The sun had clos'd the winter day,
The curless quat their roarin play,
And hunger'd maukin taen her way,
To kail-yards green,
While faithless snaws ilk step betray
Whare she has been.
The thresher's weary flingin-tree,
The lee-lang day had tired me;
And when the day had clos'd his e'e,
Far i' the west,
Ben i' the spence, right pensivelie,
I gaed to rest.
There, lanely by the ingle-cheek,
I sat and ey'd the spewing reek,
That fill'd, wi' hoast-provoking smeek,
The auld clay biggin;
An' heard the restless rattons squeak
About the riggin.
All in this mottie, misty clime,
I backward mus'd on wasted time,
How I had spent my youthfu' prime,
An' done nae thing,
But stringing blethers up in rhyme,
For fools to sing.
Had I to guid advice but harkit,
I might, by this, hae led a market,
Or strutted in a bank and clarkit
While here, half-mad, half-fed, half-sarkit.
Is a' th' amount.
I started, mutt'ring, "blockhead! coof!"
And heav'd on high my waukit loof,
To swear by a' yon starry roof,
Or some rash aith,
That I henceforth wad be rhyme-proof
Till my last breath—
When click! the string the snick did draw;
An' jee! the door gaed to the wa';
An' by my ingle-lowe I saw,
Now bleezin bright,
A tight, outlandish hizzie, braw,
Come full in sight.
Ye need na doubt, I held my whisht;
The infant aith, half-form'd, was crusht
I glowr'd as eerie's I'd been dusht
In some wild glen;
When sweet, like honest Worth, she blusht,
An' stepped ben.
Green, slender, leaf-clad holly-boughs
Were twisted, gracefu', round her brows;
I took her for some Scottish Muse,
By that same token;
And come to stop those reckless vows,
Would soon been broken.
A "hair-brain'd, sentimental trace"
Was strongly marked in her face;
A wildly-witty, rustic grace
Shone full upon her;
Her eye, ev'n turn'd on empty space,
Beam'd keen with honour.
Down flow'd her robe, a tartan sheen,
Till half a leg was scrimply seen;
An' such a leg! my bonie Jean
Could only peer it;
Sae straught, sae taper, tight an' clean—
Nane else came near it.
Her mantle large, of greenish hue,
My gazing wonder chiefly drew:
Deep lights and shades, bold-mingling, threw
A lustre grand;
And seem'd, to my astonish'd view,
A well-known land.
Here, rivers in the sea were lost;
There, mountains to the skies were toss't:
Here, tumbling billows mark'd the coast,
With surging foam;
There, distant shone Art's lofty boast,
The lordly dome.
Here, Doon pour'd down his far-fetch'd floods;
There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds:
Auld hermit Ayr staw thro' his woods,
On to the shore;
And many a lesser torrent scuds,
With seeming roar.
Low, in a sandy valley spread,
An ancient borough rear'd her head;
Still, as in Scottish story read,
She boasts a race
To ev'ry nobler virtue bred,
And polish'd grace.
By stately tow'r, or palace fair,
Or ruins pendent in the air,
Bold stems of heroes, here and there,
I could discern;
Some seem'd to muse, some seem'd to dare,
With feature stern.
My heart did glowing transport feel,
To see a race heroic wheel,
And brandish round the deep-dyed steel,
In sturdy blows;
While, back-recoiling, seem'd to reel
Their Suthron foes.
His Country's Saviour, mark him well!
Bold Richardton's heroic swell;
The chief, on Sark who glorious fell,
In high command;
And he whom ruthless fates expel
His native land.
There, where a sceptr'd Pictish shade
Stalk'd round his ashes lowly laid,
I mark'd a martial race, pourtray'd
In colours strong:
Bold, soldier-featur'd, undismay'd,
They strode along.
Thro' many a wild, romantic grove,
Near many a hermit-fancied cove
(Fit haunts for friendship or for love,
In musing mood),
An aged Judge, I saw him rove,
With deep-struck, reverential awe,
The learned Sire and Son I saw:
To Nature's God, and Nature's law,
They gave their lore;
This, all its source and end to draw,
That, to adore.
Brydon's brave ward I well could spy,
Beneath old Scotia's smiling eye:
Who call'd on Fame, low standing by,
To hand him on,
Where many a patriot-name on high,
And hero shone.