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 The Holy Fair
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
(See full text.)

NOW, butt an’ ben, 1 the change-house fills,
  Wi’ yill-caup 2 commentators:
Here ’s crying out for bakes 3 an’ gills,
  An’ there the pint-stowp clatters;
While thick an’ thrang, an’ loud an’ lang,        5
  Wi’ logic, an’ wi’ Scripture,
They raise a din, that, in the end,
  Is like to breed a rupture
                O’ wrath that day.
 
Leeze me 4 on drink! it gies us mair        10
  Than either school or college:
It kindles wit, it waukens lear, 5
  It pangs 6 us fou o’ knowledge.
Be ’t whisky gill, or penny wheep, 7
  Or ony stronger potion,        15
It never fails, on drinking deep,
  To kittle 8 up our notion
                By night or day.
 
The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent
  To mind baith saul an’ body,        20
Sit round the table, weel content,
  An’ steer 9 about the toddy.
On this ane’s dress, an’ that ane’s leuk,
  They ’re makin observations;
While some are cozie i’ the neuk, 10        25
  An’ formin assignations
                To meet some day.
 
But now the Lord’s ain trumpet touts, 11
  Till a’ the hills are rairin,
An’ echoes back return the shouts;        30
  Black Russel 12 is na spairin:
His piercing words, like Highlan swords,
  Divide the joints an’ marrow;
His talk o’ Hell, whare devils dwell,
  Our vera ‘sauls does harrow’ 13        35
                Wi’ fright that day.
 
A vast, unbottom’d, boundless pit,
  Fill’d fu’ o’ lowin 14 brunstane,
Wha’s raging flame, an’ scorching heat,
  Wad melt the hardest whun-stane! 15        40
The half asleep start up wi’ fear,
  An’ think they hear it roarin,
When presently it does appear,
  ’Twas but some neibor snorin
                Asleep that day.        45
 
’Twad be owre lang a tale, to tell
  How mony stories past,
An’ how they crowded to the yill, 16
  When they were a’ dismist:
How drink gaed round, in cogs an’ caups, 17        50
  Amang the furms and benches;
An’ cheese an’ bread frae women’s laps,
  Was dealt about in lunches 18
                An’ dawds 19 that day.
 
In comes a gaucie 20 gash Guidwife,        55
  An’ sits down by the fire,
Syne draws her kebbuck 21 an’ her knife,
  The lasses they are shyer.
The auld guidmen, about the grace,
  Frae side to side they bother,        60
Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
  An’ gi’es them ’t like a tether,
                Fu’ lang that day.
 
Waesucks! 22 for him that gets nae lass,
  Or lasses that hae naething!        65
Sma’ need has he to say a grace,
  Or melvie 23 his braw claithing!
O wives be mindfu’, ance yoursel
  How bonie lads ye wanted,
An’ dinna for a kebbuck-heel,        70
  Let lasses be affronted
                On sic a day!
 
Now Clinkumbell, 24 wi’ rattling tow,
  Begins to jow 25 an’ croon;
Some swagger hame, the best they dow, 26        75
  Some wait the afternoon.
At slaps 27 the billies 28 halt a blink,
  Till lasses strip their shoon:
Wi’ faith an’ hope, an’ love an’ drink,
  They ’re a’ in famous tune        80
                For crack 29 that day.
 
Note 1. kitchen and parlour. [back]
Note 2. ale-cup. [back]
Note 3. biscuits. [back]
Note 4. a blessing. [back]
Note 5. learning. [back]
Note 6. crams. [back]
Note 7. small beer. [back]
Note 8. tickle. [back]
Note 9. stir. [back]
Note 10. nook. [back]
Note 11. blows. [back]
Note 12. Minister of Kilmarnock. [back]
Note 13. Shakspeare’s Hamlet.—R. B. [back]
Note 14. flaming. [back]
Note 15. whinstone. [back]
Note 16. ale. [back]
Note 17. wooden vessels. [back]
Note 18. slices. [back]
Note 19. lumps. [back]
Note 20. jolly. [back]
Note 21. cheese. [back]
Note 22. waes me! [back]
Note 23. soil. [back]
Note 24. the bell-ringer. [back]
Note 25. to peal or roar. [back]
Note 26. they can. [back]
Note 27. gaps in fences. [back]
Note 28. lads. [back]
Note 29. talk. [back]
 
 
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