The Scots Reader — Reader - Robert Fergusson

© 1996 - 2024

The Scots Reader — Reader - Robert Fergusson

Sneck on [oreeginal] for tae gang tae the oreeginal orthography. Sneck on the back button on yer stravaiger's menu baur for tae come back.


At Hallaemas, whan nichts growe lang,
And starnies shine fou clear,
Whan fowk, the nippin cauld tae bang,
Thair winter hap-wairms weir,
Naur Edinburgh a fair thare hauds,
A wat thare's nane whase name is,
For strappin dames and sturdy lads,
And caup and stowp, mair famous
Than it that day.

Upo' the tap o ilka lum
The sun began tae keek,
And bad the trig made maidens come
A sichtly jo tae seek
At Hallae-fair, whaur browsters rare
Keep guid ale on the gantries,
And dinna scrimp ye o a skare
O kebbocks frae thair pantries,
Fou saut that day.

Here kintra John in bunnet blue,
And eik his sunday claes on,
Rins efter Meg wi rokelay new,
And sappie kisses lays on;
She'll tauntin say, ye silly cuif!
Be o your gab mair spairin;
He'll tak the hint, and creash her luif
Wi whit will buy her farin,
Tae chowe that day.

Here chapman billies tak thair staund,
And shaw thair bonnie wallies;
Wow, but thay lie fou gleg aff haund
Tae trick the silly fallaes:
Hey, 'ser's! whit cairds and tinklers come,
And ne'er-dae-weel horse-cowpers,
And spae-wifes fenyiein tae be dumm,
Wi aw siclike landlowpers,
Tae thrive that day.

Here Sawny cries, frae Aiberdeen;
'Come ye tae me fa need:
The brawest shanks that e'er war seen
A'll sell ye cheap and gweed.
A wyte thay are as pretty hose
As comes fae weyr or leem:
Here tak a rug, and shaw's your pose:
Forseeth, ma ain's but teem
And licht this day.'

Ye wifes, as ye gang throu the fair,
mak your bargains huily!
O aw thir wylie louns bewaur,
Or fegs thay will ye spulyie.
For fernyear Meg Thamson got,
Frae thir mischievous villains,
A scawt bit o a penny note,
That lost a score o shillins
Tae her that day.

The dinnlin drums alairm oor ears,
The sairgent skreichs fou lood,
'Aw gentlemen and volunteers
That wiss your kintra guid,
Come here tae me, and A shall gie
Twa geenies and a croun,
A bowl o punch, that like the sea
Will soum a lang dragoon
Wi ease this day.'

Withoot the cousers prance and nicker,
And ower the lea-rig scud;
In tents the carles bend the bicker,
And rant and rair like wuid.
Than thare's sic yellochin and din,
Wi wifes and weans gabblin,
That ane micht trou thay war akin
Tae aw the tongues at Babylon,
Confuised that day.

Whan Phoebus ligs in Thetis laup,
Auld Reekie gies thaim shelter,
Whaur cadgily thay kiss the caup,
And caw't roond helter-skelter.
Jock Bell gaed furth tae play his freaks,
Great cause he haed tae rue it,
For frae a stark Lochaber aix
He gat a clamihewit
Fou sair that nicht.

'Ohon!' quo he, 'A'd raither be
By swuird or baignet stickit,
Than hae ma croun or body wi
Sic deidly wappins nickit.'
Wi that he gat anither straik
Mair wechty than afore,
That gart his feckless body ache,
And spew the reekin gore,
Fou reid that nicht.

He pechin on the causey lay,
O kicks and cuffs weel serred;
A Hieland aith the sairgent gae,
'She maun pe see oor gaird.'
Oot spak the warlike corporal,
'Pring in ta drunken groat,
For that neist day.

Guid fowks, as ye come frae the fair,
Bide yont frae this black squad;
Thare's nae sic savages elsewhaur
Alloued tae weir cockaud.
Than the strang lions's hungry maw,
Or tusk o Roushien beir,
Frae thair wanruly fellin paw
Mair cause ye hae tae fear
Your deith that day.

A wee soop drink dis unco weel
Tae haud the hert abuin;
It's guid as lang's a canny chield
Can staund steeve in his shuin.
But gin a birkie's ower weel serred,
It gars him aften stammer
Tae ploys that brings him tae the gaird,
And eik the Cooncil-chaumer,
Wi shame that day.


The Daft Days

Nou mirk December's dowie face
Glowers ower the rigs wi soor grimace,
While, throu his meenimum o space,
The bleer-ee'd sun
Wi blinkin licht and stealin pace,
His race doth rin.

Frae nakit groves nae birdie sings,
Tae shepherd's pipe nae hillock rings,
The breeze nae oderous flavour brings
Frae Borean cave,
And dwinin naitur droops her wings,
Wi veesage grave.

Mankind but scanty pleisur glean
Frae snawy hill or barren plain,
Whan Winter, mids his nippin train,
Wi frozen spear,
Sends drift ower aw his bleak domain,
And guides the weir.

Auld Reekie! thoo'rt the cantie hole,
A bield for mony cauldrif saul,
Thare snugly at thine ingle loll,
Baith wairm and couth;
While roond thay gar the bicker roll
Tae weet thair mooths.

Whan merry Yuil-day comes, A trou
You'll scantlins find a hungry mou;
Smaw are oor cares, oor stamacks fou
O gustie gear,
And kickshaws, streengers tae oor view,
Sin Fernyear.

Ye browster wifes, nou busk ye braw,
And fling your sorraes faur awa;
Than come and gie's the tither blaw
O reamin ale,
Mair precious than the wall o Spa,
Oor herts tae heal.

Than, tho at odds wi aw the warld,
Amang oorsels we'll niver quarrel;
Tho Discord gie a cankert snarl
Tae spile oor glee,
As lang's thare's pith intae the baurel
We'll drink and gree.

Fiddlers, your pins in temper fix,
And roset weel your fiddle-sticks,
But bainish vile Italian tricks
Frae oot your quorum,
Nor fortes wi pianaes mix,
Gie's Tulloch Gorum.

For nocht can cheer the hert sae weel
As can a cantie Hieland reel,
It even vivifee's the heel
Tae skip and dance:
Lifeless is he that canna feel
Its influence.

Lat mirth aboond, lat social cheer
Invest the dawin o the year;
Lat blithesome innocence appear
Tae croun oor joy,
Nor envy wi sarcastic sneer
Oor bliss destroy.

And thoo, great god o Aqua Veetæ!
That sways the empire o this ceety,
Whan fou we're sometimes capernoitie,
Be thoo prepared
Tae hedge us frae that black banditti,
The Ceety-Gaird.