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The Fleggin o Drouthy Tam


(The Frightening of Thirsty Tom)
by George P. Dunbar of Aberdeen
Published in 1922 in his book of poems, 'A Whiff O The Doric'.

Some words and metre in George's poem are altered here
by John Henderson in order for it to be sung to,
Ray Henderson's 1924 tune for 'Why Did I Kiss That Girl'.

The nicht wis dark an Tam wis fou an oan his hamewith wye,
An aft he gied a muckle rift an fyles a muckle sigh ........
He'd been whaur wine wis rosie reid an stoups o barley bree
Hid gart him crack his thooms at care an lauch wi rantin glee.

"Anither stoup" wis aa the cry, "come jist anither yit."
Noo Tam wid raither rowe nor rin, an scarce could haud a fit.
He waunnert ow'r, the breemy brae, an stertert doon, the howe,
An narhan cam tae tine himsel whaur boggy rashes growe.

He crossed the brig gaan ow'r the burn upon his hans and knees;
It taen a fyle for aft he stopped tae gie himsel a reeze. ........
"Ye're daen fine noo Tam" said he. "Hoots, be canny man, tak care
Or haith ye'll git the weetest sark ye've hid syne Aikey Fair."

**
A weety mist cam trailin by an queeled him wi its breath;
Tam shuddered lik a wee nakit bairn an thocht it wis a wraith ....... ...
The sang wis frozen ticht in his mou, the hair steid up oan his heid,
An cauld an stiff in ilka vein wis ilka drap o bleed.

A shape raise up fae the lang weet girse - twa glowerin fiery een
Set Tam's knees wabblin lik a deuk thit's fin howderin ower the green;
His dwebble legs, boo't lik a rash, ower oan his wime, he fell
An bored his neb intae the saft-lik yird, an narhan smored himsel.

"Och Lord" he groaned, "Och Lord or deil, fitivver ye micht be,
I prig ye gie me mercy, sir - haud aff yer hans fae me." ......
I hinna been a kirk-gaen chiel, bit noo I'm gaan tae mak amen,
An ilka Sunday syne in the kirk ye'll see me steppin ben."

**
"I'll throw nae mair at pitch an toss, an I'll burn ma pack o cairts,
An cast nae mair a winnin ee upon the queen o hairts. ..... ....
Och Lord I've been a wicket deil, bit gin ye're lattin me aff,
I'll be as hairmless efterhin as ony sookin cauf."

"I'll nivver lip the drink again - at least," said wily Tam,
Unless an antrim neeper war tae offer me a dram."
The shape gied, an angry 'grumph'; Tam's hairt it gied, a dird;
"Weel, weel," he roared, "I canna say mair, nae anither wird.

There's nocht'll weet ma thrapple noo bit waater aa ma days;
Och, deil - deil - kind canty deil" an Tam begood tae freeze.
Och awfu Presence," blubbert Tam, "jist gie me anither chance,
I'll nivver kiss a quine again, nor hooch anither dance."

****
Syne lik a lickit bairnie Tam lay sobbin aa his micht,
An closer cam the creepin mist, an darker grew the nicht ...... ...
Tam aft hid shoo'd his royt wul aits, an noo he hid tae reap,
Bit lang afore the mornin he wis snochrin soun asleep.

Sae there amang the weety girse he spent nicht's mirkest oors,
An kent nae o the eerie spell o midnicht's witchin pooers.
The shape thit hid, steid ower Tam, gaed lowin throwe, the dark,
An whan the mornin cam the dyow sat weet oan Tam's fite sark.

He ca'd the yird oot fae his een an clawed his raivelt heid,
An lauch'd tae fin himsel alive insteed o lyin deed. .........

BUT, OCH FRAIL MORTALS, HIV A CARE, LEST WHAN YE ARE GEYGLIES FOU,
LIK TAM YE GROVEL LAICH AN PRIG FOR MERCY FAE A COO !


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