Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

May 19, 2007

The Official Top 20 Countdown of the All Time Greatest Love Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) with a friend

I have been reading all the poems I can find by Paul Laurence Dunbar, in order to create another top 30 countdown. Yesterday, when I got down from the hundreds to 55 poems in order, I knew I did not want to lose any more of his love poems. So I take a break from that top 30, to bring you the very enjoyable top 20 love poems written by Dunbar. He only lived to be 33, so when he writes of how an old man may feel about love as well as he does a young couple, as if he carried all of this within him, some full and long happy love life, we can recognize a gift. But, just as tuberculosis beat him physically to a young death, it seems at least alcohol kept him from being the great lover to his bride, then Alice Moore (pictured below, not above).
   
   

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#20

from

1899

   
   
Then and Now
   
   
Then

    He loved her, and through many years,
    Had paid his fair devoted court,
    Until she wearied, and with sneers
    Turned all his ardent love to sport.

    That night within his chamber lone,
    He long sat writing by his bed
    A note in which his heart made moan
    For love; the morning found him dead.
   
   
Now

    Like him, a man of later day
    Was jilted by the maid he sought,
    And from her presence turned away,
    Consumed by burning, bitter thought.

    He sought his room to write–a curse
    Like him before and die, I ween.
    Ah no, he put his woes in verse,
    And sold them to a magazine.
   
   

_____

#19

from

1901

   
   
Anchored
   
   
    If thro’ the sea of night which here surrounds me,
      I could swim out beyond the farthest star,
    Break every barrier of circumstance that bounds me,
      And greet the Sun of sweeter life afar,

    Tho’ near you there is passion, grief, and sorrow,
      And out there rest and joy and peace and all,
    I should renounce that beckoning for to-morrow,
      I could not choose to go beyond your call.
   
   

_____

#18

from

1901

   
   
Suppose
   
   
    If ’twere fair to suppose
      That your heart were not taken,
    That the dew from the rose
      Petals still were not shaken,
    I should pluck you,
      Howe’er you should thorn me and scorn me,
    And wear you for life as the green of the bower.

    If ’twere fair to suppose
      That that road was for vagrants,
    That the wind and the rose,
      Counted all in their fragrance;
    Oh, my dear one,
      By love, I should take you and make you,
    The green of my life from the scintillant hour.
   
   

_____

#17

from

1899

   
   
Love
   
   
    A life was mine full of the close concern
      Of many-voiced affairs. The world sped fast;
      Behind me, ever rolled a pregnant past.
    A present came equipped with lore to learn.
    Art, science, letters, in their turn,
      Each one allured me with its treasures vast;
      And I staked all for wisdom, till at last
    Thou cam’st and taught my soul anew to yearn.
      I had not dreamed that I could turn away
    From all that men with brush and pen had wrought;
      But ever since that memorable day
    When to my heart the truth of love was brought,
      I have been wholly yielded to its sway,
    And had no room for any other thought.
   
   

_____

#16

from

1895

   
   
The Corn-Stalk Fiddle
   
   
    When the corn ‘s all cut and the bright stalks shine
      Like the burnished spears of a field of gold;
    When the field-mice rich on the nubbins dine,
      And the frost comes white and the wind blows cold;
    Then it’s heigho! fellows and hi-diddle-diddle,
    For the time is ripe for the corn-stalk fiddle.

    And you take a stalk that is straight and long,
      With an expert eye to its worthy points,
    And you think of the bubbling strains of song
      That are bound between its pithy joints–
    Then you cut out strings, with a bridge in the middle,
    With a corn-stalk bow for a corn-stalk fiddle.

    Then the strains that grow as you draw the bow
      O’er the yielding strings with a practised hand!
    And the music’s flow never loud but low
      Is the concert note of a fairy band.
    Oh, your dainty songs are a misty riddle
    To the simple sweets of the corn-stalk fiddle.

    When the eve comes on, and our work is done,
      And the sun drops down with a tender glance,
    With their hearts all prime for the harmless fun,
      Come the neighbor girls for the evening’s dance,
    And they wait for the well-known twist and twiddle–
    More time than tune–from the corn-stalk fiddle.

    Then brother Jabez takes the bow,
      While Ned stands off with Susan Bland,
    Then Henry stops by Milly Snow,
      And John takes Nellie Jones’s hand,
    While I pair off with Mandy Biddle,
    And scrape, scrape, scrape goes the corn-stalk fiddle.

    “Salute your partners,” comes the call,
      “All join hands and circle round,”
    “Grand train back,” and “Balance all,”
      Footsteps lightly spurn the ground.
    “Take your lady and balance down the middle”
    To the merry strains of the corn-stalk fiddle.

    So the night goes on and the dance is o’er,
      And the merry girls are homeward gone,
    But I see it all in my sleep once more,
      And I dream till the very break of dawn
    Of an impish dance on a red-hot griddle
    To the screech and scrape of a corn-stalk fiddle.
   
   

_____

#15

from

1895

   
   
After the Quarrel
   
   
    So we, who ‘ve supped the self-same cup,
      To-night must lay our friendship by;
    Your wrath has burned your judgment up,
      Hot breath has blown the ashes high.
    You say that you are wronged–ah, well,
      I count that friendship poor, at best
    A bauble, a mere bagatelle,
      That cannot stand so slight a test.

    I fain would still have been your friend,
      And talked and laughed and loved with you;
    But since it must, why, let it end;
      The false but dies, ‘t is not the true.
    So we are favored, you and I,
      Who only want the living truth.
    It was not good to nurse the lie;
      ‘T is well it died in harmless youth.

    I go from you to-night to sleep.
      Why, what’s the odds? why should I grieve?
    I have no fund of tears to weep
      For happenings that undeceive.
    The days shall come, the days shall go
      Just as they came and went before.
    The sun shall shine, the streams shall flow
      Though you and I are friends no more.

    And in the volume of my years,
      Where all my thoughts and acts shall be,
    The page whereon your name appears
      Shall be forever sealed to me.
    Not that I hate you over-much,
      ‘T is less of hate than love defied;
    Howe’er, our hands no more shall touch,
      We ‘ll go our ways, the world is wide.
   
   

_____

#14

from

1901

   
   
Diplomacy
   
   
    Tell your love where the roses blow,
      And the hearts of the lilies quiver,
    Not in the city’s gleam and glow,
      But down by a half-sunned river.
    Not in the crowded ball-room’s glare,
      That would be fatal, Marie, Marie,
    How can she answer you then and there?
      So come then and stroll with me, my dear,
      Down where the birds call, Marie, Marie.
   
   

_____

#13

from

1899

   
   
Dream Song II
   
   
    Pray, what can dreams avail
      To make love or to mar?
    The child within the cradle rail
      Lies dreaming of the star.
    But is the star by this beguiled
    To leave its place and seek the child?

    The poor plucked rose within its glass
      Still dreameth of the bee;
    But, tho’ the lagging moments pass,
      Her Love she may not see.
    If dream of child and flower fail,
    Why should a maiden’s dreams prevail?
   
   

_____

#12

from

1893

   
   
The Old Apple-Tree
   
   
    There’s a memory keeps a-runnin’
      Through my weary head to-night,
    An’ I see a picture dancin’
      In the fire-flames’ ruddy light;
    ‘Tis the picture of an orchard
      Wrapped in autumn’s purple haze,
    With the tender light about it
      That I loved in other days.
    An’ a-standin’ in a corner
      Once again I seem to see
    The verdant leaves an’ branches
      Of an old apple-tree.

    You perhaps would call it ugly,
      An’ I don’t know but it’s so,
    When you look the tree all over
      Unadorned by memory’s glow;
    For its boughs are gnarled an’ crooked,
      An’ its leaves are gettin’ thin,
    An’ the apples of its bearin’
      Would n’t fill so large a bin
    As they used to. But I tell you,
      When it comes to pleasin’ me,
    It’s the dearest in the orchard,–
      Is that old apple-tree.

    I would hide within its shelter,
      Settlin’ in some cosy nook,
    Where no calls nor threats could stir me
      From the pages o’ my book.
    Oh, that quiet, sweet seclusion
      In its fulness passeth words!
    It was deeper than the deepest
      That my sanctum now affords.
    Why, the jaybirds an’ the robins,
      They was hand in glove with me,
    As they winked at me an’ warbled
      In that old apple-tree.

    It was on its sturdy branches
      That in summers long ago
    I would tie my swing an’ dangle
      In contentment to an’ fro,
    Idly dreamin’ childish fancies,
      Buildin’ castles in the air,
    Makin’ o’ myself a hero
      Of romances rich an’ rare.
    I kin shet my eyes an’ see it
      Jest as plain as plain kin be,
    That same old swing a-danglin’
      To the old apple-tree.

    There’s a rustic seat beneath it
      That I never kin forget.
    It’s the place where me an’ Hallie–
      Little sweetheart–used to set,
    When we ‘d wander to the orchard
      So ‘s no listenin’ ones could hear
    As I whispered sugared nonsense
      Into her little willin’ ear.
    Now my gray old wife is Hallie,
      An’ I ‘m grayer still than she,
    But I ‘ll not forget our courtin’
      ‘Neath the old apple-tree.

    Life for us ain’t all been summer,
      But I guess we ‘we had our share
    Of its flittin’ joys an’ pleasures,
      An’ a sprinklin’ of its care.
    Oft the skies have smiled upon us;
      Then again we ‘ve seen ’em frown,
    Though our load was ne’er so heavy
      That we longed to lay it down.
    But when death does come a-callin’,
      This my last request shall be,–
    That they ‘ll bury me an’ Hallie
      ‘Neath the old apple tree.
   
   

_____

#11

from

1896

   
   
A Florida Night
   
   
    Win’ a-blowin’ gentle so de san’ lay low,
      San’ a little heavy f’om de rain,
    All de pa’ms a-wavin’ an’ a-weavin’ slow,
      Sighin’ lak a sinnah-soul in pain.
    Alligator grinnin’ by de ol’ lagoon,
    Mockin’-bird a-singin’ to be big full moon.
    ‘Skeeter go a-skimmin’ to his fightin’ chune
      (Lizy Ann’s a-waitin’ in de lane!).

    Moccasin a-sleepin’ in de cyprus swamp;
    Need n’t wake de gent’man, not fu’ me.
    Mule, you need n’t wake him w’en you switch an’ stomp,
      Fightin’ off a ‘skeeter er a flea.
    Florida is lovely, she’s de fines’ lan’
    Evah seed de sunlight f’om de Mastah’s han’,
    ‘Ceptin’ fu’ de varmints an’ huh fleas an’ san’
      An’ de nights w’en Lizy Ann ain’ free.

    Moon ‘s a-kinder shaddered on de melon patch;
      No one ain’t a-watchin’ ez I go.
    Climbin’ of de fence so ‘s not to click de latch
      Meks my gittin’ in a little slow.
    Watermelon smilin’ as it say, “I’ s free;”
    Alligator boomin’, but I let him be,
    Florida, oh, Florida ‘s de lan’ fu’ me–
      (Lizy Ann a-singin’ sweet an’ low).
   
   

_____

#10

from

1896, this cover 1905

   
   
“Howdy, Honey, Howdy!”
   
   
    Do’ a-stan’in’ on a jar, fiah a-shinin’ thoo,
    Ol’ folks drowsin’ ‘roun’ de place, wide awake is Lou,
    W’en I tap, she answeh, an’ I see huh ‘mence to grin,
    “Howdy, honey, howdy, won’t you step right in?”

    Den I step erpon de log layin’ at de do’,
    Bless de Lawd, huh mammy an’ huh pap’s done ‘menced to sno’,
    Now’s de time, ef evah, ef I’s gwine to try an’ win,
    “Howdy, honey, howdy, won’t you step right in?”

    No use playin’ on de aidge, trimblin’ on de brink,
    Wen a body love a gal, tell huh whut he t’ink;
    W’en huh hea’t is open fu’ de love you gwine to gin,
    Pull yo’se’f togethah, suh, an’ step right in.

    Sweetes’ imbitation dat a body evah hyeahed,
    Sweetah den de music of a lovesick mockin’-bird,
    Comin’ f’om de gal you loves bettah den yo’ kin,
    “Howdy, honey, howdy, won’t you step right in?”

    At de gate o’ heaven w’en de storm o’ life is pas’,
    ‘Spec’ I ‘ll be a-stan’in’, ‘twell de Mastah say at las’,
    “Hyeah he stan’ all weary, but he winned his fight wid sin.
    Howdy, honey, howdy, won’t you step right in?”
   
   

_____

#9

from

1899

   
   
A Letter
   
   
    Dear Miss Lucy: I been t’inkin’ dat I ‘d write you long fo’ dis,
    But dis writin’ ‘s mighty tejous, an’ you know jes’ how it is.
    But I ‘s got a little lesure, so I teks my pen in han’
    Fu’ to let you know my feelin’s since I retched dis furrin’ lan’.
    I ‘s right well, I ‘s glad to tell you (dough dis climate ain’t to blame),
    An’ I hopes w’en dese lines reach you, dat dey ‘ll fin’ yo’ se’f de same.
    Cose I ‘se feelin kin’ o’ homesick–dat ‘s ez nachul ez kin be,
    Wen a feller ‘s mo’n th’ee thousand miles across dat awful sea.
    (Don’t you let nobidy fool you ’bout de ocean bein’ gran’;
    If you want to see de billers, you jes’ view dem f’om de lan’.)
    ‘Bout de people? We been t’inkin’ dat all white folks was alak;
    But dese Englishmen is diffunt, an’ dey ‘s curus fu’ a fac’.
    Fust, dey’s heavier an’ redder in dey make-up an’ dey looks,
    An’ dey don’t put salt nor pepper in a blessed t’ing dey cooks!
    Wen dey gin you good ol’ tu’nips, ca’ots, pa’snips, beets, an’ sich,
    Ef dey ain’t some one to tell you, you cain’t ‘stinguish which is which.
    Wen I t’ought I ‘s eatin’ chicken–you may b’lieve dis hyeah ‘s a lie–
    But de waiter beat me down dat I was eatin’ rabbit pie.
    An’ dey ‘d t’ink dat you was crazy–jes’ a reg’lar ravin’ loon,
    Ef you ‘d speak erbout a ‘possum or a piece o’ good ol’ coon.
    O, hit’s mighty nice, dis trav’lin’, an’ I ‘s kin’ o’ glad I come.
    But, I reckon, now I ‘s willin’ fu’ to tek my way back home.
    I done see de Crystal Palace, an’ I ‘s hyeahd dey string-band play,
    But I has n’t seen no banjos layin’ nowhahs roun’ dis way.
    Jes’ gin ol’ Jim Bowles a banjo, an’ he ‘d not go very fu’,
    ‘Fo’ he ‘d outplayed all dese fiddlers, wif dey flourish and dey stir.
    Evahbiddy dat I ‘s met wif has been monst’ous kin an’ good;
    But I t’ink I ‘d lak it better to be down in Jones’s wood,
    Where we ust to have sich frolics, Lucy, you an’ me an’ Nelse,
    Dough my appetite ‘ud call me, ef dey was n’t nuffin else.
    I ‘d jes’ lak to have some sweet-pertaters roasted in de skin;
    I ‘s a-longin’ fu’ my chittlin’s an’ my mustard greens ergin;
    I ‘s a-wishin’ fu’ some buttermilk, an’ co’n braid, good an’ brown,
    An’ a drap o’ good ol’ bourbon fu’ to wash my feelin’s down!
    An’ I ‘s comin’ back to see you jes’ as ehly as I kin,
    So you better not go spa’kin’ wif dat wuffless scoun’el Quin!
    Well, I reckon, I mus’ close now; write ez soon’s dis reaches you;
    Gi’ my love to Sister Mandy an’ to Uncle Isham, too.
    Tell de folks I sen’ ’em howdy; gin a kiss to pap an’ mam;
    Closin’ I is, deah Miss Lucy, Still Yo’ Own True-Lovin’ Sam.

    P. S. Ef you cain’t mek out dis letter, lay it by erpon de she’f,
          An’ when I git home, I ‘ll read it, darlin’, to you my own se’f.
   
   

_____

#8

from

1901

   
   
The Old Front Gate
   
   
    W’en daih ‘s chillun in de house,
      Dey keep on a-gittin’ tall;
    But de folks don’ seem to see
      Dat dey ‘s growin’ up at all,
    ‘Twell dey fin’ out some fine day
      Dat de gals has ‘menced to grow,
    Wen dey notice as dey pass
      Dat de front gate ‘s saggin’ low.

    Wen de hinges creak an’ cry,
      An’ de bahs go slantin’ down,
    You kin reckon dat hit’s time
      Fu’ to cas’ yo’ eye erroun’,
    ‘Cause daih ain’t no ‘sputin’ dis,
      Hit’s de trues’ sign to show
    Dat daih ‘s cou’tin’ goin’ on
      Wen de ol’ front gate sags low.

    Oh, you grumble an’ complain,
      An’ you prop dat gate up right;
    But you notice right nex’ day
      Dat hit’s in de same ol’ plight.
    So you fin’ dat hit’s a rule,
      An’ daih ain’ no use to blow,
    W’en de gals is growin’ up,
      Dat de front gate will sag low.

    Den you t’ink o’ yo’ young days,
      W’en you cou’ted Sally Jane,
    An’ you so’t o’ feel ashamed
      Fu’ to grumble an’ complain,
    ‘Cause yo’ ricerlection says,
      An’ you know hits wo’ds is so,
    Dat huh pappy had a time
      Wid his front gate saggin’ low.

    So you jes’ looks on an’ smiles
      At ’em leanin’ on de gate,
    Tryin’ to t’ink whut he kin say
      Fu’ to keep him daih so late,
    But you lets dat gate erlone,
      Fu’ yo’ ‘sperunce goes to show,
    ‘Twell de gals is ma’ied off,
      It gwine keep on saggin’ low.
   
   

_____

#7

from

1899

   
   
Communion
   
   
    In the silence of my heart,
      I will spend an hour with thee,
    When my love shall rend apart
      All the veil of mystery:

    All that dim and misty veil
      That shut in between our souls
    When Death cried, “Ho, maiden, hail!”
      And your barque sped on the shoals.

    On the shoals? Nay, wrongly said.
      On the breeze of Death that sweeps
    Far from life, thy soul has sped
      Out into unsounded deeps.

    I shall take an hour and come
      Sailing, darling, to thy side.
    Wind nor sea may keep me from
      Soft communings with my bride.

    I shall rest my head on thee
      As I did long days of yore,
    When a calm, untroubled sea
      Rocked thy vessel at the shore.

    I shall take thy hand in mine,
      And live o’er the olden days
    When thy smile to me was wine,–
      Golden wine thy word of praise,

    For the carols I had wrought
      In my soul’s simplicity;
    For the petty beads of thought
      Which thine eyes alone could see.

    Ah, those eyes, love-blind, but keen
      For my welfare and my weal!
    Tho’ the grave-door shut between,
      Still their love-lights o’er me steal.

    I can see thee thro’ my tears,
      As thro’ rain we see the sun.
    What tho’ cold and cooling years
      Shall their bitter courses run,–

    I shall see thee still and be
      Thy true lover evermore,
    And thy face shall be to me
      Dear and helpful as before.

    Death may vaunt and Death may boast,
      But we laugh his pow’r to scorn;
    He is but a slave at most,–
      Night that heralds coming morn.

    I shall spend an hour with thee
      Day by day, my little bride.
    True love laughs at mystery,
      Crying, “Doors of Death, fly wide.”

   
   

_____

#6

from

1899

   
   
When the Old Man Smokes
   
   
    In the forenoon’s restful quiet,
      When the boys are off at school,
    When the window lights are shaded
      And the chimney-corner cool,
    Then the old man seeks his armchair,
      Lights his pipe and settles back;
    Falls a-dreaming as he draws it
      Till the smoke-wreaths gather black.

    And the tear-drops come a-trickling
      Down his cheeks, a silver flow–
    Smoke or memories you wonder,
      But you never ask him,–no;
    For there ‘s something almost sacred
      To the other family folks
    In those moods of silent dreaming
      When the old man smokes.

    Ah, perhaps he sits there dreaming
      Of the love of other days
    And of how he used to lead her
    Through the merry dance’s maze;
    How he called her “little princess,”
      And, to please her, used to twine
    Tender wreaths to crown her tresses,
      From the “matrimony vine.”

    Then before his mental vision
      Comes, perhaps, a sadder day,
    When they left his little princess
      Sleeping with her fellow clay.
    How his young heart throbbed, and pained him!
      Why, the memory of it chokes!
    Is it of these things he ‘s thinking
      When the old man smokes?

    But some brighter thoughts possess him,
      For the tears are dried the while.
    And the old, worn face is wrinkled
      In a reminiscent smile,
    From the middle of the forehead
      To the feebly trembling lip,
    At some ancient prank remembered
      Or some long unheard-of quip.

    Then the lips relax their tension
      And the pipe begins to slide,
    Till in little clouds of ashes,
      It falls softly at his side;
    And his head bends low and lower
      Till his chin lies on his breast,
    And he sits in peaceful slumber
      Like a little child at rest.

    Dear old man, there ‘s something sad’ning,
      In these dreamy moods of yours,
    Since the present proves so fleeting,
      All the past for you endures.
    Weeping at forgotten sorrows,
      Smiling at forgotten jokes;
    Life epitomized in minutes,
      When the old man smokes.
   
   

_____

#5

from

1906

   
   
The Voice of the Banjo
   
   
    In a small and lonely cabin out of noisy traffic’s way,
    Sat an old man, bent and feeble, dusk of face, and hair of gray,
    And beside him on the table, battered, old, and worn as he,
    Lay a banjo, droning forth this reminiscent melody:

    “Night is closing in upon us, friend of mine, but don’t be sad;
    Let us think of all the pleasures and the joys that we have had.
    Let us keep a merry visage, and be happy till the last,
    Let the future still be sweetened with the honey of the past.

    “For I speak to you of summer nights upon the yellow sand,
    When the Southern moon was sailing high and silvering all the land;
    And if love tales were not sacred, there’s a tale that I could tell
    Of your many nightly wanderings with a dusk and lovely belle.

    “And I speak to you of care-free songs when labour’s hour was o’er,
    And a woman waiting for your step outside the cabin door,
    And of something roly-poly that you took upon your lap,
    While you listened for the stumbling, hesitating words, ‘Pap, pap.’

    “I could tell you of a ‘possum hunt across the wooded grounds,
    I could call to mind the sweetness of the baying of the hounds,
    You could lift me up and smelling of the timber that ‘s in me,
    Build again a whole green forest with the mem’ry of a tree.

    “So the future cannot hurt us while we keep the past in mind,
    What care I for trembling fingers,–what care you that you are blind?
    Time may leave us poor and stranded, circumstance may make us bend;
    But they ‘ll only find us mellower, won’t they, comrade?–in the end.”
   
   

_____

#4

from

1921

   
   
Weltschmertz
   
   
    You ask why I am sad to-day,
    I have no cares, no griefs, you say?
    Ah, yes, ‘t is true, I have no grief–
    But–is there not the falling leaf?

    The bare tree there is mourning left
    With all of autumn’s gray bereft;
    It is not what has happened me,
    Think of the bare, dismantled tree.

    The birds go South along the sky,
    I hear their lingering, long good-bye.
    Who goes reluctant from my breast?
    And yet–the lone and wind-swept nest.

    The mourning, pale-flowered hearse goes by,
    Why does a tear come to my eye?
    Is it the March rain blowing wild?
    I have no dead, I know no child.

    I am no widow by the bier
    Of him I held supremely dear.
    I have not seen the choicest one
    Sink down as sinks the westering sun.

    Faith unto faith have I beheld,
    For me, few solemn notes have swelled;
    Love bekoned me out to the dawn,
    And happily I followed on.

    And yet my heart goes out to them
    Whose sorrow is their diadem;
    The falling leaf, the crying bird,
    The voice to be, all lost, unheard–

    Not mine, not mine, and yet too much
    The thrilling power of human touch,
    While all the world looks on and scorns
    I wear another’s crown of thorns.

    Count me a priest who understands
    The glorious pain of nail-pierced hands;
    Count me a comrade of the thief
    Hot driven into late belief.

    Oh, mother’s tear, oh, father’s sigh,
    Oh, mourning sweetheart’s last good-bye,
    I yet have known no mourning save
    Beside some brother’s brother’s grave.
   
   

_____

#3

from

1899

   
   
She Told Her Beads
   
   
    She told her beads with down-cast eyes,
      Within the ancient chapel dim;
      And ever as her fingers slim
    Slipt o’er th’ insensate ivories,
    My rapt soul followed, spaniel-wise.
    Ah, many were the beads she wore;
      But as she told them o’er and o’er,
    They did not number all my sighs.
    My heart was filled with unvoiced cries
      And prayers and pleadings unexpressed;
      But while I burned with Love’s unrest,
    She told her beads with down-cast eyes.
   
   

_____

#2

from

1901

   
   
A Spring Wooing
   
   
    Come on walkin’ wid me, Lucy; ‘t ain’t no time to mope erroun’
      Wen de sunshine ‘s shoutin’ glory in de sky,
    An’ de little Johnny-Jump-Ups ‘s jes’ a-springin’ f’om de groun’,
      Den a-lookin’ roun’ to ax each othah w’y.
    Don’ you hyeah dem cows a-mooin’? Dat ‘s dey howdy to de spring;
      Ain’ dey lookin’ most oncommon satisfied?
    Hit ‘s enough to mek a body want to spread dey mouf an’ sing
      Jes’ to see de critters all so spa’klin’-eyed.

    W’y dat squir’l dat jes’ run past us, ef I did n’ know his tricks,
      I could swaih he ‘d got ‘uligion jes’ to-day;
    An’ dem liza’ds slippin’ back an’ fofe ermong de stones an’ sticks
      Is a-wigglin’ ’cause dey feel so awful gay.
    Oh, I see yo’ eyes a-shinin’ dough you try to mek me b’lieve
      Dat you ain’ so monst’ous happy ’cause you come;
    But I tell you dis hyeah weathah meks it moughty ha’d to ‘ceive
      Ef a body’s soul ain’ blin’ an’ deef an’ dumb.

    Robin whistlin’ ovah yandah ez he buil’ his little nes’;
      Whut you reckon dat he sayin’ to his mate?
    He’s a-sayin’ dat he love huh in de wo’ds she know de bes’,
      An’ she lookin’ moughty pleased at whut he state.
    Now, Miss Lucy, dat ah robin sholy got his sheer o’ sense,
      An’ de hen-bird got huh mothah-wit fu’ true;
    So I t’ink ef you ‘ll ixcuse me, fu’ I do’ mean no erfence,
      Dey ‘s a lesson in dem birds fu’ me an’ you.

    I ‘s a-buil’in’ o’ my cabin, an’ I ‘s vines erbove de do’
      Fu’ to kin’ o’ gin it sheltah f’om de sun;
    Gwine to have a little kitchen wid a reg’lar wooden flo’,
      An’ dey ‘ll be a back verandy w’en hit ‘s done.
    I ‘s a-waitin’ fu’ you, Lucy, tek de ‘zample o’ de birds,
      Dat ‘s a-lovin’ an’ a-matin’ evahwhaih.
    I cain’ tell you dat I loves you in de robin’s music wo’ds,
      But my cabin ‘s talkin’ fu’ me ovah thaih!
   
   

_____

#1

from

1895

   
   
A Negro Love Song
   
   
    Seen my lady home las’ night,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
    Seen a light gleam f’om huh eye,
    An’ a smile go flittin’ by–
      Jump back, honey, jump back.

    Hyeahd de win’ blow thoo de pine,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    Mockin’-bird was singin’ fine,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    An’ my hea’t was beatin’ so,
    When I reached my lady’s do’,
    Dat I could n’t ba’ to go–
      Jump back, honey, jump back.

    Put my ahm aroun’ huh wais’,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    Raised huh lips an’ took a tase,
      Jump back, honey, jump back.
    Love me, honey, love me true?
    Love me well ez I love you?
    An’ she answe’d, “‘Cose I do”–
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
   
   

_____

   
   

Alice Moore Dunbar, Mrs. Paul L. Dunbar

_____

October 29, 2006

The All Time Top Ten Greatest Poems of Scotland

   


   

In their article called Jeelie Piece Song is among our best poems, The Sunday Times of Scotland reports that “listeners of BBC Radio Scotland” have chosen Scotland’s favorite all time top 20 poems.

These are included in the new book, edited by Stewart Conn, titled 100 Favourite Scottish Poems: The Nation’s Favourites Including The Top 20 As Voted By BBC Scotland Listeners.

Presented below are the top ten as listed in the Sunday Times article, either the poems or links to them–all but number 10, which I could not find online. As with The Top 20 Greatest Banjo Paterson Poems of All Time from early last month, they are listed bottom to top.
   

_____

   

#10

   


   

by Liz Lochhead (b. 1947)
   

View of Scotland/Love Poem
   

            Down on her hands and knees
            at ten at night on Hogmanay,
            my mother still giving it elbowgrease
            jiffywaxing the vinolay. (This is too
            ordinary to be nostalgia.) On the kitchen table
            a newly opened tin of sockeye salmon.
   

(for the rest of the poem, in pdf format, click the title, and scroll to page 8.)
   

_____

   

#9

   


   

from Vailima, Samoa
   

by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
   

To S. R. Crockett (On receiving a Dedication)
   

            Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are flying,
            Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now,
            Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying,
            My heart remembers how!

            Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places,
            Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
            Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent vanished races,
            And winds, austere and pure:

            Be it granted me to behold you again in dying,
            Hills of home! and to hear again the call;
            Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying,
            And hear no more at all.
   

_____

   

#8

   


   

by Marion Angus (1866-1946)
   

Mary’s Song
   

            I wad ha’e gi’en him my lips tae kiss,
            Had I been his, had I been his;
            Barley breid and elder wine,
            Had I been his as he is mine.

            The wanderin’ bee it seeks the rose;
            Tae the lochan’s bosom the burnie goes;
            The grey bird cries at evenin’s fa’,
            ‘My luve, my fair one, come awa’.’

            My beloved sall ha’e this he’rt tae break,
            Reid, reid wine and the barley cake;
            A he’rt tae break, an’ a mou’ tae kiss,
            Tho’ he be nae mine, as I am his.
   

(song in mp3, sheet music in pdf)
   

_____

   

#7

   


   

translated from the Scotts Gaelic version (just below) by Hugh MacDiarmid
   

by Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)
   

The Watergaw
   

            One wet, early evening in the sheep-shearing season
            I saw that occasional, rare thing–
            A broken shaft of a rainbow with its trembling light
            Beyond the downpour of the rain
            And I thought of the last, wild look you gave
            Before you died.

            The skylark’s nest was dark and desolate,
            My heart was too
            But I have thought of that foolish light
            Ever since then
            And I think that perhaps at last I know
            What your look meant then.
   

_____

   

#7 (cont)

   

in the original Scottish vernacular
   

by Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978)

   
The Watergaw
   

            Ae weet forenicht i’ the yow-trummle
            I saw yon antrin thing,
            A watergaw wi’ its chitterin’ licht
            Ayont the on-ding;
            An’ I thocht o’ the last wild look ye gied
            Afore ye deed!

            There was nae reek i’ the laverock’s hoose
            That nicht–an’ nane i’ mine;
            But I hae thocht o’ that foolish licht
            Ever sin’ syne;
            An’ I think that mebbe at last I ken
            What your look meant then.
   

_____

   

#6

   


   

by Alastair Reid (b. 1926)
   

Scotland
   

            It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
            when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
            and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
            Greenness entered the body. The grasses
            shivered with presences, and sunlight
            stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
            Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
            the woman from the fish-shop. ‘What a day it is!’
            cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
            And what did she have to say for it?
            Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
            and she spoke with their ancient misery:
            ‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it.’
   

_____

   

#5

   


   

an off-concrete Scottish fantasia
   

by Edwin Morgan (b. 1920)
   

Canedolia
   

oa! hoy! awe! ba! mey!

who saw?
rhu saw rum. garve saw smoo. nigg saw tain. lairg saw lagg.
rigg saw eigg. largs saw haggs. tongue saw luss. mull saw yell.
stoer saw strone. drem saw muck. gask saw noss. unst saw cults.
echt saw banff. weem saw wick. trool saw twatt.

how far?
from largo to lunga from joppa to skibo from ratho to shona from
ulva to minto from tinto to tolsta from soutra to marsco from
braco to barra from alva to stobo from fogo to fada from gigha to
gogo from kelso to stroma from hirta to spango.
   

(click this picture of the wall of the Scottish Parliament for the rest of the poem)

   

_____

   

#4

   


   

translated from the Scotts Gaelic version (just below) by Sorley Maclean
   

by Sorley Maclean (1911-1996), a.k.a Somhairle MacGill-Eain
   

Hallaig
   

            ‘Time, the deer, is in the Wood of Hallaig.’

            The window is nailed and boarded
            through which I saw the West
            and my love is at the Burn of Hallaig,
            a birch tree, and she has always been

            between Inver and Milk Hollow,
            here and there about Baile-chuirn:
            she is a birch , a hazel,
            a straight slender young rowan.

            In Screapadal of my people,
            where Norman and Big Hector were,
            their daughters and their sons are a wood
            going up beside the stream.

            Proud tonight the pine cocks
            crowing on the top of Cnoc an Ra,
            straight their backs in the moonlight–
            they are not the wood I love.

            I will wait for the birch wood
            until it comes up by the Cairn,
            until the whole ridge from Beinn na Lice
            will be under its shade.

            If it does not, I will go down to Hallaig,
            to the sabbath of the dead,
            where the people are frequenting,
            every single generation gone.

            They are still in Hallaig,
            Macleans and Macleods,
            All who were there in the time of Mac Gille Chaluim:
            the dead have been seen alive–

            ‘Time, the deer, is in the Wood of Hallaig.’

            the men lying on the green
            at the end of every house that was,
            the girls a wood of birches,
            straight their backs, bent their heads.

            Between the Leac and Fearns
            the road is under mild moss
            and the girls in silent bands
            go to Clachan as in the beginning.

            And return from Clachan,
            from Suisnish and the land of the living;
            Each one young and light stepping,
            without the heartbreak of the tale.

            From the Burn of Fearns to the raised beach
            that is clear in the mystery of the hills,
            there is only the congregation of the girls
            keeping up the endless walk,

            coming back to Hallaig in the evening,
            in the dumb living twilight,
            filling the steep slopes,
            their laughter in my ears a mist,

            and their beauty a film on my heart
            before the dimness comes on the kyles,
            and when the sun goes down behind Dun Cana
            a vehement bullet will come from the gun of Love;

            and will strike the deer that goes dizzily,
            sniffing at the grass-grown ruined homes;
            his eye will freeze in the wood;
            his blood will not be traced while I live.
   

_____

   

#4 (cont.)

   

in the original Scotts Gaelic
   

by Sorley Maclean (1911-1996), a.k.a Somhairle MacGill-Eain
   

Hallaig
   

            ‘Tha tìm, am fiadh, an Coille Hallaig’

            Tha bùird is tàirnean air an uinneig
            trom faca mi an Aird an Iar
            ‘s tha mo ghaol aig Allt Hallaig
            ‘na craoibh bheithe, ‘s bha i riamh

            eadar an t-Inbhir ‘s Poll a’ Bhainne,
            thall ‘s a-bhos mu Bhaile Chùirn:
            tha i ‘na beithe, ‘na calltainn,
            ‘na caorann dhìreach sheang ùr.

            Ann an Sgreapadal mo chinnidh,
            far robh Tarmad ‘s Eachann Mòr,
            tha ‘n nigheanan ‘s am mic ‘nan coille
            a’ gabhail suas ri taobh an lòin.

            Uaibhreach a-nochd na coilich ghiuthais
            a’ gairm air mullach Cnoc an Rà,
            dìreach an druim ris a’ ghealaich–
            chan iadsan coille mo ghràidh.

            Fuirichidh mi ris a’ bheithe
            gus an tig i mach an Càrn,
            gus am bi am bearradh uile
            o Bheinn na Lice fa sgàil.

            Mura tig ‘s ann theàrnas mi a Hallaig,
            a dh’ionnsaigh sàbaid nam marbh,
            far a bheil an sluagh a’ tathaich,
            gach aon ghinealach a dh’fhalbh.

            Tha iad fhathast ann a Hallaig,
            Clann Ghill-Eain ‘s Clann MhicLeòid,
            na bh’ ann ri linn Mhic Ghille Chaluim:
            chunnacas na mairbh beò–

            ‘Tha tìm, am fiadh, an Coille Hallaig’

            na fir ‘nan laighe air an lèanaig
            aig ceann gach taighe a bh’ ann,
            na h-igheanan ‘nan coille bheithe,
            dìreach an druim, crom an ceann.

            Eadar an Leac is na Feàrnaibh
            tha ‘n rathad mòr fo chòinnich chiùin,
            ‘s na h-igheanan ‘nam badan sàmhach
            a’ dol a Chlachan mar o thus.

            Agus a’ tilleadh às a’ Chlachan,
            à Suidhisnis ‘s à tìr nam beò;
            a chuile tè òg uallach,
            gun bhristeadh cridhe an sgeòil.

            O Allt na Feàrnaibh gus an fhaoilinn
            tha soilleir an dìomhaireachd nam beann
            chan eil ach coimhthional nan nighean
            a’ cumail na coiseachd gun cheann.

            a’ tilleadh a Hallaig anns an fheasgar,
            anns a’ chamhanaich bhalbh bheò,
            a’ lìonadh nan leathadan casa,
            an gàireachdaich ‘nam chluais ‘na ceò,

            ‘s am bòidhche ‘na sgleò air mo chridhe
            mun tig an ciaradh air na caoil,
            ‘s nuair theàrnas grian air cùl Dhùn Cana
            thig peileir dian à gunna Ghaoil;

            ‘s buailear am fiadh a tha ‘na thuaineal
            a’ snòtach nan làraichean feòir;
            thig reothadh air a shùl sa choille:
            chan fhaighear lorg air fhuil rim bheò.
   

_____

   

#3

   


   

by Robert Burns (1759-1796)
   

Is There, for Honest Poverty
   

(or the song A Man’s a Man for A’That)
   

I.

            Is there, for honest poverty,
                That hangs his head, and a’ that?
            The coward-slave, we pass him by,
                We dare be poor for a’ that!
            For a’ that, and a’ that,
                Our toils obscure, and a’ that;
            The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
                The man’s the gowd for a’ that!
   

II.

            What tho’ on hamely fare we dine,
                Wear hoddin gray, and a’ that;
            Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
                A man’s a man, for a’ that!
            For a’ that, and a’ that,
                Their tinsel show, and a’ that;
            The honest man, though e’er sae poor,
                Is king o’ men for a’ that!
   

III.

            Ye see yon birkie, ca’d–a lord,
                Wha struts, and stares, and a’ that;
            Though hundreds worship at his word,
                He’s but a coof for a’ that:
            For a’ that, and a’ that,
                His riband, star, and a’ that,
            The man of independent mind,
                He looks and laughs at a’ that.
   

IV.

            A king can make a belted knight,
                A marquis, duke, and a’ that,
            But an honest man’s aboon his might,
                Guid faith, he maunna fa’ that!
            For a’ that, and a’ that,
                Their dignities, and a’ that,
            The pith o’ sense, and pride o’ worth,
                Are higher ranks than a’ that.
   

V.

            Then let us pray that come it may–
                As come it will for a’ that–
            That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
                May bear the gree, and a’ that;
            For a’ that, and a’ that,
                It’s comin’ yet for a’ that,
            That man to man, the warld o’er,
                Shall brothers be for a’ that!
   

_____

   

#2

   


   

by Violet Jacob (1863-1846)
   

The Wild Geese
   

(or the song Norland Wind)
   

            “O tell me what was on yer road, ye roarin’ norlan’ Wind,
            As ye cam’ blawin’ frae the land that’s niver frae my mind?
            My feet they traivel England, but I’m dee’in for the north.”
            “My man, I heard the siller tides rin up the Firth o’ Forth.”

            “Aye, Wind, I ken them weel eneuch, and fine they fa’ an’ rise,
            And fain I’d feel the creepin’ mist on yonder shore that lies,
            But tell me, ere ye passed them by, what saw ye on the way?”
            “My man, I rocked the rovin’ gulls that sail abune the Tay.”

            “But saw ye naething, leein’ Wind, afore ye cam’ to Fife?
            There’s muckle lyin’ ‘yont the Tay that’s mair to me nor life.”
            “My man, I swept the Angus braes ye hae’na trod for years.”
            “O Wind, forgi’e a hameless loon that canna see for tears!”

            “And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
            A lang, lang skein o’ beatin’ wings, wi’ their heids towards the sea,
            And aye their cryin’ voices trailed ahint them on the air–”
            “O Wind, hae maircy, haud yer whisht, for I daurna listen mair!”
   

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#1

   


   

“Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke.” –Gawin Douglas.
   

A Tale
   

by Robert Burns (1759-1796)
   

Tam O’Shanter
   

            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’ gettin’ 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,
            Where 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 bonny 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 wasna 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 roaring fou on;
            That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
            Thou drank wi’ Kirton Jean till Monday.
            She prophesy’d, that late or soon,
            Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon;
            Or catch’d 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 lengthen’d 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 ay the ale was growing better:
            The landlady and Tam grew gracious;
            Wi’ favors secret, sweet, and precious;
            The Souter tauld his queerest stories;
            The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:
            The storm without might rair and rustle–
            Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.

            Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
            E’en drown’d himself amang the nappy!
            As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,
            The minutes wing’d their way wi’ pleasure:
            Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
            O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious.

            But pleasures are like poppies spread,
            You seize the 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 taks the road in
            As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.

            The wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last;
            The rattling show’rs rose on the blast;
            The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d;
            Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellow’d:
            That night, a child might understand,
            The de’il had business on his hand.

            Weel mounted on his gray mare, Meg,
            A better never lifted leg,
            Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire,
            Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
            Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet;
            Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet;
            Whiles glow’ring 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 foord,
            Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor’d;
            And past the birks and meikle stane,
            Where drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane;
            And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn,
            Where hunters fand the murder’d bairn;
            And near the thorn, aboon the well,
            Where Mungo’s mither hang’d 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 the thunders roll;
            When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees,
            Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze;
            Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing;
            And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

            Inspiring, bold John Barleycorn!
            What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
            Wi’ tippenny, we fear nae evil;
            Wi’ usquabae we’ll face the devil!
            The swats sae ream’d in Tammie’s noddle,
            Fair play, he car’d nae deils a boddle.
            But Maggie stood right sair astonish’d,
            ‘Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d,
            She ventur’d 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 screw’d the pipes and gart them skirl,
            Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl.–
            Coffins stood round, like open presses;
            That shaw’d the dead in their last dresses;
            And by some devilish cantrip slight
            Each in its cauld hand held a light–
            By which heroic Tam was able
            To note upon the haly table,
            A murderer’s banes in gibbet airns;
            Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen’d bairns;
            A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
            Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape;
            Five tomahawks, wi’ bluid 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 gray hairs yet stack to the heft:
            Wi’ mair o’ horrible and awfu’,
            Which ev’n to name would be unlawfu’.

            As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious,
            The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
            The piper loud and louder blew;
            The dancers quick and quicker flew;
            They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit,
            ‘Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
            And coost her duddies to the wark,
            And linket at it in her sark!

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

            But wither’d beldams, auld and droll,
            Rigwoodie hags, wad spean a foal,
            Lowping an’ flinging on a cummock,
            I wonder didna turn thy stomach.

            But Tam kenn’d what was what fu’ brawlie,
            There was a winsome wench and walie,
            That night enlisted in the core,
            (Lang after kenn’d on Carrick shore;
            For mony a beast to dead she shot,
            And perish’d mony a bonnie boat,
            And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
            And kept the country-side in fear.)
            Her 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 kenn’d the reverend grannie,
            That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
            Wi’ twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches),
            Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!
            But here my muse her wing maun cour;
            Sic flights are far beyond her pow’r;
            To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
            (A souple jade she was and strung,)
            And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d;
            And thought his very een enrich’d;
            Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’ fain,
            And hotch’d and blew wi’ might and main:
            ‘Till first ae caper, syne anither,
            Tam tint his reason a’ thegither,
            And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”
            And in an instant all was dark:
            And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
            When out the hellish legion sallied.

            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 darena 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 gray 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 inclin’d,
            Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,
            Think! ye may buy the joys o’er dear–
            Remember Tam O’ Shanter’s mare.
   

   


   

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