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The Daft Days
Robert Fergusson

Now mirk December's dowie face
Glours our the rigs wi' sour grimace,
While, thro' his minimum of space,
    The bleer-ey'd sun,
Wi' blinkin light and stealing pace,
    His race doth run.
 
From naked groves nae birdie sings;
To shepherd's pipe nae hillock rings;
The breeze nae od'rous flavour brings
    From Borean cave;
And dwyning Nature droops her wings,
    Wi' visage grave.
 
Mankind but scanty pleasure glean
Frae snawy hill or barren plain,
Whan Winter, 'midst his nipping train,
    Wi' frozen spear,
Sends drift owr a' his bleak domain,
    And guides the weir.
 
Auld Reikie! thou'rt the canty hole,
A bield for mony caldrife soul,
Wha snugly at thine ingle loll,
    Baith warm and couth;
While round they gar the bicker roll
    To weet their mouth.
 
When merry Yule-day comes, I trow,
You'll scantlins find a hungry mou;
Sma' are our cares, our stamacks fou
    O' gusty gear,
And kickshaws, strangers to our view,
    Sin fairn-year.
 
Ye browster wives, now busk ye bra,
And fling your sorrows far awa';
Then, come and gies the tither blaw
    Of reaming ale,
Mair precious than the well of Spa,
    Our hearts to heal.
 
Then , tho' at odds wi' a' the warl',
Amang oursells we'll never quarrel;
Tho' Discord gie a canker'd snarl
    To spoil our glee,
As lang's there's pith into the barrel
    We'll drink and 'gree.
 
Fidlers, your pins in temper fix,
And roset weel your fiddlesticks,
But banish vile Italian tricks
    From out your quorum,
Nor fortes wi' pianos mix,
    Gie's Tulloch Gorum.
 
For nought can cheer the heart sae weil
As can a canty Highland reel;
It even vivifies the heel
    To skip and dance:
Lifeless is he wha canna feel
    Its influence.
 
Let mirth abound, let social cheer
Invest the dawning of the year;
Let blithesome innocence appear
    To crown our joy;
Nor envy wi' sarcastic sneer,
    Our bliss destroy.
 
And thou, great god of Aqua Vitae!
Wha sways the empire of this city,
When fou we're sometimes caperoity,
    Be thou prepar'd
To hedge us frae that black banditti,
    The City-Guard.

Click here to listen to this in Real Audio read by Marilyn Wright

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