Poems and Lyrics (1)

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    CHIEF of the household gods
        Which hallow Scotland's lowly cottage-homes!
    While looking on thy signs
        That speak, though dumb, deep thought upon me
    With glad yet solemn dreams my heart is stirr'd,
Like childhood's when it hears the carol of a bird!

    The mountains old and hoar
        The chainless winds, the streams so pure and free,
    The God-enamel'd flowers,
        The waving forest, the eternal sea,
    The eagle floating o'er the mountain's brow,—
Are teachers all; but, O! they are not such as thou!

    O! I could worship thee!
        Thou art a gift a God of love might give;
    For love, and hope, and joy,
        In thy Almighty-written pages live;—
    The slave who reads shall never crouch again;
For, mind-inspired by thee, he bursts his feeble chain!

    God! unto thee I kneel,
        And thank thee!   Thou unto my native land—
    Yea to the outspread earth—
        Hast stretch'd in love thy everlasting hand,
    And thou hast given earth, and sea, and air—
Yea, all that heart can ask of good, and pure, and fair!

    And, Father, thou hast spread
        Before men's eyes this charter of the free,
    That ALL thy book might read,
        And justice love, and truth and liberty.
    The gift was unto men—the giver God!
Thou slave! it stamps thee man—go spurn thy weary load!

    Thou doubly-precious Book!
        Unto thy light what doth not Scotland owe:—
    Thou teachest age to die,
        And youth in truth unsullied up to grow!
    In lowly homes a comforter art thou—
A sunbeam sent from God—an everlasting bow!

    O'er thy broad, ample page
        How many dim and aged eyes have pored:
    How many hearts o'er thee
        In silence deep and holy have adored:
    How many mothers, by their infants' bed,
Thy holy, blessed, pure, child-loving words have read!

    And o'er thee soft young hands
        Have oft in truthful plighted love been join'd;
    And thou to wedded hearts
        Hast been a bond—an altar of the mind!—
    Above all kingly power or kingly law
May Scotland reverence aye—THE BIBLE OF THE HA'!


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THE loch where first the stream doth rise
    Is bonniest to my e'e;
An' yon auld-warld hame o' youth
    Is dearest aye to me.
My heart wi' joy may up be heez'd
    Or down wi' sorrow worn:
But O! it never can forget
    The toun where I was born!

The lowly hames beside the burn,
    Where happy hearts were growin';
The peasant huts where, purely bright,
    The light o' love was flowin';
The wee bit glebes, where honest men
    Were toilin' e'en an' morn,—
Are a' before me, when I mind
    The toun where I was born.

O! there were bonnie faces there,
    An' hearts baith high an' warm,
That neebors loved, an' strained fu' sair
    To keep a friend frae harm.
Nae wealth had they; but something still
    They spared when ane forlorn,
The puir auld beggar bodie, ca'd,
    The toun where I was born.

The gray auld Plan was honour'd
    The matron's words were cherish'd
An' honesty in youthfu' hearts
    By age's words was nourish'd.
An' though e'en there we couldna get
    The rose without the thorn,
It was a happy, happy place,
    The toun where I was born.

Yon heather-theekit hames were blithe,
    When winter nights were lang,
Wi' spinnin' wheels, an' jokin' lads,
    An' ilka lassie's sang.
At Hansel-Monday we had mirth,
    An' when the hairst was shorn,
The maidens cam'—'twas cheerfu' aye,
    The toun where I was born.

I maist could greet, I am sae wae—
    The very wa's are gane—
The autumn-shilfa sits an' chirps
    Upon ilk cauld hearthstane;
Ae auld aik-tree, or maybe twa,
    Amang the wavin' corn,
Is a' the mark that time has left
    O' the toun where I was born.


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A PLEASANT thing it is to mind
    O' youthfu' thoughts an' things,—
To pu' the fruit that on the tree
    Of memory ripely hings,—
To live again the happiest hours
    Of happy days gane by,—
To dream again as I ha'e dreamed
    When I was herdin' kye!

Thae days I thought, that far awa',
    Where hill an' sky seem met,
The bounds o' this maist glorious earth
    On mountain-taps were set,—
That sun an' moon, an' blinkin' stars
    Shone down frae heaven high
To light earth's garden: sae I dreamed
    When I was herdin' kye!

I thought the little burnies ran,
    An' sang the while to me!
To glad me, flowers came on the earth
    And leaves upon the tree,—
An' heather on the muirland grew,
    An' tarns in glens did lie:
Of beauteous things like these I dreamed
    When I was herdin' kye!

Sae weel I lo'ed a' things of earth!—
    The trees—the buds—the flowers—
The sun—the moon—the lochs an' glens—
    The spring's an' summer's hours!
A wither'd woodland twig would bring
    The tears into my eye:—
Laugh on! but there are souls of love
    In laddies herdin' kye!

O! weel I mind how I would muse,
    And think, had I the power,
How happy, happy I would make
    Ilk heart the warld o'er!
The gift unendin' happiness—
    The joyful giver I!—
So pure and holy were my dreams
    When I was herdin' kye!

A silver stream o' purest love
    Ran through my bosom then;
It yearn'd to bless all human things—
    To love all living men;
Yet scornfully the thoughtless fool
    Would pass the laddie by:
But O!  I bless the happy time
    When I was herdin' kye!


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THERE'S nae hame like the hame o' youth—
    Nae ither spot sae fair:
Nae ither faces look sae kind
    As the smilin' faces there.
An' I ha'e sat by monie streams—
    Ha'e travell'd monie ways;
But the fairest spot on the earth to me
    Is on bonnie Ordé Braes.

An ell-lang wee thing there I ran
    Wi' the ither neebor bairns,
To pu' the hazel's shinin' nuts,
    An' to wander 'mang the ferns;
An' to feast on the bramble-berries brown,
    An' gather the glossy slaes
By the burnie's side; an' aye sinsyne
    I ha'e lov'd sweet Ordé Braes.

The memories o' my father's hame,
    An' its kindly dwellers a',
O' the friends I lov'd wi' a young heart's love,
    Ere care that heart cou'd thraw,
Are twined wi' the stanes o' the silver burn,
    An' its fairy crooks an' bays,
That onward sang 'neath the gowden broom
    Upon bonnie Ordé Braes.

Aince in a day there were happy hames
    By the bonnie Ordé's side:—
Nane ken how meikle peace an' love
    In a straw-roof'd cot can bide.
But thae hames are gane, an' the hand'o' time
    The roofless wa's doth raze;—
Laneness an' sweetness hand in hand
    Gang ower the Ordé Braes.

O! an' the sun were shinin' now,
    An' O! an' I were there,
Wi' twa three friends o' auld langsyne
    My wanderin' joy to share!
For, though on the hearth o' my bairnhood's hame
    The flock o' the hills doth graze,
Some kind hearts live to love me yet
    Upon bonnie Ordé Braes.


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WHERE the purple heather blooms
    Amang the rocks sae gray—
Where the moorcock's whirring flight,
    Is heard at break of day—
Where Scotland's bagpipes ring
    Alang the mountain's breast—
Where laverocks lilting sing,
    Is the place that I love best!

Where the lonely shepherd tends
    His bleating hill-side flock—
Where the raven bigs its nest
    In the crevice of the rock—
Where the guardian beacon-tower
    Seems ilk rugged mountain's crest,
To watch aboon auld Scotland's glens,
    Is the place that I love best!

Where the shepherd's reeking cot
    Peeps from the broomy glen—
Where the aik-tree throws its leaves
    O'er the lowly but an' ben—
Where the stanch auld-warld honesty
    Is in the puir man's breast,
And truth a guest within his hame,
    Is the place that I love best!

Where the gray-haired peasant tells
    The deeds his sires have done,
Of martyrs slain in Scotland's muirs,
    Of battles lost and won—
Wherever prayer and praise arise
    Ere toil-worn men can rest,
From each humble cottage fane,
    Is the place that I love best!

Where my ain auld mither dwells,
    And longs ilk day for me—
While my father strokes his reverend head,
    Whilk gray eneuch maun be—
Where the hearts in kirkyards rest
    That were mine when youth was blest
As we rowed amang the gowans,
    Is the place that I love best!

Where the plover frae the sky
    Can send its wailing song,
Sweet mingled wi' the burnie's gush.
    That saftly steals along—
Where heaven taught to ROBERT BURNS
    Its hymns in language drest—
The land of Doon—its banks and braes—
    Is the place that I love best!

Where the straths are fair and green,
    And the forests waving deep—
Where the hill-top seeks the clouds—
    Where the caller tempests sweep—
Where thoughts of freedom come
    To me a welcome guest—
Where the free of soul were nursed,
    Is the place that I love best!


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HAPPY, happy be their dwallin's,
    By the burn an' in the glen—
Cheerie lassies, cantie callans,
    Are they a' in Ochtergaen.

Happy was my youth amang them—
    Rantin' was my boyhood's hour;
A' the winsome ways about them,
    Now, when gane, I number o'er.
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's, &c.

Weel I mind ilk wood an' burnie,
    Couthie hame and muirland fauld,—
Ilka sonsie, cheerfu' mither,
    An' ilk father douce an' auld!
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's, &c.

Weel I mind the ploys an' jokin'
    Lads an' lasses used to ha'e—
Moonlight trysts an' Sabbath wanders
    O'er the haughs an' on the brae.
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's, &c.

Truer lads an' bonnier lasses
    Never danced beneath the moon;—
Love an' friendship dwelt amang them,
    An' their daffin ne'er was done.
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's, &c.

I ha'e left them now for ever;
    But, to greet would bairnly be:
Better sing, an' wish kind Heaven
    Frae a' dule may keep them free.
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's, &c.

Where'er the path o' life may lead me,
    Ae thing sure—I winna mane
If I meet wi' hands an' hearts
    Like those o' cantie Ochtergaen.
Chorus—Happy, happy be their dwallin's,
                    By the burn an' in the glen—
                Cheerie lassies, cantie callans,
                    Are they a' in Ochtergaen.

* Ochtergaen, so provincially named, is Auchtergaven, a village
 midway between Perth and Dunkeld ; and the nearest kirk-town
 to Nicoll's birth-place.


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I WINNA sing o' bluidy deeds an' waefu' war's alarms;
For glancin' swords an' prancin' steeds, for me possess nae
But I will sing o' happiness which fireside bosoms feel,
While listenin' to the birrin' soun' o' Scotland's

The spinnin'-wheel ! the spinnin'-wheel! the very name is
It minds me o' the winter nichts, the blithest o' the year;
O' cozie hours in hamely ha's, while frozen was the wiel
In ilka burn,—while lassies sang by Scotland's

It minds me o' the happy time, when, in our boyish glee,
At barley-bracks, we laughin' chased ilk kimmer we could
Or danced, while loud the bagpipes rang, the Highland
        foursum reel;
There's naething dowie brought to mind by Scotland's

The auld wife by the ingle sits, an' draws her cannie thread:
It hauds her baith in milk an' meal, an' a' thing she can need:
An' gleesome scenes o' early days upon her spirit steal,
Brought back to warm her wither'd heart by Scotland's

O! there is gladsome happiness, while round the fire are set
The younkers,—when ahint the backs a happy pair are met,
Wha wi' a silent kiss o' love their blessed paction seal,
While sittin' in their truth beside auld Scotland's

O! weel I lo'e the blackbird's sang in spring-time o' the year;
O! weel I We the cushat's croon, in merry May to hear;
But o' the sounds o' love and joy, there's nane I lo'e sae weel—
There's nane sae pleasant as the birr o' Scotland's


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WHERE ance the cozie fire was bien
    The winter rain-drap owrie fa's;
My father's floor wi' grass is green,
    And roofless are the crumblin' wa's.
Auld thochts, auld times, upon my heart
    Are backward rowin' ane by ane:
We'll bow our boughs and hae a crack
    About them on our auld hearthstane!

Our laigh cot-house I mind fu' weel:
    On ae side mither spinning sat,
Droning auld sonnets to her wheel—
    And purring by her side the cat.
Anent was sair-toil'd father's chair,
    Wha tauld us stories, sad and lane,
O' puir folk's waes, until we wished
    Them a' beside our cosh hearthstane,

And when the supper-time was o'er,
    The BEUK was tane as it should be,
And heaven had its trysted hour
    Aneath that sooty auld roof-tree:
Sync ilka wean was sung to sleep
    Wi' sangs o' deeds and ages gane;
And rest was there until the sun
    Cam' blinkin' on our auld hearthstane.

Auld stane, had ye a heart to feel,
    Ye wad been blithe as ony kitten,
To hear o' ilka sang and reel,
    And prank made up while round ye sittin'.
How days o' feastin' cam' wi' speed,
    When dubs were hard as ony bane,
How Pace, and Yule, and Halloween
    Were keepit round our auld hearthstane.

When winter nights grew white and lang,
    The lads and lasses cam' wi' spinning,
And mony a joke and mony a sang
    Gaed round while wheels were busy rinning.
And syne whan ten cam' round about,
    Ilk lasses' joe her wheel has ta'en,
And courting o'er the rigs they gang,
    And leave us and our auld hearthstane!

And meikle mair I could unfauld,
    How yearly we gat rantin' kirns;
And how the Minister himsel'
    Cam duly carritchin' the bairns:
Vow, sic a face!  I tremble yet!
    Gosh guide's! it was an awfu' ane;
It gart our hearts come to our mouths,
    While cowrin round our auld hearthstane!

Weel, weel, the wheels are broken now,
    The lads and lasses auld are dead,
The green grass o'er their graves cloth grow,
    Or gray hairs theek their aged head.
My parents baith are far awa',
    My brithers fechtin', toilin' men,
It warms my heart unto them a',
    The sight o' this our auld hearthstane!

 When I forget this wee, auld house,
    When I forget what here was taught,
My head will be o' little use,
    My heart be rotten, worse than naught.
Sin' birds could sing upo' thae wa's,
    I've been in chaumers mony ane;
But ne'er saw I a hearth like this,
    No, naething like our auld hearthstane.

Hearthstane! though wae, I needna greet,
    What gude on earth wad whingeing do?
The earth has fouth o' trusty hearts,
    Let him wha doubts it speir at you.
Ae wish hae I—that brither man,
    The world o'er, were bluid and bane,
Sic truthfu', honest, trusty chields,
    As ance sat round our auld hearthstane.


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WE'LL a' go pu' the heather—
    Our byres are a' to theek:
Unless the peat-stack get a hap,
    We'll a' be smoored wi' reek.
Wi' rantin' sang, awa we'll gang,
    While summer skies are blue,
To fend against the Winter cauld
    The heather we will pu'.

I like to pu' the heather,
    We're aye sae mirthfu' where
The sunshine creeps atour the crags,
    Like ravelled golden hair.
Where on the hill tap we can stand,
    Wi' j oyfu' heart I trow,
And mark ilk grassy bank and holm,
    As we the heather pu'.

I like to pu' the heather—
    Where harmless lambkins run,
Or lay them down beside the burn,
    Like gowans in the sun;
Where ilka foot can tread upon
    The heath-flower wet wi' dew,
When comes the starnie o'er the hill,
    While we the heather pu'.

I like to pu' the heather,
    For ane can gang awa,
But no before a glint o' love
    On some ane's e'e doth fa'.
Sweet words we dare to whisper there,
    "My hinny and my doo,"
Till maistly we wi' joy could greet
    As we the heather pu'.

We'll a' go pu' the heather—
    For at yon mountain fit
There stands a broom bush by a burn,
    Where twa young folk can sit:
He meets me there at morning's rise,
    My beautiful and true.
My father's said the word—the morn
    The heather we will pu'.


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O!   I HA'E loved the heather hills,
    Where summer breezes blaw;
An' I ha'e loved the glades that gang
    Through yonder greenwood-shaw!
But now the spot maist dear to me
    Is where the moon doth beam
Down through the sleepin' leaves, to watch
    My ain wee cantie hame.

My cantie hame! its roof o' straw,
    Aneath yon thorn I see—
Yon cosie bush that couthie keeps
    My wife and bairnies three.
There's green grass round my cottage sma',
    An' by it rins a stream,
Whilk ever sings a bonnie sang
    To glad my cantie hame.

When delvin' in the sheugh at e'en,
    Its curlin' reek I see;
I ken the precious things at hame
    Are thinkin' upon me.
I ken my restin' chair is set,
    Where comes the warmest gleam—
I ken there's langin' hearts in thee,
    My ain wee cantie hame.

O! can I do but love it weel,
    When a' thing's lovesome there?
My cheerfu' wife—my laughin' weans—
    The morn an' e'enin' prayer.
The Sabbath's wander in the woods,
    An' by the saut-sea faem;—
The warst o' hearts might learn to love
    My ain wee cantie hame.

The blessin's o' a hame-bless'd heart—
    Be warm upon it a'!
On wife an' bairns may love an' peace
    Like sunbeams joyous fa'!
Blithe thoughts are rinnin' through my heart,
    O! thoughts I canna name—
Sae glad are they—while thinkin' o'
    My ain wee cantie hame.


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HALE be thy honest trusty heart,
    And hale thy beld and snawy pow,
The hand of eld ne'er furrowed o'er
    A baulder or a manlier brow.
The laddie wha was ance thy pet,
    Has been in places far awa',
But he thy marrow hasna met
    Amang the great nor yet the sma'.

Ance proud eneuch was I to sit
    Beside thee in the muirland kirk,
A ruling elder—ane o' weight,
    Nae wonder though your oe did smirk
And braw eneuch was I to find
    My head the preacher's hand upon,
While by the kirkyard stile he cracked
    Of holy things wi' Elder John!

And syne as hame alang the muir
    I prattling by your side did rin,
Ye mind how ye rebuked thae thochts—
    And ca'd them vanity and sin.
But pennies frae your auld breek pouch
    Wi' dauds o' counsel ye would gie,
The last war gude—but aye the first
    I liket best, I winna lee!

Thy daily fireside worship dwalls
    Within this inmost soul of mine:
Thy earnest prayer—sae prophet-like—
    For a' on earth I wadna tyne.
And you and granny sang the Psalms
    In holy rapt sincerity;—
My granny—dinna greet, auld man—
    She's looking down on you and me.

Can I forget how lang and weel
    The carritches ye made me read?
Or yet the apples—rosy anes—
    I gat to gar me mend my speed?
Can I forget affection's words,
    That frae your lips like pearls ran?
Can I forget the heart that prayed
    To see me aye an honest man?

And mind ye how we gat us beuks,
    And read wi' meikle care and skill,
Until ye thocht this head wad wag
    The pu'pit's holy place intil?
For mony an idle whim of mine
    Wad my auld father journeys gang;
His auld heart danced when I did right,
    And sair it grieved when I did wrang.

But mair than a'—frae beuks sae auld—
    Frae mony treasured earnest page,
Thou traced for me the march of truth,
    The path of right from age to age:
A peasant, auld, and puir, and deaf,
    Bequeathed this legacy to me,
I was his bairn—he filled my soul
    With love for liberty!

Be blessings on thy reverend head,
    I dinna need for thee to pray;
The path is narrow, but nae een
    E'er saw thee from it stray.
God bears his ancient servants up—
    He's borne thee since thy life began;—
I'm noble by descent:—thy grave
    Will hold an honest man.

* This patriarch of Auchtergaven, the maternal grandfather of
 Nicoll, survived to the venerable age of ninety-two, in the
 enjoyment of nearly uninterrupted health and activity, and with
 full possession of his mental faculties to the last.  He was a
 respectable farmer of the old school, and probably the very last
 wearer of the broad blue Lowland bonnet.  With "Elder John"—or
 Mr. John Fenwick—his grandson, Robert, was a very great
 favourite.  To those who read the above poem it is superfluous to
 say that the affection was mutual and fervent.


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HE was a carle in his day,
    And siccar bargains he could mak',
When o'er a bicker he was set,
    And deep in a twa-handed crack.
He fought horse-coupers at the tryst,
    The smith and miller aft did ban;
For, whether be it at wark or play,
    The gree was wi' our auld Gudeman!

At kirk and preachin's duly he
    The sermons sleepit—drank his gill—
He cured disease in man and beast—
    And had o' Brown and Erskine skill.
The trysts and markets kent him weel,—
In quarrel, bargain, cog or can,
    He took and paid an equal share
Wi' friend and fae—our auld Gudeman.

Three wives he had, and bairns sax,
    And, 'tween the Scripture and the taws,
He gart them a' behave and work,
    And mak' nae mony hums and haws.
Now wi' a staff, about the dykes,
    He stoiters, auld, and beld, and wan;
And what he's been he'll ever be—
    A ranting, dainty, auld Gudeman!


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A SONSY auld carline is Janet Dunbar—
A donsy auld carline is Janet Dunbar;
For a gash skilly body, weel kent near and far,
Through the hale kintra side, cantie Janet Dunbar.

Folk speer her advice, baith the greatest and least,
For she cures a' diseases o' man and o' beast;
She has words that will keep awa' witches and deils—
She has syrups in bottles, and herbs in auld creels;
To caulds and rheumatics she proves sic a fae,
They canna get rest in the parish a day.
In this queer kind o' warld there's mony a waur
Than our cheerie auld carline, gash Janet Dunbar!
                                                               A sonsy, &c.

Her hame is a howf to the bairnies at school,
And she dauts them and hauds them fu' couthie and
Till in her auld lug a' their sorrows they tell—
For she'll scauld for their sakes e'en the Dominie's sel'.
But Janet's high time is when night settles doun,
And a' the auld wives gather in through the toun;—
To tell what they are na, and what ithers are,
Is meat, drink, and claithing to Janet Dunbar!
                                                               A sonsy, &c.

And Janet's auld house has a but and a ben,
Where twa folk can meet and let naebody ken;
For Janet thinks true love nane e'er should restrain,
Having had, thretty years syne, a lad o' her ain.
And then, when the whispering and courting is done,
For some lee-like story is Janet in tune,
About some bluidy doings in some Highland scaur,—
You're a queer ane!—'deed are you now, Janet Dunbar!
                                                               A sonsy, &c.

But when some o' her kimmers hae kirsened a wean,
Then Janet, sae braid, in her glory is seen:
She winks to the neebours, and jokes the gudeman,
Till his face grows sae red that he maistly could ban;
Sync she turns to the mither, and taks the wean's loof,
And tells that he'll neither be laggard nor coof!
You're an auld happy body—sae, bright be your star,
And lang may you stump about, Janet Dunbar.

A sonsy auld carline is Janet Dunbar—
A donsy auld carline is Janet Dunbar;
For a gash skilly body, weel kent near and far,
Through the hale kintra side, cantie Janet Dunbar.


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JANET MACBEAN a public keeps,
    An' a merry auld wife is she;
An' she sells her ale wi' a jaunty air,
    That would please your heart to see.
Her drink's o' the best—she's hearty aye,
    An' her house is cosh an' clean,—
There's no an auld wife in the public line
    Can match wi' Janet Macbean.

She has aye a curtsy for the laird
    When he comes to drink his can,
An' a laugh for the farmer an' his wife,
    An' a joke for the farmer's man.
She toddles but, and she toddles ben,
    Like ony wee bit queen—
There's no an auld wife in the public line
    Can match wi' Janet Macbean.

The beggar wives gang a' to her,
    An' she serves them wi' bread and cheese;—
Her bread in bannocks, an' cheese in whangs,
    Wi' a blithe gudewill she gi'es.
Vow! the kintra-side will miss her sair
    When she's laid aneath the green:—
There's no an auld wife in the public line
    Can match wi' Janet Macbean.

Among ale-house wives she rules the roast;
    For upon the Sabbath days
She puts on her weel-hain'd tartan plaid
    An' the rest o' her Sabbath claes;
An' she sits, nae less! in the minister's seat:
    Ilk psalm she lilts, I wean,—
There's no an auld wife in the public line
    Can match wi' Janet Macbean.


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A WEE raggit laddie he cam' to our toun,
Wi' his hair for a bannet—his taes through his shoon:
An' aye when we gart him rise up in the morn,
The ne'er do-well herdit the kye 'mang the corn:
We sent him to gather the sheep on the hill,—
No for wark, but to keep him from mischief an' ill;—
But he huntit the ewes, an' he rade on the ram!
Sic a hellicat deevil was Minister Tam!

My auld Auntie sent him for sugar an' tea,—
She kent na, douce woman! how toothsome was he;—
As hamewith he cam' wi't he paikit a bairn,
An' harried a nest doun amang the lang fern;
Then, while he was restin' within the green shaw,
My auld Auntie's sugar he lickit it a':—
Syne a drubbin' to miss, he sair sickness did sham:
Sic a slee tricksy shangie was Minister Tam!

But a carritch he took, when his ain deevil bade,—
An' wi' learnin' the laddie had maistly gaen mad;
Nae apples he pu'ed now, nae bee-bikes he smoored,
The bonnie wee trouties gat rest in the ford,—
Wi' the lasses at e'enin' nae mair he would fight—
He was readin' and spellin' frae mornin' to night:
He grew mini as a puddock an' quiet as a lamb,—
Gudesakes! sic a change was on Minister Tam!

His breeks they were torn an' his coat it was bare;
But he gaed to the school, an' he took to the lear:
He fought wi' a masterfu' heart up the brae,
Till to see him aye toilin' I maistly was wae.
But his wark is now endit,—our Tammie has grown
To a kirk wi' a steeple—a black silken gown,—
Sic a change frae our laddie wha bare footed cam',—
Wi' his wig white wi' pouther is MINISTER TAM!


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CAM' ye e'er by our toun?
    Danced ye e'er upon its green?
The smeeky hames o' our toun
    Sae blithesome, ha'e ye ever seen?
There's rantin' chields in our toun—
    The wabster, smith, an' monie mae;
But 'mong the lads o' our toun
    The foremost is the Dominie!

'Bout a' auld-farrant things he kens—
    The Greeks and bluidy Romans too;
An' ithers wi' auld warld names
    That sairly crook a body's mou'.
He kens the places far awa'
    Where black folk dwall ayont the sea;
An' how an' why the starnies shine
    Is weel kent to the Dominie!

Wi' meikle words an' wisdom nods
    The fleggit fearfu' bairns he rules;
An' he can tell the Hebrew names
    O' aumries an' three-leggit stools!
A dead man's skull wi' girnin' teeth
    Frae out the auld kirkyard has he:
For droll an' gey an' fearsome things
    There's nane can match the Dominie.

O' beuks a warld he has read,
    An' wi' his tongue can fight like mad,
Till ither folk he sometimes mak's
    That they will neither bind nor haud:
And if they're dour and winna ding,
    Their settlin' soon he does them gi'e
Wi' words o' queer lang-nebbit speech—
    Sae learned is the Dominie!

There's yon auld soger, wha has been
    Where oranges like brambles hing,—
There's ne'er a ane the clachan o'er
    Can crack like him 'bout ony thing:
They say that wi' the deil he deals!—
    It may be sae; but even he
Maun steek his gab when clinkin' ben
    At e'enin' comes the Dominie!

An' sic a face he does put on
    On Sabbath when he sings the psalm!
The auld wives of the parochin
    Are thinkin' him a gospel lamb.
At weddin's, when the lave are blithe,
    Wi' auld folk doucely sitteth lie
Till Minister an' Elders gang;—,
    But syne—up bangs the Dominie!

Frae cheek to chin—frae lug to lug—
    The lasses round he kisses a',
An' loups an' dances, cracks his thoums,
    Nor hamewith steers till mornin' daw;
An' whiles at e'en to our door cheek
    He comes an' sleelie winks on me,—
Yestreen, ayont the kailyard dyke,
    I 'greed to wed the Dominie!


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OUR Burn-the-wind was stout and strang,
    His stature mounted ellwands twa,
His grip was like a smiddy vice,
    And he could gi'e a fearfu' thraw.
At hammerin' airn he was gude,
    A' kinds o' tackle—pot or pan—
Or gun, or sword—be't make or mend—
    Clink, clink—our smith he was the man.

A' things o' airn kind he made
    As weel as hand o' man could do;
And he could court a bonnie lass,
    And drink a reaming coggie too.
Frae side to side, the clachan o'er
    Ilk gudewife's bottle he had pree'd,
And ilka lass had touzled weel:—
    The smith at wooin' aye can speed!

Be't late or soon—or auld or new—
    The smith the feck o' a' things kend,
And if a story wasna right,
    A story he could mak or mend!
He was a perfect knowledge-box—
    An oracle to great and sma'—
And fifty law-pleas he had lost,
    He was sae weel acquaint wi' law!

He naigs could shoe, and sangs could sing,
    And say a grace upon a pinch;
Could lick a loon at tryst or fair—
    A man was trusty every inch!
He ruled the roast—our Burn-the-wind—
    Be he at home, be he a-field—
In love, or drink, or lear, or wark,
    Vow! but he was a famous chield!


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DONALD fought in France and Spain,
    Donald mony men hath killed,
And frae the pouches o' the slain
    Aft has he his spleuchan filled.
Donald was a soldier good,
    Though whiles the bicker made him fa',
He meikle fought and plundered mair,
    Where might was right, and force was law!

Donald's pow grew white as lint,
    Donald langer wou'dna do—
Hame he cam wi' coppers six
    Ilk day to melt in mountain-dew.
Donald tells his fearfu' tales,
    Donald drinks like ony sow,
And mony battles does he fecht,
    Wi' bourtree bushes, when he's fou.

Donald a' the laddies' heads
    Has filled wi' thoughts o' sword and gun;
He gars them fecht like sparrow-cocks,
    And thinks it nocht but famous fun.
Now dinna crook your saintly mou'
    At Donald's sin and Donald's shame:
Ye ken, by Donald and his like
    We've gotten such a glorious name!


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BONNIE Bessie Lee had a face fu' o' smiles,
    And mirth round her ripe lip was aye dancing slee;
And light was the footfa', and winsome the wiles,
    O' the flower o' the parochin—our ain Bessie Lee!

Wi' the bairns she would rin, and the school laddies paik,
    And o'er the broomy braes like a fairy would flee,
Till auld hearts grew young again wi' love for her sake:—
    There was life in the blithe blink o' Bonnie Bessie Lee!

She grat wi' the waefu', and laughed wi' the glad,
    And light as the wind 'mang the dancers was she;
And a tongue that could jeer, too, the little limmer had,
    Whilk keepit aye her ain side for Bonnie Bessie Lee!

And she whiles had a sweetheart, and sometimes had twa—
    A limmer o' a lassie!—but, atween you and me,
Her warm wee bit heartie she ne'er threw awa',
    Though mony a ane had sought it frae Bonnie Bessie Lee!

But ten years had gane since I gazed on her last,—
    For ten years had parted my auld hame and me;
And I said to mysel' as her mither's door I passed,
    "Will I ever get anither kiss frae Bonnie Bessie Lee?"

But Time changes a' thing—the ill-natured loon!
    Were it ever sae rightly he'll no let it be;
But I rubbit at my eon, and I thought I would swoon,
    How the carle had come roun' about our ain Bessie Lee!

The wee laughing lassie was a gudewife grown auld—
    Twa weans at her apron and ane on her knee;
She was douce, too, and wiselike—and wisdom's sae cauld:—
    I would rather ha'e the ither ane than this Bessie Lee!


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ALANG by yon burn-side
    I saw him gang yestreen,—
His fiddle upon his back
    Was row'd in claith o' green.
His wifie led her Johnny:—
    O' een she had but ane;
While he, for a' his mirth,
    Puir bodie! has gat nane.

He canna see a blink,
    Yet doesna greet an' grane;
An' ither folk he hands
    Fu' cheerfu' but an' ben.
A cantie spring he plays—
    A cantie sang he sings:
The Fiddler weel is kent,—
    For mirth wi' him he brings.

Mony a merry nicht
    The auld blind man has been
Wi' great folk in the ha'—
    Wi' sma' folk on the green.
He's aye a welcome guest
    Wherever he does gang,—
They gi'e him meat ail' claes,
    An' he gi'es them a sang.

The fient a hair cares he
    For ony mortal bodie,—
He'll geck e'en at the Minister,
    An' joke wi' laird an' lady!
The duddie plaid pretence,
    He laughin', rives in twa,—
A fool an' knave the Fiddler
    A fool an' knave doth ca'!

O! leeze me on the Fiddler:
    If we had monie mae
As blithe in heart as he,
    We wou'dna be sae wae!
An' gif, like him, the truth
    To tell, we a' would 'gree,
The world where we live
    Would meikle better be!


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A BARE-LEGGIT callant came out o' the north,
    And set himself down in our borough,
The loon had a dour and a miserly look,
    Folk said he'll no leave in a hurry.
He was twenty-first cousin to some Highland laird,
    His tartan was o' the chief's colour;
But nae sort o' wark cam' a-jee to the Celt
    If ye made him but sure o' the siller!

He was toiling and earning baith early and late,
    Though lazy folk tried to deride him;
He was a' body's servant and a' body's jest—
    Fient cared he, if a' body paid him.
His kilt he exchanged for a braw pair o' breeks,
    The Gaelic nae langer did snivel;
He began to be likit—had Satan been rich,
    To Satan he would ha'e been civil.

He gat him a carritch, and set him to spell
    The clans are but so-so at reading;
He soon was a clerk, and a clerk o' the best—
    Dour devil! he a' thing cam' speed in!
He bowed and he becket, till by a bit desk
    He had come to a safe kind o' anchor;
And ere lang our slee callant was aff to the kirk
    Wi' the dochter o' Guineas the banker!

He could lee like an apple-wife—cheat like the deil,
    He was surely created for rising:
Although he had died in a baronet's chair
    It wadna been naething surprising.
Our Provost was old—he was dotard and blind,
    And death took him aff in a hurry:
Syne Banker M'Turk, wi' his pouchfu's o' gowd,
    Was exalted to rule o'er the borough.

The Provost had power, and the Provost had sense;
    Great folk ga'e him places by dozens;—
He sold them his vote, and they quartered a score
    Of his lang-leggit, bare Highland cousins.
He ruled a' the council—the bailies an' a'—
    To the land-loupers acted like Nero;
The Provost was siccar—wha lost or wha wan,
    Number ane was aye taken gude care o'.

But Death leuket ben wi' a grim angry leuk,
    And the wily auld Provost was ended:
Twa opinions divided the feck o' the toun
    As to whilk way his spirit had wended.
An auld doited weaver misca'd him fu' sair,
    And said he deserved the wae woodie:
He said that o' a Provost!—I'm sure you'll agree,
    He maun been but a kae-witted bodie!


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DOWN the street the Bailie comes—
    Faith he keeps the causey-crown,
He bans the sergeants black and blue,
    The bellman gets the name o' loon.
He can speak in monie tongues,
    Gude braid Scots and hieland Erse;
The king o' Bailies is our ain,
    Sic men I fear are unco scarce!

At feasting-time the powers aboon
    At cramming try their utmost skill;
But faith the Bailie dings them a'
    At spice and wine, or whisky gill.
The honest man can sit and drink,
    And never ha'e his purse to draw;
He helps to rule this sinfu' town,
    And as it should—it pays for a'.

And then to see him in the kirk,
    Wi' gowden chain about his neck!
He's like a king upon a throne—
    I say it wi' a' meet respect.
And to the folk who fill the lafts,
    Fu' monie a fearsome look he gi'es,
To see that a' are duly filled
    Wi' terror of the dignities!

A pickle here—a pickle there,
    Of borough siller Bailie gets,
And he would need—it's no a joke,
    To fitly fill a Bailie's seat!
The Bailie likes the gude auld ways,
    And yet he langs for something new;
He thinks twal corporation feasts
    Within the year are unco few!


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WE maun wear awa', Robbie, we needna repine,
This head lang has lain in that bosom of thine;
We are auld, we are frail, we are lanely and a',
Nae mane will we mak' though we're wearin' awa'!

Frae our auld cottar-house, it winna be lang
Ere to the cauld kirkyard thegither we gang;
Though nae bonnie bairnie to love us ha'e we,
Yet some will be wae for my Robbie and me!

Nae mair will our ingle blink when it is mirk,
Our twa auld white pews will be missed in the kirk,
And the auld beggar bodie will thowless gang by,
And for the gudewife and our awmous will sigh!

To the hillock that wraps us aneath its green sod,
The feet o' our neebours will soon mak' a road,
And the bairnies will greet 'cause the auld folk are gane,
Who cuddled them aft till o' griefs they had nane.

When youngsters come hameward frae lands far awa',
'Bout me and my Robbie they'll speer and they'll ca',
They'll think o' the day when youth's simmer was fine,
And they'll mourn for us gane, wi' the hours o' langsyne.

We maun wear awa', Robbie—we need fearna to gae,
Did we e'er fail a friend—did we e'er wrang a fae?
Our life has been lowly, as lowly can be,
And death winna part my auld gudeman and me.


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THOUGH Scotland's hills be far awa',
    And her glens, where the clear silver burnies row,
I see them and hear her wild breezes blaw,
    O'er the moors where the blue-bells and heather grow.

Oh, hame is sweet!—but thae hames o' thine
    Are the kindliest far that the sun doth see;
And, though far awa' I have biggit mine,
    As my mother's name they are dear to me!

I love the tale o' thy glories auld,
    Which thy shepherds tell on the mountain side;
Of thy martyrs true and thy warriors bauld,
    Who for thee and freedom lived and died!

Land of my youth! though my heart doth move,
    And sea-like my blood rises high at thy name,
'Boon a' thing there's ae thing in thee I love—
    The virtue and truth o' thy poor man's hame.

The poor man's hame! where I first did ken
    That the soul alone makes the good and the great—
That glitter and glare are false and vain,
    And deceit upon glory's slave cloth wait.

Thy poor man's hame! wi' its roof o' strae,
    A hut as lowly as lowly can be—
Through it the blast sae cauldrife does gae;
    Yet, hame o' the lowly, I'm proud o' thee!

Scotland! to thee thy sons afar
    Send blessings on thy rocks, thy flood and faem—
On mountain and muir, on glen and scaur—
    But deeper blessings still on thy poor man's hame!


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IN Scotland's cause—for Scotland's gude,
We'll blithely shed our dearest bluid,—
An' stand or fa' as freeman should,
                          As we hae done before.
Now proudly come the foemen on,
Against auld Scotland's mountain throne;
The sun its last on them hath shone,—

We're freemen, an' maun ne'er be slaves—
We fight for heather-covered graves—
To tell yon comin' warrior-waves
                          That men our mothers bore;
For maidens loved—for parents dear,
Fourscore would battle were it here,
An' stand like us, nor think o' fear—

They break—they halt—they form again—
We well have borne the battle-strain:
The grass that clothes the reeking plain
                          Is wet with stranger gore.
Remember! for our native soil,
That a' we love at hame may smile;
Nerve ilka arm for bloody toil—

We've conquered! wives an' bairns a',
We've conquered! baith for grit an' sma'—
For maid and matron—puir and braw—
                          The bluidy darg is o'er.
Our fathers' weapon and our ain,—
Thou'lt be our sons' we brawly ken—
By foughten fields! by foemen slain!


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I WlNNA bide in your castle ha's,
    Nor yet in your lofty towers,—
My heart is sick o' your gloomy hame,
    An' sick o' your darksome bowers;
An' O!  I wish I were far awa'
    Frae their grandeur an' their gloom,
Where the freeborn lintie sings its sang,
    On the muir o' gorse an' broom.

Sae weel as I like the healthfu' gale
    That blads fu' kindly there,
An' the heather brown, an' the wild blue-bell
    That wave on the muirland bare;
An' the singing birds, an' the humming bees,
    An' the little lochs that toom
Their gushin' burns to the distant sea,
    O'er the muir o' gorse an' broom.

O! if I had a dwallin' there,
    Biggit laigh by a burnie's side,
Where ae aik-tree, in the simmer-time,
    Wi' its leaves that hame might hide,—
O!  I wad rejoice frae day to day,
    As blithe as a young bridegroom;
For dearer than palaces to me
    Is the muir o' gorse an' broom!

In a lanely cot on a muirland wild,
    My mither nurtured me:
O' the meek wild-flowers I playmates made,
    An' my hame wi' the wandering bee:
An' O! if I were far awa'
    Frae your grandeur and your gloom,
Wi' them again, an' the bladdin' gale,
    On the muir o' gorse an' broom!


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O! the rose is like her ruby lip,
    And the lily like her skin;
And her mouth like a faulded violet,
    Wi' the scented breath within;
And her eon are like yon bonnie flower
    When the dew is in its cup;
As the bee frae it its honey draws,
    I love frae them maun sip.

O! her voice is like yon little bird's
    That sits in the cherry-tree:
For the air o' the sky and the heart o' man
    It fills wi' its melodie.
Her hand is soft as the downy peach
    Upon yon branch that hings;
An' her hair its gloss sae rich has stown
    Frae the bonnie blackbird's wings!

O! her smile is like the sun that shines
    Upon yon fair wa'-flower—
As the bonnie buds this plays among,
    Her face that wanders o'er.
But a love-warm kiss o' her rosy mou'
    Wi' naething can compare,—
Sae meikle o' bliss an' holiness
    The craving heart might sair.

O! the garden-flowers are fair an' pure—
    The rose and the lily too;
An' the wall-flower rich in Nature's wealth—
    An' the peeping violet blue;
O! bonnie as Heaven itsel', an' pure,
    Are the flowers o' ilka kind;
But they ha'ena the womanly purity
    O' my darling Jeanie's mind!


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ACROSS the rigs we'll wander
    The new-mawn hay amang,
And hear the blackbird in the wood,
    And gie it sang for sang;—
    We'll gie it sang for sang, we will,
For ilka heart is gay,
    As lads and lasses trip alang,
At making o' the hay!

It is sae sweetly scented,
    It seems a maiden's breath;
Aboon, the sun has wither'd it,
    But there is green beneath;—
    But there is caller green beneath,
Come, lasses, foot away!
    The heart is dowie can be cauld,
At making o' the hay!

Step lightly o'er, gang saftly by,
    Mak' rig and furrow clean,
And coil it up in fragrant heaps,—
    We maun ha'e done at e'en;—
    We maun ha'e done at gloaming e'en;
And when the clouds grow gray,
    Ilk lad may kiss his bonnie lass
Amang the new-made hay.


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Fu' ripe, ripe was her rosy lip,
    And raven was her hair;
And white, white was her swan-like neck—
    Her een like starnies were!
As raven, raven was her hair,
    So like the snaw her brow;
And the words that fell frae her wee saft mou'
    Were happy words I trow!

And pure, pure was her maiden heart,
    And ne'er a thought o' sin
Durst venture there—an angel dwelt
    Its borders a' within!
And fair as was her sweet bodie,
    Yet fairer was her mind;
Menie's the queen amang the flowers—
    The wale of womankind.


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DOWN by the wood
    When daylight is breaking,
And the first breath of dawn
    The green leaves is shaking,
'Tis bliss without limit,
    Alone to be straying—
To hear the wild wood-birds,
    And what they are saying!

Down by the wood
    When it's noon in the heaven,
And the steer to the shade
    Of the hedgerow is driven,—
'Tis sweet to recline
    In the beechen-tree's shadow,
And drink all the glories
    Of field, forest, meadow!

Down by the wood
    At the fall of the gloaming,
'Mong clear crystal dew-drops
    'Tis sweet to be roaming:—
The hush of the wheat-ears—
    The gushing of water—
The shiver of green leaves—
    The music of nature!


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