Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from Caller Water
By Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)
 
(See full text.)

WHAN father Adie 1 first pat spade in
The bonny yeard 2 of antient Eden 3
His amry 4 had nae liquor laid in,
                To fire his mou’,
Nor did he thole 5 his wife’s upbraidin’        5
                For being fou. 6
 
A caller burn o’ siller sheen,
Ran cannily out o’er the green,
And whan our gutcher’s 7 drouth had been
                To bide right sair,        10
He loutit 8 down and drank bedeen 9
                A dainty skair. 10
 
His bairns a’ before the flood
Had langer tack 11 o’ flesh and blood,
And on mair pithy shanks they stood        15
                Than Noah’s line,
Wha still hae been a feckless brood
                Wi’ drinking wine.
 
The fuddlin’ Bardies now-a-days
Rin maukin 12-mad in Bacchus’ praise,        20
And limp and stoiter 13 thro’ their lays
                Anacreontic,
While each his sea of wine displays
                As big ’s the Pontic.
 
My muse will no gang far frae hame,        25
Or scour a’ airths 14 to hound for fame;
In troth, the jillet 15 ye might blame
                For thinking on ’t,
Whan eithly 16 she can find the theme
                Of aqua font.        30
 
This is the name that doctors use
Their patients’ noddles to confuse;
Wi’ simples clad in terms abstruse,
                They labour still,
In kittle 17 words to gar your roose 18        35
                Their want o’ skill.
 
But we ’ll hae nae sick clitter-clatter,
And briefly to expound the matter,
It shall be ca’d good Caller Water,
                Than whilk, I trow,        40
Few drogs in doctors’ shops are better
                For me or you.
 
Tho’ joints are stiff as ony rung, 19
Your pith wi’ pain be fairly dung, 20
Be you in Caller Water flung        45
                Out o’er the lugs, 21
’Twill mak you souple, swack 22 and young,
                Withouten drugs.
 
Tho’ cholic or the heart-scad teaze us,
Or ony inward pain should seize us,        50
It masters a’ sic fell diseases
                That would ye spulzie, 23
And brings them to a canny crisis
                Wi’ little tulzie. 24
 
Wer’t na for it the bonny lasses        55
Would glowr nae mair in keeking-glasses, 25
And soon tine dint 26 o’ a’ the graces
                That aft conveen
In gleefu’ looks and bonny faces,
                To catch our ein.        60
 
The fairest then might die a maid,
And Cupid quit his shooting trade,
For wha thro’ clarty 27 masquerade
                Could then discover,
Whether the features under shade        65
                Were worth a lover?
 
Note 1. Adam. [back]
Note 2. earth. [back]
Note 3. ‘Langsyne in Eden’s bonny yard.’—Burns’ Address to the Deil. [back]
Note 4. cupboard. [back]
Note 5. suffer. [back]
Note 6. drunk. [back]
Note 7. grandfather. [back]
Note 8. bent. [back]
Note 9. hastily. [back]
Note 10. share. [back]
Note 11. lease. [back]
Note 12. hare. [back]
Note 13. stagger. [back]
Note 14. regions of sky or earth. [back]
Note 15. skittish damsel. [back]
Note 16. easily. [back]
Note 17. ticklish. [back]
Note 18. praise. [back]
Note 19. staff. [back]
Note 20. exhausted. [back]
Note 21. ears. [back]
Note 22. nimble. [back]
Note 23. spoil. [back]
Note 24. struggle. [back]
Note 25. looking-glasses. [back]
Note 26. lose regard for. [back]
Note 27. dirty. [back]
 
 
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