Monday, 30 November 2015

The Daft-Days - Robert Fergusson

Now mirk December’s dowie face
Glowrs owr the rigs wi sour grimace,
While, thro’ his minimum of space,
              The bleer-ey’d sun,
Wi blinkin light and stealing pace,
              His race doth run.

From naked groves nae birdie sings,
To shepherd’s pipe nae hillock rings,
The breeze nae od’rous flavour brings
              From Borean cave,
And dwyning nature droops her wings,
              Wi visage grave.

Mankind but scanty pleasure glean
Frae snawy hill or barren plain,
Whan winter, ‘midst his nipping train,
              Wi frozen spear,
Sends drift owr a’ his bleak domain,
              And guides the weir.

Auld Reikie1! thou’rt the canty2 hole,
A bield for many caldrife soul3,
Wha snugly at thine ingle loll,
             Baith warm and couth,
While round they gar the bicker roll
             To weet their mouth.

When merry Yule-day comes, I trou,
You’ll scantlins find a hungry mou;
Sma are our cares, our stamacks fou
              O’ gusty gear,
And kickshaws4, strangers to our view,
              Sin fairn-year.

Ye browster wives, now busk ye braw,
And fling your sorrows far awa;
Then come and gie’s the tither blaw
              Of reaming ale,
Mair precious than the well of Spa,
              Our hearts to heal.

Then, tho’ at odds wi a’ the warl’,
Amang oursels we’ll never quarrel;
Tho’ Discord gie a canker’d snarl
             To spoil our glee,
As lang’s there’s pith into the barrel
               We’ll drink and ‘gree.

Fidlers, your pins in temper fix,
And roset weel your fiddle-sticks;
But banish vile Italian tricks
               Frae out your quorum,
Not fortes wi pianos mix –
               Gie’s Tulloch Gorum.

For nought can cheer the heart sae weel
As can a canty Highland reel;
It even vivifies the heel
               To skip and dance:
Lifeless is he wha canna feel
               Its influence.

Let mirth abound, let social cheer
Invest the dawning of the year;
Let blithesome innocence appear
               To crown our joy;
Nor envy wi sarcastic sneer
               Our bliss destroy.

And thou, great god of Aqua Vitae!
Wha sways the empire of this city,
When fou we’re sometimes capernoity,
               Be thou prepar’d
To hedge us frae that black banditti,
               The City Guard.

Robert Fergusson (1750 - 1774) Scotland
1 Auld Reikie - nickname for Edinburgh
2 cantie - brisk
3 A bield for many caldrife soul - bield = shelter, caldrife = cold
4 kickshaws - tasty delicacies

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