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Een winter bleak has charms for me, When winds rave through the naked tree; Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
Are hoary gray ;
Darkening the day!
Wi’ life an’ light,
The lang, dark night!
An' no think lang;
A heartfelt sang !
And I, wi' pleasure,
Bum owre their treasure. Fareweel,“ my rhyme-composing brither!" We've been owre lang unkennd to ither: Now let us lay our heads thegither,
In love fraternal: May envy wallop in a tether,
Black fiend, infernal! While highlandmen hate tolls and taxes; While moorlan' herds like guid fat braxies: While terra firma, on her axis,
In Robert Burns.
This was denied, it was affirmid; The herds an' hissels were alarm’d: The reverend gray-beards raved an' storm'd,
That beardless laddies Should think they better were inform’d
Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks; Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks; An' monie a fallow gat his licks,
Wi' hearty crunt; An’some, to learn them for their tricks,
Were hang'd an'burnt. This game was play'd in monie lands, An' auld-light caddies bure sic hands,' That faith the youngsters took the sands
Wi' nimble shanks, The lairds forbade, by strict commands,
Sic bluidy pranks.
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an'-stowe, Till now amaist on every knowe,
Ye'll find ane placed ; An’some, their new-light fair avow,
Just quite barefaced.
Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin ; Their zealous herds are vex'd an' sweatin; Mysel, I've even seen them greetin
Wi'girnin spite, To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
By word an' write.
My memory's no worth a preen;
By this “new-light,”* 'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
Maist like to fight. In days when mankind were but callans At grammar, logic, an’sic talents, They took nae pains their speech to balance,
Or rules to gie, But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
Like you or me. In thae auld times, they thought the moon, Just like a sark, or pair o’shoon, Wore by degrees, till her last roon,
Gaed past their viewing, An' shortly after she was done,
They gat a new one.
But shortly they will cowe the louns! Some auld-light herds in neebor towns Are mind't in things they ca' balloons,
To tak a flight, An' stay a month amang the moons
An' see them right.
Guid observation they will gie them ; An' when the auld moon's gaun to leave them, The hindmost shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them,
Just i' their pouch, An' when the new-light billies see them,
I think they'll crouch !
Sae, ye observe that a' this clatter Is naething but a “ moonshine matter;" But though dull prose-folk Latin splatter
In logic tulzie, I hope, we bardies ken some better,
Than mind sic brulzie.
* “New-light” is a cant phrase in the west of Scotland, for those religious opinions which Dr. Taylor of Norwich has defended so strenuously.
EPISTLE TO J. R******.
ENCLOSING SOME POEMS.
O ROUGH, rude, ready-witted R******, The wale o' cocks for fun an’drinkin! There's mony godly folks are thinkin,
Your dreams* an' tricks Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin,
Straught to auld Nick's. Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants, And in your wicked druncken rants, Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
An' fill them fou ; And then their failings, flaws, an’ wants,
Are a' seen through.
But, by my gun, o'guns the wale,
I vow an' swear!
For this, niest year.
For my gowd guinea :
For't in Virginia.
Scarce through the feathers; An' baith a yellow George to claim,
An' thole their blethers!
When time's expedient:
Your most obedient.
Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
The lads in black!
Rives 't aff their back. Think, wicked sinner, wha ye’re skaithing, Its just the blue-gown badge an’claithing 0' saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
To ken them by,
Like you or I.
I will expect
And no neglect.
An' danced my fill!
At Bunker's Hill.
'Twas ae night lately in my fun, I gaed a roving wi' the gun, An' brought a paitrick to the grun,
A bonnie hen, And, as the twilight was begun,
Thought nane wad ken. The poor wee thing was little hurt; I straikit it a wee for sport, Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me fort;
But, deil-ma-care! Somebody tells the poacher-court
The hale affair.
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
* A certain humorous dream of his was then making a Doise in the country side.
† A song he had promised the author.
Åh, gentle dames ! it gars me greet, To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthen'd, sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises !
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
But to our tale: Ae market night, Tam had got planted unco right; Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi’reaming swats, that drank divinely; And at his elbow souter Johnny, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; , Tam lo’ed him like a vera brither; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter; And aye the ale was growing better; The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi’ favours secret, sweet, and precious : The souter tauld his queerest stories; The landlord's laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drown'd himself amang the nappy; As bees flee hame wi’ lades o' treasure, The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure; Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious.
But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow-falls in the river, A moment white-then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That fit ere you can point their place ; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm.Nae man can tether time or tide; The hour approaches Tam maun ride; That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in, As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi' tippenny we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquabae we'll face the devil ! The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle. But Maggie stood right sair astonishid, Till, by the heel and hand admonishid, She ventured forward on the light: And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight! Warlocks and witches in a dance ; Nae cotillon brent new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, Put life and mettle in their heels. A winnock-bunker in the east, There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast; A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large, To gie them music was his charge : He screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl, Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.Coffins stood round like open presses, That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses; And by some devilish cantraip slight, Each in its cauld hand held a light,By which heroic Tam was able To note upon the haly table, A murderer's banes in gibbet airns; Twa span lang, wee, unchristend bairns ; A thief new cutted frae a rape, Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red rusted; Five cimiters, wi' murder crusted ; A garter, which a babe had strangled ; A knife, a father's throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o' life bereft, The gray hairs yet stack to the heft; Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu', Which e'en to name wad be unlawfu'.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd; Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellow'd: That night, a child might understand, The deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his gray mare Meg,
By this time he was cross the ford,
As Tammie glowr'd, amazed and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious : The piper loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reeld, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linket at it in her sark!
Now Tam, 0 Tam! had they been queans, A'plump and strapping, in their teens ; Their sarks, instead o creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o'guid blue hair, I wad hae gien them aff my hurdies For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies.
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Low ping an’ Ainging on a crummock, I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
But Tam kenn'd what was what fu' brawlie, There was ae winsome wench and walie, That night enlisted in the core, (Lang after kennd on Carrick shore ! For mony a beast to dead she shot, And perish'd mony a bonnie boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the country side in fear.) Her cuttie sark, o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude though sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie. Ah ! little kennd thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi’ twa pund Scots, ('twas a' her riches,) Wad ever graced a dance of witches!
But here my muse her wing maun cour; Sic flights are far beyond her power; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was and strang,) And how Tam stood like ane bewitch'd, And thought his very e’en enrich'd; E'en Satan glowr'd, and fidged fu' fain, And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main : Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a' thegither, And roars out, “ Weel done, cutty-sark !" And in an instant all was dark: And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied.
WHEN o'er the hill the eastern star,
Tells bughtin-time is near, my jo; And owsen frae the furrow'd field,
Return sae dowf and weary, 0; Down by the burn, where scented birks,
Wi’ dew are hanging clear, my jo,
My ain kind dearie, 0.
I'd rove and ne'er be eerie, 0,
My ain kind dearie, 0.
And I were ne'er sae wearie, 0,
My ain kind dearie, 0.
To rouse the mountain deer, my jo,
Along the hurn to steer, my jo; Gie me the hour o'gloamin gray,
It maks my heart sae cheery, 0, To meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, 0.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin!
And leave auld Scotia's shore?
Across th’ Atlantic's roar ? O sweet grows the lime and the orange,
And the apple on the pine ; But a' the charms o' the Indies,
Can never equal thine. I hae sworn by the heavens to my Mary,
I hae sworn by the heavens to be true; And sae may the heavens forget me,
When I forget my vow!
And plight me your lily-white hand; O plight me your faith, my Mary,
Before I leave Scotia's strand.
* It is a well known fact that witches, or any evil spirits, have no power to follow a poor wight any farther than the middle of the next running stream.-It may be proper likewise to mention to the benighted traveller, that when he falls in with bogles, whatever danger may be in his going forward, there is much more hazard in turning back
We hae plighted our troth, my Mary,
In mutual affection to join, And curst be the cause that shall part us!
The hour, and the moment o'time!
How sweetly bloom'd the gay green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom ;
I clasped her to my bosom !
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
Was my sweet Highland Mary.
MY WIFE'S A WINSOME WEE THING.
She is a winsome wee thing,
Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
Our parting was fu' tender;
We tore oursels asunder;
That nipt my flower sae early !
That wraps my Highland Mary!
I aft hae kiss'd sae fondly!
That dwelt on me sae kindly !
That heart that loved me dearly ! But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.
AULD ROB MORRIS.
BONNIE LESLEY. O saw ye bonnie Lesley
As she gaed o'er the border ? She's gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.
And love but her for ever;
And ne'er made sic anither !
Thy subjects we, before thee; Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o' men adore thee. The deil he could na scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee; He'd look into thy bonnie face,
And say, “ I canna wrang thee.” The powers aboon will tent thee;
Misfortune sha’na steer thee; Thou’rt like themselves sae lovely
That ill they'll ne'er let near thee. Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie !
There's nane again sae bonnie.
THERE's auld Rob Morris that wons in yon glen,
TUNE—"Catharine Ogie.” YE banks, and braes, and streams around,
The castle o' Montgomery,
Your waters never drumlie!
And there the langest tarry;
O’my sweet Highland Mary.