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James Chapman Craig


71. BY THE BURNSIDE

While some folks rave o' gowfin' games,
O' "drives" an' "putts" an' a',
O' hazards an' o' bunkers bad,
In whilk they aften fa'.
Gie me a rod by some burnside,
Some worms or flees an' gibble,
The King himsel' can ga'e to-France
Gin I but get a nibble.

It's something fine to feel the line
Ga'e "chug" an' bend the rod;
The pawky troot jinks in an' oot,
An' coonts my flee a fraud.
While I, wi' a' the airt I ha'e,
Fling licht the baited line,
Till, caution tint, he gi'es a glint-
He's on! I ha'e him fine.

There's some folks blessed wi' plenty cash,
While ithers are gey scant;
It's no juist but they ha'e eneuch
To keep them free frae want.
But they ken fine they canna gi'e
What ithers aften pay
For fishin' in some lordly loch
At pounds an' pounds per day.

But, man, there's juist as muckle sport
To him in hodden grey,
In playin' for a burnie troot
Through half a drumlie day,
As what there is to men o' means
Wi' boat an' boatmen haundy,
Wha daudle a' day on a loch
An' canna fish for caundy.

Gi'e me a rod an' same guid graith
An' leisure for the day,
A gurlin' burn, wi' yestreen's rain,
A mornin' dull an' grey.
For warldly gowd or kingly croon
I'd never fash the wishin';
Gin I but tak' a troot or twa
An ha'e a guid day's fishin'.



72. WEE WILLIE WAUKRIFE

Wee Willie Waukrife
Winna close an' e'e,
Though it's lang past bed-time
Yet he'll no agree
Wi' his mither, wha looks tired,
An' says that he maun sleep;
"A sleepless wean" she says to me
'S an' awfu wean to keep."

Wee Willie Waukrife
Winna close an' e'e,
"Here, man, tak' him aff my airm,
Juist for a wee;
See if he'll be guid wi' you,
An' try an' gar him sleep,
For I ha'e Jamie's breeks to mend,
An' claes to lay asteep."

Wee Willie Waukrife
On his faither's knee,
Winna sit, winna staund,
Kickin' to be free.
Pu's his whuskers, scarts his nose,
An' 'ither siclike tricks;
"Come, my man, juist stop it noo,
Else ye'll get yer licks!"

"Lick a wean o' fifteen months?
Shame be on ye, man!
Hoo sic' thochts come in men's heads,
I canna understaun'.
Rise an' walk him through the hoose,
An' try same ither plan;
Ta' winna get to lick my wean,
Puir wee little man!"

Wee Willie Waukrife
Walkin' winna dae,
Ne'er a smile although I sing,
An' funny things I say.
Shoggie-shoo him up an' doon
Till I'm in a sweat,
Winna please the wee man,
Winna stop his greet.

Jamie's brecks are mended noo,
The claes are sortit richt,
An' a' the wark is feenished,
That I ha'e to dae the nicht.
Come to me my bonnie lam'
We'll try anither drink,
An' see'f the stour o' Sandie's pock,
Will gar thae wee een blink.

Wee Willie Waukrife
Prees his mither's breest,
A'e comforter in this world,
He thinks he has at least;
He drinks an' blinks an' rubs his een,
Till a' his cares are drooned,
Wrocht oot at last, though ill to beat,
He's sleepin' unco soond.

Wee Willie Waukrife
Tuckit in his bed,
A' his fauts forgotten as
His mither straiks his head;
While frae her heart a silent prayer
Gangs to the Lord abune,
That he may spare Wee Willie lang
An' keep him free frae sin.

While faur across the future life
She sees wi' mither's e'e,
A picture fu' o' lichts an' shades,
That nane but her can see.
An' as the web o' life unfaulds,
May nocht but guid be there,
That he be honest an' upricht,
'S his faither's earnest prayer.



73. LINES IN A YOUNG LADY'S ALBUM

A rhymin' chield in days gane by
Sang o' a nameless quean,
But mine's the task to sing a sang
O' a lass I've never seen,
But I ha'e gripped her faither's haund
An' watched her faither's smile,
An' I jalouse this lass o' his
Is something o' his style.

I kenna if she's dark or fair
Or if her een are blue,
But gin she be her faither's bairn
Her heart maun e'en be true.
She may be stoot, she may be slim,
She may be big or little,
But she'll be richt, for she maun ha'e
Some a' her faither's mettle.

As lang as Nith rins to the sea
Roond a' yon bonnie bends,
May she ne'er ken the lack o' gear
Or love o' honest friends.
May she live lang an' prosper weel
An' sorrows seldom ca',
An' when they dae may sunny rays
Chase a' her cares awa'.

May heavens sun shine saftly doon
On her an' on her hame,
May honour ever closely cling
Aroond her faither's name,
An' as the whirryin' moments flee
That hastens us awa',
May she whiles mind o' him wha sang
O' the lass he never saw.


74. THE LASSES' HATS

This is the first time I ha'e sung,
I may sune wish I'd ne'er begun,
For some stoot kimmer wi' a rung
May dour my noddle-orum;
But I will sing "The Lasses' Hats,"
Heich an' fluffy, laich an' duffy,
I will sing "The Lasses' Hats,"
Wi' millinery-orum.
Yes! I will sing "The Lasses' Hats,"
There's some like lids for muckle pats,
An' some like creels for haudin' sprats,
Devoid o' a' decorum.

Puir MAN may ha'e a "roond" or "square,"
A "lum's" the graundest he can dare,
But WEEMIN frae ten hunner mair
May choose their head-dress-orum.
"Felt" or "frame" or "gress" or "straw,"
Big or little, pan or scuttle,
The rainbow disna cover a'
Their multi-colour-orum.
Nae rainbow yet was ever seen
Wi' every shade o' blue an' green,
Frae black to white an' what's between
_Ad-libitum_-er-orum.

The lasses' hats they me bambaize,
My silly wits they seem to daze,
Comes owre my een a misty haze
As if I'd toomed a jorum.
E'en at the kirk gin ye gang there,
Ye hirsle yon't, but richt in front,
When at the kirk ye only stare
At some cockytoo-orum.
E'en at the kirk ye sit an' stare
At straw or felt a' deckit rare,
Ye canna see the man o' prayer
For fur or feather-orum

But at the kirk it's no sae bad,
Ye dinna think that you've been had,
Although ye glower at some huge pad
O' straw an' floo'rey-orum.
The seats are no sae very dear,
Jock an' Jenny twa a penny,
The Auld Kirk isna near sae dear
As Free or You-Pee-orum.
An' though the Auld Kirk cost ye mair,
To raise a din wad scarce be fair-
Ahint a stack there's houdin' there
For drowsy snitter-orum.

It's juist the same in quire an' pew,
The veeshion offered to yer view
Is hats o' every size an' hue
Made up o' chiffon-orum.
Wi' floo'rs o' every size an' kind-
Roses, lilies, daff-o'-dilies-
Floo'rs that maistly tirn ye blind,
Sae great's their variorum.
For ART lea's NATURE faur behind,
An' colours as she has a mind,
Nor sticks as NATURE seems inclined
To be what's been before-em.

But when ye've paid a "bob" or twa
To sit doon in the sixteenth raw,
To see a play ye never saw
O' bluid-an'-thunder-orum.
Atween the hats that tower in front,
Broad or bunchy, heich or hunchy,
Wi' the hats that low'r in front
Ye canna see before 'em.
For wi' the hats sae heich an' broad
Ye canna see the stage, "I'm blowed,"
An' feathers in derision nod
At your miseeri-orum.

This year they seem to be faur waur
Than ever they ha'e been before,
"Beehive" an' "Basket" joins the core
O' "Merry Widow"-orum.
Some's cockit up, some's hingin' doon,
Big an' gawsie, hides the lassie,
Coontless blossoms roond the croon,
Ribbons _ad_ galore-um.
Noddin' blossoms roond the croon,
Pansies, daisies, fret an' froon,
On roses, blue, green, black an' broon,
An unkent variorum.

There's money gi'en for this-an'-that's,
For housin' puir stray'd dowgs an' cats,
For killin' germs an' flees an' rats
An' siclike vermin-orum.
But there is nocht as faur's I ken,
Meal or money gi'en to ony
O' the real heroic men
Wha thole yon hats before 'em.
Sae lasses owre yer shouther keek,
A'e blink will colour up his cheek,
To see ocht else he'll never seek,
He'll think that ye adore-im.



75. THE LIFE-BOAT PROCESHION

Oh, I cam' to the Auld Grey Toon
Upon last Saturday, man,
To see the sichts wi' some mair wichts,
An' hear the baunders play, man.
We juist got in at twa o'clock,
An' mixed in wi' a lot a' folk,
An' wi' some wark
Got to the Park,
For by my sang
The place was thrang
Wi' lasses gay
An' laddies tae,
A' come like me
To try and see
The Graund Life-boat Proceshion.

The fisher lasses buskit braw
Were first to tak' my e'e, man,
An' lod! if they had got their way
They'd even taiken me, man.
Wi' rosy cheeks an' glancin' een,
Their marra', man, I've never seen.
Wi' short goons braw
An' 'coats an' a',
An' shawls sae graund
Tied in a baund
Aroond the heads
O' wives an' maids,
An' neat an' clean
As ony queen
They graced the Graund Proceshion.

Then next we had a graund display
O' corn an' hay an' straw, man,
Wi' sacks o' bran, an' sheaves sae gran',
The like I never saw, man.
An' richt ahint cam' Toonhill Baund,
Their playin' was juist something graund.
Syne Shepherd lauds
Wi' crooks an' plaids,
An' bless my heart!
Perched in a cart
Bedecked wi' floo'rs
Like Flora's bowers,
Some braw young folks
Attendin' flocks
Were in the Graund Proceshion.

Then here's the fisher lasses next,
They're drawin' in the clink, man,
An' then the blacksmith's sturdy chields,
They made their anvils clink, man.
Then joiners joined the graund array,
An' brisk oor ain Toon Baund did play,
Then Forresters frae Erin's Isle,
Then bicyclers wha raised a smile,
Then men o' micht
Wi' cleavers bricht,
An' Milkmen spruce
Wi' guid kye-juice,
An' then o' fish
A denty dish
A' in the Graund Proceshion.

Then cam' the faur-famed Rifle Baund,
An' then the Cycle Corps, man,
Then Fellows Odd, then Railway chields,
They're aye weel to the fore, man.
An' then the man wha sells the eggs,
Wi' cocks an' hens wi' feathery legs,
The hen-wife wi' her soo-back'd mutch,
Her shouthers bent weel owre her crutch.
Wi' watchfu' e'e
She looked to see
If ony hen
Had laid; an' then
A touzie ga'e
The pickle strae,
In case they made
A fell to-dae,
Or slip't their fit
Gaun doon the brae
While in the Graund Proceshion.

Ah! here's a sicht to gled the heart,
O' inland chaps like me, man,
The Life-boat true, wi' noble crew!
The tear cam' to my e'e, man,
To see the men in very truth
I've read o' since I was a youth
Wha rin whene'er
The signal's gi'en,
Haul oot the boat
An' launch her in,
An' face fu' brave
The angry wave,
An' wage a strife
To save a life;
God bless the life-boat crew, man.

Losh! man, the sicht I'll ne'er forget,
It does a buddy guid, man;
It lets us see that after a'
We're a' a'e flesh an' bluid, man,
That hero's are juist mortal men,
An' God has gi'en's them juist on len'.
Sae whether ye gi'e
The broon bawbee,
Or siller croon,
Juist pap it doon,
An' help to keep
Upon oor coast
Sic boats an' men,
They're Britain's boast!
God keep the gallant crews, man.

As lang as we ha'e men like thae
We needna ha'e a fear, man,
Aboot oor country crum'lin' doon,
It's juist an empty jeer, man;
We've Volunteers an laund as weel,
Wha'd face, if need, the very deil.
Wi' men like these
To guard the seas,
An' ha'e on haund
A gallant baund,
To nip up foes
That chance to land,
We ne'er need fear
The Rooshan Bear,
Nor turn blue
At German crew,
Nor sweat at pores
For fear o' Boers-
Stop, stop, this rhyme's awa wi' me
As fast as ony horse can flee,
But dinna lay the wyte on me,
Lay't on the Graund Proceshion.



76. MISSIE KEIR: A MEMORY SHARED BY MONY

I've haen a sang aboot me noo
For mony an' mony a day,
But hained my haund-ye understand,
An' wadna gied fair-play;
The subject o' my liltin' rhyme
Was and that a' held dear,
An' e'en to see her name in prent
Micht made the body queer.

She was sae gentle in her ways,
Sae kind to ane an' a';
A cheerie word-a winnin' smile
For a' wha ga'e a ca';
But noo she's laid aneath the gress
Nae mair we'll see her here,
But lang will lads an' lasses mind
O' lo'esome Missie Keir.

My pow is gettin' scant o' hair
An' what I ha'e is grey,
But weel I mind the untauld joy
In childhood's happy day,
When wi' some chum a bawbee rich
The window we wad speir
Wi' fashious fyke what best we'd like
To buy frae Missie Keir.

Be't brandy-nips or chocolate cream,
Ripe aipples, pears or nits,
Dates or locust, grapes or figs,
Tablement in bits:
For mind she kept an unco' stock
O' a'thing quaint an' queer.
Whate'er ye cudna get elsewhere
Ye'd get frae Missie Keir.

She'd pens an' ink, an' pirns an' preens,
Pencils, caum an' skeelie,
Saut an' whitnin', sugar, tea,
Tawties fine an' mealie,
Treackle-peerie, gundy, rock,
Biscuits, ginger-beer,
Tapes (a' sizes), hooks and eyes
Ye'd get frae Missie Keir.

Ginge'-bread horses-noble steeds,
Puggies, aye a wheen,
An' rabbits wi' weel cuttit lugs
An' muckle curran' een;
Leeks an' like for makin' kail,
Peas an' barley-here,
I'd tak' a week to gang owre a'
Ye'd get frae Missie Keir.

She'd sugar men, an' sugar staffs,
A' hingin' up on strings,
An' sweetie cherries stuck on wires,
An' roond red sugar rings.
For some things every bairn wad came
Frae a' place faur an' near-
The best "black man" in a' the toon
Was made by Missie Keir.

Her "sugar-bools" were kent by a',
"Cheugh-chows"they whiles were ca'd;
Across the years my very teeth
Seem wi' the mem'ry thaw'd;
Whene'er we had a "maik" to spend
On "what" we weel micht speir;
But "whaur" held ne'er a doot at a'-
Haud straucht for Missie Keir.

In my young days the spendin' "maiks"
Were never very rife,
A faurden or an auld bawbee
We micht get frae some wife.
Auld bawbees naebody wad tak',
At faurdens they looked queer,
But auld bawbees an' faurdens passed
The bank wi' Missie Keir.

The faurdens were fair barter for
A "sugar-doodle" to ye,
The "auld bawbees" were value for
Whate'er she liked to gi'e ye.
I dinna mean to say, ye ken,
That a' oor "maiks" were queer,
But guid or bad "gut-rake" was had
Wi' them frae Missie Keir.

Whene'er oor copy-books were filled
Wi' what we ca'd oor writin'
(Some painfu' efforts in the airt
O' "strokes" an' "decks" unitin'),
If sae be that the book was clean,
An' frae big "blotches" clear,
We'd get a stick a' rare "black man"
For it frae Missie Keir.

An' even when wi' coffers toom
We'd staund an' glaw'r fu' fain
Wi' een enriched an' noses flet
Bruized on her window pane,
An' tell each other a' we'd buy
Come Fair-day or New-'ear,
An' lauch wi' glee in hopes to pree
The stares o' Missie Keir.

Her shop was four or five staps doon,
Wi' fittrin' muckle worn;
To me it seem'd as she'd been there
Lang, lang ere I was born;
I kent her till I grew a man
Wi' wife an' bairns asteer,
My bairns had just as muckle "troke"
As me wi' Missie Keir.

She never altered in her way,
Aye charmin' was her smile,
Her kindly word to young an' auld,
Her mainner free frae guile.
Lang will her name be keepit green,
An' aiblins whiles a tear
Will mingle when fond memory
Reca's dear Missie Keir.

I'd maistly written "auld" for "dear"
But, lod! I cudna thol'd;
Sic folk wi' age of coorse may dee
But, man, they ne'er grow auld.
She'll aye remain as in the days
That's faur back in the rear,
The ever-smilin', ne'er-beguilin'
Lo'esome Missie Keir.



77. THE FLYING DUTCHMAN

Ye a' maun ken wha read yer books
That ance upon a time
The Dutch sailed a' their bonnie ships
To conquer oor ain clime;
An' leadin' o' the ships o' war
Van Tromp was in his glory,
An' o' his deeds o' derring do
You'll read in poem an' story.

It's no to tell o' deeds he did
That this epistle's penned;
It's maistly juist to tell the name
By which he's since been kenned.
The "Flying Dutchman" he was dubbed-
A guidish kind o' name-
Twa hunner years ha'e gane an' we've
Anither o' the same.

But eh! man, Tromp he came to fecht,
An' sailed his ships wi' pride,
An' tho' he didna conquer us,
Luck wasna on his side;
But he'd the same idea as Paul
(Oom Paul ye'll understand)-
Tromp had his broom to sweep the sea,
Paul was to sweep the land.

Tromp vowed he'd sweep us _aff_ the sea,
In fact he said he'd din'd;
An' Paul, because he dwelt inland,
He said he'd drive us _in'd;_
But Tromp's a man we can admire,
He focht his battles brawly,
Paul likes to tell the rest to fecht
While he gaes creepy-crawly.

He gethers a' the gowd he can,
And gies his sodgers paper,
An' shifts his capital an' a',
An' cuts an unco caper;
He says that he was by the Lord
The Preesident annointed,
An' looked to Him to help him, but
He's been sair disappointit.

He's safe eneuch whaur he is noo,
He'll dae nae ill at a';
He'll row his muckle een aboot
An' tak the ither draw.
But what I want tae finish wi'-
I'll eat my auld wife's mutch, man,
If he's no what I claim he is-
The wily "Flying Dutchman!"



78. THE STRICKEN HAME

There's a hushed awe in the household,
There's a dull pain in the heart,
For the death-shade doth appal us,
And the tears unbidden start;
For the voice we loved is silent,
And the form and face so dear
Is hid away for ever
In the churchyard cold and drear.

Oh! we miss her kindly greeting,
And we miss her gentle word,
And we weep with hearts bereaved,
PiercÚd by affliction's sword;
But we weep not as they do weep
Who have no blessed hope,
Who are blind and who so vainly
In the unknown darkness grope.

For we know that over yonder,
In the land beyond the grave,
That her spirit watches o'er us,
And whispers to be brave;
To keep free from all evil,
To be pure and do the right,
And she'll wait and welcome give us
When our day shall turn to night.



79. LAUREL AND CYPRESS

What though the sounds of victory
Re-echo along the air;
And what though, through the fire of death,
Unconquered they get there:
What though same are glory reaping!
What of them for even sleeping?-
Sleeping with the dead.

See in yon far off Highland cot,
A lonely woman sits;
Her thoughts are with her soldier son,
His face in the shadow flits.
Never a thought of bullets flying,
Never a sound save a fond heart sighing,
Sighing, but not for the dead.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

"Missing?" Was that all they said?
No word of a last good-bye?
No word of a gallant comrade near
To see my poor boy die?
No kindly lips his cold brow kissing,
No prayer save that of bullets hissing-
Hissing their thren of dread.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Twine the laurel for the victors,
Let them wear it on their brow!
Twine the cypress for the loved ones
Who are silent ever now!
And for the homes where flowers are missing,
Let us ask for God's rich blessing
On each sorrow-bowed head.



80. MATES

"Mates?" I should think so, Jim and me
Stood shoulder to shoulder.
In the whole of the regiment, than we,
No two were bolder.
The bugle said, "To the battlefield-
Your country's honour demands your shield,
Go! Conquer! Never dare to yield,"
And we marched with our hearts against love steeled,
Marched shoulder to shoulder.

Into the battle bloody and grim,
Still shoulder to shoulder;
One step, one purpose, me and Jim,
No two were bolder.
"Is't yours or mine, this bullet flying?"
But ere lips could be replying
Jim is down! shot through and dying,
I saw him stumble, yet proudly trying
To keep shoulder to shoulder.

I dare not tarry, comrade Jim,
Though it tears my heart;
I can only commend your soul to Him,
He'll play a comrade's part.
I have still to load and still to try
My country's honour to hold on high;
I can only bid you a fond good-bye-
It may be my turn next to die,
And we'll be no more apart.


 Return to Poems of James Chapman Craig

 


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