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Ayr gurgling kissed his pebbled shore,
O’erhung with wild woods, thick’ning green ;
The fragrant birch, and hawthorn hoar,
Twined am'rous round the raptured scene.
The flowers sprang wanton to be prest,
The birds sang love on ev'ry spray, —
Till too, too soon, the glowing west
Proclaim'd the speed of winged day.
Still o'er these scenes my mem'ry wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care ;
Time but th’ impression deeper makes,
As streams their channels deeper wear.
My Mary, dear departed shade !
Where is thy place of blissful rest?
Seest thou thy lover lowly laid ?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
Of Brownyis and of Bogilis full is this Buke.
When chapman billies' leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,
As market-days are wearing late,
An' folk begin to tak the gate ? ;
While we sit bousing at the nappy ș,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We thinkna on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps“, and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter :
(Auld Ayr, whom ne'er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonie lasses).
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise, As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice ! She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum”, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum”; That frae November till October, Ae market-day thou was nae sober ; That ilka melder 3, wi' the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller ; That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on, The smith and thee gat roaring fou on ; That at the Lord's house, ev'n on Sunday, Thou drank wi' Kirkton. Jean till Monday, She prophesied that, late or soon, Thou wad be found deep drowned in Doon ; Or catch'd wi' war
5 in the mirk, By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames ! it gars me greet', To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthen'd, sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises !
But to our tale : Ae market night, Tam had got planted unco right, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely ; And at his elbow, Souter Johnie, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony: Tam lo’ed him like a very brither ; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter ; And ay the ale was growing better : The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi’ favours, secret, sweet, and precious : The souter tauld his queerest stories ; The landlord's laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle,
Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drowned himself amang the nappy! As bees flee hame wi' lades o treasure, The minutes winged their way wi' pleasure : Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O’er a' the ills o' life victorious !
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white-then melts for ever ;
Or like the borealis race,
That fit ere you can point their place ;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.
Nae man can tether time or tide ;-
The hour approaches Tam maun ride ;
That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stang,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in ;
And sic a night he taks the road in,
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling show'rs rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd ;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd :
That night, a child might understand,
The Deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire ;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet ;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet ;
Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares ;
Kirk Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.
By this time he was cross the ford, Where in the snaw the chapman smoored"; i hurried.
And past the birks' and meikle: stane,
Where drunken Charlie brak 's neck-bane;
And thro' the whins, and by the cairn,
Where hunters fand the murdered bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hanged hersel.
Before him Doon pours all his floods ;
The doubling storm roars thro' the woods ;
The lightnings flash from pole to pole ;
Near and more near the thunders roll :
When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees,
Kirk Alloway seemed in a bleeze ;
Thro' ilka bore 3 the beams were glancing;
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil ;
Wi' usquebae, we'll face the Devil !
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle,
Fair play, he card na deils a boddle.
But Maggie stood right sair astonished,
Till, by the heel and hand admonished,
She ventured forward on the light ;
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight !
Warlocks and witches in a dance ;
Nae cotillion brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
At winnock-bunker 4 in the east,
There sat old Nick, in shape o? beast ;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge :
He screw'd the pipes and gart 6 them skirl',
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. –
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses :
hole in the wall. • forced
And by some devilish cantrip' slight
Each in its cauld hand held a light,-
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns;
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns ;
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape ;
Five tomahawks, wi' blude red rusted ;
Five scymitars, wi' murder crusted ;
A garter, which a babe had strangled ;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
The grey hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi’mair of horrible and awfu',
Which ev'n to name wad be unlawfu'.
As Tammie glowr'd, amazed and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious :
The piper loud and louder blew;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
They reeled, they set, they crossed, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And coost her duddies 3 to the wark,
And linket 4 at it in her sark!
Now Tam, O Tam, had thae been queans
A' plump and strapping in their teens ;
Their sarks, instead o' creeshie 5 flannen,
Been snaw-white seventeen-hunder linnen!
Thir? breeks o' mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush, o'gude blue hair,
I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies ,
For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies !
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags, wad speano a foal,
Lowping and flinging on a crummock ,
I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
2 irons. 3 clothes. 4 linked.
greasy. • The manufacturing term for a fine linen, woven in a reed of 1700 divisions.--Cromek.
10 short staff