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The Heilan' Ball
by
Chas A. Milne


Oh cam wi’ me an’ wait an’ watch
As we keek in ayont the latch
Intae the laird’s great dancin’ hall
Whaur he hauds the Heilan’ Ball
Whaur sichts as rare as can be seen
As a wealthy beggar in Aberdeen
Or a fleetin’ glimpse o’ Auld Nessie

For whiles let’s watch …..

A piper at the Heilan’ Ball
He wis growin’ fu’ an’ all
Thro’ drinkin usquebaugh an tippeny
O’er mony brandys, wine an’ whisky
His fingers skitin’ a’ o’er the stem
His bag as slack’s a tinkler’s wame
Jist makin’ a raucous raw

Whiles at the side………

A fiddler, wha wid mak amends,
Scaldin’ red-hot his finger ends
That flee up an’ doon an’ aroon’ the neck
His rosin’d bow playin’ "St Albans Lick"
Weel kennen each odd cornered reel
Weel kennen how each soarin’ note should feel
Tae mak yer hairt mair lichtsome

Whiles on the flair……

The dancers, a squint circle form
In a’ their best they’re fair adorned
At triple speed they cross an’ cleekit
Till a’ their claes is soaked an reekit’
O’ their skin – jist dreepin’ wi’ the swat
That made the stane flair skite wi’ wat
It wisnae balletic

Whiles in the hearth………..

A roarin’ fire bleez’s rejoicin’
Tae watch the guidhearts sweet romancin’
Haudin each ither aroon the neck
Gi’en each other an amorous smack.
Ane wi a clay pipe atween her lips
Wid this be lang remembered bliss
Or jist a nichtmare?

Whiles roon the table…

Young men gaither at the smokin’ bowl
An tak a pipe tae mak them whole
A glass or mair o’ the lairdies punch
A pinch or twa o’ the cheapest snuff
Wid gie them stomach tae become reif randies
An’ tae the wimmen seem fine dandies…
Aye, or jist whirlygigums

Whiles on the stair….

The bairnies, wha should by rights be sleepin’
canna help themselves frae peepin
An’ starin’. Starin’ wi their moos agap
Wide enough tae swallow a bap.
An’ asides them sleep the laird’s twa lurchers
Streetchin’ oot their lang braw haunches
Dreamin’ o’ hunts and stags

Whiles ootside…..

In the cauld, dark shadows o’ this grand hoose
Only one thing stirs – a wee bit moose
It stirs but aince, an’ then is grabbit
By a sweeping owl that passes
Strikin hard, its claws right forritt
An’ by the silver licht abune
Flees hame tae ha’e its feast alane
An’ aye the moon shines brichtly

But whiles…..

It’s yoken time and ye are waken
Ye’ll think that in a dwam ye were taken
Tae a laird’s hoose,! Tae a ball!
Whaur ye saw sic sichts an all
Whaur through the drink the wirld wis pit right
Aye……. until the morning bright
Whan reality returns tae a’ God’s craturs.


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