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He marches through amang the stacks,
An' her that is to be my lass,
He whistled up Lord Lenox' march
He was sae fley'd an' eerie :
Out-owre that night.
He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
An' young an' auld came rinnin out,
He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Meg fain wad to the barn gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;*
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
That vera night.
She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
Syne bauldly in she enters;
An' she cried L-d preserve her,
* This charm must likewise be performed unperceived, and alone. You go to the barn, and open both doors, taking them off the hinges, if possible; for there is danger that the being, about to appear, may shut the doors, and do you some mischief. Then take that instrument used in winnowing the corn, which, in our country dialect, we call a wecht; and go through all the attitudes of letting down corn against the wind. Repeat it three times; and the third time an apparition will pass through the barn, in at the windy door, and out at the other, having both the figure in question, and the appearance or retinue, marking the employment or station in life.
They hoy't out Will, wi' sair advice:
They hecht him some fine braw ane; It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice, Was timmer propt for thrawin': He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black, grousome carlin; An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke, Till skin in blypes came haurlin Aff's nieves that night. XXIV.
A wanton widow Leezie was,
But och! that night, amang the shaws,
She through the whins, an' by the cairn,
Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Amang the brachens, on the brae,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up an' gae a croon : Poor Leezie's heart mais lap the hool; Neer lav'rock height she jumpit, But mist a fit, an' in the pool Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night. XXVII.
In order, on the clean hearth-stane, The luggies three‡ are ranged,
Take an opportunity of going, unnoticed, to a Bear stack, and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time, you will catch in your arms the appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow.
+ You go out, one or more, for this is a social spell, to a south running spring or rivulet, where "three lairds' lands meet," and dip your left shirt sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire, and hang your wet sleeve before it to dry. Lie awake; and some time near midnight, an apparition, having the exact figure of the grand object in question, will come and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the other side of it.
Take three dishes; put clean water in one, foul water in another, leave the third empty: blindfold a person, and lead him to the hearth where the dishes are ranged: he (or she) dips the left hand: if by chance in the clean water, the future husband or wife will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the arrangement of the dishes is altered
And every time great care is ta'en,
In wrath that night.
Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks, I wat they dinna weary;
An' unco tales, an' funnie jokes,
Their sports were cheap an' cheery, Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt, Set a' their gabs a-steerin; Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt, They parted aff careerin
Fu' blythe that night.
THE AULD FARMER'S NEW-YEAR MORNING SALUTATION TO HIS AULD MARE MAGGIE,
ON GIVING HER ACCUSTOMED RIPP OF CORN TO HANSEL IN THE NEW-YEAR.
A GUID new-year I wish thee, Maggie! Hae, there's a rip to thy auld baggie : Though thou's howe-backit, now, an' knaggie, I've seen the day, Thou could hae gaen like ony staggie Out-owre the lay.
Though now thou's dowie, stiff, an' crazy, An' thy auld hide's as white's a daisy, I've seen thee dappl't, sleek, and glaizie, A bonnie gray: He should been tight that daur't to raize thee, Ance in a day.
Thou ance was i' the foremost rank, A filly buirdly, steeve, an' swank, An' set weel down a shapely shank, As e'er tread yird; An' could hae flown out-owre a stank, Like ony bird.
It's now some nine an' twenty year, Sin' thou was my good father's meere; He gied me thee, o' tocher clear,
An' fifty mark; Though it was sma', 'twas weel-won gear, An' thou was stark.
When first I gaed to woo my Jenny, Ye then was trottin wi' your minnie: Though ye was trickie, slee, an' funnie, Ye ne'er was donsie ; But hamely, tawie, quiet, an' cannie, An' unco sonsie.
That day, ye pranced wi' muckle pride, When ye bure hame my bonnie bride; An' sweet, an' gracefu' she did ride, Wi' maiden air! Kyle Stewart I could bragged wide, For sic a pair.
Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them, is always the Halloween supper.
Though now ye dow but hoyte an' hobble An' wintle like a saumont-coble, That day ye was a jinker noble
For heels an' win'! An' ran them till they a' did wauble, Far, far behin'.
When thou an' I were young an' skeigh, An' stable-meals at fairs were dreigh, How thou wad prance, an' snore, an' skreigh, An' tak the road! Town's bodies ran, and stood abeigh, An' ca't thee mad.
When thou was corn't, an' I was mellow, We took the road aye like a swallow: At brooses thou had ne'er a fellow, For pith an' speed: But every tail thou pay't them hollow, Where'er thou gaed.
The sma', droop-rumpl't, hunter cattle, Might aiblins waur't thee for a brattle; But sax Scotch miles thou try't their mettle, An' gar't them whaizle: Nae whip nor spur, but just a wattle O' saugh or hazel.
Thou was a noble fittie-lan', As e'er in tug or tow was drawn! Aft thee an' I, in aught hours gaun, On guid March weather, Hae turn'd sax rood beside our han', For days thegither.
Thou never braindg't, an' fetch't, an' fliskit, But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit, An' spread abreed thy weel-fill'd brisket, Wi' pith, an' pow'r, Till spritty knowes wad rair't and risket, An' slypet owre.
When frosts lay lang, an' snows were deep, An' threaten'd labour back to keep, I gied thy cog a wee-bit heap
Aboon the timmer; I kenn'd my Maggie wad na sleep For that, or simmer.
The cart or car thou never restit; The stevest brae thou wad hae fac't it: Thou never lap, and sten't, and breastit, Then stood to blaw; But just thy step a wee thing hastit, Thou snoov't awa.
My pleugh is now thy bairn-time a': Four gallant brutes as e'er did draw: Forbye sax mae, I've sell't awa.
That thou hast nurst: They drew me thretteen pund an' twa, The vera warst.
Monie a sair daurk we twa hae wrought, An' wi' the weary warl' fought! And monie an anxious day, I thought We wad be beat! Yet here to crazy age we're brought, Wi' something yet.
And think na, my auld trusty servan',
We've worn to crazy years thegither;
TO A MOUSE.
ON TURNING HER UP IN HER NEST WITH THE
PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785.
WEE, sleekit, cow'rin, timorous beastie,
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Which maks thee startle
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
'Sa sma request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
Out through thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
But, mousie, thou art no thy lane,
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me! The present only toucheth thee: But, och! I backward cast my e'e, On prospects drear; An' forward, though I canna see, I guess an' fear.
A WINTER'S NIGHT.
Poor, naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
WHEN biting Boreas, fell and doure, Sharp shivers through the leafless bower; When Phoebus gies a short-lived glower Far south the lift, Dim-darkening through the flaky shower, Or whirling drift:
Ae night the storm the steeples rock'd, Poor labour sweet in sleep was lock'd, While burns, wi' snawy wreeths up-chock'd, Wild-eddying swirl, Or through the mining outlet bock'd, Down headlong hurl.
Listening, the doors an' winnocks rattle, I thought me on the ourie cattle, Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle O' winter war,
And through the drift, deep-lairing sprattle, Beneath a scar.
Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing, That, in the merry months o' spring, Delighted me to hear thee sing,
What comes o' thee? Whare wilt thou cower thy chittering wing, An' close thy e'e?
E'en you on murdering errands toil'd, Lone from your savage homes exiled, The blood-stain'd roost, and sheep-cote spoil'd, My heart forgets, While pitiless the tempest wild
Sore on you beats.
Now Phoebe, in her midnight reign Dark muffled, view'd the dreary plain; Still crowding thoughts, a pensive train, Rose in my soul, When on my ear this plaintive strain, Slow, solemn, stole
"Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust! And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost! Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows! Not all your rage, as now united, shows More hard unkindness, unrelenting, Vengeful malice, unrepenting,
Than heaven illumined man on brother man bestows!
See stern oppression's iron grip,
O life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Dim backward as I cast my view,
What sickening scenes appear!
What sorrows yet may pierce me through, How pamper'd luxury, flattery by her side,
Too justly I may fear!
Still caring, despairing,
Must be my bitter doom ;
My woes here shall close ne'er,
But with the closing tomb !
Happy, ye sons of busy life,
Who, equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard !
E'en when the wished end's denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward :
Whilst I, a hope-abandon'd wight,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet every sad returning night,
And joyless morn the same ;
You, bustling, and justling,
Forget each grief and pain :
I, listless, yet restless,
Find every prospect vain.
How blest the solitary's lot,
Who, all-forgetting, all-forgot,
Within his humble cell,
The cavern wild with tangling roots,
Sits o'er his newly-gather'd fruits,
Beside his crystal well!
Or, haply, to his evening thought,
A faint collected dream :
While praising and raising
His thoughts to heaven on high,
As wandering, meandering,
He views the solemn sky.
Than I, no lonely hermit placed
Where never human footstep traced,
Less fit to play the part ;
The lucky moment to improve,
And just to stop, and just to move,
With self-respecting art:
But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
Which I too keenly taste,
The solitary can despise,
Can want, and yet be blest !
He needs not, he heeds not,
Or human love or hate,
At perfidy ingrate!
When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
To care, to guilt unknown!
How ill exchanged for riper times,
To feel the follies, or the crimes,
Of others, or my own!
Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh ;
The shortening winter day is near a close ; When manhood is your wish.
The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh, The losses, the crosses,
The blackening trains o’craws to their repose:
The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goes,
This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th’expectant wee things, toddlin, stacher through The wintry west extends his blast, And hail and rain does blaw;
To meet their dad, wi’ flichterin noise an'glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonnily, Or, the stormy north sends driving forth
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile, The blinding sleet and snaw:
The lisping infant prattling on his knee, While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
Does a' his weary, carking cares beguile, And roars frae bank to brae;
An' makes him quite forget his labour an' his toil.
Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out, amang the farmers round: “ The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"**
Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin The joyless winter day,
A cannie errand to a neebor town: Let others fear, to me more dear
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown, Than all the pride of May:
In youthfu'bloom, love sparkling in her e'e, The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
Comes hame, perhaps, to show a braw new gown, My griefs it seems to join,
Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee, The leafless trees my fancy please,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be. Their fate resembles mine.
Wi' joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet, Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme An' each for others' weelfare kindly spiers: These woes of mine fulfil,
The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnoticed fleet; Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,
Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears ; Because they are thy will!
The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years; Then all I want, (0, do thou grant
Anticipation forward points the view. This one request of mine!)
The mother, wi' her needle an' her sheers, Since to enjoy thou dost deny,
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new : Assist me to resign.
The father mixes a' wi’ admonition due.
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
“ An’ mind their labours wi' an eydent hand, INSCRIBED TO R. A****, ESQ.
An'ne'er, though out o' sight, to jauk or play:
An’O! be sure to fear the Lord alway!
An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' night! Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore his counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord
aright !” My loved, my honour'd, much respected friend!
VII. No mercenary bard his homage pays;
But hark! 'a rap comes gently to the door ; With honest pride I scorn each selfish end;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, My dearest meed a friend's esteem and praise ; Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor, To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene; The wily mother sees the conscious flame The native feelings strong, the guileless ways: Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek;
What A**** in a cottage would have been ; With heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his Ah! though his worth unknown, far happier there,
name, I ween.
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Weel pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild, * Dr. Young.