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Some Old Scottish Street Poetry
Page 5

Andy Barbour got in touch...

My Grandpa Neil from Partick used to say:

The Two Dead Boys.

Early one morning,
In the midle of the Night,
Two dead boys got up tae fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords & shot each other.
A deaf Policeman heard the noise,
& came & arrested the two dead boys.

My Grampa Charlie would ask "have you heard the lost sheep on the mountain?"

Answer: No, how does it go?


Steve sent in...

I stumbled upon your great site whilst on vacation in Sydney. My Canadian girlfriend loves the following Scots kids poem – I couldn’t find it in the site.

A boney boney sausage, a boney boney sausage
Ah put it in the oven fur ma tea
I went tae the dairy, tae see ma auntie Mary
And the sausage came efter me

Awra best

Allie Quinn sent in a wee verse she remembered...

When in this book you look
And on this page you frown
Think of the one who spoiled your book
By writing upside-down.

John Henderson and Brian Kellogg both sent this in due to a query from one of our visitors about a poem to do with bowling...

"The Deil's Boolin' Match"
The nicht was dismal, dark, and drear,
Nae lichtsome star did e'er appear
To gie the worthy burghers cheer
In Auld Montrose.
The boolin' green, as Egypt's night
Deserted, lay a waesome sicht,
For lang before, ilk joyful wight
Had sought repose.
Methought I waunered doon the brae
Where oft in simmer's golden day
I'd joined the boolers in their play
And merry pranks;
An' made leal freens and cronies dear,
Whose kindly welcome aye gave cheer.
I count them a' as richt guid gear,
An' tend them thanks.
That nicht, howe'er as Rab wad say,
The deil, some evil work wud hae,
Rampagin' roon to find some prey
Tae glut his ire ;
As shrieked the nor' wind ower the toon
A thund'rous crash rang out aboon,
An' to the sward the deil cam doon
In car o' fire.
He made straight for the boolhoose door
Twa red-hot bools dumped on the floor,
" I want a rink!" I heard his roar.
But a' was still.
"This nicht wi' mortals I maun wage
A deadly combat—here's the gage—
My crown and power !" he yelled wi' rage.
" Myroastin' grill!"
He bragged aboot his pooer and might;
Hoo nane could worst him in the fight.
"Twas plain tae see this deevlish wight
Was nae sma' drink.
" Come ! whowill play?" I heard the yell
As twelve boomed on the Steeple bell,
And then—" I'll tak' ye on mysel' !—
I'll skip a rink!"
Syne leaped my heart, I yelled oot " Fine !
This fechtin' wark is in your line!"
The deil glowered, " Ye're nae freen o' mine
At kirk or green."
'Twas Thomson, he o' heart sae leal,
Who bauldly faced his foe, the deil,
" I'll get a rink tae mak' yesqueal—
A rink sae keen."
An' in the twinklin' o' an eye
The stalwart form o' Marr I spy,
Followed by Martin—syneMackay.
Weel picked the three.
For oft I'd seen them on the green
Contendin' stern as sportsmen keen ;
But now they'd sterner work, I ween,
To bear the gree.
"An' wha's your rink!" "E.T." did speir,
As ither ghoulish forms drew near.
"Deil's like mysel'!" Nick answered drear.
"Ye ken my sons—
Macbeth and Nero, lang syne dead,
Fu' black an' grim the lives they led.
The Kaiser jinked me—sent in his stead
One o' the Huns !"
The game began, the bools flew fast,
An' ower the sward a gleam is cast
That ne'er on land or sea had passed
For mony a nicht;
Sin' Tam o' Shanter in the mirk
Saw phantoms revel in the kirk,
Syne chased him hame ower brae and birk—
An eerie sicht.
The deil's rink were a cunnin" crew
As to their maister's bid they drew,
An' frae the bools the fire sparks flew
When they were hit.
But Thomson's men strove micht an' main,
Tho' beaten yince they tried again,
An' " Clootie's " wiles were a' invain
'Gainst Thomson's grit.
A goblin crood had lined the banks,
Rattlin' their fetters, chains and branks
(I saw some boolers in their ranks—
Some artfu' loons!)
They cheered their maister lang an' lood
Till Thomson lay a bool sae good—
Fair on the jack—hefaced the crood
An' cracked his thooms.
The final end—thegame was square,
Marr to the jack, an' inch, nae mair,
Had drawn a bool wi' muckle care ;
Sae did Mackay.
" Come on the fore !—juist draw tae me! "
Thomson did cry wi' unfeigned glee.
"A bonny bool! Yerhand, ' W. P.'
That yinwill lie! "
The deil's lips wore an ugly grin
As doon the green his bool did spin.
It " wick'd " an' whummelled its wayin
Straight to the kitty.
He danced an' pranced wi' muckle glee.
" Theshot! " he cries; "beat that," says he.
" Deil's luck is mine!" Syne cried " E. T."—
"The mair's the pity ! "
Wi' lips stern set, the skip aimed true,
Straight for the jack his good bool flew;
Silent the goblin watchers grew;
Nae mair the boast.
Into the ditch went jack and bowl,
An' lay there safely cheek by jowl.
The deil let oot a waefu' howl—
" I've lost! I've lost!"
A thunder clap !—the air grew chill;
The storm had passed and all was still,
An' o'er the woods o' Rossie's hill
The moon arose.
The Steeple reared its spire on high,
I waked to see a starlit sky,
The deil had gone—without good-bye—
From Auld Montrose.
But on the green, as ye can see
The marks as plain as plain can be,
For Dakers pointed oot tae me
The very spot
Where Nickum's hinmost bool had lain,
Till wi' that drive o' micht and main
The meenister the point hae taen,
An' won the shot.
R. D. M.

Mina from New Zealand sent in...

No last night but the night before
Three wee beggars came tae ma door
wan wi’ a trumpet
wan wi’ a drum
wan wi’ a pancake stuck tae his bum

and a few days later she also sent in...

Mary hid an iron coo
She milked it wae a spanner.
The milk came oot in shillin tins
And wee yins at a tanner.

Dashel got in touch and said...

My mother was taught this song when she was a little girl in Scotland. Being born in 1925, I guess it was taught to her in about 1930 as a 5 year old, by either friends or her own mother. Subsequently, she taught it to me when I was also about 5 years old around 1967. So far, I can find no trace of the lyrics anywhere on Google. I have included them here as best as I can remember to preserve them; as they may be forgotten by her generation and exist only here in print, with the melody only in my mind. They also serve as a link for my children to their Nana. I hope one day to teach the melody to my daughter Olivia, who is a musician, so that she will know the tune her Nana used to sing to me. : )

Title Unknown.

When I was young I had no sense,
I thought I’d go to sea.
I stepped aboard a Chinese ship
And a Chinaman said to me....
“Iskara-bunga, Ee-I-unga
Fe Fo Fi fam”
Dip your nose in the butter
For a poor Chinaman.

Shada got in touch to say...

Lived in Glasgow (Mary Hill) as a kid between 1957 & 1966. The song the person above sent in is pretty much a mess, and I would like to offer the correction if I can?

Here goes:

When I was young I had no sense
I thought I’d go to sea
I stepped upon a Chinese ship, and a China man came to me
He tumbled me right over, and he put me in a pot
And when the pot was boiling, he sang a Chinese song
“E kali um dum  E kali um ...Fe Fi Fo Fum
Stick your nose in the butter, the Holy margarine!
Two black eyes, a jelly nose and your face all painted green!”

Anna McKnight emailed me...

Hello, I was searching for a nursery rhyme my Aberdonian grandmother used to recite to me. She was born in 1894. I found a short version on your site. Here is the one she used:

Rainy, rainy rattle steenie, rainy on the rocks,
All the fisher wifies are hanging oot their socks,
Rainy, rainy rattle steenie, dinna rain on me,
Rain on Johnny Grot's house,
Far across the sea.

It seems a shame to lose these old rhymes.

John Henderson sent in this poem...

'The Boy in the Train'
by Mrs Mary Campbell (Edgar) Smith (1869 – 1938)

This poem describes a wee boy whom Mary met on a memorable railway journey from Edinburgh to Elie, Fife for an Easter holiday with her husband, George Smith, the Headmaster of Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.

Mary Campbell Edgar was born on the the 3rd of January, 1869 in the Parish Manse of Tongland in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright to Andrew Edgar, Minister of Tongland and his wife Mary Sybil (Cowan) Edgar who married in Kelton, Kirkcudbright on the 24th of November, 1865. Andrew had been born in Sorn, Ayr, in 1830, and Mary Sybil had been born in Kelton, Kirkcudbright in 1845.

Mary Campbell Edgar's paternal grandparents were Andrew Edgar (Factor) and Mary Colville (Farmer's daughter) ... and Mary Campbell Edgar's maternal grandparents were Samuel Cowan (Clergyman) and Mary Campbell (Clergyman's daughter).

Mary Campbell Edgar married George Smith, aged 25, a Schoolmaster, on the 12th of September, 1895, according to the Forms of the Church of Scotland at 31 Fountainbridge Road, Edinburgh.

(N.B. 'Kirkcaddy' = the town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland)

Whit wey does the engine say 'Toot-toot'?
Is it feart to gang in the tunnel?
Whit wey is the furnace no pit oot
When the rain gangs doon the funnel?
What'll I hae for my tea the nicht?
A herrin', or maybe a haddie?
Has Gran'ma gotten electric licht?
Is the next stop Kirkcaddy?

There's a hoodie-craw on yon turnip-raw!
An' seagulls! - sax or seeven.
I'll no fa' oot o' the windae, Maw,
Its sneckit, as sure as I'm leevin'.
We're into the tunnel! we're a' in the dark!
But dinna be frichtit, Daddy,
We'll sune be comin' to Beveridge Park,
And the next stop's Kirkcaddy!

Is yon the mune I see in the sky?
It's awfu' wee an' curly,
See! there's a coo and a cauf ootbye,
An' a lassie pu'in' a hurly!
He's chackit the tickets and gien them back,
Sae gie me my ain yin, Daddy.
Lift doon the bag frae the luggage rack,
For the next stop's Kirkcaddy!

There's a gey wheen boats at the harbour mou',
And eh! dae ya see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sookin' the noo
Has tummelt an' stuck tae ma troosers. . .
I'll sune be ringin' ma Gran'ma's bell,
She'll cry, 'Come ben, my laddie',
For I ken mysel' by the queer-like smell
That the next stop's Kirkcaddy!

Alistair White sent in two contributions...

Hinty, tinty, halli-go-lum.
Chuck the tatties up the lum,
Santy Claus got one on the bum,
Hinty, tinty, halli-go-lum.


I love a sausage,
A Co-operatve sausage,
Ye cannae get near it for the smell,
If ye spread it wi' some syrup,
Ye can hear the syrup chirrup,
"Mary, my Scots blue-bell"

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