Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

James Chapman Craig

Sangs o' Bairns an' Hame
by James Chapman CRAIG (1859-1931)


Awa' to the ferry o' Dreamland Toon
That lies in the howe o' sleep,
Wi' the gloamin' grey
We are on our way
When the mune begins to peep.
When the drowsie sun sinks slowly doon,
An' shimmers the sea wi' gowd,
When the bairns are a'
In their hushie-ba,
And snug in their blankets row'd.

Awa' faur oot on the wide, wide sea,
The boat rocks up an' doun,
An' the plashin' waves
The dim shore laves,
Wi' their moanin', croonin' soun'.
And O! sae cannie the wee boat sails
To the haven ayont the mune,
Owre the waters wide
We slowly glide
To the faur-aff Dreamland Toon.

The Auld Grey Man wi' the stoorie pock
Has command o' the sleepy boat,
And he airts its way
Past the waukrife fay,
Awa' to the land remote.
And the stars shine oot like burnished gowd
To airt the captain roun'
The bonnie bend
At the journey's end,
In the harbour o' Dreamland Toon.

And the wind adds a sough to the mither's sang,
Like the echo of a sigh,
And it kisses the hair
O' the voyagers fair,
As it wanders idly by.
And fainter still frae the distant shore
Comes a soothin', singin' soun',
And is borne to the ears
O' the drowsie dears
On the boat for Dreamland Toon.

The mune grows dim, and ane by ane
The stars fade frae the sky,
And in stillness deep
Of mystic sleep
Lies the sound o' the lullaby.
The voyage is past and the fairy crew
Let the anchor gently doon,
And angel's gled
Watch roond the bed
O' the bairns in Dreamland Toon.


Wee Tammy Tantrum,
Sic a fell to dae,
Winna let his peenie on,
A' that I can say.
See! he's stiff's a poker,
Neither bend nor loo;
Funkin' like a frisky foal,
Or a kittle coo.

Risen aff his wrang side,
Winna smile ava,
Stanin' in a corner
Facin' to the wa'.
Winna let me kaim his hair,
Nor gi'e his face a dicht,
Like a tawtie-bogle,
Sic a wee fricht.

Han's, I'm shair, juist like the lum,
Playin' in the stoor;
Frock juist like a coalman's pock,
An' no' been on an 'oor.
A' this strunt is juist because
I brocht him frae ootby,
An' didna let him feenish aff
The bakin' o' a pie.

"Mammy kens what she'll dae,
An' that very sune-
She'll ging owre to Windy-Wa's
This very afternune,
An' get anither braw wee lad-
There's lots to pick an' wyle;
He'll no' greet, nor glunch, nor strunt,
Bricht'll be his smile."

Wee Tammy Tantrum,
O'd he's comin' roon'!
Eh! there's no anither bairn
Like 'im 'i the toon.
Hair kaimed out like siller cloud,
Face an' haundies clean,
Peenie on sae trig an' snod,
Like a new preen.

What d'ye say? Haud doon my head
Ere ye tell me this.
What? Eh, ye're a willin' rogue-
"Gie yer 'Mum' a tiss!"
"Oo no det anuzzie boy,
Me be youse wee man!"
"Very weel. Noo, there's a peece,
Rin! as fast's ye can!"


It's funny what an odds it mak's
Hoo some folks say our names;
For instance, my dear mither
Never ca'd me ocht but James
Whene'er she'd want me to the hoose
Frae "tig," or sic like games,
Ye'd hear her frae the stairbead crying-

My faither wasna sae precise
In gi'ein' my name an' airin',
'Twas maistly aye "the youngster" or
The pregnant words-"that bairn";
That micht mean onything ye ken,
Our language is sae queer,
But nae doot hover'd in yer mind
When - he said - HERE!

A lassie leeved at oor stair fit,
Her nature was but flimsy,
I aften grue whene'er I think
I hear her cryin' "Jimsie."
She had a peesy-weesy voice,
Juist like a roostit hingie,
But save us a' frae ever hearin'-

But when I gaed to Fairley's schule,
Anither form it took,
'Twas Jatnie aye, an' sweet it soonds,
When owre the years we look;
An' mony a vision sweet comes up,
An' lingers lovin' wi' me,
O' schule mates dear, an' hear them cryin'-

An' later when I gaed to work,
The gaffer, neat an' prim,
He pared it to the very edge,
For he juist ca'd me Jim;
An' a' the men I wrocht beside,
They took their cue frae him,
An' to them a' while I was there
I aye was JIM.

To coort my wife when I set oot,
I dinna like to tell
What she ca'd me, for ye maun ken
'Twas whispered to mysel';
But when I spiered wi' anxious heart,
Gin she wad only ha'e me,
Her heart was fu' an' a' she said was-

As years gaed by wi' wife and weans
(There's mair than a'e fine laddie),
Twa ither names I ha'e annexed
An' that's "Guidman" an' "Daddy."
But the sweetest soond that greets my ear
An' mak's me feel richt glad aye,
Is when the bairns begin to lisp oot


Was ever a place like a schule-laddie's pooch?
It's winnerfu', man, what's intill'd;
It's never owre big, though as lang as the leg,
Nae maiter the size, it's stuffed fu' as an egg-
He'll aye fin' oot something to fill'd.

It ser's for a pantry, a kist, an' a bag,
For nails, nits, lools, skeelie, or bread;
It's pack't till the leg's scarcely able to wag,
An' the claith on the tap is as thin as a rag-
By the wecht o'd, it seems filled wi' lead!

Here's Johnnie's breeks laid whaur he's taiken them aff,
They're sair needin' mendin' I see,
A great muckle hole juist whaur he sits doon;
'Twas ne'er worn oot, I could wager a croon-
'Twas torn oot sclimmin' some tree.

Guid gracious! the wecht! my it's maist half-a-stane;
I'll e'en hae tae toom them, I doot.
What's in'd? Seven lools, twa glessies, some peesils,
A plunker, a peerie, a tin thing that wheesels,
A bit rubber he ca's "blottin' oot."

Twa-three bits o' skeelie, a nail, a bit kauk,
An auld broken heft o' a knife,
A bit string, a bit leather, a buckle, some beads,
A pen neb, a pencil, some spunks wantin' heads-
I ne'er saw the like a' my life!

Some muillins o' bread, an' a wheen locust paips,
An' what's this row'd in a bit paper?
Michty me! it's a tuith! 'od it's ane o' his ain
('Twas slack, an' he pu'd it oot last nicht his lane).
If he burns it wi' saut, it'll grow in again!
Did ever ye ken sic a caper?

What's this? Something square,that's a' faulded up
Wi' maist exterordiner care;
A bit gless, an' aneath it, floo'er leafs red an' green-
He ca's it a peep-show, and chairges a preen
Before he'll alloo ye to look wi' yer een
On "the bonniest peepy-show ever _you've_ seen"-
He's a showman ootricht, I declare!

There noo! that hole's clootit, that button shoo'd on,
The gallisis buttoned ana',
An' ilka thing, a' but the muillins o' bread,
Is back in the pooches, an' mind tho' I say'd,
He kens every lool, peesil, plunker, and bead-
'Od it beats me to ken hoo he keeps in his head
A ledger accoont o' them a'.

But what needs I speak? as there's laddies there's men,
Aye, an' weemin', wi' weans o' their ain,
Wha houdle th'gither a great lot o' things,
Sic like as auld letters, auld papers, auld rings-
The very sicht o' them the tear swithly brings,
For roond ilka ane some sweet memory clings,
An' for gowd they wad niffer wi' nane.


The bonnie burnie's croonin' laich a saft, sweet lullaby
As it ripple-dripples dreamily its staney coorse alang;
The wild floo'rs sweet are bloomin' fair, delichtin' heart an' e'e;
The happy birds melodiously are trillin' their bit sang.
Enchanted scene, I wander here this peacefu' simmer 'oor,
My thochts untethered tak' their wing an' at sweet pleasure stray,
But a rarer joy enthrals me wi' some strange magnetic po'er
As I listen to the daffin' o' the bairnies as they play.

It's comfortin' to sit beside the ingle bleezin' bricht
When nature's bonnie plaid o' green is happit owre wi' snaw,
It's guid to watch the firstlings o' the spring come into sicht
An' peepin' timorous like to see if winter's won awa'.
It cheers the heart when simmer roves wi' roses in her cheek,
An' scatters floo'rs on ilka side-we fain wad ha'e her stay,
But pleasure o' the season's tine whene'er I get a keek
O' the rompin', rampin', laffin, daffin bairnies as they play.

I've listened aft to maisic's po'er expressed by airt o' man,
Till wi' the harmony o' soond my senses ha'e been cloyed;
An' in the treasure-hoose o' Art the gems I often scan
An' thank the Fates that guide the brush for happiness enjoyed;
But a' the image Art can show o' pageantry an' pride,
Or rustic scenes o' rural life in picturesque array,
An' a' the gems o' maisic's store, though houdled side by side,
Can never charm the ear or e'e like bairnies at their play.

Eh! leeze me on ye, bonnie bairns, sae fu' o' guileless fun,
Lang may ye rin, an' loup an' sing, yer mornin' star shine bricht,
Ye ha'e nae thocht to look for clouds, ye only see the sun,
An' then ye sleep because ye're tired, an' no because it's nicht.
God bless ye a', an' keep ye weel, an' herd ye frae a' ill;
May joyous sunshine fill your days, an' care ne'er on ye ca';
An' though the years may mak' ye auld, in heart be bairnies still,
As when ye played in blythesome glee in years lang, lang awa'.


Tread saftly, for sorrow has us in its thra',
An' gloom, mirk as nicht, owre-shadows us a';
For Death, the Fell Reaper, has gi'en us a ca',
An' oor bonnie bit bairnie is sleepin'.
Though fond care assistit while skill did its best,
An' love sued the Lord wi' a constant request
To spare her to us an' no hairrie oor nest-
My bit bairnie is oot o' my keepin'.

The credle that I used to think was sae braw,
Wi' its cosie wee blankit an' cover like snaw,
Is noo but a heart-break-my bairnie's awa',
An' aneath the green gress she is sleepin'.
Though tears scaud my cheeks, an' my een's red and sair,
Her bonnie bit head I can straik nevermair;
An' my reason's maist tint wi' this waefu' despair
To think that she's oot o' my keepin'.

Nae mair when she's sleepin' will I kiss her broo,
Nor watch angel-smiles dimple cheek, chin, an' mou';
Yet aften I think that it canna be true
That aneath the green gress she is sleepin'.
Nae mair will she cuddle me, loving an' fain,
Nor cling to my airms as when todlin' her lane;
Nor joyously press to my bosom again-
For ever she's oot o' my keepin'.

My dear bairnie's een were sae bonnie an' blue,
Wi' love's wondrous licht sae bewitchin' an' true;
But the lustre was stown, an' Death's steekit them noo.
For aneath the green gress she is sleepin'.
Her care-chasin' smile it is tint wi' the lave,
Her voice is an echo that's lost i' the grave;
But God give me strength, wi' Yer pow'r mak' me brave,
Though my bairnie is oot o' my keepin'.

Eh! it's easy to thole, when you hinna the burn,
It's easy to lauch, when ye've nae cause to murn,
It's easy to dree, till it comes to your turn,
An' yer treasure in death's-grip is sleepin'.
Oh! then yer heart opens its flood-gates, an' tears
Maist droons oot the faith that ye've cherished for years,
Till the Lord in due season dispels a' yer fears,
An' ye ken that yen bairn's in His keepin'.


The bonnie buds are burstin',
An' wi' the win' they swing,
An' to the floo'rs amang the gress
That's sleepin' yet, they sing-
"O, waukin up, pit on yer braws,
An' spangle a' the lea,
The spring is bringin' back the bloom
The winter stole frae ye.

"He stole the braws ye wore wi' pride,
Bedraigled a' yer dress,
Yer head he bent, an' nirled your limbs,
An' lauch't at yer distress:
But spring's been faur across the seas,
An' gethered plenty gear-
Ye'll sune be buskit braw again,
Her fit-fa's drawin' near.

"Pout oot yer lips for kisses,
The dews will sweetly fa'
An' woo ye frae yer shyness,
An gar ye blush an' a';
The lark will sing yer matin sang,
The thrush yer lullaby,
Saft zephyrs swing yer cradlie-ba'
An' hum a harmony."


If ye've a lauch aboot ye
Don't keep it up yer sleeve;
Though some folks swear it's better there,
That's only mak'-believe:
The fiddle-faces roond aboot
Are like clouds threat'nin' rain,
A'e hearty lauch 'll send them aff
An' them frae greetin' spean.

If ye've a lauch aboot ye
To smother'd dinna try,
Though some folk say that's what to dae
Wi' visage grim an' wry;
The soor-plooms that are near ye
They sairly need the sun:
Yer lauch, I think's, as guid's a blink-
Then let the sunshine in.

If ye've a lauch aboot ye
Be sham ye gi'e it vent,
For frae the face it's shair to chase
The wrunkles care has sent.
The een are aye faur bonnier
When lauchter's roon' the moo':
Whiles young an' dour tirns auld an' soor,
But letna that be you.

There's some that byde in palaces
Begirt wi' gowd an' braws;
Puir empty pride, their actions guide,
Disdain their visage thraws;
They kenna what it is to lauch-
It's vulgar they declare.
Gin they but kent, some merriment
Micht waise them frae their care.

There's ithers, too, o' humbler rank,
Releegion hauds them siccar;
Wha look on mirth as of the earth
An' ca'd a sin to nicher.
Ye'd think they thocht that lauchin' wad
Endanger their hereafter,
Forgetful that the genial sun
Fills a' the warld wi' lauchter.

There's ithers, judgin' by their looks,
Dae penance a' their days,
Wha winna let, on their regret,
The sun's soul-heezin' rays
To lich'en up the chronic gloom
That hauds them in its thra';
The sunny sheen to us is gi'en
To chase oor gloom awa.


There's nae road back to yesterday.
Be carefu' what ye say;
Why will ye act sae heedlessly,
An' injure ithers needlessly?
Regret is useless, tears are vain,
The chance that's lost ne'er ca's again-
There's nae road back to yesterday.

There's nae road back to yesterday.
If we'd keep this in mind,
'Twad save us when oor passions rise
An' - man - assumes his warst disguise.
When anger gi'es the word unkind,
Eh! man, if we wad only mind
There's nae road back to yesterday.

There's nae road back to yesterday.
Gin some kind word ye'd say,
Ne'er hesitate but say'd the noo;
Procrastination ye may rue.
The morn winna dae at a',
The morn's awfu' faur awa'.
For you, though fu' o' hope the day,
The morn may be lifeless clay;
The kind word ye were - gaun to say -
Micht saved yer soul frae muckle wae.
The present moment's a' we ha'e;
There's nae road back to yesterday.

There's nae road back to yesterday.
Gi'e what ye can the day
To help to feed the hungry puir-
The morn they micht no' be there.
The puirest aye can share a crust,
A cup o' watter slacks a thirst,
A smile may happiness impart,
A kind word cheer a stricken heart.
Ne'er heed though Croesus gi'es a croon,
An' wi' a bounce may bang it doon,
Your humble faurden may coont mair-
The Lord kens weel what you can spare.
Gi'e what yer gaunnie gi'e the day:
There's nae road back to yesterday!


Oh! the merry, merry din
When the nicht is drawin' in,
An' the bairnies a' begin
To prepare to sail away
In the good ship "Hurley-bed,"
Wi' its white sheets nicely spread,
An' the coorse is straucht ahead
Frae the shores o' Blanket Bay.

Then the mither, fu' o' cares,
Wi' a sigh collects the fares,
Tak's the kiss an' hears the prayers
O' the passengers on board.
Then she sings a sang sae rare,
Naething could wi' it compare;
While her heart, a thankfu' prayer,
Sings itsel' unto the Lord.

Noo the harbour lichts are fadin',
Heavy lids the een are shadin',
An' the senses a' seem laden
Wi' the spell o' drowsy-fay;
An' the restlessness subsidin',
In the Land o' Sleep are bydin',
A' the bairns, wi' angels guidin',
Till the dawn awakes the day.

11. FATE

An anxious mither pray'd to the Lord,
A prayer for her bairnies dear;
But aye for the ane that was faur awa',
Fechtin' brave at his country's ca',
She had aye a dreadin' feat.
But Death-grim an' ill-faur'd-
Ne'er fash't the sodger at a';
But he struck at the laddie that steyed at hame
An' crushed oot his life wi' a fa' o' stane,
An' he spak' never word ava'.

Twa brithers, as brithers often are,
As unlike as weel cud be;
A rover, ane, an' diel-ma-care,
An' sailed the warld everywhere;
The ither, hame wadna' lea'.
But the sailor in foreign launds afar
Through storm an' tempest roar
Lived, though Death was aft a' roond,
While the bnither that stayed at hame was droon'd
In a pool on the quiet shore.

Again-Hoo often, alas! we see
Twa oot o' the self-same bruid
Gang diff'rent ways, though their chance seem'd the same;
Ane tirn oot a wastrel in life's great game,
The ither be a'thing guid.
An' it's strange hoo, often, the guid an' true
Is laid in an early grave,
While the human wreck lives on for years
Nor heeds entreaties, an' lauchs at tears,
An' to every vice is slave.


Oh! bonnie is my bairnie's mou',
'Twas never matched by rosebud's hue
An' dainty though the bud may be,
My bairnie's mou's mair rare to see
Nor can the rosebud bring to view
Ocht but its ain bewitchin' hue,
Nae snaw-white pearlin' coyly peeps
Frae oot the heart o't when it sleeps.

Nae rosebud yet that e'er I saw,
Hooever sweetly it micht blaw,
Could pout an' prim alternately,
An' bud an' bloom frae June to May,
An' a' its lurin' charms retain
Though simmer owre the hills has gane,
Nor cheer the heart in shade or shine
As does this bonnie bud o' mine.

Yon mossy rosebud kent by nane,
That spends its charms unseen, alane,
Nor cares a preen for warldly fraik
Though it be queen o' a' the brake,
Yet lays it's fragrant tale o' love
Upon the win's that careless rove,
An' nane may say hoo it may bliss-
My bairn itsel' is like to this.

Oh! may my bairnie's life be fu'
O' everything that's guid an' true,
An' as the years wi' whirrying speed
Unfaulds the web o' life decreed,
I pray the woof o' hope may twine
The warp o' faith wi' love's design,
An' when the mirk shall end life's day,
"Weel dune," he'll hear the Maister say.


O' bonnie are my bairnie's een-
Sweet love-floo'rs gemmed wi' dewy sheen,
That sparkle through the anxious haze,
That aften cloud a mither's days;
The modest violet that grows
Beside the burn that whimperin' rows,
Aneath the shade o' shelterin' trees,
My bairnie's een are like to these.

Yet something mair; they ope an' close
An' ilka time new joy expose;
The flow'rets arena half sae blue,
Nor sweet, nor loveable, nor true;
Nor can they glint an' sparkle bricht,
Like my dear lam's, wi' heavenly licht,
Revealin' something, kent Above-
The mysteries o' life and love!

Nor can the sweetest floo'r that blows
Compare with what thae een disclose,
O' trustin', sweet simplicity,
Sae coy wi' airtless witchery;
They bring a message o' the plan
O' Heaven's unfalt'rin' love to man,
An' me they constantly adjure
To try an' keep my heart aye pure.

The Man o' Sorrows when on earth
Spak' aften o' the bairnies' worth,
An' telt the croods that roon' Him thranged,
That Heaven to little bairns belanged.
He telt, in words that made men wonder,
What we maun ha'e gin' we'd gang yonder;
But oh! its hard to keep, I ween,
Oor hearts, like bairnies', pure an' clean.


Twa wee plump feet, a' saft an' red,
An' taes that seem wi' dimples hid;
I haud the pilgrims in a'e haund
Or ere they mairch to laddie's laund.
I smaithe them wi' a mither's care,
An' Hope's sweet vista grows a prayer,
That "Truth and Honour" guides may be
Across Life's muir o' mystery.

Sae sweet they look, like blossoms rare,
Juist breakin' wi' spring's vernal air,
That winder fills my anxious heart,
Hoo they'll win owre the thorny pairt;
Or if they'll taigle i' the glaur,
Or bear the brum'le-thorn's scaur,
That edge the gaet like sinfu' skaith
Alang life's road frae birth to death.

Will it be dark the road they gang,
Wi' dule an' sorrow, dreech an' lang;
Or waste life's span some sleaveless-gate,
Nor think to turn till its owre late?
Or will they find the path o' peace
Whaur cares, an' tears, an' sorrows cease;
Whaur joyous sunshine fills the day,
An' floo'rs are strewin' a' the way?

Hoo fain we wish that we could see
Into the veiled futurity,
An' doot the wisdom o' the plan
That hides what is to be frae man.
But we maun trust the Father's care,
An' safely leave the issue there;
Yet anxious prayer maist gars me greet
That He may guide my bairnie's feet.


O' bonnie are my bairnie's cheeks,
Guid health the precious secret keeps
O' hoo to mingle pink an' white,
To charm the e'e an' gi'e delight.
To match the bloom that nestles there
I've searched this warld everywhere,
But vain's the search, 'tis still unmatched,
Though wi' unwearied een I've watched.

The blossom on the aipple tree
Some notion o' their colour gi'e;
That denty white juist tinged wi' pink,
That gars een wi' its glamour blink.
But though the aipple blossom seeks
To match the colour o' his cheeks,
It canna offer ocht I'm shair
To mate the dimples cuddlin' there.

Thae dimples ha'e some witchin' way
To capture hearts, the auld folks say;
E'en hearts that ha'e been frozen up
Thaw oot when dimples tak' a grup.
The fairies, when the world was young
The word aboot new bairnies brung,
An' dimples are the wee bit dints
That's left by angels' finger-prints.

It's only when the bairnies sleep
That angels come an' tak' a peep
An' titches them on cheek or chin,
An' that's hoo dimples aye begin.
The bairn lauchs-ye've seen'd yersel',
An' sae I dinna need to tell
Hoo it remains a feature rare,
For when they smile the dimple's there.


When ye're inclined to jibe an' sneer-
Ca' canny!
Or ca' yer neebor, knave or leear-
Ca' canny.
What though he's maybe gane astray-
Frae honour's highway lost his way;
Juist mind afore a'e word ye say,
You've maybe faur mair need to pray-
Ca' canny.

If ye wad rin yer brither doon-
Ca' canny!
Or at yer sister scowl an' froon-
Ca' canny;
Wha bade you sit in Judgment Ha',
Yer fa'en brethren to misca',
Or say a single word at a'"
Hoo lang will'd be before you fa'?-
Ca' canny.

The road through life's a slipp'ry ane-
Ca' canny!
A careless stap may brak' a bane-
Ca' canny.
There's ruts an' sink-holes everywhere,
Sae wyle yer staps wi' cautious care;
Perdition's road may seem fu' fair,
But ere ye enter't -Eh, beware!
Ca' canny.

Some may despise this terse advice-
Ca' canny.
But fleein' laich an' lang is wice-
Ca' canny.
To dae guid wark, aye vogie gang;
The cheery heart has aye it's sang
That lich'ens labours, dreich an' lang;
But mind when deed on thocht gaes wrang-
Ca' canny.

This life is but the mornin' grey-
Ca' canny;
The prelude to Eternity-
Ca' canny.
Scan ithers fau'ts wi' charity;
The helpin' haund be ready wi';
The Lord has aye a watchfu' e'e,
A' that ye dae He'll oversee;
An' gin ye want His clemency,
Before the unkind word you gi'e-
Ca' canny.



Oor Jenny's bairn's the dearest lam'
That ever blest a woman,
An' gin' we didna' think it best
An' bonnier faur than a' the rest,
Ye wadna' think us human.

There's a'e thing nae man ever doots
(Endowed wi' sense at a'),
An' that is what a mither says
Aboot her bairn; nor ca's it praise
Hooeven she may craw.

For every mither has the richt
To think her bairn the fairest,
Wi' the stateliest broo, the rosiest moo',
Bewitchin' een o' the loveliest hue,
An' dimples o' the rarest.

Its skin may be like driven snaw
An' cheeks juist like the roses,
The ears like twa braw pinky shells
Whaur some wee Wurly fairy dwells,
Mair wondrous charms discloses.

It's "goo-goo's" maisic, saft an' sweet,
'Twad dae ye guid to hear it
(Juist like some gentle am'rous doo),
Clean frae a' guile, nicht through an' through,
Yer sinfu' heart 'twad clear it.

Oor Jenny's bairn has a' thae charms
An' mair I canna tell,
Gin ye cud only come wi' me
An' see the bairn, I'se wager ye,
Ye'd say faur mair yersel'.

May He wha guides an' guards us a'
Gie us o' guid oor sairin':
Lang life, guid health, freends staunch an' true,
An' may life's sky aye show some blue
To Jenny and her bairn.


"Whatna loon is this ava',
Glunchin', dour, an' dorty,
Hingin' roond oor door ana'?
My fine man, I'll sort ye!
Oot o' this, ye surly doug,
Lod! I've mind to whup ye;
Let me pu' ye by the lug,
Bide ye ere I grup ye.

"I kenna wha't can be ata',
Stannin' like a stookie;
Eh! but I cu'd mak' him claw
Whaur he isna yeukie.
Gin he disna' lift his heels
An' steer himsel' aboot,
I'll ha'e to tak' the bissom shank
An' dreel the gang'ril oot.

"It seems, gudewife, ye mean to let
Me yabble till I'm dune,
An' never seek to tell me yet
What's happened this forenune.
Hoo cam' this fremmit bairn here,
An' whaur can be his hame;
An' ha'e ye never tried to speer,
To fin' oot what's his name?

"His daidlie's in an awfu' mess,
He's clerts frae tap to tae;
An' wha he is it's ill to guess,
His face I canna see.
His hair is hingin' owre his een,
His faiple's gey faur doon;
An' yet he's like some bairn I've seen
At some place in the toon.

"I winder if he winna ha'e
A daddy fash't aboot 'im,
An' what in a' the warl' he'll dae
This lee-lang day withoot 'im.
An' shu'd he ha'e a mither fain
To cuddle an' to kiss 'im,
Will she no greet her leefu' lane
When'er she comes to miss 'im?

"What's that ye say? Eh, na, I doot
It canna be oon hinny;
The gumphie's never cuisten oot
An' no cheef wi' his minnie?
The reason o' this tirravie
Is what I'd like to learn,
Sae come awa' anowre wi' me,
Ye puir, bedraigled bairn.

"We'll ha'e nae hidlin's 'tween us three;
Sae noo, my glunchin' man,
Juist tell me what's adae wi' ye,
An' hoo this ploy began.
Ye winna speak, ye gloomin' rogue;
He's lost his tongue, I doot,
Or will that doug that's on his back
Ha'e chow'd the morsel oot?

"I'll ha'e to speer yer mither, then,
What's caused the dour fraca';
I dinna like to see, ye ken,
A feud atween you twa;
Sae gae an' gi'e her a'e wee kiss,
An' end this dreech campaign,
An' say what ye ha'e dune amiss
Ye winna dae again."

He's sclimmin' on his mither's knee,
His moo' out in a pout,
An' a' his mither's enmity
Is quickly put to rout,
His airms are roon' her neck close pressed,
Their lips renew acquaintance;
An' nestlin' cosie on her breast,
Completes a full repentance.

It tirned oot that twice that day
(The first time he wis waur)
He'd fa'en head first in a bay
O' scaffie-cleckit glaur.
When I cam' in at sax o'clock
The pair o' them were singing;
Twa daidlies an' twa new washed frocks
Upon the raip were hingin'.


Restless Sandie Soopleshanks,
Never aff the trot;
I'm shair there's no anither mither
Sic a job has got.
Shu'd the door be aff the sneck
He's oot! an' in a meenit
Search the street frae end to end
Ye winna find him in it.

My! only juist the ither morn,
'Tween aicht an' nine o'clock,
He rase sae fresh an' bonnie like
An' prattled owre his stock.
I kilted up his "goonie" trig,
Till I cu'd get 'im washed,
An' then gaed oot to bring some coal
An' thocht o' him ne'er fashed.

When I cam' in, nae bairn was seen!
Quo' I, wi' merry chidin',
"Ye may come oot, my braw wee man,
I ken fine whaur you're hidin'."
But ne'en a cheep! Eh, gudeness me!
"Whaur can the bairn hae gane?"
"Ahint the press door?" "Ben the room?"
A' place I look in vain.

But losh keeps a'! I canna wait
Except to lay the table
Wi' daddy's breakfast-tea an' tilt;
Then fast as I was able
I doon the stair, to the close mooth,
Wi' hungerin' een I glower'd
Baith up an' doon, e'en in a cairt
I ran an' look'd anowr'd.

But neither hilt nor hair was seen.
My bairn! Whaur cu'd he be?
Wi' Minnie Hynd? or Missey Tosh?
Na, na! oh, woe is me!
Alang Canmore, an' roond the Bleach,
Or up Auld Wulkie's back
Beside, or in the awesome well
Sae dank, an' deep, an' black.

Nae word o' him although I spiered
At ilka neebor body,
Till half the Newry was tirned oot
A' searchin' for my laddie.
Up Pearson's close, in Johnnie Gray's,
In Wishart's auld loom shop;
Roond Bullion's yaird, in Mistress Braund's
I maistly tint a' hope.

Some fact'ry lasses frae Auld Reid's
Were hurryin' doon the hill,
An' ane I was acquantit wi'
Said "Gudeness! are ye ill?"
"My bairn's lost!" was a' I said
Quo' she, "Keep up yer heart,
I saw a bairn alang the street
Ahint a bleachfield cairt."

"He'd naething but a 'goonie' on,
His head an' feet were bare;
I didna see his face, but he
Had lang, white, fluffy hair."
I didna stop to gi'e her thanks,
But up the Newry ran,
Syne 'yont the street an' near the Cross
I fand my wanner't man.

I gethered him up in my airms,
My love wi' anger strove,
His lauch danced aff wi' a' my rage
An' left me juist the love.
An' so I ran richt hame wi' him,
Close huggit to my heart,
An' 'gainst his faithen's angry words
I had to tak' his pairt.

"Oo, aye! of coorse; that's woman-like,"
I hear some o' ye say:
Weel! in the name o' common-sense
What wa'd ye ha'e folk dae?
Staund by an' see a bairn abused
For rinnin' oot? I'm sure
I'm mair to blame-ere I gaed oot
I shu'd ha'e shut the door.

Ye may think freen's this story's cheuch,
An' something like a lee,
But every word that I've set doon
Is true as true can be.
The only thing that isna true,
As shair as cley's no' caundy,
Is this: I've cheenged the bairn's name-
They didna ca' him Sandie.


Wee Robbie Red Cheeks,
Sic an awfu' loon,
Packit fu' o' mischief,
Aft-times gars me froon;
Sclimmin' on the taps o' chairs
On else into the sink,
Whaur he isna wanted, lod!
There he's in a wink.

Gie him ocht to mak' a noise,
Poker, tangs, or shuil,
Drums and fifes are soon on hand
Played on wi' a will:
Roond the hoose ye'll ha'e to mairch
If ye've legs at a',
Needless sayin' that you're tired-
'Twinna dae ava'.

Wee Robbie Red Cheeks
Rinnin' doon the street,
Crawin' lood, he is sae gled,
Daddy dear to meet:
Hoistit on his shouther quick,
Haudin by his hair,
Kickin' heels for very joy,
Ne'er were sic a pair.

A' the neebors roond aboot,
Be they slack or thrang,
Gin they dinna get a ca'
Think there's something wrang:
He's a cosie corner in
The heart o' ilka ane,
If onything cam' owre 'im, eh!
'Twa'd cause them muckle pain.

Every meal his daddy tak's
Robbie maun be there,
An' rather up on daddy's knee
Than stannin' on the flair;
For the man maun ha'e his ride
At ilka rate o' hallup-
The "Leddy's Pace," the "Genty Trot,"
The fearless "Cadgers' Gallop."

Wee Robbie Red Cheeks
Roond my heart has cast
Chains o' love that will endure
Lang as life shall last:
Sweet's the sunshine o' his smile,
Love lurks in his e'e;
An' oh! his cuddle an' his kiss
Are mair than gowd to me.

 Return to Poems of James Chapman Craig


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus