Reader - Robert Louis Stevenson — Reader - Robert Louis Stevenson

© 1996 - 2019

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson is weel kent for his novelles that's been setten furth in mony tongues an are weel kent athort the hale warld. He's no sae weel kent for that whit he's written in Scots.

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.

The follaein story stairts in the English but gangs ower in tae the Scots whan the nairative stairts.

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 goodmen 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 causeway 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 first 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 year syne, whan Mr. Soulis cam first intae Ba'weary, he was still a young man - a callant, the fowk said - fou o beuk-learnin an grand at the exposeetion, but, as wis naitral in sae young a man, wi nae leevin experience in releegion. The younger sort war greatly takken wi his gifts an his gab; but auld, concerned, sairious men an weemen war muived e'en tae prayer for the young man, that thay teuk tae be a sel-deceiver, an the pairish that wis like tae be sae ill-supplee'd. It wis afore the days o the moderates-weary faw thaim; but ill things are like guid - thay baith come bit by bit, a pickle at a time; an thare war fowk e'en thaim that said the Lord hae left the college professors tae thair ain devices, an the lads that went tae study wi thaim wad hae duin mair an better sittin in a peatbog, like thair forebeirs o the persecution, wi a Bible unner thair oxter an a speerit o prayer in thair hert. Thare wis nae douts, onywey, but that Mr. Soulis haed been ower lang at the college. He wis carefu an tribbelt for mony things asides the ae thing needfu. He had a feck o beuks wi him - mair than haed iver been seen afore in aw that presbytery; an a sair wark the cairier haed wi thaim, for thay war aw like tae hae smuirt in the Deil's Hag atween this an Kilmackerlie. Thay war beuks o diveenity, tae be shuir, or sae thay cawed thaim; but the sairious war o the opeenion thare wis little service for sae mony, whan the hale o God's wird wad gang in the neuk o a plaid. Than he wad sit hauf the day an hauf the nicht forby, that wis scant dacent writin, nae less; an first thay war feart he wad read his sermons; an syne it pruived he wis writin a beuk himsel, that wis shuirly no fittin for ane o his years an smaw experience.
Onywey it behuived him tae get an auld, dacent wife tae keep the manse for him an see tae his bit denners; an he wis recommendit tae an auld limmer - Janet M'Clour, thay cawed her - an sae faur left tae himsel as tae be ower persuadit. Thare wis mony advised him tae the contrair, for Janet wis mair than suspectit by the best fowk in Ba'weary. Lang ere that, she haed haed a wean tae a dragoon; she haedna come forrit for mebbe thritty year; an bairns haed seen her mummlin tae hersel up on Key's Loan in the gloamin, whilk wis an unco time an place for a Godfearin wumman. Housaeiver, it wis the laird himsel that haed first tauld the meenister o Janet; an in thae days he wad hae gane a faur gate tae pleisur the laird. Whan fowk tauld him that Janet wis sib tae the deil, it wis aw supersteetion by his wey o it; an whan thay cast up the Bible tae him an the witch o Endor, he wad threap it doun thair thrapples that thir days war aw gane by, an the deil wis mercifully restraint.
Weel, whan it gat aboot the clachan that Janet M'Clour wis tae be servand at the manse, the fowk war fair mad wi her an him thegither; an some o the guidwifes haed nae better tae dae than get roond her door-chowks an chairge her wi aw that wis kent agin her, frae the sodger's bairn tae John Tamson's twa kye. She wis nae great speaker; fowk uisually lat her gang her ain gate, an she lat thaim gang thairs, wi naither Fair guid e'en nor Fair guid day; but whan she buckelt tae, she haed a tongue tae deave the miller. Up she gat, an thare wisna an auld story in Ba'weary but she gart somebody lowp for it that day; thay coudna say ae thing but she coud say twa tae it; till, at the hinder end, the guidwifes up an claucht haud o her, an clawed the coats aff her back, an poued her doun the clachan tae the watter o Dule, tae see if she war a witch or no, soum or droun. The carline skirlt till ye coud hear her at the Hangin Shaw, an she focht like ten; thare wis mony a guidwife buir the merk o her neist day an mony a lang day efter; an juist in the hettest o the collieshangie, wha shoud come, up (for his sins) but the new meenister!
"Women," said he (an he haed a grand vyce), "I charge you in the Lord's name to let her go."
Janet ran tae him - she wis fair wuid wi terror - an clang tae him, an prayed him, for Christ's sake, sauf her frae the kimmers; an thay, for thair pairt, tauld him aw that wis kent, an mebbe mair.
"Woman," says he tae Janet, "is this true?"
"As the Lord sees me," says she, "as the Lord made me, no a wird o't. Forby the bairn," says she, " A'v been a dacent wumman aw ma 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 whan he askit that, she gae a girn that fairly frichtit thaim that saw her, an thay coud hear her teeth play dirl thegither in her chafts; but thare wis naething for it but the ae wey or the ither; an Janet liftit up her haund an renoonced the deil afore thaim aw.
"And now," says Mr. Soulis tae the guidwifes, "home with ye, one and all, and pray to God for His forgiveness."
An he gied Janet his airm, tho she haed little on her but a sark, an teuk her up the clachan tae her ain door like a leddy o the laund; an her screichin an lauchin as wis a scandal tae be haurd.
Thare war mony grave fowk lang ower thair prayers that nicht; but whan the morn cam thare wis sic a fear fell upon aw Ba'weary that the bairns hid thairsels, an e'en the menfowk stuid an keekit frae thair doors. For thare wis Janet comin doun the clachan - her or her likeness, nane coud tell - wi her neck thrawn, an her heid on ae side, like a body that haes been hingit, an a girn on her face like an unstreekit corp. By an by thay gat uised wi it, an e'en speirt at her tae ken whit wis wrang; but frae that day furth she coudna speak like a Christian wumman, but slavert an played click wi her teeth like a pair o shears; an frae that day furth the name o God cam niver on her lips. Whiles she wad try tae say it, but it michtna be. Thaim that kent best said least; but thay niver gied that thing the name o Janet M'Clour; for the auld Janet, by thair wey o't, wis in muckle hell that day. But the meenister wis naither tae haud nor tae bind; he preacht aboot naething but the fowk's cruelty that had gien her a straik o the palsy; he skelpit the bairns that meddelt her; an he haed her up tae the manse that same nicht, an dwalt thare aw his lane wi her unner the Hangin Shaw.
Weel, time gaed by: an the idler sort commenced tae think mair lichtly o that black business. The meenister wis weel thocht o; he was aye late at the writin, fowk wad see his caunle doun by the Dule watter efter twal at e'en; an he seemed pleased wi himsel an upsitten as at first, tho awbody coud see that he was dwynin. As for Janet, she cam an she gaed; if she didna speak muckle afore, it was raison she shoud speak less than; she meddelt naebody; but she wis an eldritch thing tae see, an nane wad hae mistrystit wi her for Ba'weary glebe.
Aboot the end o Julie thare cam a spell o wather, the like o't niver wis in that kintraside; it wis lown an het an hertless; the hirds coudna win up the black Hill, the bairns war ower weariet tae play; an yet it wis gowstie an aw, wi claps o het wind that rummelt in the glens, an bits o shouers that slockent naething. We aye thocht it but tae thunner on the morn; but the morn cam an the morn's mornin, an it wis aye the same uncanny wather, sair on fowks an beastial. O aw that war the waur, nane suffert like Mr. Soulis; he coud naither sleep nor eat, he tauld his elders; an whan he wisna writin at his weary beuk, he wad be stravaigin ower aw the kintraside like a man possesst, whan awbody else wis blythe tae keep caller ben the hoose.
Abuin Hangin Shaw, in the bield o the black Hill, thare's a bit enclosed grund wi an airn yett; an it seems, in the auld days, that wis the kirkyaird o Ba'weary, an consecratit by the Papists afore the blissit licht shane upon the keengdom. It wis a great howff, o Mr. Soulis's onywey; thare he wad sit an conseeder his sermons; an deed it's a bieldy bit. Weel, as he cam ower the wast end o the black Hill, ae day, he saw first twa, an syne fower, an syne seiven corbie craws fleein roond an roond abuin the auld kirkyaird. Thay flew laich an hivie, an squawkit tae ither as thay gaed; an it wis clear tae Mr. Soulis that something had pit thaim frae thair ordinar. He wisna easy fleyed, an gaed straucht up tae the waws; an whit shoud he find thare but a man, or the appearance o a man, sittin in the inside upon a graff. He wis o a great statur, an black as hell, an his een war seengular tae see. Mr. Soulis haed haurd tell o black men, mony's the time; but thare wis something unco aboot this black man that dauntit him. Het as he wis, he teuk a kynd o cauld grue in the marrae o his banes; but up he spak for aw that; an says he: "My friend, are you a stranger in this place?" The black man answert niver a wird; he gat upon his feet, an begoud on tae hirsle tae the waw on the faur side; but he aye leukit at the meenister; an the meenister stuid an leukit back; till aw in a meenit the black man wis ower the waw an rinnin for the bield o the trees. Mr. Soulis, he haurdly kent why, ran efter him; but he wis fair forjaskit wi his walk an the het, unhalesome wather; an rin as he likit, he gat nae mair than a glisk o the black man amang the birks, till he wun doun tae the fit o the hillside, an thare he saw him ance mair, gaun, hap stap an lowp, ower Dule watter tae the manse.
Mr. Soulis wisna weel pleased that this fearsome gangrel shoud mak sae free wi Ba'weary manse; an he ran the haurder, an, wat sheen, ower the burn, an up the walk; but the deil a black man wis thare tae see. He stappit oot upon the road, but thare wis naebody thare; he gaed aw ower the gairden, but na, nae black man. At the hinder end, an a bit feart as wis but naitral, he liftit the hesp an intae the manse; an thare wis Janet M'Clour afore his een, wi her thrawn craig, an nane sae pleased tae see him. An he aye myndit sinsyne, whan first he set his een upon her, he haed the same cauld an deidly grue.
"Janet," says he, "have you seen a black man?"
"A black man !" quo she. "Sauf us aw ! Ye're no wice, meenister. Thare's nae black man in aw Ba'weary."
But she didna speak plain, ye maun unnerstaund; but yam-yammert, like a pownie wi the bit in its mou.
"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 fiver, an his teeth chittert in his heid.
"Hoots," says she, "think shame tae yoursel, meenister"; an gied him a drap brandy that she keepit aye by her.
Syne Mr. Soulis gaed intae his study amang aw his beuks. It's a lang, laich, mirk chaumer, perishin cauld in winter, an no verra dry e'en in the tap o the simmer, for the manse staunds near the burn. Sae doun he sat, an thocht o aw that haed come an gane sin he was in Ba'weary, an his hame, an the days whan he wis a bairn an ran daffin on the braes; an that black man aye ran in his heid like the owercome o a sang. Ay the mair he thocht, the mair he thocht o the black man. He tried the prayer, an the wirds wadna come tae him; an he tried, thay say, tae write at his beuk, but he coudna mak nae mair o that. Thare wis whiles he thocht the black man wis at his oxter, an the swat stuid upon him cauld as wall-watter; an thare wis ither whiles, whan he cam tae himsel like a kirstent bairn an myndit naething.
The upshot wis that he gaed tae the windae an stuid glowerin at Dule watter. The trees are unco thick, an the watter lies deep an black unner the manse; an thare wis Janet washin the claes wi her coats kiltit. She haed her back tae the meenister, an he, for his pairt, haurdly kent whit he wis leukin at. Syne she turnt roond, an shawed her face; Mr. Soulis haed the same cauld grue as twice that day afore, an it wis borne in upon him whit fowk said, that Janet wis deid lang syne, an this wis a bogle in her claycauld flesh. He drew back a pickle an he scant her nairaely. She wis tramp-trampin in the claes cruinin tae hersel; an eh! Guid guide us, but it wis a fearsome face. Whiles she sang looder, but thare wis nae man born o wumman that coud tell the wirds o her sang; an whiles she leukit side-lang doun, but thare wis naething thare for her tae leuk at. Thare gaed a scunner throu the flesh upon his banes; an that was Heiven's adverteesement. But Mr. Soulis juist blamed himsel, he said, tae think sae ill o a puir, auld afflictit wife that haedna a freend forby himsel; an he pit up a bit prayer for him an her, an drank a little caller watter - for his hert raise agin the meat - an gaed up tae his nakit bed in the gloamin.
That wis a nicht that haes niver been forgotten in Ba'weary, the nicht o the seiventeent o August, seiventeen hunder an twal. It haed been het afore, as A hae said, but that nicht it wis hetter than iver. The sun gaed doun amang unco-leukin cloods; it fell as mirk as the pit; no a starn, no a braith o wind; ye coudna see your haund afore your face, an e'en the auld fowk cuist the kivers frae thair beds an lay pechin for thair braith. Wi aw that he haed upon his mynd, it wis gey an unlikely Mr. Soulis wad get muckle sleep. He lay an he tummelt; the guid, caller bed that he gat intae brunt his verra banes; whiles he sleepit, an whiles he waukent; whiles he haurd the time o nicht, an whiles a tike yowlin up the muir, as if somebody was deid; whiles he thocht he haurd bogles claverin in his lug, an whiles he saw spunkies in the room. He behuived, he juidged, tae be seek; an seek he wis - little he jaloused the seekness.
At the hinder end, he gat a clearness in his mynd, sat up in his sark on the bed-side, an fell thinkin ance mair o the black man an Janet. He coudna weel tell hou - mebbe it wis the cauld tae his feet - but it cam in upon him wi a spate that thare wis some connection atween thir twa, an that aither or baith o thaim war bogles. An juist at that mament, in Janet's room, that wis neist tae his, thare cam a stramp o feet as if men war warstlin, an than a lood bang; an than a wind gaed reeshlin roond the fower quarters o the hoose; an than aw wis ance mair as seelent as the graff.
Mr. Soulis wis feart for naither man nor deil. He gat his tinderbox, an lit a caunle, an made three staps o't ower tae Janet's door. It wis on the hesp, an he pusht it appen an keekit bauldly in. It wis a big room, as big as the meenister's ain, an plenisht wi grand, auld solit gear, for he had naething else. Thare wis a fower-postit bed wi auld tapestry; an a braw caibinet o aik, that wis fou o the meenister's diveenity beuks, an pit thare tae be oot o the gate; an a wheen duds o Janet's lyin here an thare aboot the fluir. But nae Janet coud Mr. Soulis see; nor ony sign o a contention. In he gaed (an thare's few that wad hae follaed him) an leukit aw roond, an listent. But thare wis naething tae be haurd, naither inside the manse nor in aw Ba'weary pairish, an naething tae be seen but the muckle shaidaes turnin roond the caunle. An than, aw at ance, the meenister's hert played dunt an stuid stock-still; an a cauld wind blew amang the hairs o his heid. Whitna weary sicht wis that for the puir man's een! For thare wis Janet hingin frae a nail aside the auld aik caibinet: her Heid aye lay on her shouther, her een war steekit, the tongue projectit frae her mooth, an her heels war twa feet clear abuin the fluir.
"God forgive us all!" thocht Mr. Soulis, "poor Janet's dead."
He cam a stap nearer tae the corp; an than his hert fair whummelt in his inside. For by whit cantrip it wad ill beseem a man tae juidge, she was hingin frae a single nail an by a single wirsit threid for dairnin hose.
It's an awfu thing tae be your lane at nicht wi siccan prodigies aw daurkness; but Mr. Soulis wis strang in the Lord. He turnt an gaed his weys oot that room, an lockit the door ahint him; an stap by stap, doun the stair, as hivie as leid; an set doun the caunle on the table at the stair-fit. He coudna pray, he coudna think, he was dreepin wi cauld swat, an naething coud he hear but the dunt dunt duntin o his ain hert. He micht mebbe hae stuid thare an oor, or mebbe twa, he myndit sae little; whan aw o a suddent he haurd a laich, uncanny steer upstair; a fit gaed tae an frae in the chaumer whaur the corp wis hingin; syne the door wis appent, tho he myndit weel that he haed lockit it; an syne thare wis a stap upon the laundin, an it seemt tae him as if the corp wis leukin ower the rail an doun upon him whaur he stuid.
He teuk up the caunle again (for he coudna want the licht), an as saftly as iver he coud, gaed straucht oot the manse an tae the faur end o the causey. It wis aye pit-mirk; the flame o the caunle, whan he set it on the grund, brunt steidy an clear as in a room; naething muived, but the Dule watter seepin an sabbin doun the glen, an yon unhaly fitstap that cam ploddin doun the stair inside the manse. He kent the fit ower weel, for it wis Janet's; an at ilka stap that cam a wee thing nearer, the cauld gat deeper in his victuals. He commendit his saul tae 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 fit wis comin throu the passage for the door; he coud hear a haund skirt alang the waw, as if the fearsome thing wis feelin for its wey. The sauchs tosst an maned thegither, a lang sich cam ower the hills, the flame o the caunle wis blawn aboot; an thare stuid the corp o 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 kent - upon the threshauld o the manse.
It's a streenge thing that the saul o man shoud be that thirle't intae his perishable body; but the meenister saw that, an his hert didna brak.
She didna staund thare lang; she began to muive again an cam slawly taewart Mr. Soulis whaur he stuid unner the sauchs. Aw the life o his body, aw the strenth o his speerit, war glowerin frae his een. It seemt she wis gaun tae speak, but wantit wirds, an made a sign wi the left haund. Thare cam a clap o wind, like a cat's fuff; oot gaed the caunle, the sauchs screicht like fowk; an Mr. Soulis kent, that, leeve or dee, this wis 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 haund oot the heivens strack the Horror whaur it stuid; the auld, deid desecratit corp aw the witch-wife, sae lang keepit frae the graff an hirselt roond by deils, lowed up like a brunstane spunk an fell in esses tae the grund; the thunner follaed, peal on dirlin peal, the rairin rain upon the back o that; an Mr. Soulis lowpit throu the gairden 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 sax; afore aicht, he gaed by the chynge-hoose at Knockdowe; an no lang efter, Sandy M'Lellan saw him gaun linkin doun the braes frae Kilmackerlie. Thare's little dout but it wis him that dwalt sae lang in Janet's body; but he wis awa at last; an sinsyne the deil haes niver fasht us in Ba'weary.
But it wis a sair dispensation for the meenister; lang, lang he lay ravin in his bed; an frae that oor tae this, he wis the man ye ken the day.


The Makar Tae Posterity

FAUR yont amang the years tae be
Whan aw we think, an aw we see,
An aw we luve's been dung ajee
By time's roch shouther,
An whit wis richt an wrang for me
Lies mangelt throu 'ther,

It's possible - its haurdly mair
That some ane, rypin efter lair
Some auld professor or young heir,
If still thare's aither
Mey find an read me, an be sair
Perplext, puir brither !

"Whit tongue dis your auld beukie speak?"
He'll speir; an A, his mou tae steek :
"No bein fit tae write in Greek,
A wrate in Lallan,
Dear tae ma hert as the peat reek,
Auld as Tantallon.

"Few spak it than, an nou thare's nane.
Ma puir auld sangs lie
aw thair lane,
Thair sense, that ance wis braw an plain,
Tint awthegither,
Like, runes upon a staundin stane
Amang the heather.

"But thinkna you the brae tae speel;
You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel;
For aw your lair, for aw your skeel,
Ye're nane sae lucky;
An things are mebbe waur than weel
For you, ma buckie.

"The hale concern (baith hens an eggs,
Baith beuks an writers, stars an clegs)
Nou stachers upon lowsent legs
An weirs awa;
The tack o mankynd, near the dregs,
Rins unco law.

"Your beuk, that in some braw new tongue,
Ye wrate or prentit, preacht or sung,
Will still be juist a bairn, an young
In fame an years,
Whan the hale planet's guts are dung
Aboot your ears;

"An you, sair grippin tae a spar
Or whammelt wi some bleizin star,
Cryin, to ken whaur deil ye are,
Hame, Fraunce, or Flaunders
Whang sindry like a railwey Caur
An flee in daunders."


Ille Terrarum

FRAE nirly, nippin, Eastland breeze,
Frae Nor'land snaw, an haar o seas,
Weel happit in your gairden trees,
A bonny bit,
Atween the muckle Pentland's knees,
Siccar ye sit.

Beeches an aiks entwines thair theik,
An firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique.
Aw simmer day, your chimleys reek,
Couthy an bien;
An here an thare your windaes keek
Amang the green.

A pickle plats an paths an posies,
A wheen auld gelly-flouers an roses:
A ring o waws the hale encloses
Frae sheep or men;
An thare the auld hoosie beeks an dozes,
Aw by her lane.

The gairdner creuks his weary back
Aw day in the pitattie-track,
Or mebbe staps a while tae crack
Wi Jane the ceuk,
Or at some buss, wirm-eaten-black,
Tae gie a leuk.

Frae the heich hills the curlew caws;
The sheep gang baain by the waws;
Or whiles a clan o ruisty craws
Cangle thegither;
The wild bees seek the gairden raws,
Wearit wi heather.

Or in the gloamin douce an gray
The sweet-throat mavis tuins her lay;
The hird comes linkin doun the brae;
An by degrees
The muckle siller muin maks wey
Amang the trees.

Here aft hae A, wi sober hert,
For meditation sat apairt,
whan orra luves or kittle airt
Perplext ma mynd;
Here socht a baum for ilka smairt
O humankynd.

Here aft, weel neukit by ma lane,
Wi Horace, or perhaps Montaigne,
The mornin oors hae come an gane
Abuin ma heid
A wadna gien a chuckie-stane
For aw A'd read.

But nou the auld ceety, street by street,
An winter fou o snaw an sleet,
Awhile shut in ma gangrel feet
An govin mettle;
Nou is the soopit ingle sweet,
An liltin kettle.

An nou the winter winds compleen;
Cauld lies the glaur in ilka lane;
On draigelt hizzie, tautit wean
An drucken lads,
In the mirk nicht, the winter rain
Dreebles an blads.

Whan bugles frae the Castle rock,
An beaten drums wi dowie shock,
Wauken, at cauldrif sax o'clock,
Ma chitterin frame,
A mynd me on the kintra cock,
The kintra hame.

A mynd me on yon bonny bield;
An Fancy traivels faur afield
Tae gaither aw that gairdens yield
O sun an Simmer:
Tae herten up a dowie chield,
Fancy's the limmer!


WHAN ance Apryle haes fairly come,
An birds mey big in winter's lum,
An pleisur's spreid for aw an some
O whitna state,
Luve, wi her auld recruitin drum,
Than taks the gate.

The hert plays dunt wi main an micht;
The lasses' een are aw sae bricht,
Thair dresses are sae braw an ticht,
The bonny birdies!
Puir winter virtue at the sicht
Gangs heels ower hurdies.

An aye as luve frae laund to laund
Tirls the drum wi eydent haund,
Aw men collects at her command,
Toun-bred or land'art,
An follae in a denty baund,
Her gausie staundart.

An A, wha sang o rain an snaw,
An weary winter weel awa,
Nou busk me in a jaiket braw,
An tak ma place
A 'the ramstam, harum-scarum raw'
Wi smilin face.


A Mile An A Bittock

A MILE an a bittock, a mile or twa,
Abuin the burn, ayont the law,
Davie an Donal an Chairlie an aw,
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

Ane went hame wi the ither, an then
The ither went hame wi the ither twa men,
An baith wad return him the service again,
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

The clocks war chappin in hoose an haw,
Eleiven, twal an ane an twa;
An the guidman's face was turnt tae the waw,
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

A wind gat up frae aff o the sea,
It blew the stars as clear's coud be,
It blew in the een o aw o the three,
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

Nou, Davie wis first tae get sleep in his heid,
"The best o freends maun twine," he said;
A'm weariet, an here A'm awa tae ma bed."
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

Twa o thaim walkin an crackin thair lane,
The mornin licht cam gray an plain,
An the birds thay yammert on stick an stane,
An the muin wis shinin clearly!

O years ayont, O years awa,
Ma lads, ye'll mynd whit e'er befaw
Ma lads, ye'll mynd on the bield o the law,
Whan the muin wis shinin clearly./p>


A Lowden Sawbath Morn

THE clinkum-clank o Saubath bells
Nou tae the hoastin reukery swells,
Nou faintin laich in shady dells,
Soonds faur an near,
An throu the simmer kintra tells
Its tale o cheer.

An nou, tae that melodious play,
Aw deidly awn the quate sway
Aw ken thair solemn haliday,
Bestial an human,
The singin lintie on the brae,
The restin plouman.

He, mair than aw the lave o men,
His week completit joys tae ken;
Half-dresst, he daunders oot an in,
Perplext wi leisur;
An his raxt limbs he'll rax again
Wi painfu pleisur.

The steerin mither strang afit
Nou shoos the bairnies but a bit
Nou cries thaim ben, thair sunday shuit
Tae scart upon thaim,
Or sweeties in thair pootch tae pit,
Wi blissin's on thaim.

The lasses, clean frae tap tae taes,
Are buskit in crunklin unnerclaes;
The gairtent hose, the weel-fillt stays,
The nakit shift,
Aw bleacht on bonny greens for days,
As white's the drift.

An nou tae face the kirkwart mile:
The guidman's hat o dacent style,
The blackit shuin, we nou maun fyle
As white's the miller.
A waefu peety tae, tae spyle
The wirth o siller.

Oor Marget, aye sae keen tae crack,
Douce-stappin in the stoury track,
Her emeralt goun aw kiltit back
Frae snawy coats,
White-ankelt, leads the kirkwart pack
Wi Dauvit Groats.

A thocht ahint, in wrunkelt breeks,
Aw spylt wi lyin by for weeks,
The guidman follaes close, an cleeks
The sonsie missis;
His sairious face at ance bespeaks
The day that this is.

An aye an while we nearer draw
Tae whaur the kirkton lies alaw,
Mair neebours, comin saft an slaw
Frae here an thare,
The thicker thrang the gate an caw
The stour in air.

But hark! the bells frae nearer clang;
Tae rowst the slaw, thair sides thay bang;
An see! black coats awreadie thrang
The green kirkyaird;
An at the yett, the chestnits spang
That brocht the laird.

The solemn elders at the plate
Staund drinkin deep the pride o state:
The practised haunds as gash an great
As Lairds o Session;
The later named, a wee thing blate
In thair expression.

The prentit stanes that merk the deid
Wi lenthent lip, the sairious read;
Syne wag a moraleesin heid,
An than an thare
Thair hirplin practice an thair creed
Try haurd tae square.

It's here oor Mairen lang haes lain,
A wee bewast the table-stane;
An yon's the graff o Sandy Blane;
An further ower,
The mither's brithers, dacent men!
Lies aw the fower.

Here the guidman sall bide a wee
To dwall amang the deid; tae see
Auld faces clear in fancy's ee;
Belike tae hear
Auld vyces fawin saft an slee
On fancy's ear.

Thus, on the day o solemn things,
The bell that in the steeple swings
Tae fauld a scaitert faimly rings
Its walcome screed;
An juist a wee thing nearer brings
The quick an deid.

But nou the bell is ringin in;
Tae tak thair places, fowk begin;
The meenister himsel will suin
Be up the gate,
Fillt fou wi claivers aboot sin
An man's estate.

The times are up - French, tae be shuir,
The faithfu French, an twa-three mair;
The auld precentor, hoastin sair,
Wales oot the portions,
An yerks the tuin intae the air
Wi queer contortions.

Follaes the prayer, the readin next,
An than the fistlin for the text
The twa-three last tae find it, vext
But kynd o prood;
An than the peppermints are raxt,
An soothernwid.

For nou's the time whan powes are seen
Nid-noddin like a mandareen;
Whan tentie mithers stap a preen
In sleepin weans;
An nearly hauf the pairishen
Forgets thair pynes.

Thare's juist a waukrif twa or three:
Thrawn commentautors sweir tae gree,
Weans glowrin at the bummlin bee
On windae-glasses,
Or lads that taks a keek agley
At sonsie lasses.

Himsel, meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks
An babs belaw the soondin-box,
The treisurs o his wirds unlocks
Wi prodigality,
An deals some unco dingin knocks
Tae infidality.

Wi sappie unction, hou he burkes
The howps o men that trusts in wirks,
Expoonds the fauts o ither kirks,
An shaws the best o thaim
No muckle better than mere Turks,
Whan aw's confesst o thaim.

Bethankit! whit a bonny creed!
Whit mair wad ony Christian need?
The braw wirds rummle ower his heid,
Nor steer the sleeper;
An in thair restin graffs, the deid
Sleep aye the deeper