“Si me lyricis vatibus inseres!” – CAR. I., I.
MAN, Davie, had I but the ert
To pierce that stane ye ca’ your hert
Wi’ the clear dart o’ poesie,
A prooder man there wadna be.
For weel it’s kent thro’ a’ the toun
That nane can rise that ye ca’ doun;
While him that by the haund ye tak’ –
He’ll neither fame nor fortune lack;
His ballants – thro’ the touns they’ll cry them
An’ weaver bodies rin to buy them.
There’s twa-three praise me, tae, it’s true,
But what are they when wantin’ you?
There’s Johnny o’ the Windyknowe –
A blessin’ on his auld beld pow!
Wi’ kindly hail whene’er he meets me
He grips me by the haund, an’ greets me.
“Skakspere!” says Johnnie, “gie’s a swatch o’t!
Weel dune, my bairn! ye hae the catch o’t –
This dings the lave!” But that’s nae test,
For aye wi’ him the last ‘s the best!
There’s Geordie, tae, my second cousin –
His praise is waur to me than pousin;
He kens a stirk, but for a sang
He’s never richt but when he’s wrang!
There’s a few mair that I could name,
There’s Tam the farrier, an’ Jame;
But Jame’s my brither, an’ for Tam –
Ye’ll but his judgment wi’ a dram.
Man, Davie! if ye wad but praise me,
Ye wad’ as wi’ a windlas raise me
Oot o’ the slough o’ doot I’m in,
An’ set me on a road to rin!
Just cast your e’en abroad an’ see
Hoo everybody’s pleased but me;
They’ve a’ some hobby to amuse them,
Folk to look on an’ frien’s to roose them,
An’ weel contentit there they ride,
An’ lauch, an’ let the warld slide.
An’ I ana’ wad hae my treasure,
An’ poetry wad be my pleasure,
If ye wad only bend your ee
An’ blink approval ance on me!
To be a bandsman pleases some,
To toot the horn or beat the drum;
Even little Jock that ca’s the mangle –
Saturday comes, an’ the triangle,
An’ then sae manfu’ as he strides
An’ tingles on its yetlan’ sides!
An’ weel ye ken that Pate Macdougal
Wad blaw his sowl into a bugle;
That thrice thro’ jealousy the wife
O’ Dempster kickit Dempster’s fife;
An’ weel-a-wat the coonty kens
When Sandie Brand ca’d oot the brains
O’ his black fiddle at the fair,
An’ swore he ne’er was fiddle mair –
Altho’ he “d—d if he was carin’,”
Sober he sabbit like a bairn!
Ithers again for weeks are chammber’d
Glowerin’ wi hawks’ een on a damberd.
Some at gowfin’ spend their leisure.
To some the rifle range gie’s pleasure.
Quoits or the puttin’ stane has charms
For steady een an’ sturdy arms.
O then to see oor noble smith
Tak’ up the ball to prove his pith!
Hark hoo it whizzes thro’ the air –
He’s foremost by an ell or mair.
The slater, tae, we maunna slicht, –
He drave the pin clean oot o’ sicht,
An’ when wi’ shools they howkit for ‘t,
Darkness cam’ on, an’ spoiled the sport.
Nane to this day can understand it –
They howkit, but they never fand it!
For me – gin I had but the ert
To pierce that whinstane o’ your hert
An’ bring the sparkle to your ee –
A happier man there wadna be!
Noo, Davie. dinna crook your mou’ –
A wird o’ praise is sweet fra you!