THEYRE wearin* by, the
gude auld times
O* hearty rants an1 hamet rhymes
In ilka biggin* said an1 sung
I* the familiar mither tongue,
When lads an* lasses had convenin'
Roun* the wide ingle at the eenin*!
Theyre wearin by, the
gude auld days
O simple faith an* seemly phrase,
Atween the maister an' the man
In ilka corner o' the Ian'
When faithfu' service, gien wi' pleasour,
Was kent an* coontit for a treasour.
Theyre wearin by, the
gude auld lives
O leal an' thrifty men an* wives;
Theyre wearin' oot, the gude auld creeds,
That met a simple peoples needs;
The auld Scots character an' laws
That made oor kintra what it was
Esteemed at hame, envied
Honoured o man and loved o God;
Oor nationality, oor name,
Oor patriotic love for hame
I maist could greet; I can but sigh
Theyre wearin* oot, theyre a gaun by!
The gude auld honest
They kent nae ither, auld or young;
The cottar spak' it in his yaird,
An on his rigs the gawcie laird.
Weel could it a oor wants
Weel could it ban, weel could it bless;
Wi a oor feelins twas acquent,
Had words for pleasour an complent;
Was sweet to hear in sacred psalm
In simmer Sabbath momins calm;
An* at the family exerceese,
When auld gudeman, on bended knees,
Wrestled as Jacob did langsyne
For favours temporal an divine,
Hoo did its fervent accents roll
The load o sin frae aff the soul!
It had an ease an* strength o wirds
That felld like mells an' glancd like swirds'
Nae fine affeckit foreign soun',
Wi' frequent flexions up an' down,
But a straucht-forat free-born speech,
A manly tongue to learn or teach,
Whaur ilka say was to the point,
An* ilka word in ilka joint
Gruppit the sense it carried wi' t,
An* stappit aff wi' decent speed
An' ilka letter gat its due
The first page o' the Carritch thro,
An' neer a lisp was tolerated,
An lock' for 'loch like Sawtan hated,
An' aye the r,' tho' crank awee,
Gaed birlin' aff the mooth-ruif free.
It was as yauld an' bauld
As roun the was o Bawbel rung,
An* better rung, for plank or plaister;
Nae doot its author was a maister
At least a foresmanowre the people,
The masons at the muckle steeple,
Wha swuir at lairge, and dangd and deyvled,
That awfu* oor the tongues were reyvled!
An it had words were a its ain;
A gowlock was a gowlock thain;
A soughin wind amang the trees
Was bonnier than a gentle breeze;
The shut o day was aye the gloamin,
An* daunder was the word for roamin,
An* true was leal, an loss was tyne,
An long ago was auld langsyne.
Yeve heard, when May was
Amangs the gress a peepin wun'
That shook the blades an* swith awa
As saft a breath as bairn could blaw!
Belyve it creepit owre the Tee,
An* up an* sang upon the tree
A strain sae plaintive that to hear it
Ye thocht some disembodied speerit,
Frae heaven forwandert far its lane,
Was greetin' to win back again.
Anon it loupit to the wud,
An1, like a wulbeast nane can hud,
Seizd on the patient pines an' tare
An' whirld their branches high in air,
An' raged an' roared frae glade to glen
Till the haill wud, fra en to en,
Thro' a' its caves an' corners rung,
An' to the tempest rockd an' swung;
Whyle cattle, moaning, fled the bield,
Th umbrageous wud was wont to yield.
As wide could range the
auld Scots tongue;
Twas meet alike for auld an' young,
For jeast an' earnest, joy an' wae,
For cursin an' caressin tae.
Twas gentler in a hushaba
Than a wud-muffled waterfa'
Or cushats wi their downie croon
Heard through a gowden afternoon,
Or streams that rin wi' liquid lapse,
Or winds among the pine-tree taps.
'Twas sweet at a' times i
O' woman moved wi* meltin' ruth;
But oh! when first love was her care,
Twas bonnie far beyond compare.
'Twas mair sonorous than
Cam' heavier on the hide o' Satan,
When frae his Ebal o' a poopit
The minister grew hearse an' roopit,
Bannin wi* energetic jaw
The author o' the primal fa'.
But if the poopit's sacred clangour
Was something awesome in its anger,
Gude keep oor Southlan' freen's fra hearin
A rouch red-headit Scotsman swearin'!
But wha would hae audacity
To question its capacity?
The mither croon'd by
Young Jockie wood his blushin' bride
The bargain at the fair was driven,
The solemn prayr was wing'd to heaven,
The deein' faither made his will,
In gude braid Scots:
A language still!
It lives in
In bauld Dunbar it brightly shines,
On Lyndsays page in licht it streams,
In Border ballads haunts my dreams ;
An like a simmer mornin plays
On Ettrick banks an Yarrow braes.
It lives for aye in Allans play,
In Coilas sangs, the Shepherds lay,
The bird-like lilts fra Paisley side,
The Wizarts tales that flew sae wide,
Forbye the vast an varied store
O later ballants by the score:
The gude auld Scots!a language still,
Let fortune vary as it will.
Though banishd from oor College has,
It frames the siccar auld Scots laws;
Though from the lips, of speech the portal,
It lives in Literature immortal.
But oh, alas! the waefu
The customs new, the fashions strange,
Sin the auld patriarchal days
O sober thocht an simple phrase!
In thae auld days a heaven
Hung owre the kintra like a balm
That stilld the fractious fretfu blude,
An* made a tranquil neighbourhude.
Ilk townie was a human
The young grew up amang the auld,
An learnt their ways, an settled down
Contentit i their native toun.
The sergeant whyles, sae brave an* braw,
Wad wile a flichty chier awa,
An noo an than some book-leard birkie
Wad tak a hankerin for a kirkie;
But few they were to cities ran;
The village was a family than,
That fand in ilka hoose a hame,
An kent a neebours bairns by name.
Nor think it was a humdrum
A lang-continued wearin strife,
Withouten stop frae Yule to Yule
For the bare wants o milk an meal.
Ilk cottar had his ain bit land
He labbourd wi an eident hand,
Afore the meikle farms came in,
Like Pharaoh's cattle lank an thin,
An swallowd upits een a sair joke
The bien bit crafties o the puir folk.
Oh, wae the day the puir man tint it,
His cot an pendicle ahint it!
Tho short his boonds, an sma his gain,
A bit o Scotland was his ain.
What better guard or guarantee
O patriot love or loyaltie
Amang the common kintra
The kintras mainstey in distress
What stauncher safeguard could ye get
Than the auld crofter system yet?
That neuk o Scotlands
auld gray plaid
Was hishis shelter an his shade;
An jealous was he of his corner,
Quick to resent the scoff of scorner,
An' ready for his richt to stand
As ony lordling in the land.
Nae tourin schemes o
Beyont the wide Atlantic main,
Nae sinfu thochts o wild ambition
Garrd him despise his low condition;
His twa-ree acres delvd an plantit,
He whistled, and was weel-contentit.
An then the simple plays
The healthfu games an hamely joys!
A present pleasour to the mind,
They left nae efter-sting behind.
The time were surely idly spent
To speak o preachins fra the tent,
O kirns an foys an penny-waddins,
An back-en midnicht masqueraddins;
An Halloween sae blythe an merry,
An the daft days o Janiwary;
An pranks an plays at Beltantide,
Wi frolics noos an than beside.
And auld-warld cracks an
O wizart caves an haunted corries;
An* eerie tales o water witches,
That to the foord decoyd puir wretches;
An lang accounts o doughty deeds,
By heroes wroucht in yetlin weeds
For puir auld Scotlands honoured sake
When Scotlands Freedom was at stake.
Then chiefly in the lang forenicht
Was tauld the tale o Wallace wicht
Hoo like a lion roused he rose,
An rushd on his insulting foes;
Before his glance like deer they fled,
Behind him lay a line of dead
Till, breathless from the chase at length,
He sought the woods to gather strength,
Whence issuing ever and again,
He bled an battled to the en.
An here the tale would tak a turn
To Robert Bruce o Bannockburn;
How through the lang eventfu strife,
Ere glory crooned his later life,
He rather chose the woods and caves
Wi freedom an his band o braves
Than sit upon a silken seat
An wear a crown at Edwards feet.
Or aiblins that daft
Would slip unseen amang the thrang
O lads an* lasses busy jokin
Roun the wide ingle at the rokin.
Tho sn aw-white was the robe she wore,
An* strung wi gold the harp she bore,
She mair than tholed the reek an coom
The auld clay-biggin was her hame!
She micht hae sat in city has,
An listened to refined applause;
But dearer to her heart the cot,
The kintra, an* the puir mans lot.
She sang to children o the soil
The dignity of honest toil,
The independence o the mind,
An better days for a mankind.
She sang o love and
O friendships frank an social noise,
An toasted in her moods o glee
Scotland wi a the honours three.
She sang auld Scotlands
Her tourin hills where heather grows,
Her glens to youthfu memory dear,
Her burnies wimplin thro them clear.
She flang owre cairn o
Familiar wi the midnichts maen,
Owre moory monumental fiel,
Owre river wi its ruind peel,
A beauty mair than sun could gie,
Or blue-bells noddin bonnilie.
The glamour o the
On bare, forsaken scenes she cast,
The licht o lang-descendit suns,
The wail o lang-exhaustit wuns,
The shouts o heroes in the dust,
The gleam o glaives noo red wi' rust.
At ither times, late i
When wins aroon the was were roamin
ike warly cares aroond a mind
To heavens high will serene resigned
While slept the heavy-laboured young,
And owre the fire the auld folk hung,
A holy radiance would illume
The cottage wi a gowden bloom,
And i* the midst would seem to stand
Wi peacefu olive in her hand,
A matron of supernal air
Religion was the name she bare.
Nae mere emotional face
But a clear intellectual ee,
Where Faith and Truth, as from a dookit
Or open lattice-window, lookit.
Her lips, o gracefu
Had that placidity of line
Whose sweet severity alway
Repels the rude and awes the gay.
Hie was her broo an fair to see
A temple of serenitie,
On whilk a glance, how
Dispelld the faith-disturbin fear,
An gave the heart a lively sense
Of peace an patient confidence.
She spake wi calmness o
As of an entrance gate that gave,
Withouten tax of man or toll,
Admission to the ransomd soul
Admission purchased with a price,
To the fair fields of paradise.
Her teachings nourished
Beyond the dreams of earth or time;
Before their brilliance paled away
Sceptres an swords of widest sway,
The flashing crown, the purpled robe,
The glory of a conquerd globe.
Nor less the splendour of
Hailed by a wondering worlds acclaim,
For triumphs nobler than the swirds,
Achieved by noiseless thochts an wirds
In the much wider world of mind,
Unenvied fell their hopes behind.
The boast of rank, the
pride of state,
The airs and orders of the great;
The cushiond coach, the silken bed,
The prancing steeds, the banners spread;
The flash, the glitter, an the glare,
The brass, the glass, the trumpet blare
What were they but a toom pretence,
The fleeting shapes an shows of sense?
Not more enduring by a day
Than the puir cottars hodden gray,
His staff, his bannet, an* his plaid,
The sweaty emblems of his trade,
His horny loof, his thristly soil,
His back sair bent wi lifelong toil,
His bitter cares, his vexin crosses,
His disappointments, pains, an losses.
Wi a their prizes, a
Their petty losses, paltry gains,
Th allotted threescore years an ten
What were they after a to men
Whas view of human life was less
A tent life in a wilderness
Than a short passage owre a muir
To mansions waitin them secure?
Present abasement they
Sustained by a supernal pride;
For were they not the absent heirs
Of heaven, predestinated theirs?
The exiled children journeyin hame
Of a great Prince of powerfu name?
Yea, were they not upon the road
Princes and priests disguised of God?
The present age, I maun
Is keen an cultured in its view,
Sherp to spy oot, an sure to damn
The hoar hypocrisy an sham
That in the silent growth o years
Deform wi superstitious fears
The purest faith, the noblest truth,
That ever cam' fra' human mouth,
As ye have seen the lichen hide
The ootlines o the sculptors pride.
But, oh! I canna but lament
The slackenin o a restraint
Halesome to social life ; but chief
The rootin up o a belief
In life on earth to heaven translated,
In God, and man as God-created;
Nor least that reverential tone
Of oor grave elders changed or gone.
Others there are, but
these the chief
Licence, irreverence, unbelief
Evils that follow in the train
Of forms exposed and held as vain,
Tho cherished long, to suit the gentry
Of this omniscient nineteent centry.
In thae auld days noo on
In thae auld ways Ive tried to sing,
The youth of Scotlands hopes were reared,
An' Scotlands ancient name revered.
Dear were her mountains,
knocks, an' knowes,
Her fells an forests, haughs an howes,
Not for their natural beauty only,
Or grandeur, lofty, grim, an lonely,
But that they were an heritage
Bequeathed by men from age to age,
That greatly daring grandly stude,
An bled an bocht them wi' their blude.
Thus were those feelings
That still for independence strive
Against a power that would control
Freedom o' body, mind, or soul.
Thus, too, the passion was
That Scotsman feels for brither Scot
When they amang the fremd forgaither,
Tho' perfect strangers to ilk ither;
For they were reard on common fare,
An breathed the same wild mountain air,
Their hearts wi mutual memories glowed,
Their blude wi kindred instincts flowed,
Their sympathies in common ran,
Their likes an dislikes were at wan.
But wae befa the weary
That brought the sad reverse aroun,
An lowsed the tender social ties
Wherein a nations vigour lies.
It like a black-wambd speeder flang
Its telegraphic wires alang
The fields where rural industry,
Maist like an unambitious bee
Contentit wi a modest spoil,
Had hummd sae happy at its toil.
It laid its lines o iron
An* sallied forth wi' clatterin soun,
Wi puff an snort an startlin shriek,
Envelopd in a cludd o' smeek
To scare the little folks awa,
To bleck wi coom the greenwud shaw,
To fill the youthfu peasant breast
Wi discontentment and unrest,
An drag sweet Innocence within
The citys whirlin gulf o sin.
A panic owre the kintra
To towns the simple peasants sped,
Where, disappointed in their dreams,
They listened to the wildest schemes,
An crossed the ocean faem to find
Nae hame like what they left behind.
O then was heard by
The exiles wail owre vanished dreams;
An nichtly to their dashing wave
Perhaps some banishd bard would rave
The blindin saut tear in his ee
O Devon haughs or links o Dee.
The lesser venturesome
Gaed wanderin thro the kintra wide
Here for a year, an there for twa,
As flittin* fortune seemd to ca.
O thou accursed lust of
For whilk we madly strive an' strain,
What offerings on thine altar laid,
What sacrifices maun be made!
And a for what? Its no
Its no in cent per cent per year
Its no in gowd although we hed it
The wise can seet, the rich hae said it
Its no in mountain heaps o wealth
To purchase happiness an health!
But what avails this lang
This protest an expostulation?
Oh, Ichabod! The better plan
Were just to end as I began
To note the waefu change, an cry
The guid auld times are a gaun by!