moment's fair regard,
What maks the mighty differ?
Discount what scant occasion gave,
That purity ye pride in;
And (what's aft mair than a' the lave)
Your better art o hidin.

Think, when your castigated pulse
Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop!
Wi wind and tide fair i your tail
Right on ye scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth o baith to sail,
It maks an unco lee-way.

See Social Life and Glee sit down,
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrify'd, they're grown
Debauchery and Drinking:
O, would they stay to calculate
Th' eternal consequences,
Or your more dreaded hell to state -
Damnation of expenses!

Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names.
Suppose a change o cases:
A dear-lov'd lad. convenience snug,
A treach'rous inclination -
But, let me whisper i your lug,
Ye're aiblins nae temptation.

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving Why they do It;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us:
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it.
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.

Meaning of unusual words:
heapet=heaped, pile up
clap=clapper of a mill
douce=sober, respectable
propone=state in a court of law
scud=sail quickly over

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Address to the Toothache

It has been suggested that this poem was composed by Robert Burns in 1795 when he wrote that he was enduring "the delightful sensations of an omnipotent Toothache, while fifty troops of infernal spirits are riding past from ear to ear along my jawbones." It was first published in the Belfast News Letter of 11th September 1797. Despite the pain, the poet manages to maintain his sense of humour!

My curse upon your venom'd stang.
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang,
An thro my lug gies monie a twang Wi gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi bitter pang,
Like racking engines!
A' down my beard the slavers trickle,
I throw the wee stools o'er the mickle.
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup.
An raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were i' their doup!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathise to ease us,
Wi pitying moan;
But thee! - thou hell o a' diseases -
They mock our groan!

Of a' the numerous human dools -
Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien's laid i' the mools,
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o knaves, or fash o fools -
Thou bear'st the gree!

Whare'er that place be priests ca' Hell,
Whare a' the tones o misery yell,
An ranked plagues their numbers tell,
In dreadfu raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell,
Amang them a'!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o discord squeel,
Till human kind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick,
Gie a' the faes o Scotland's weal
A towmond's toothache!

Meaning of unusual words:
giglets keckle=girls cackle
heckle=comb with steel teeth for dressing flax and hemp
Ill-hairsts=bad harvests
cutty-stools=stool of repentance on which offendors sat in church
mools=crumbling earth
bear'st the gree=takes the prize
chiel=fellow, child
towmond=twelve month's

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Address to a Haggis

Declaimed at every Burns' Supper celebrated around the poet's birthday on 25 January, the closing stanza is said to have been composed by Burns "off the cuff" during a dinner. The poem was published soon after Burns arrived in Edinburgh. The earliest known recipe for this traditional Scottish dish using oatmeal, herbs and offal, was published in the same year.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin' race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm - reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade.
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow`rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, If ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Meaning of unusual words:
weel-swall'd kytes=well-swollen bellies
Guidman=Head of the household
nieve a nit=fist a nut
taps o thrissle= tops of thistle
luggies=wooden bowl with projecting handles

Monday, January 5, 2009

Address to the Barley Seed

Here is an entertaining way to learn how golden barley is turned into golden John Barleycorn (whisky) - including some of the technical terms. Perhaps the only aspect missing is the debt owed to pure Highland water.

When the Lord first planted oot the earth wi' trees an' flo'ers an' weeds,
He scattered roon' Speyside a puckle barley seeds;
Thus was the birth o' Scotia's brew on that fair springtime morn,
For in the month that followed, John Barleycorn was born.
The threshin' plant had scarce made off, the golden grain was cairted,
Syne bags for siller were exchanged an' industry was started.
O barley seed, had ye but known the fate that lay before ye,
The very day in which ye breared ye'd ha'e telt die earth tae smo'er ye.

Regardless o' yer injured pride, yer golden grains sae gleamin',
They ran ye on conveyor belts that in a steep were teemin',
An' there ye lay for 'oors on end, sae soakin' an' sae sodden.
Syne they spread ye oot tae dry, trampled on an' trodden.

Frae there they took ye tae the kiln, ye thocht they'd only toast ye.
They held on coke an' peats until, ye thocht, 'My God, they'll roast me!'
They sent ye tae the millroom an' they hackit an' they cut ye.
Syne they sent ye aff again, in the Glory Hole they shut ye.

An' so ye cam' tae the day o' days when the mashman started mashin';
They pushed ye doon the hopper in tae the mashtun splashin';
They soaked ye in the bilin' bree an' drained the watter aff;
They sheeled ye doon the drag hole an' noo yer only draff.

O whit a come doon tae yer pride, wee golden barley seed,
Tae think ye'd land in sic a soss for the sake o' human greed.
Tae think that once yer golden grains were shimmerin' in the breeze
An' noo yer lyin' stinkin' like ony mouldy cheese.

But ye've ae consolation that canna fail tae cheer ye,
For noo there's millions love ye, aye, an' millions also fear ye.
Noo ye're in a bottle, in the world ye stand supreme -
The world wad gang doon on its knees tae ye O Mountain Cream.

They preach ye frae the pulpit, an' mony a woman's cursed ye,
Aye, an' mony a cheel when he threw the mash wad cherish ye and nurse ye.
Ye bring a sparkle tae the e'e, ye also bring a tear,
Ye've saved a life, ye've caused a death, ye inspire baith pluck an' fear.
In solace noo, wee barley seed, or is it barley bree?
I'd like tae say that ilka day my hand gangs oot for ye,
At seven o' clock each mornin', at five o'clock each nicht.
If I should fail tae find ye, I'd drap doon deid wi' fricht.

Meaning of unusual words:
puckle=small amount
breared=first shoots of grain
hackit=chop up
sheeled=took out the husk
draff=refuse of the malt after brewing
sic a soss=such a thud
barley bree=malt liquor, whisky

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Absent-minded Andra

There are many advantages (so we're told) of being older and more mature, but there is a downside - and forgetfulness is certainly one aspect. But we can always have a wry smile at the absent-mindedness of others - such as "Andra" in this poem. The auhor of this poem is only given as "Meg" - in an old copy of "Scots Story Recitations" where this piece was found in the Scottish Poetry Library.

Men are but bairns at the best,
And need close watchin' ever.
Andra's nae better than the rest,
As often I discover.
What aggravates me most o' a',
Is he's sae absent-minded;
For mony a thing he lays awa',
Sae safe he canna' find it.
Oft in the mornin' roond he creeps,
Seekin' his stud, puir soul;
Although a spare ane he aye keeps
It's in some hidie-hole.
For gettin' things mislaid, indeed,
My Andra's sic a chiel;
I'm certain he would lose his heid
If 'twasna fixed on weel.

Things reached a crisis, I declare,
Wi' him last Friday nicht;
In fact, he gae me sic a scare,
Even noo I'm hardly richt.
On Fridays he aye gets his pay,
And, as a rule we go
Tae visit mither doon the way
Or tae a picter show.

Andra was late o' comin' in,
"What's keepit ye?" I cried.
"I stood a while there bletherin'
Wi' a chap," he replied.
"Puir lad, he hasna got a job;
Been on the dole awhile;
So I just lent him a bit bob,
Tae help him ower the stile."

"It's like ye," I said, "but mak' haste,
You've stood wi' him ower lang,
And I have little time tae waste,
I've messages tae gang.
If you gie me your pay I'll rin,
The shops by noo are shuttin',
See that you're cleaned when I come in,
And dressed tae the last button."

Andra rose tae his feet and tried
His pockets, ane by ane.
"I canna find my pay," he cried,
"I wonder whaur it's gane.
Dash it a', Meg, I put it here
Beside my pocket-book,
But noo, my pooch is toom - that's queer,
Just come, my lass, and look."

"You've lost your pay," I cried aghast,
For I was sair distressed.
"In some fly pooch you've put it past,
Come, let me try your vest."
But though wa searched wi' anxious care,
Nae pound notes could we find,
"They're safe," said Andra, "that I'll swear,
But where, I canna mind."

"This cowes the cuddy," I declared,
"I meant tae lay away
As much this week as could be spared
For a comin' holiday.
What did ye gie that man ye saw?
No' your hale pay, I hope ?"
"A bob," said Andra, "maybe twa,
But no' my envelope."

I couldna help it, doon I sat
Completely overpowered;
And raged and stormed, and grat and grat,
While Andra glumched and glowered.
"Ye needna cairry on like that,"
Said he tae me at last;
"The money's safe, I'll bet ma hat,
I ken I put it past."

Tae his tobacco-pooch he gaed
Tae get his briar filled ;
Then waved something abune his heid,
"My pey bag's here!" he yelled.
I felt my brain begin to swim,
And shaky grew my knees;
"Andra," I said, as I kissed him,
"You'll gie me he'rt disease."

Meaning of unusual words:
sic a chiel=such a child
bletherin'=talk idly
cowes the cuddy=beats the donky (takes the biscuit)
A bob=a shilling (now 5 new pence)
glumched=grumbled, looked sour

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Holm o Innisfree

A'll up an tak the gate nou, an gang tae Innisfree,
An a bit shielin big thare, o claut an mortar made:
Nine bean-raws will A hae thare, a stale for the bummin bee,
An bide ma lane in the bee-lood slade.

An A will hae some lown thare, for lown comes drappin slaw,
Drappin frae the murnin-wimple tae whaur the cheeper sings;
The howe o the nicht's ableize thare, an nuin a purpie daw.
An the gloamin fou o the lintie's wings.

A'll up an tak the gate nou, for aye still nicht an day
A hear loch watter lapperin wi laich soonds at the shore;
An me atap the plainstane, or on the causey gray,
A hear it in hert's wanlit core.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Chaumert Nautilus

This is the margaret ship that, bairds wad ledge,
Sails forenent warld's edge, -
The anterous bark that flings
On the sweet simmer its purpur wings
In bosoms glamourt, whaur the silkie sings,
An coral brigs lees bare,
Whaur the mermaidens lifts tae sun thair skinklin hair.

Its wabs o leevin gauze is thirlt lang syne;
Cuist is the ship sae fine!
An ilka chaumert fauld,
Whaur its dowf dreamin life wis iver tauld,
As the frail tenand turnt his growin hauld,
Afore thee nakit lees, -
Its irised coom is spleet; its crypt owergane wi seas!

The raivelt years buir witness tae the wark
That spreid his lustert ark;
Yit, as the wimple grew,
He buid quit fernyear's dwallin for the new,
Tipperin saft its fulgent airchwey throu,
An steekin fast his lair.
Sauf in his last-fund hame, he kent the auld nae mair.

Thanks for the wird celest that's brocht bi thee,
Bairn o the wanderin sea,
Cuist frae her skirt, forlorn!
Frae thy deid lips a clearer note is born
Nor iver Triton blew fae lowpit horn;
While on ma lug it rings,
Throu the deep weems o thocht A hear a vyce that sings: -

Big thee mair solemn mansions, O ma saul,
Faurder nor year's devaul!
Flit thy laich-pendit past!
Lat ilka sanctuar, nobler nor the last,
Bield thee frae hieven wi a dome mair vast,
Till thou at lenth be free,
Castin thy riven shell bi life's wanrestfu sea!

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Salutation

Unner this airn regiment
A sing the leeberty
Whaur ilkane seeks frae ither
Whit ilkane's hert wad gie
An ilkane wauks in's marrae
Whit but for't canna be,
Inringin wi't the flichterin
Speerit tae fecht an dree.

Sae lat us tuim oor herts,
No scrimpin till we'v socht
Thair last, laist nochtie trump,
For awthing's aureate nou,
The guids an gear we hae
A fouth o hert an thocht,
That, skailin efter ither,
Breirds ahint ilkane's brou.

For handsel, A wad gie ye
Some mair nor mortal grace
Sauf that, throu your translation,
Masel A micht translate,
Forgettin luve wis born
Here in a time an place,
Miscawin wi couthie wirds
This life proposed as fate.

Whither the saul its lane
This viage lang begoud,
Or willyart body's airtin
Haes trystit hert wi hert
Wha kens? This is the maist
That saul an body coud,
Tae mak's ilkane for ither
An o ae speerit pairt.

Edwin Muir (1887-1959)

Monday, September 3, 2007


A hae been here afore.
O whan, whit wey, A ken nae mair:
A mind the girse ayont the door,
The douce saut air,
The hurrin hush, the lichts aroond the shore.

Awreadies ye war mine
Afore the Fluid's first wattergaws:
E'en nou whan tae thon swallae hine
Ye raxt yer hause,
The hap fell back, - A kent it aw lang syne.

Whit wis - again bedeen.
Come wash ma brou in wimplin hair.
Will we no lie as we hae lien
For Luve a pair,
An sleep, an wauk, but sinder-na the cheen?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Sunday, September 2, 2007


AWA! The muir is mirk aneath the muin,
Fleein cluds haes drunk the hinmaist leam o even:
AWA! The gaitherin winds will cry the gloamin suin,
An the blackest midnicht wynd the serene lichts o hieven.
Bide-na! the time is by! Ilka vyce cries, 'Awa!'
Sey-na wi ae last tear thy freend's ungentie state:
Thy luver's ee, o gless an ice, daurna keep thee ava:
Office an baundlessness airts thee tae places desolate.

Awa, awa! Tae thy drear an seelent haw:
Skail bitter tears on the ingle's fruizen yirth:
Tent the dim shades as like ghaists thay rise an faw,
An complicate streenge wabs o dowf an dowie mirth.
The blads o wastit hairst-end wids will flotter roond thy heid,
The flouers o dewy Spring will leam aneath thy feet:
But thy saul or this warld maun fade in the frost that thrings the deid,
Or midnicht's smool an morntid's smue, or thou an peace, can meet.

The clud shaidaes o midnicht is aucht thair ain repast,
For the wabbit winds is seelent, or the muin is in the deep;
Some upleuk frae its turbulence, wanrestfu sea, thou hast;
Whitiver steers or taws or murns haes its appyntit sleep.
Thou in the lair will rest: - yit, till the ghaists soud flee,
That thon hoose an muir an gairden made dear tae thee or nou,
For thy myndin an forthinkin an prependin isna free
Frae the muisic o twa vyces, an the licht o ae sweet smue.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Throuither Muisic

Life's lairnin, like a fauch muisician, haulds
A dulcimer o tholin in his haund,
Frae whaur sweet soonds we canna unnerstaund,
O God; will in his warlds, the souch unfaulds
In dowf-throuither minors: daithly caulds
Dings doun on's while we hear, tae contermaund
The hert bluid-biggen back frae Faerielonde
Wi philomenes in spaewark's orra warlds.
We murmle 'Whaur is ony siccar tuin
Or meisurt muisic in sic notes as thir?'
But angels, hingin frae the gowden seat,
Wants aw conceit that thair fine hearin's won
The conter-crack o feenisht cadences,
An, smuein doun the starns, thay whisper - SWEET.

Elizabeth Barret Browning (1806-61)

Friday, August 31, 2007


Och lown October daw come roond,
Thy blads haes ripit tae the faw;
Themorn's fell wind will whid thaim doun,
An waste thaim aw.
Tho huidies ower the firth yit caw,
Themorn thay'r like tae scrowe an gae.
Och lown October daw come roond,
Begin the oors o this day thrae,
Gar the day seem tae us less brief.
Saft herts aye leal tae simmer's croun,
Lat temperance time's mairch owergae;
Demit a blad at day's first daw;
At nuintid lowse anither leaf;
Ane frae oor treen, ane hine awa;
Uphaud the sun wi sober mist;
Enchairm the laund wi amatist.
Thrae, thrae!
For the grapes' sake, if thay war aw,
That's blads is sprittelt black wi frost,
Sae that thair sweetness binna lost -
For the grapes' sake alang the waw.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Haurd by Avalon

A ship wi shields afore the daw,
Sax maidens roond the mast,
A reid-gowd croun on ane an aw,
A green goun on the last.

The flichterin green bratachs thare
Is wrocht wi leddies' heids; thay beir
Depent on ilka sail fou fair
A portraitur o Guenevere.

A ship wi sails afore the wind,
Aboot its helm sax knichts,
Wi ventils doun, an sae, hauf blind,
Thay owerpass fouth o sichts.

The flitterie scarlet bratachs' steer
Or lang will lea the trenchers bare.
Sax knichts wi dowie herts will beir
In aw thair casques some yellae hair.

William Morris (1834-96)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ma Guidwife

Stedfast, hanty, vieve an true,
Wi een o gowd an brammle-dew,
Steel-true an blad-straucht,
The bricht starns' lapidar
Made ma aucht.

Mense an speerit, smeddum, wecht;
A luve nae seyin coud forfecht,
Daith smuir or ill-will teend,
The prince preclare
Ma luver's gien.

Bield an bed-marrae, dominie,
A convoy throu mortality,
Hert-hale an saul-free
The croun illuster
Gied tae me.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-90)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ma Duchess Umwhile

Ma duchess umwhile's pent on thonder waw,
Aye leukin vieve an tae the fore. A caw
Thon darg a wunner, nou: Fra Pandolf's haunds
Wrocht eydent for a day, an thare she staunds.
Ay, sit ye doun an leuk at her. A said
"Fra Pandolf" wilfully, for niver redd
Ootlins lik you thon picturt contenance,
The depth an passion o its inwart glance.
But tae masel thay turnt (the'r nane but me
Pous back the hingin A hae drawn for ye)
An haed the leuk o speirin, if thay durst,
Hou sicna sklent cam thare; ye'r no the first
Tae turn an frain me. Schir, it wisna aye
Her guidman's sicht its lane that cried thon fey
An flichterin rose intae her lyre: Perhaps
Fra Pandolf said "Ma leddy's kirtle haps
In mirk her perfit shackle," or "Nae brush
Coud e'er depent as vieve the infant blush
That steals alang her hause syne dees": his souch
Wis pleisance-born, she thocht, an cause eneuch
For cryin furth thon rose. Ower suin made fain,
A'm thinkin, wis the hert she cried her ain
Ower easy left imprent; awthing she saw,
The sindry airts she leukit, she loued aw.
It wis aw ane tae her! Ma hert's desire,
The bleize o dayligaun in wastlin fire,
The beuch o cherries that some breingin smirn
Brak in the arbour for her, the white girran
She rade wi roond the terrace - near ilkane
Wad draw frae her alike the leefu rane
Or blush, at laist. The men she thankit - guid!
But thankit thaim as war true feelin hid,
As war ma line's nine hunder year o fame
An equal giftie. Wha wad stoop tae blame
This kin o trump'rie? E'en gin ye haed skeel
In wirds - (that A'm athoot) - tae bring tae heel
The ungrate debetrix, an say "Juist this
Or that in you is uggsome; here ye miss
Or thare debord the merk" - e'en gin she lat
Hersel be doctrined sae, nor man'fest pat
Her wits gin yours, atweel, pretendit than
A raison - that war stoopin; an A can
For nae Christian stoop. Schir, she smued, nae dout
Whan A gaed by, but wha wad gang athoot
An equal smue? This growed; A gied commaunds;
Syne aw smues dwyned thegither. Thare she staunds,
Aye leukin vieve. Ye'r sittin stieve. A'd fain
Gang doun an hailse the troop ablo. Again,
The Coont yer maister's weel-kent walth an mense
Gies siccar warrandice nae juist pretence
O mine for tochar will be disalloued
Tho his bairn's bonny sel, as A avoued
At stairtin, is ma ettle. Lat the pair
O us descend. But notice Neptune thare,
Dauntin a sea-horse, thocht a rarity,
That Claus o Innsbruck cuist in bronze for me!

Robert Browning (1812-99)

Monday, August 27, 2007


Habbelt bi fallae-men, cuist doun, ootworn,
We flicht the warld an lat it hae its day,
An, Pautience! in anither life, we say
The warld dounthrung will be, its bairns upborne.

An winna, than, undaithly airmies scorn
The warld's puir, dauntit ootwale? Or can thay
That foondert mid the stour o bleizin day
Uphaud the ferventness o hieven's morn?

Niver! The breingin virr o life can be
Upliftit frae the muilds, but no owergane;
An him that stuid his grund in temporal wae,

Frae strenth tae strenth advancin - only he,
His saul weel-knit, his fechts won, him his lane,
Speels, an that scantlins, life's ayebidin brae.

Matthew Arnold (1822-88)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gin Fernyear's Wares Wis Buskit Up Like New

Gin fernyear's wares wis buskit up like new,
The wale o luck an wanweird setten furth
Wad A devoid the ane that gart me grue
Or lap in airms the greetin wi the mirth?
Coud hert's bluid thole the sauntit oors tae miss
Whan luve begoud, unspoken an unthocht
The still, het day whan wi a breingin kiss
Tae wauken tent twa dernit howps wis brocht?
Niver, no e'en tae pit frae mynd the hell
O whit A dree'd o flytin an o pain
In fruster fleein frae thee an masel,
Ma darg a midden, till ma strenth owergane
A kent at last that baunds predestinate
Helt fast, an aw forthinkin wis ower late.

Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852-1932)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Her Vyce

THE bummler reels frae beuch tae beuch
Wi his foggy clead an his gauzy wing.
Nou in a lily-flouer, his souch
Will whid the hyacinth bell aswing,
A silly thing;
Come ben inower, luve: here, in a feuch
While sweet ye leuch,

A hecht twa lifes soud be like ane
Sae lang's the sea-maw loued the sea,
An the sunflouer didna seek the muin, -
It will be, A said, for eternity
Wi you an me!
Ma jo, thae times is past an duin,
Luve's wab is thin.

Leuk upwith whaur the poplar trees
Swags an sweys in the simmer air,
Here in the glen the'r niver a breeze
Wad waff the thristle-tap, but thare
Gret winds blaws fair
Frae athort the black an gowsty seas,
An the droukit leas.

Leuk upwith whaur the white maw tuims
Its hert for something we canna see.
Is thon a starn? Or the laump that leams
On some furthwart-viagin argosy, -
Och! can it be
We hae wared oor lifes in a laund o dreams!
Murnfu it seems.

The'r nocht tae say forby this thing
The truith that luve is niver lost,
Tho winter stob the breests o spring
That's crimson roses birst his frost
Ships tempest-tossed
Will find a ludge new sails tae hing
We winna loss't.

An nocht remeins tae dae e'en nou
But pree again thae lips an pairt.
The'r nocht ava that we soud rue.
A hae ma beauty, - you yer Airt,
Na, dinna stairt,
Ae lift haedna starns enew
For me an you.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Friday, August 24, 2007


Steekit confessionals, thay sklent
Lood nuins o ceeties, giein back
Nane o the scances thay ingest.
Licht glaizie gray, airms on a plaque,
At causey's side thay come tae rest:
Aw streets in time will draw thair tent.

Weans sperfelt ower the road an staps,
An wifies gaun thair messages
By waffs o neebours' kail, owerleuks
The bluidless faces, effigies
Hauf obumbrate in streetcher-neuks,
Keekin feart-fauch ootower the haps,

An senses sinderin emptiness
Inunder brastle's wecht, an hou
Juist for a seicont life's devaul
Is evendoun an blank an true.
The sneckit doors withdraws. Puir saul,
Thay whitter in unquietness;

For cairtit aff in deident air
Gangs aft the suddent shut o loss
Roond something near the hinnerend,
An awthing hauden in't across
The years, the maikless luck's-heid blend
O flesh an bluid an fashions, thare

At last begins tae lowse itsel.
Dwyned o aw howp o luve or mirth
Thay cooch lockfast intil a staw.
The traffic pairts tae caw thaim furth,
Brings nearer whit's afore us aw,
An dulls tae dowfness aw we tell.

Philip Larkin (1922-85)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

At a Brithal

Whan furth ye gaed tae bide maternity,
A dream o bairns ungotten fixed ma thocht,
Wraiths knittit frae us twa in fainness claucht;
A clan that corporate nou will niver be.

If A thirl masel forby tae mode's decreet,
An ilkane plants apairt, o dowf desire,
A race o tumshies nae heich ettles' fire
Coud licht like oors, tho niver yit we see't;

An, stung that weirdit lifes coud miscompone
Baith murns the dooble dounset; daurs tae speir
At thon Gret Dame that heids oor carnate loan
Forwhy the unfurmed regents isna here:
Whit will she answer? That she'll shed nae tear
Tho warld's end the tide o bluid postpone.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Birthday

Ma hert is like a pleepin bird
That's bield is in a wattert shuit;
Ma hert is like an aiple tree
That's beuchs is laden sair wi fruit;
Ma hert is like a lustert shell
That's lappert bi a weel-faured sea;
Ma hert is blyther faur nor thir,
Acause ma jo is come tae me.

Plant me a stage o alasant;
Gie it a skyre an purpie mien;
Busk it wi dous an garnets rare,
An pownies wi a hunder een;
Wi gowd an siller muscadels,
Wi blads an siller fleurs-de-lys;
Acause the birthday o ma life
Is come, ma jo is come tae me.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Spaelass

Seelent is the hoose: aw is laid asleep:
Ane her lane leuks oot ower the snaw-wreaths deep,
Tentin ilka clud, dreidin ilka souch
That dings the whummlin drift, an bends the grankin beuch.

Blythsome is the ingle, saft the strae an ess;
No ae bluffert knidges throu door or gless;
The wee bit laump burns straucht, its leam shuits strang an braid:
A airt it weel, tae be the starnless wanderer's aid.

Glunch, ma pauchtie sire! Flyte, ma angry dame;
Set yer sclavies speein; thraiten me wi shame:
But naither sire nor dame, nor snowkin thrill will knaw,
Whit angel nichtlins traipses thon waste o lappert snaw.

Whit A loue will come like veesitant o air,
Shuir in dernit pouer fae lourin human snare;
Nae wird o mines will iver gie up the ane A loue,
Tho for faith unsusteined ma life be unlaw due.

Burn, than, wee bit laump; skimmer straucht an clear -
Wheesht! A reeslin weeng, A'm thinkin, steers the air:
Thusgate him A wait on aye will come tae me;
Orra pouer! A trust yer maucht; ma constancy trust ye.

Emily Bronte (1818-48)


Acause o the licht o the muin
Siller is fund on the muir;
An acause o the licht o the sun,
The'r gowd on the waws o the puir.

Acause o the licht o the starns,
Warlds is fund in the stream;
An acause o the licht o yer ee
The'r luve in the howe o ma dream.

Francis Carlin (1881-1945)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mirk Throu a Keekin-Gless

Whit we, whan breest tae breest we see
The Faither o oor sauls, will be,
John tells us, isna nominate;
We ken-na whit or whan oor fate.

Ingine for thocht tae pass intil;
A hert for luvers' fain guidwill;
Five senses deprehends things near:
Is this the hale that we ar here?

Wand stymies natur - natur's wuid,
Wice men is ill - an fuils the guid,
Howps pauchtie seems, tho aye sae dear;
We canna ken forwhy we'r here.

Och grant that for persuasion's cause
Some solemn juidgment hap-nap faws
That we can at the last declere
For whit plain ettle we ar here.

Or is it richt, whit recks it nou,
Tae trail the black confusion throu
An say: - It isna nominate
Whit we will be, an whit oor fate?

An yit, in fouth o thocht an deed,
The hert aye still owergangs the heid;
But whit we howp we maun believe,
An whit is gien us blyth receive;

Maun yit believe, for aye we'v socht
That, in a warld o faurder raucht,
Whit here wi aefauld hert's begoud
Micht be perfurnisht as it soud.

Bit bairn, we aye maun think, us twa:
Whan life perpetual comes tae daw,
Some true result will yit compear
O whit we ar, thegither, here.

Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blyth is the Darger

Blyth is the darger in his Sabbath claes!
Wi fauchie coat, prink weskit, rantert taes,
An hat on heid, it's tae the kirk he gaes;
He aft, wi conscious pride, a sklent assays,
Dounleukin on the muckle plettit straes
That's buskit his tap button-hole for days,
No thinkin on thae Lunnon louns' bouquets.
He taks his seat amang his freends an faes,
An offers in thon haly steid his ruise,
Likes best the prayers, tho orra wirds bumbaze,
Hearkens the sermon in a saftenin daze,
An blythsome wauks tae feel again sun's rays.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mark 13

Mark 13

AS HE WIS gingin out the temple, ane o the disciples said til him, "luik, Maister! Whattan stanes! Whattan Biggins!"
Jesus answert, "Ye see thir muckle biggins? No ae stane o them will be left abuin anither; the hailwar s' be dung doun an disannulled."
Syne, as he wis sittin his lane on the hill o Olives, forenent the Temple, Peter cam up wi Jeames an John an Andro an speired at him: Tell us," qo he, "whan is thir things tae happen? What sign will be gíen whan they ar aa a-weers o comin tae pass?"
Jesus tuik speech in haund an said til them: "Tak tent at nae man mislairs ye. Monie feck will kythe caain themsels bi my name an threapin, 'I am the Christ', an monie-ane will they gar gae will. Whan ye hear tell o wars an souchs o war, binna nane pitten about. Thir things maun een happen, but the end will be ey tae come. First fowk mak war on fowk, an kinrick on kinrick. There will be yirdquauks in orra pairts, there will be faimins, but thir is nae mair an the oncome o birth-thraws.
"But ye maun luik til yersels. Ye will be haundit owre tae councils an loundert wi wands in sýnagogues: mairfortaiken, ye will hae tae compeir afore governors an kíngs for my sake, tae gíe them your testimonie; for afore the end the Gospel maun first be preached in aa launds. Whan they harl ye afore courts an juidges, fashna yoursels aforehaund for what ye ar tae say: say ye een what is gíen ye tae say whan ye ar staunin there, for it winna be ye at speaks, but the Halie Spírit.
"Brither will betray brither tae deith, an faithers their bairns, an childer will rise up again their paurents an cause pit them tae deith. Ye will be hatit bi aa men, because ye beir my name: but him at staunds steive tae the end will be saufed. But, whaniver ye see the Deidlie Scunner staundin whaur staund it suidna" - ye at reads this , tak tent! - "syne them at bides in Judaea maun tak the hills wi speed; him at is on his houss-heid maunna come doon an gae ben tae lift ocht frae the houss, an him at is outbye i the fíeld maunna ging back tae claucht up his coat. Pítie help the wuman wi babe i the wyme an the wuman wi bairn at the breist i thae days! Pray tae God at this comesna in winter; for thae days will be days o dule an wae at there hesna been the like o frae God first made the warld till nou, nor winna be again i the time tae come. Troth, gin God hedna shortent thae days, no a bodie-kind wad win throu wi his life. But for the sake o the eleck at he hes waled for his ain he hes shortent them.
"Gin onie-ane says tae ye at that time, 'Luik, here's the Christ', or, 'see, there he's thonder', lippen-him-na. For fauss Christs an fauss prophets will kythe, an will wurk míracles an ferlies tae gar the eleck gae will, could sic a thing be. But tak tent: I hae tauld ye aathing aforehaund. I thae days, whan the dule an wae is by wi,

The sun will be mirkit,
an the muin winna gíe her licht;
The stairns will be faain frae the carrie,
an the pouers i the lift will be dinnelt.

Than will they see the Son o man comin i the clouds wi unco micht an glore, an belyve he will send furth his angels an gether his eleck frae the fower airts, frae the laichmaist bound o the yird tae the buinmaist bound o heivin.
"lat the feg-tree lairn ye a lesson. Whan its ryss is sappie an saft, an its leafs onfaulds, ye ken at the simmer is naur. Siclike, whan ye see thir things happnin, ye maun ken at the end is naur - ay, at your verra doors! Atweill; I tell ye, this generâtion winna pass awà or aa thir things hes happent. The lift an the yird will pass awà, but my wurds they winna pass awà nane. But the day an the hour whan thae things will be nae-ane kens, no een the angels in heiven, nor the Son himsel, but the Faither alane. Be ye tentie an haud ye wauken, for ye kenna whan the time is tae come. It is as gin a man hes gane furth o hame an kintra, lippnin his houss tae the chairge o his servans. Ilkane o them hes been gíen his nain wark tae dae, an the janitor's orders is no tae steik an ee, but be waukrif. Siclike ye maun be waukrif, for ye kenna whan the Maister will be back - i the gloamin or howe o the nicht, the smaa hours or the dawin: gin no, he will aiblins cast up o a suddentie an finnd ye sleepin. What I say tae ye, I say til aa: be waukrif!"

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - Listen Tae The Teacher

He's 5 year auld, he's aff tae school
Fairmer's bairn wi a pencil and a rule
His teacher scoffs when he says "hoose"
"The word is house, you silly little goose"
He tells his ma when he gets back
He saa a mouse in an auld cairt track
His faither laughs fae the stackyard dyke
"Yon's a MOOSE ye daft wee tyke"


Listen tae the teacher, dinna say dinna
Listen tae the teacher, dinna say hoose
Listen tae the teacher, ye canna say maunna
Listen tae the teacher, ye maunna say moose

He bit his lip an shut his mooth
Which one could he trust for truth
He took his burden o'er the hill
Tae auld grey Geordie o' the mill
"An did they mock thee for thy tongue
Wi them sae auld and you sae young?
They werena makin a fool o' ye
They were makin a fool o' themsels ye see"

Say hoose tae the faither, house tae the teacher
Moose tae the fairmer, mouse tae the preacher
When yer young it's weel for you
Tae dae in Rome as Romans do
But when ye grow an ye are auld
Ye needna dae as ye are tauld
Don't trim yer tongue tae suit yon dame
That scorns the language o' her hame

Then teacher thoucht that he was fine
He kept in step, he stayed in line
Faither says that he was gran'
He spoke his ain tongue like a man
An when he grew and made his choice
He chose his Scots, his native voice
And I charge ye tae dae likewise
Spurn yon pair misguided cries.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - Beasties

Clok-leddy, clok-leddy
Flee awa' hame,
Your lum's in a lowe,
Your bairns in a flame;
Reid-spottit jeckit,
An' polished black e'e,
Land on ma luif an' bring
Siller tae me!

Ettercap, ettercap,
Spinnin' your threid,
Midges for denner, an'
Flees for your breid;
Sic a mischanter
Befell a bluebottle,
Silk roond his feet-
Your hand at his throttle!

Moudiewarp, moudiewarp,
Howkin' an' scartin',
Tweed winna plaise ye,
Nor yet the braw tartan,
Silk winnasuit ye,
Naither will cotton,
Naething, my lord, but the
velvet ye've gotten.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - Ille Terrarum

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 entwine their theek,
An' firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique.
A' simmer day, your chimleys reek,
Couthy and bien;
An' here an' there your windies keek
Amang the green.

A pickle plats an' paths an' posies,
A wheen auld gillyflowers an' roses:
A ring o' wa's the hale encloses
Frae sheep or men;
An' there the auld housie beeks an' dozes,
A' by 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 look.

Frae the high hills the curlew ca's;
The sheep gang baaing by the wa's;
Or whiles a clan o' roosty craws
Cangle thegether ;
The wild bees seek 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' by degrees
The muckle siller müne maks way
Amang the trees.

Here aft hae I, wi' sober heart,
For meditation sat apairt,
When orra loves or kittle art
Perplexed my mind;
Here socht a balm for ilka smart
O' humankind.

Here aft, weel neukit by my lane,
Wi' Horace, or perhaps Montaigne,
The mornin' hours hae come an' gane
Abüne my heid
I wadnae gi'en a chucky-stane
For a' I'd read.

But noo the auld city, street by street,
An' winter fu' o' snaw an' sleet,
Awhile shut in my gangrel feet
An' goavin' mettle;
Noo is the soopit ingle sweet,
An' liltin' kettle.

An' noo the winter winds complain;
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,
Wauken, at cauld-rife sax o'clock,
My chitterin' frame,
I mind me on the kintry cock,
The kintry hame.

I mind me on yon bonny bield;
An' Fancy traivels far afield
To gaither a' that gairdens yield
O' sun an' Simmer:
To hearten up a dowie chield,
Fancy's the limmer!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - A Lowden Sabbath Morn

THE clinkum-clank o' Sabbath bells
Noo to the hoastin' rookery swells,
Noo faintin' laigh in shady dells,
Sounds far an' near,
An' through the simmer kintry tells
Its tale o' cheer.

An' noo, to that melodious play,
A' deidly awn the quiet sway
A' ken their solemn holiday,
Bestial an' human,
The singin' lintie on the brae,
The restin' plou'man.

He, mair than a' the lave o' men,
His week completit joys to ken;
Half-dressed, he daunders out an' in,
Perplext wi' leisure;
An' his raxt limbs he'll rax again
Wi' painfü' pleesure.

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 pouch to pit,
Wi blessin's on them.

The lasses, clean frae tap to taes,
Are busked in crunklin' underclaes;
The gartened hose, the weel-filled stays,
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 shoon, we noo maun fyle
As white's the miller.
A waefü' peety tae, to spile
The warth o' siller.

Our Marg'et, 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' cleiks
The sonsie missis;
His sarious face at aince bespeaks
The day that this is.

And aye an' while we nearer draw
To whaur the kirkton lies alaw,
Mair neebours, 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 clang;
To rowst the slaw, their sides they bang;
An' see! black coats a'ready thrang
The green kirkyaird;
And at the yett, the chestnuts spang
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 mark the deid
Wi' lengthened lip, the sarious read;
Syne wag a moraleesin' heid,
An' then an' there
Their hirplin' practice an' their creed
Try hard to square.

It's here our Merren lang has lain,
A wee bewast the table-stane;
An' yon's the grave o' Sandy Blane;
An' further ower,
The mither's brithers, dacent men !
Lie a' the fower.

Here the guidman sall bide awee
To dwall amang the deid; to see
Auld faces clear in fancy's e'e;
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 scaittered faim'ly rings
Its walcome screed;
An' just 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 fu' wi' clavers about sin
An' man's estate.

The times are up- French, to be shüre,
The faithfü' French, an' twa-three mair;
The auld prezentor, hoastin' sair,
Wales out 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 find it, vext
But kind o' proud;
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 stap a preen
In sleepin' weans;
An' nearly half the parochine
Forget their pains.

There's just a waukrif' twa or three:
Thrawn commentautors sweer to 'gree,
Weans glowrin' at the bumblin' bee
On windie-glasses,
Or lads that tak a keek a-glee
At sonsie lasses.

Hirnsel', meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks
An' bobs belaw the soundin'-box,
The treesures of his words unlocks
Wi' prodigality,
An' deals some unco dingin' knocks
To infidality.

Wi' sappy unction, hoo he burkes
The hopes o' men that trust in works,
Expounds the fau'ts 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 would ony Christian need ?
The braw words rumm'le ower his heid,
Nor steer the sleeper;
And in their restin' graves, the deid
Sleep aye the deeper


Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - A Mile An' A Bittock

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 hanie 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 were chappin' in house an' ha',
Eleeven, twal an' ane an' twa;
An' the guidman's face was turnt to the wa',
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 of a' o' the three,
An' the müne was shinin' clearly!

Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his head,
"The best o' frien'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.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - The Maker To Posterity

FAR 'yont amang the years to be
When a' we think, an' a' we see,
An' a' we luve, 's been dung ajee
By time's rouch shouther,
An' what was richt and wrang for me
Lies mangled throu'ther,

It's possible- its hardly mair
That some ane, ripin' after lear
Some auld professor or young heir,
If still there's either
May find an' read me, an' be sair
Perplexed, puir brither !

"What tongue does your auld bookie speak?"
He'll spier; an' I, his mou to steik :
"No bein' fit to write in Greek,
I wrote in Lallan,
Dear to my heart as the peat reek,
Auld as Tantallon.

"Few spak it than, an' noo there's nane.
My puir auld sangs lie a' their lane,
Their sense, that aince was braw an' plain,
Tint a'thegether,
Like, runes upon a standin' stane
Amang the heather.

"But think not you the brae to speel ;
You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel ;
For a' your lear, for a' your skeel,
Ye're nane sae lucky ;
An' things are mebbe waur than weel
For you, my buckie.

"The hale concern (baith hens an' eggs,
Baith books an' writers, stars an' clegs)
Noo stachers upon lowsent legs
An' wears awa';
The tack o' mankind, near the dregs,
Rins unco law.

"Your book, that in some braw new tongue,
Ye wrote or prentit, preached or sung,
Will still be just a bairn, an' young
In fame an' years,
Whan the hale planet's guts are dung
About 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' flie in danders."

WHEN aince Aprile has fairly come,
An' birds may bigg in winter's lum,
An' pleisure's spreid for a' and some
O' whatna state,
Love, wi' her auld recruitin' drum,
Than taks the gate.

The heart 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 collect at her command,
Toun-bred or land'art,
An' follow in a denty band
Her gaucy standart.

An' I, wha sang o' rain an' snaw,
An' weary winter weel awa',
Noo busk me in a jacket braw,
An' tak my place
I' the ram-stam, harum-scarum raw'
Wi' smilin' face.


Friday, August 10, 2007

The Oreeginal Orthographies - Thrawn Janet

The Reverend Murdoch Soulis was long minister of the moorland parish of Balweary, in the vale of Dule. A severe, bleak-faced old man, dreadful to his hearers, he dwelt in the last years of his life, without relative or servant or any human company, in the small and lonely manse under the Hanging Shaw. In spite of the iron composure of his features, his eye was wild, scared, and uncertain ; and when he dwelt, in private admonition, on the future of the impenitent, it seemed as if his eye pierced through the storms of time to the terrors of eternity. Many young persons, coming to prepare themselves against the season of the Holy Communion, were dreadfully affected by his talk. He had a sermon on 1st Peter, v. and 8th, "The devil as a roaring lion," on the Sunday after every seventeenth of August, and he was accustomed to surpass himself upon that text both by the appalling nature of the matter and the terror of his bearing in the pulpit. The children were frightened into fits, and the old looked more than usually oracular, and were, all that day, full of those hints that Hamlet deprecated. The manse itself, where it stood by the water of Dule among some thick trees, with the Shaw overhanging it on the one side, and on the other many cold, moorish hill-tops rising toward the sky, had begun, at a very early period of Mr. Soulis's ministry, to be avoided in the dusk hours by all who valued themselves upon their prudence; and guidmen sitting at the clachan alehouse shook their heads together at ,the thought of passing late by that uncanny neighbourhood. There was one spot, to be more particular, which was regarded with especial awe. The manse stood between the high road and the water of Dule, with a gable to each; its back was towards the kirktown of Balweary, nearly half a mile away; in front of it, a bare garden, hedged with thorn, occupied the land between the river and the road. The house was two storeys high, with two large rooms on each. It opened not directly on the garden, but on a causewayed path, or passage, giving on the road on the one hand, and closed on the other by the tall willows and elders that bordered on the stream. And it was this strip of causeway that enjoyed among the young parishioners of Balweary so infamous a reputation. The minister walked there often after dark, sometimes groaning aloud in the instancy of his unspoken prayers; and when he was from home, and the manse door was locked, the more daring schoolboys ventured, with beating hearts, to "follow my leader" across that legendary spot.
This atmosphere of terror, surrounding, as it did, a man of God of spotless character and orthodoxy, was a common cause of wonder and subject of inquiry among the few strangers who were led by chance or business into that unknown, outlying country. But many even of the people of the parish were ignorant of the strange events which had marked the firt year of Mr. Soulis's ministrations; and among those who were better informed, some were naturally reticent, and others shy of that particular topic. Now and again, only, one of the older folk would warm into courage over his third tumbler, and recount the cause of the minister's strange looks and solitary life.

Fifty years syne, when Mr. Soulis cam' first into Ba'weary, he was still a young man-a callant, the folk said-fu' o' book-learnin' an' grand at the exposition, but, as was natural in sae young a man, wi' nae leevin' experience in religion. The younger sort were greatly taken wi' his gifts and his gab; but auld, concerned, serious men and women were moved even to prayer for the young man, whom they took to be a self-deceiver, and the parish that was like to be sae ill-supplied. It was before the days o' the moderates-weary fa' them; but ill things are like guid-they baith come bit by bit, a pickle at a time; and there were folk even then that said the Lord had left the college professors to their ain devices, an' the lads that went to study wi' them wad hae done mair an' better sittin' in a peatbog, like their forbears of the persecution, wi' a Bible under their oxter an' a speerit o' prayer in their heart. There was nae doubts, onyway, but that Mr. Soulis had been ower lang at the college. He was careful and troubled for mony things besides the ae thing needful. He had a feck o' books wi' him-mair than had ever been seen before in a' that presbytery; and a sair wark the carrier had wi' them, for they were a' like to have smoored in the De'il's Hag between this and Kilmackerlie. They were books o' divinity, to be sure, or so they ca'd them; but the serious were o' opinion there was little service for sae mony, when the hail o' God's Word would gang in the neuk o' a plaid. Then he wad sit half the day and half the nicht forbye, which was scant decent-writin', nae less ; an' first they were feared he wad read his sermons ; an' syne it proved he was writin' a book himsel', which was surely no' fittin' for ane o' his years an' sma' experience.
Onyway it behoved him to get an auld, decent wife to keep the manse for him an' see to his bit denners; an' he was recommended to an auld limmer-Janet M'Clour, they ca'd her-an' sae far left to himsel' as to be ower persuaded. There was mony advised him to the contrar, for Janet was mair than suspeckit by the best folk in Ba'weary. Lang or that, she had had a wean to a dragoon; she hadna come forrit for maybe thretty year; and bairns had seen her mumblin' to hersel' up on Key's Loan in the gloamin', whilk was an unco time an' place for a Godfearin' woman. Howsoever, it was the laird himsel' that had first tauld the minister o' Janet; an' in thae days he wad hae gane a far gate to pleesure the laird. When folk tauld him that Janet was sib to the de'il, it was a' superstition by his way o' it; an' when they cast up the Bible to him an' the witch of Endor, he wad threep it doun their thrapples that thir days were a' gane by, an' the de'il was mercifully restrained.
Weel, when it got about the clachan that Janet M'Clour was to be servant at the manse, the folk were fair mad wi' her an' him thegither; an' some o' the guidwives had nae better to dae than get round her door-cheeks and chairge her wi' a' that was ken't again' her, frae the sodger's bairn to John Tamson's twa kye. She was nae great speaker; folk usually let her gang her ain gate, an' she let them gang theirs, wi' neither Fair-guid-een nor Fair-guid-day; but when she buckled to, she had a tongue to deave the miller. Up she got, an' there wasna an auld story in Ba'weary but she gart somebody lowp for it that day; they couldna say ae thing but she could say twa to it ; till, at the hinder end, the guidwives up an' claught haud of her, an' clawed the coats aff her back, and pu'd her doun the clachan to the water o' Dule, to see if she were a witch or no, soom or droun. The carline skirled till ye could hear her at the Hangin' Shaw, an' she focht like ten; there was mony a guidwife bure the mark o' her neist day an' mony a lang day after; an' just in the hettest o' the collieshangie, wha suld come, up (for his sins) but the new minister!
" Women," said he (an' he had a grand voice), "I charge you in the Lord's name to let her go."
Janet ran to him-she was fair wud wi' terror-an' clang to him, an' prayed him, for Christ's sake, save her frae the cummers ; an' they, for their pairt, tauld him a' that was ken't, an' maybe mair.
"Woman is this true?"
"As the Lord sees me," says she, "as the Lord made me, no' a word o't. Forbye the bairn," says she, " I've been a decent woman a' my days."
"Will you," says Mr. Soulis, "in the name of God, and before me, His unworthy minister, renounce the devil and his works?"
Weel, it wad appear that when he askit that, she gave a girn that fairly frichit them that saw her, an' they could hear her teeth play dirl thegither in her chafts ; but there was naething for it but the ae way or the ither; an' Janet lifted up her hand an' renounced the de'il before them a'.
"And now," says Mr. Soulis to the guidwives, "home with ye, one and all, and pray to God for His forgiveness."
An' he gied Janet his arm, though she had little on her but a sark, and took her up the clachan to her ain door like a leddy o' the land ; an' her screighin' an' laughin' as was a scandal to be heard.
There were mony grave folk lang ower their prayers that nicht; but when the morn cam' there was sic a fear fell upon a' Ba'weary that the bairns hid theirsels, an' even the menfolk stood an' keekit frae their doors. For there was Janet comin' doun the clachan-her or her likeness, nane could tell-wi' her neck thrawn, an' her heid on ae side, like a body that has been hangit, an' a girn on her face like an unstreakit corp. By an' by they got used wi' it, an' even speered at her to ken what was wrang; but frae that day forth she couldna speak like a Christian woman, but slavered an' played click wi' her teeth like a pair o' shears; an' frae that day forth the name o' God cam' never on her lips. Whiles she wad try to say it, but it michtna be. Them that kenned best said least ; but they never gied that Thing the name o' Janet M'Clour; for the auld Janet, by their way o't, was in muckle hell that day. But the minister was neither to haud nor to bind; he preached about naething but the folk's cruelty that had gi'en her a stroke of the palsy; he skelpit the bairns that meddled her; an' he had her up to the manse that same nicht, an' dwalled there a' his lane wi' her under the Hangin' Shaw.
Weel, time gaed by: and the idler sort commenced to think mair lichtly o' that black business. The minister was weel thocht o' ; he was aye late at the writing, folk wad see his can'le doon by the Dule water after twal' at e'en; and he seemed pleased wi' himself an' upsitten as at first, though a' body could see that he was dwining. As for Janet, she cam' an' she gaed; if she didna speak muckle afore, it was reason she should speak less then; she meddled naebody; but she was an eldritch thing to see, an' nane wad hae mistrysted wi' her for Ba'weary glebe.
About the end o' July there cam' a spell o' weather, the like o't never was in that country-side ; it was lown an het an' heartless ; the herds couldna win up the Black Hill, the bairns were ower weariet to play; an' yet it was gousty too, wi' claps o' het wund that rumm'led in the glens, and bits o' shouers that slockened naething. We aye thocht it but to thun'er on the morn; but the morn cam' an' the morn's morning, an' it was aye the same uncanny weather, sair on folks and bestial. O' a' that were the waur, nane suffered like Mr. Soulis; he could neither sleep nor eat, he tauld his elders ; an' when he wasna writin' at his weary book, he wad be stravaguin' ower a' the country-side like a man possessed, when a'-body else was blithe to keep caller ben the house.
Abune Hangin' Shaw, in the bield o' the Black Hill, there's a bit enclosed grund wi' an iron yett; an' it seems, in the auld days, that was the kirkyaird o' Ba'weary, an' consecrated by the Papists before the blessed licht shone upon the kingdom. It was a great howff, o' Mr. Soulis's onyway; there he wad sit and consider his sermons; an' indeed it's a bieldy bit. Weel, as he cam' ower the waist end o' the Black Hill, ae day, he saw first twa, an' syne fewer, an' syne seeven corbie craws fleein' round an' round abune the auld kirkyaird. They flew laigh an' heavy, an' squawked to ither as they gaed; an' it was clear to Mr. Soulis that something had put them frae their ordinar. He wasna easy fleyed, an' gaed straucht up to the wa's; an' what suld he find there but a man, or the appearance o' a man, sittin' in the inside upon a grave. He was of a great stature, an' black as hell, and his e'en were singular to see. Mr. Soulis had heard tell o' black men, mony's the time; but there was something unco about this black man that daunted him. Het as he was, he took a kind o' cauld grue in the marrow o' his banes; but up he spak for a' that; an' says he: "My friend, are you a stranger in this place?" The black man answered never a word; he got upon his feet, an' begoud on to hirsle to the wa' on the far side; but he aye lookit at the minister; an' the minister stood an' lookit back; till a' in a meenit the black man was ower the wa' an' rinnin' for the bield o' the trees. Mr. Soulis, he hardly kenned why, ran after him; but he was fair forjeskit wi' his walk an' the het, unhalesome weather; an' rin as he likit, he got nae mair than a glisk o' the black man amang the birks, till he won doun to the foot o' the hillside, an' there he saw him ance mair, gaun, hap-step-an'-lawp, ower Dule water to the manse.
Mr. Soulis wasna weel pleased that this fearsome gangrel suld mak' sae free wi' Ba'weary manse; an' he ran the harder, an', wet sheen, ower the burn, an' up the walk; but the de'il a black man was there to see. He stepped out upon the road, but there was naebody there; he gaed a' ower the gairden, but na, nae black man. At the hinder end, an' a bit feared as was but natural, he lifted the hasp an' into the manse; and there was Janet M'Clour before his e'en, wi' her thrawn craig, an' nane sae pleased to see him. An' he aye minded sinsyne, when first he set his e'en upon her, he had the same cauld and deidly grue.
"Janet," says he, "ave you seen a black man?"
"A black man !" quo' she. "Save us a' ! Ye're no wise, minister. There's nae black man in a' Ba'weary."
But she didna speak plain, ye maun understand; but yam-yammered, like a powney wi' the bit in its moo.
"Weel," says he, "Janet, if there was nae black man, I have spoken with the Accuser of the Brethren."
An' he sat doun like ane wi' a fever, an' his teeth chittered in his heid.
"Hoots," says she, "think shame to yoursel', minister"; an' gied him a drap brandy that she keept aye by her.
Syne Mr. Soulis gaed into his study amang a' his books. It's a lang, laigh, mirk chalmer, perishin' cauld in winter, an' no' very dry even in the top o' the simmer, for the manse stands near the burn. Sae doun he sat, and thocht of a' that had come an' gane since he was in Ba'weary, an' his hame, an' the days when he was a bairn an' ran daffin' on the braes; an' that black man aye ran in his heid like the owercome of a sang. Aye the mair he thocht, the mair he thocht o' the black man. He tried the prayer, an' the words wouldna come to him; an' he tried, they say, to write at his book, but he couldna mak' nae mair o' that. There was whiles he thocht the black man was at his oxter, an' the swat stood upon him cauld as well-water ; and there was ither whiles, when he cam' to himsel' like a christened bairn an' minded naething.
The upshot was that he gaed to the window an' stood glowerin' at Dule water. The trees are unco thick, an' the water lies deep an' black under the manse; an' there was Janet washin' the cla'es wi' her coats kilted. She had her back to the minister, an' he, for his pairt, hardly kenned what he was lookin' at. Syne she turned round, an' shawed her face ; Mr. Soulis had the same cauld grue as twice that day afore, an' it was borne in upon him what folk said, that Janet was deid lang syne, an' this was a bogle in her claycauld flesh. He drew back a pickle and he scanned her narrowly. She was tramp-trampin' in the cla'es croonin' to hersel' ; and eh ! Gude guide us, but it was a fearsome face. Whiles she sang louder, but there was nae man born o' woman that could tell the words o' her sang; an' whiles she lookit side-lang doun, but there was naething there for her to look at. There gaed a scunner through the flesh upon his banes; an' that was Heeven's advertisement. But Mr. Soulis just blamed himsel', he said, to think sae ill o' a puir, auld afflicted wife that hadna a freend forbye himsel' ; an' he put up a bit prayer for him an' her, an' drank a little caller water-for his heart rose again' the meat-an' gaed up to his naked bed in the gloamin'.
That was a nicht that has never been forgotten in Ba'weary, the nicht o' the seeventeenth o' August, seeventeen hun'er an' twal'. It had been het afore, as I hae said, but that nicht it was hetter than ever. The sun gaed doun amang unco-lookin' clouds; it fell as murk as the pit; no' a star, no' a breath o' wund ; ye couldna see your han' afore your face, an' even the auld folk cuist the covers frae their beds an' lay pechin' for their breath. Wi' a' that he had upon his mind, it was gey an' unlikely Mr. Soulis wad get muckle sleep. He lay an' he tummled ; the gude, caller bed that he got into brunt his very banes; whiles he slept, an' whiles he waukened ; whiles he heard the time o' nicht, an' whiles a tyke yowlin' up the muir, as if somebody was deid ; whiles he thocht he heard bogles claverin' in his lug, an' whiles he saw spunkies in the room. He behoved, he judged, to be sick ; an' sick he was-little he jaloosed the sickness.
At the hinder end, he got a clearness in his mind, sat up in his sark on the bed-side, an' fell thinkin' ance mair o' the black man an' Janet. He couldna weel tell how-maybe it was the cauld to his feet-but it cam' in upon him wi' a spate that there was some connection between thir twa, an' that either or baith o' them were bogles. An' just at that moment, in Janet's room, which was neist to his, there cam' a stramp o' feet as if men were wars'lin', an' then a loud bang; an' then a wund gaed reishling round the fower quarters o' the house ; an' then a' was ance mair as seelent as the grave.
Mr. Soulis was feared for neither man nor de'il. He got his tinder-box, an' lit a can'le, an' made three steps o't ower to Janet's door. It was on the hasp, an' he pushed it open an' keeked bauldly in. It was a big room, as big as the minister's am, an' plenished wi' grand, auld solid gear, for he had naething else. There was a fewer-posted bed wi' auld tapestry; an' a braw cabinet o' aik, that was fu' o' the minister's divinity books, an' put there to be out o' the gate; an' a wheen duds o' Janet's lying here an' there about the floor. But nae Janet could Mr. Soulis see; nor any sign o' a contention. In he gaed (an' there's few that wad hae followed him) an' lookit a' round, an' listened. But there was naething to be heard, neither inside the manse nor in a Ba'weary parish, an' naething to be seen but the muckle shadows turnin' round the can'le. An' then, a' at aince, the minister's heart played dunt an' stood stock-still; an' a cauld wund blew amang the hairs o' his heid. Whaten a weary sicht was that for the puir man's e'en! For there was Janet hangin' frae a nail beside the auld aik cabinet: her held aye lay on her shouther, her e'en were steekit, the tongue projected frae her mouth, an' her heels were twa feet clear abune the floor.
"God forgive us all!" thocht Mr. Soulis, "poor Janet's dead."
He cam' a step nearer to the corp ; an' then his heart fair whammled in his inside. For by what cantrip it wad ill beseem a man to judge, she was hangin' frae a single nail an' by a single wursted thread for darnin' hose.
It's a awfu' thing to be your lane at nicht wi' siccan prodigies a' darkness; but Mr. Soulis was strong in the Lord. He turned an' gaed his ways oot o' that room, an' lockit the door ahint him ; an' step by step, doun the stairs, as heavy as leed; and set doun the can'le on the table at the stair-foot. He couldna pray, he couldna think, he was dreepin' wi' caul' swat, an' naething could he hear but the dunt-dunt-duntin' a' his am heart. He micht maybe hae stood there an hour, or maybe twa, he minded sae little; when a' o' a sudden he heard a laigh, uncanny steer upstairs ; a foot gaed to an' fro in the chalmer whaur the corp was hangin' ; syne the door was opened, though he minded weel that he had lockit it; an' syne there was a step upon the landin', an' it seemed to him as if the corp was lookin' ower the rail and doun upon him whaur he stood.
He took up the can'le again (for he couldna want the licht), an' as saftly as ever he could, gaed straucht out o' the manse an' to the far end a' the causeway. It was aye pit-mirk; the flame o' the can'le, when he set it on the grund, brunt steedy and clear as in a room; naething moved, but the Dule water seepin' and sabbin' doun the glen, an' yon unhaly footstep that cam' ploddin' doun the stairs inside the manse. He kenned the foot ower weel, for it was Janet's; an' at ilka step that cam' a wee thing nearer, the cauld got deeper in his vitals. He commended his soul to Him that made an' keepit him; "and, O Lord," said he, "give me strength this night to war against the powers of evil."
By this time the foot was comin' Through the passage for the door ; he could hear a hand skirt alang the wa', as if the fearsome thing was feelin' for its way. The saughs tossed an' maned thegither, a long sigh cam' ower the hills, the flame o' the can'le was blawn aboot ; an' there stood the corp of Thrawn Janet, wi' her grogram goun an' her black mutch, wi' the heid aye upon the shouther an' the girn still upon the face o't-leevin,' ye wad hae said-deid, as Mr. Soulis weel kenned-upon the threshold o' the manse.
It's a strange thing that the soul of man should be that thirled into his perishable body ; but the minister saw that, an' his heart didna break.
She didna stand there lang ; she began to move again an' cam' slowly towards Mr. Soulis whaur he stood under the saughs. A' the life o' his body, a' the strength o' his speerit, were glowerin' frae his e'en. It seemed she was gaun to speak, but wanted words, an' made a sign wi' the left hand. There cam' a clap o' wund, like a cat's fuff; oot gaed the can'le, the saughs skreighed like folk; an' Mr. Soulis kenned, that, live or die, this was the end o't.
"Witch, beldame, devil !" he cried, "I charge you, by the power of God, begone-if you be dead, to the grave-if you be damned, to hell."
An' at that moment the Lord's ain hand out o' the heevens struck the Horror whaur it stood; the auld, deid desecrated corp a' the witch-wife, sae lang keepit frae the grave and hirsled round by de'ils, lowed up like a brunstane spunk an' fell in ashes to the grund; the thunder followed, peal on dirlin peal, the rairin' rain upon the back o' that; and Mr. Soulis lowped through the garden hedge, an' ran, wi' skelloch upon skelloch, for the clachan.
That same mornin', John Christie saw the Black Man pass the Muckle Cairn as it was chappin' six ; before eicht, he gaed by the change-house at Knockdow; an' no' lang after, Sandy M'Lellan saw him gaun linkin' doun the braes frae Kilmackerlie. There's little doubt but it was him that dwalled sae lang in Janet's body; but he was awa' at last; an' sinsyne the de'il has never fashed us in Ba'weary.
But it was a sair dispensation for the minister ; lang, lang he lay ravin' in his bed; an' frae that hour to this, he was the man ye ken the day.