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Caroline Oliphant, Lady Nairne

Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
They're bonnie fish and halesome farin';
Wha'll buy my caller herrin',
New drawn frae the Forth?

When ye were sleepin' on your pillows,
Dream'd ye aught o' our puir fellows,
Darkling as they fac'd the billows,
A' to fill the woven willows?
Buy my caller herrin',
New drawn frae the Forth.

Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
They're no brought here without brave darin';
Buy my caller herrin',
Haul'd through wind and rain.

WhaIl buy my caller herrin'?
Oh, ye may ca' them vulgar farin'
Wives and mithers, maist despairin',
Ca' them lives o' men.

When the creel o' herrin' passes,
Ladies-clad in silks and laces,
Gather in their braw pelisses,
Cast their heads and screw their faces,

Caller herrin's no got lightlie:
Ye can trip the spring fu' tightlie;
Spite o' tauntin', flauntin', flingin',
Gow had set you a' a-singing

Neebour wives, now tent my tellin';
When the bonnie fish ye're sellin',
At ae word be in yere dealin' -
Truth will stand when a' thin's failin',

Footnote:  Caroline Oliphant (1766-1845) of Gask was born into a staunch Jacobite family – her father and grand-father were out in the ’45 and this strongly influenced her songs. As it was deemed inappropriate for a woman of her social standing to publish poems and songs, she wrote under the pseudonym of Mrs Brogan of Brogan. Like Robert Burns and James Hogg, she collected old tunes and songs and modified or put her own words to them. She died on 26 October 1845 having already given permission for her work to be published as ‘Lays from Strathearn’, which was done by her sister in 1846.



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