Classics  
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' ... Read more
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' ... Read more

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.

O Prince, O chief of many throned pow’rs!
        That led th’ embattled seraphim to war!
                      (Milton, Paradise Lost)

O thou! whatever title suit thee,—
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
Wha in yon cavern, grim an’ sootie,
     Clos’d under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie
     To scaud poor wretches!

Hear me, Auld Hangie, for a wee,
An’ let poor damned bodies be;
I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,
     E’en to a deil,
To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me,
     An’ hear us squeel!

Great is thy pow’r, an’ great thy fame;
Far ken’d an’ noted is thy name;
An’ tho’ yon lowin heugh’s thy hame,
     Thou travels far;
An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame,
     Nor blate nor scaur.

Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey a’ holes an’ corners tryin;
Whyles, on the strong-wing’d tempest flyin,
     Tirlin’ the kirks;
Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,
     Unseen thou lurks.

I’ve heard my rev’rend graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or whare auld ruin’d castles gray
     Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way
     Wi’ eldritch croon.

When twilight did my graunie summon
To say her pray’rs, douce honest woman!
Aft yont the dike she’s heard you bummin,
     Wi’ eerie drone;
Or, rustlin thro’ the boortrees comin,
     Wi’ heavy groan.

Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light,
Wi’ you mysel I gat a fright,
     Ayont the lough;
Ye like a rash-buss stood in sight,
     Wi’ waving sugh.

The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each bristl’d hair stood like a stake,
When wi’ an eldritch, stoor “Quaick, quaick,”
     Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter’d like a drake,
     On whistling wings.

Let warlocks grim an’ wither’d hags
Tell how wi’ you on ragweed nags
They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags
     Wi’ wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
     Owre howket dead.

Thence, countra wives wi’ toil an’ pain
May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain;
For oh! the yellow treasure’s taen
     By witchin skill;
An’ dawtet, twal-pint hawkie’s gaen
     As yell’s the bill.

Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse,
On young guidmen, fond, keen, an’ croose;
When the best wark-lume i’ the house,
     By cantraip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,
     Just at the bit.

When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
An’ float the jinglin icy-boord,
Then water-kelpies haunt the foord
     By your direction,
An’ nighted trav’lers are allur’d
     To their destruction.

And aft your moss-traversing spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkeys
     Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
     Ne’er mair to rise.

When Masons’ mystic word an grip
In storms an’ tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
     Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brither ye wad whip
     Aff straught to hell!

Lang syne, in Eden’d bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,
An all the soul of love they shar’d,
     The raptur’d hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird,
     In shady bow’r;

Then you, ye auld snick-drawin dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
And play’d on man a cursed brogue,
     (Black be your fa’!)
An gied the infant warld a shog,
     Maist ruin’d a’.

D’ye mind that day, when in a bizz,
Wi’ reeket duds an reestet gizz,
Ye did present your smoutie phiz
     Mang better folk,
An’ sklented on the man of Uz
     Your spitefu’ joke?

An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,
An’ brak him out o’ house and hal’,
While scabs and blotches did him gall,
     Wi’ bitter claw,
An’ lows’d his ill-tongued, wicked scaul,
     Was warst ava?

But a’ your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce,
Sin’ that day Michael did you pierce,
     Down to this time,
Wad ding a Lallan tongue, or Erse,
     In prose or rhyme.

An’ now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkin,
A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
     To your black pit;
But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkin,
     An’ cheat you yet.

But fare you weel, Auld Nickie-ben!
O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken—
     Still hae a stake:
I’m wae to think upo’ yon den,
     Ev’n for your sake!

ON SEEING ONE ON A LADY’S BONNET AT CHURCH

Ha! whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie!
Your impudence protects you sairly:
I canna say but ye strunt rarely
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’ faith, I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunned by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her,
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner,
On some poor body.

Swith, in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle
Wi’ ither kindred, jumpin cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whare horn or bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud ye there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug an’ tight;
Na faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right
Till ye’ve got on it,
The vera tapmost, towering height
O’ Miss’s bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as onie grozet:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie ye sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum!

I wad na been surprised to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’s fine Lunardi!—fie!
How daur ye do’t?

O Jenny, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin!
Thae winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin!

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
And ev’n Devotion!

A note of seeming truth and trust
                      Hid crafty observation;
                And secret hung, with poison’d crust,
                      The dirk of defamation:
                A mask that like the gorget show’d
                      Dye-varying, on the pigeon;
                And for a mantle large and broad,
              He wrapt him in Religion.
                   (Hypocrisy-à-la-Mode)


Upon a simmer Sunday morn,
     When Nature’s face is fair,
I walked forth to view the corn
     An’ snuff the caller air.
The risin’ sun owre Galston muirs
     Wi’ glorious light was glintin,
The hares were hirplin down the furrs,
     The lav’rocks they were chantin
          Fu’ sweet that day.

As lightsomely I glowr’d abroad
     To see a scene sae gay,
Three hizzies, early at the road,
     Cam skelpin up the way.
Twa had manteeles o’ dolefu’ black,
     But ane wi’ lyart linin;
The third, that gaed a wee a-back,
     Was in the fashion shining
          Fu’ gay that day.

The twa appear’d like sisters twin
     In feature, form, an’ claes;
Their visage wither’d, lang an’ thin,
     An’ sour as ony slaes.
The third cam up, hap-step-an’-lowp,
     As light as ony lambie,
An’ wi’ a curchie low did stoop,
     As soon as e’er she saw me,
          Fu’ kind that day.

Wi’ bonnet aff, quoth I, “Sweet lass,
     I think ye seem to ken me;
I’m sure I’ve seen that bonie face,
     But yet I canna name ye.”
Quo’ she, an’ laughin as she spak,
     An’ taks me by the han’s,
“Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck
     Of a’ the ten comman’s
          A screed some day.

“My name is Fun—your cronie dear,
     The nearest friend ye hae;
An’ this is Superstition here,
     An’ that’s Hypocrisy.
I’m gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,
     To spend an hour in daffin:
Gin ye’ll go there, you runkl’d pair,
     We will get famous laughin
          At them this day.”

Quoth I, “With a’ my heart, I’ll do’t:
     I’ll get my Sunday’s sark on,
An’ meet you on the holy spot;
     Faith, we’se hae fine remarkin!”
Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time
     An’ soon I made me ready;
For roads were clad frae side to side
     Wi’ monie a wearie body
          In droves that day.

Here, farmers gash, in ridin graith,
     Gaed hoddin by their cotters,
There swankies young, in braw braidclaith
     Are springin owre the gutters.
The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
     In silks an’ scarlets glitter,
Wi’ sweet-milk cheese in mony a whang,
     An’ farls, bak’d wi’ butter,
          Fu’ crump that day.

When by the plate we set our nose,
     Weel heaped up wi’ ha’pence,
A greedy glowr Black Bonnet throws,
     An’ we maun draw our tippence.
Then in we go to see the show:
     On ev’ry side they’re gath’rin,
Some carryin dails, some chairs an’ stools,
     An’ some are busy bleth’rin
          Right loud that day.


Here some are thinkin on their sins,
     An’ some upo’ their claes;
Ane curses feet that fyl’d his shins,
     Anither sighs an’ prays:
On this hand sits a chosen swatch,
     Wi’ screw’d-up grace-proud faces;
On that a set o’ chaps at watch,
     Thrang winkin on the lasses
          To chairs that day.

O happy is that man and blest!
     Nae wonder that it pride him!
Whase ain dear lass that he likes best,
     Comes clinkin down beside him!
Wi’ arm repos’d on the chair back,
     He sweetly does compose him;
Which by degrees slips round her neck,
     An’s loof upon her bosom,
          Unken’d that day.

Now a’ the congregation o’er
     Is silent expectation;
For Moodie speels the holy door,
     Wi’ tidings o’ salvation.
Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
     ‘Mang sons o’ God present him,
The vera sight o’ Moodie’s face
     To’s ain het hame had sent him
          Wi’ fright that day.

Hear how he clears the points o’ faith
     Wi’ rattlin an’ wi’ thumpin!
Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath
     He’s stampin, an’ he’s jumpin!
His lengthen’d chin, his turn’d-up snout,
     His eldritch squeal and gestures,
Oh, how they fire the heart devout
     Like cantharidian plaisters,
          On sic a day!

But hark! the tent has chang’d its voice:
     There’s peace and rest nae langer;
For a’ the real judges rise,
     They canna sit for anger.
Smith opens out his cauld harangues,
     On practice and on morals;
An’ aff the godly pour in thrangs,
     To gie the jars an’ barrels
          A lift that day.

What signifies his barren shine
     Of moral pow’rs and reason?
His English style an’ gesture fine
     Are a’ clean out o’ season.
Like Socrates or Antonine
     Or some auld pagan heathen,
The moral man he does define,
     But ne’er a word o’ faith in
          That’s right that day.

In guid time comes an antidote
     Against sic poison’d nostrum;
For Peebles, frae the water-fit,
     Ascends the holy rostrum:
See, up he’s got the word o’ God
     An’ meek an’ mim has view’d it,
While Common Sense has ta’en the road,
     An’s aff, an’ up the Cowgate
          Fast, fast that day.

Wee Miller niest the Guard relieves,
     An’ Orthodoxy raibles,
Tho’ in his heart he weel believes
     An’ thinks it auld wives’ fables:
But faith! the birkie wants a Manse,
     So cannilie he hums them;
Altho’ his carnal wit an’ sense
     Like hafflins-wise o’ercomes him
          At times that day.

Now butt an’ ben the change-house fills
     Wi’ yill-caup commentators:
Here’s cryin out for bakes an gills,
     An’ there the pint-stowp clatters;
While thick an’ thrang, an’ loud an’ lang,
     Wi’ logic an’ wi’ Scripture,
They raise a din, that in the end
     Is like to breed a rupture
          O’ wrath that day.

Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair
     Than either school or college
It kindles wit, it waukens lear,
     It pangs us fou o’ knowledge.
Be’t whisky-gill or penny-wheep,
     Or ony stronger potion,
It never fails, on drinkin deep,
     To kittle up our notion
          By night or day.

The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent
     To mind baith saul an’ body,
Sit round the table weel content,
     An’ steer about the toddy,
On this ane’s dress an’ that ane’s leuk
     They’re makin observations;
While some are cozie i’ the neuk,
     An’ forming assignations
          To meet some day.

But now the Lord’s ain trumpet touts,
     Till a’ the hills rae rairin,
An’ echoes back return the shouts—
     Black Russell is na sparin.
His piercing words, like highlan’ swords,
     Divide the joints an’ marrow;
His talk o’ hell, whare devils dwell,
     Our vera “sauls does harrow”
          Wi’ fright that day.

A vast, unbottom’d, boundless pit,
     Fill’d fou o’ lowin brunstane,
Whase ragin flame, an’ scorching heat
     Wad melt the hardest whun-stane!
The half-asleep start up wi’ fear
     An’ think they hear it roarin,
When presently it does appear
     ’Twas but some neibor snorin,
          Asleep that day.

‘Twad be owre lang a tale to tell,
     How mony stories past,
An’ how they crouded to the yill,
     When they were a’ dismist:
How drink gaed round in cogs an’ caups
     Amang the furms an’ benches:
An’ cheese and bred frae women’s laps
     Was dealt about in lunches
          An’ dauds that day.

In comes a gausie, gash guidwife
     An’ sits down by the fire,
Syne draws her kebbuck an’ her knife;
     The lasses they are shyer:
The auld guidmen, about the grace
     Frae side to side they bother,
Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
     And gi’es them’t like a tether
          Fu’ lang that day.

Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,
     Or lasses that hae naething!
Sma’ need has he to say a grace,
     Or melvie his braw clathing!
O wives, be mindfu’ ance yoursel
     How bonie lads ye wanted,
An’ dinna for a kebbuck-heel
     Let lasses be affronted
          On sic a day!

Now Clinkumbell, wi’ rattlin tow,
     Begins to jow an’ croon;
Some swagger hame the best they dow,
     Some wait the afternoon.
At slaps the billies halt a blink,
     Till lasses strip their shoon:
Wi’ faith an’ hope, an’ love an’ drink,
     They’re a’ in famous tune
          For crack that day.

How monie hearts this day converts
     O’ sinners and o’ lasses
Their hearts o’ stane, gin night, are gane
     As saft as ony flesh is.
There’s some are fou o’ love divine,
     There’s some are fou o’ brandy;
An’ monie jobs that day begin,
     May end in houghmagandie
          Some ither day.

A Tale

“Of Brownyis and of Bogilis full is this Buke.”
                              —Gawin Douglas.

When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
As market-days are wearing late,
An’ folk begin to tak’ the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An’ getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonie lasses).

O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum,
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was nae sober;
That ilka melder, wi’ the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That ev’ry naig was ca’d a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roarin fou on;
That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesied that, late or soon,
Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon;
Or catched wi’ warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway’s auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthened sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!

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 drowned himself amang the nappy;
As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,
The minutes winged 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 flow’r, 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 flit 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 tak’s the road in,
As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed;
Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed:
That night, a child might understand,
The De’il had business on his hand.

Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow’rin round wi’ prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

By this time he was cross the ford,
Whare in the snaw the chapman smoored;
And past the birks and meikle stane,
Whare drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane;
And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn,
Whare hunters fand the murdered bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo’s mither hanged hersel’.
Before him Doon pours all his floods;
The doubling storm roars thro’ the woods;
The lightnings flash from pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll;
When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze;
Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing;
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst mak’ us scorn!
Wi’ tippenny, we fear nae evil;
Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!
The swats sae reamed in Tammie’s noddle,
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle.
But Maggie stood right sair astonished,
Till, by the heel and hand admonished,
She ventured forward on the light;
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillion, 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 screwed the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl.—
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shawed the Dead in their last dresses;
And by some devilish cantraip sleight
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, unchristened bairns;
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape;
Five tomahawks, wi’ blude red-rusted;
Five scimitars, 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 grey hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi’ mair of horrible and awfu’,
Which even to name wad be unlawfu’.

As Tammie glowered, amazed and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The Piper loud and louder blew;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
They reeled, they set, they crossed, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And coost her duddies to the wark,
And linket at it in her sark!

Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans,
A’ plump and strapping in their teens;
Their sarks, instead o’ creeshie flainen,
Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen!—
Thir breeks o’ mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o’ gude blue hair,
I wad hae gi’en them off my hurdies,
For ae blink o’ the bonie burdies!

But withered beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,
Lowping and flinging on a crummock,
I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

But Tam kenned what was what fu’ brawlie:
‘There was ae winsome wench and waulie’,
That night enlisted in the core
(Lang after kenned on Carrick shore;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perished mony a bonie boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear);
Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.
Ah! little kenned 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 bewitched,
And thought his very een enriched;
Even Satan glowered, and fidged fu’ fain,
And hotched 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.

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie’s mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi’ mony an eldritch screech and hollow.

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin!
In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie’s mettle—
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to drink you are inclined,
Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
Think, ye may buy the joys o’er dear,
Remember Tam o’Shanter’s mare.

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it ware ten thousand mile.

On Turning her up in her Nest with the Plough

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beastie,
O what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin’ wi’ the lave,
And never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa’s the win’s are strewin’:
And naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin’
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste
An’ weary winter comin’ fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till, crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.

Still thou art blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, oh! I backward cast my e’e
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Duncan Gray cam here to woo,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
On blythe Yule Night when we were fu’,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Maggie coost her head fu’ high,
Looked asklent and unco skeigh,
Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh;
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t.

Duncan fleeched, and Duncan prayed;
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Meg was deaf as Ailsa Craig;
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Duncan sighed baith out and in,
Grat his een baith bleer’t and blin’,
Spak o’ lowpin ower a linn;
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t.

Time and Chance are but a tide,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Slighted love is sair to bide,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Shall I, like a fool, quoth he,
For a haughty hizzie dee?
She may gae to -France for me!
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t.

How it comes let Doctors tell,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Meg grew sick as he grew hale,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Something in her bosom wrings,
For relief a sigh she brings;
And O her een, they spak sic things!
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t.

Duncan was a lad o’ grace,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Maggie’s was a piteous case,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t,
Duncan could na be her death,
Swelling Pity smoored his Wrath;
Now they’re crouse and canty baith,
Ha, ha, the wooing o’t.

O were my Love yon lilac fair,
  Wi’ purple blossoms to the spring,
And I a bird to shelter there,
  When wearied on my little wing;
How I wad mourn when it was torn
  By autumn wild and winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing
  When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.

O gin my Love were yon red rose
  That grows upon the castle wa’,
And I mysel a drap o’ dew,
  Into her bonnie breast to fa’;
O there, beyond expression blest,
  I’d feast on beauty a’ the night;
Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
  Till fley’d awa’ by Phoebus’ light.

INSCRIBED TO ROBERT AIKEN, ESQ.

        Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
        Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
        Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
        The short and simple annals of the poor.
                  (Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”)

  My lov’d, my honour’d, much respected friend!
      No mercenary bard his homage pays;
    With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end:
      My dearest meed a friend’s esteem and praise.
      To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
    The lowly train in life’s sequester’d scene;
      The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
    What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
Ah! tho’ his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween!

  November chill blaws loud wi’ angry sugh,
      The short’ning winter day is near a close;
    The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh,
      The black’ning 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 bend.

  At length his lonely cot appears in view,
      Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
    Th’ expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through
      To meet their dad, wi’ flichterin noise an’ glee.
      His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
    His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie’s smile,
      The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
    Does a’ his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
An’ makes him quite forget his labour an’ his toil.

  Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
      At service out, amang the farmers roun’;
    Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
      A cannie errand to a neibor toun:
      Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
    In youthfu’ bloom, love sparkling in her e’e,
      Comes hame, perhaps, to shew a braw new gown,
    Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.

  With joy unfeign’d, brothers and sisters meet,
      An’ each for other’s weelfare kindly spiers:
    The social hours, swift-wing’d, unnotic’d fleet;
      Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.
      The parents partial eye their hopeful years;
    Anticipation forward points the view;
      The mother, wi’ her needle an’ her sheers,
    Gars auld claes look amaist as weel’s the new;
The father mixes a’ wi’ admonition due.

  Their master’s an’ their mistress’s command
      The younkers a’ are warned to obey;
    An’ mind their labours wi’ an eydent hand,
      An’ ne’er tho’ out o’ sight, to jauk or play:
      “An’ O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
    An’ mind your duty, duly, morn an’ night!
      Lest in temptation’s path ye gang astray,
    Implore his counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright!”

  But hark! a rap comes gently to the door.
      Jenny, wha kens the meaning o’ the same,
    Tells how a neebor lad cam o’er the moor,
      To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
      The wily mother sees the conscious flame
    Sparkle in Jenny’s e’e, and flush her cheek;
      Wi’ heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his name,
      While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Weel-pleas’d the mother hears, it’s nae wild, worthless rake.

  Wi’ kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben,
      A strappin youth; he takes the mother’s eye;
    Blythe Jenny sees the visit’s no ill taen;
      The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
      The youngster’s artless heart o’erflows wi’ joy,
    But, blate and laithfu’, scarce can weel behave;
      The mother wi’ a woman’s wiles can spy
    What maks the youth sae bashfu’ an’ sae grave,
Weel pleas’d to think her bairn’s respected like the lave.

  O happy love! where love like this is found!
      O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
    I’ve paced much this weary, mortal round,
      And sage experience bids me this declare—
    “If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
      One cordial in this melancholy vale,
      ’Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair,
    In other’s arms breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the ev’ning gale.”

  Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,
      A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
    That can with studied, sly, ensnaring art
      Betray sweet Jenny’s unsuspecting youth?
      Curse on his perjur’d arts! dissembling smooth!
    Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil’d?
      Is there no pity, no relenting truth,
    Points to the parents fondling o’er their child,
Then paints the ruin’d maid, and their distraction wild?

  But now the supper crowns their simple board,
      The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia’s food;
    The soupe their only hawkie does afford,
      That yont the hallan snugly chows her cud.
      The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
    To grace the lad, her weel-hain’d kebbuck fell,
      An’ aft he’s prest, an’ aft he ca’s it guid;
    The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell,
How ’twas a towmond auld, sin’ lint was i’ the bell.

  The cheerfu’ supper done, wi’ serious face,
      They round the ingle form a circle wide;
    The sire turns o’er, with patriarchal grace,
      The big ha’-Bible, ance his father’s pride;
      His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,
    His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
      Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
    He wales a portion with judicious care;
And, “Let us worship God,” he says with solemn air.

  They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
      They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
    Perhaps Dundee’s wild-warbling measures rise,
      Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name,
      Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame,
    The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays.
      Compar’d with these, Italian trills are tame;
      The tickl’d ear no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they, with our Creator’s praise.

  The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
      How Abram was the friend of God on high;
    Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
      With Amalek’s ungracious progeny;
      Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
    Beneath the stroke of Heaven’s avenging ire;
      Or Job’s pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
    Or rapt Isaiah’s wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

  Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
      How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
    How He, who bore in Heaven the second name
      Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
      How His first followers and servants sped;
    The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
      How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
    Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab’lon’s doom pronounc’d by Heaven’s command.

  Then kneeling down to Heaven’s Eternal King,
      The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
    Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,”
      That thus they all shall meet in future days:
      There ever bask in uncreated rays,
    No more to sigh or shed the bitter tear,
      Together hymning their Creator’s praise,
    In such society, yet still more dear,
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.

  Compar’d with this, how poor Religion’s pride
      In all the pomp of method and of art,
    When men display to congregations wide
      Devotion’s ev’ry grace except the heart!
      The Pow’r, incens’d, the pageant will desert,
    The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
      But haply in some cottage far apart
    May hear, well pleas’d, the language of the soul,
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enrol.

  Then homeward all take off their sev’ral way;
      The youngling cottagers retire to rest;
    The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
      And proffer up to Heav’n the warm request,
      That He who stills the raven’s clam’rous nest,
    And decks the lily fair in flow’ry pride,
      Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
    For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.

  From scenes like these old Scotia’s grandeur springs,
      That makes her lov’d at home, rever’d abroad:
    Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
      “An honest man’s the noblest work of God”:
      And certes, in fair Virtue’s heavenly road,
    The cottage leaves the palace far behind:
      What is a lordling’s pomp? a cumbrous load,
    Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin’d!

  O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
      For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent!
    Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
      Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
      And, oh! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
    From luxury’s contagion, weak and vile!
      Then, howe’er crowns and coronets be rent,
    A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov’d isle.

  O Thou! who pour’d the patriotic tide
      That stream’d thro’ Wallace’s undaunted heart,
    Who dar’d to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
      Or nobly die, the second glorious part,—
      (The patriot’s God peculiarly thou art,
    His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
      O never, never Scotia’s realm desert,
    But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard,
In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!

The lovely lass o’ Inverness,
Nae joy nor pleasure can she see;
For e’en and morn she cries, “Alas!”
And ay the saut tear blins her ee:
Drumossie moor—Drumossie day—
A waefu’ day it was to me!
For there I lost my father dear,
My father dear, and brethren three.

Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay,
Their graves are growing green to see:
And by them lies the dearest lad
That ever blest a woman’s ee!
Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord,
A bluidy man I trow thou be;
For mony a heart thou hast made sair
That ne’er did wrang to thine or thee.

My heart is a-breaking, dear Tittie,
      Some counsel unto me come len’;
To anger them a’ is a pity,
      But what will I do wi’ Tam Glen?

I’m thinking, wi’ sic a braw fellow,
      In poortith I might mak a fen’:
What care I in riches to wallow,
      If I mauna marry Tam Glen?

There’s Lowrie, the laird o’ Dumeller,
      “Guid-day to you,”—brute! he comes ben:
He brags and he blaws o’ his siller,
      But when will he dance like Tam Glen?

My minnie does constantly deave me,
      And bids me beware o’ young men;
They flatter, she says, to deceive me;
      But wha can think sae o’ Tam Glen?

My daddie says, gin I’ll forsake him,
      He’ll gie me guid hunder marks ten:
But, if it’s ordain’d I maun take him,
      O wha will I get but Tam Glen?

Yestreen at the valentines’ dealing,
      My heart to my mou gied a sten:
For thrice I drew ane without failing,
      And thrice it was written, “Tam Glen”!

The last Halloween I was waukin
      My droukit sark-sleeve, as ye ken:
His likeness cam up the house staukin,
      And the very gray breeks o’ Tam Glen!

Come counsel, dear Tittie, don’t tarry;
      I’ll gie ye my bonie black hen,
Gif ye will advise me to marry
      The lad I lo’e dearly, Tam Glen.

Coming thro’ the rye, poor body,
Coming thro’ the rye,
She draiglet a’ her petticoatie
Coming thro’ the rye.

O, Jenny’s a’ wat, poor body;
Jenny’s seldom dry;
She draiglet a’ her petticoatie
Coming thro’ the rye.

Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro’ the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body—
Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro’ the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body—
Need the warld ken?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wandered mony a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i’ the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught

For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw,
  I dearly like the west,
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
  The lassie I lo’e best:
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
  And monie a hill between;
But day and night my fancy’s flight
  Is ever wi’ my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers,
  I see her sweet and fair:
I hear her in the tunefu’ birds,
  I hear her charm the air:
There ’s not a bonnie flower that springs
  By fountain, shaw, or green;
There ’s not a bonnie bird that sings,
  But minds me o’ my Jean.

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power—
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland’s king and law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fa’,
Let him follow me!

By oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in ev’ry foe!
Liberty’s in ev’ry blow!
Let us do or die!

Last May a braw wooer cam down the lang glen,
      And sair wi’ his love he did deave me;
I said there was naething I hated like men:
      The deuce gae wi ‘m to believe me, believe me,
      The deuce gae wi ‘m to believe me.

He spak o’ the darts in my bonie black een,
      And vow’d for my love he was diein;
I said he might die when he liked for Jean:
      The Lord forgie me for liein, for liein,
      The Lord forgie me for liein!

A weel-stocked mailen, himsel for the laird,
      And marriage aff-hand, were his proffers:
I never loot on that I ken’d it, or car’d,
      But thought I might hae waur offers, waur offers,
      But thought I might hae waur offers.

But what wad ye think? in a fortnight or less,
      (The deil tak his taste to gae near her!)
He up the lang loan to my black cousin Bess,
      Guess ye how, the jad! I could bear her, could bear her
      Guess ye how, the jad! I could bear her.

But a’ the niest week I fretted wi’ care,
      I gaed to the tryste o’ Dalgarnock,
And wha but my fine fickle lover was there,
      I glowr’d as I’d seen a warlock, a warlock.
      I glowr’d as I’d seen a warlock.

But owre my left shoulder I gae him a blink,
      Lest neibors might say I was saucy;
My wooer he caper’d as he’d been in drink,
      And vow’d I was his dear lassie, dear lassie,
      And vow’d I was his dear lassie.

I spier’d for my cousin fu’ couthy and sweet,
      Gin she had recover’d her hearin,
And how her new shoon fit her auld shachl’t feet—
      But, heavens! how he fell a swearin, a swearin,
      But, heavens! how he fell a swearin.

He begg’d, for gudesake, I wad be his wife,
      Or else I wad kill him wi’ sorrow:
So e’en to preserve the poor body in life,
      I think I maun wed him to-morrow, to-morrow,
      I think I maun wed him to-morrow.

Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,
Ca’ them where the heather grows
Ca’ them where the burnie rows,
      My bonie dearie.

Hark! the mavis’ evening sang
Sounding Cluden’s woods amang,
Then a-fauldin let us gang,
      My bonie dearie.

We’ll gae down by Cluden side,
Thro’ the hazels spreading wide,
O’er the waves that sweetly glide
      To the moon sae clearly.

Yonder Cluden’s silent towers,
Where at moonshine midnight hours,
O’er the dewy-bending flowers,
      Fairies dance sae cheery.

Ghaist nor bogle shalt thou fear;
Thou ‘rt to love and Heaven sae dear,
Nocht of ill may come thee near,
      My bonie dearie.

Fair and lovely as thou art,
Thou hast stown my very heart;
I can die—but canna part,
      My bonie dearie.

O saw ye bonnie Lesley
As she gaed o’er the Border?
She’s gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.

To see her is to love her,
And love but her for ever;
For Nature made her what she is,
And ne’er made sic anither!

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
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 themsel’ sae lovely
That ill they’ll ne’er let near thee.

Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie!
That we may brag we hae a lass
There’s nane again sae bonnie!

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark’d with the courses of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev’ning sweeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides,
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flowrets she stems thy clear wave.

  Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

 
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