Holy Fair, The

1   Upon a simmer Sunday morn,
2       When Nature’s face is fair,
3   I walked forth to view the corn
4       An’ snuff the caller air.
5   The risin’ sun owre Galston muirs
6       Wi’ glorious light was glintin,
7   The hares were hirplin down the furrs,
8       The lav’rocks they were chantin
9           Fu’ sweet that day.
10   As lightsomely I glowr’d abroad
11       To see a scene sae gay,
12   Three hizzies, early at the road,
13       Cam skelpin up the way.
14   Twa had manteeles o’ dolefu’ black,
15       But ane wi’ lyart linin;
16   The third, that gaed a wee a-back,
17       Was in the fashion shining
18           Fu’ gay that day.
19   The twa appear’d like sisters twin
20       In feature, form, an’ claes;
21   Their visage wither’d, lang an’ thin,
22       An’ sour as ony slaes.
23   The third cam up, hap-step-an’-lowp,
24       As light as ony lambie,
25   An’ wi’ a curchie low did stoop,
26       As soon as e’er she saw me,
27           Fu’ kind that day.
28   Wi’ bonnet aff, quoth I, "Sweet lass,
29       I think ye seem to ken me;
30   I’m sure I’ve seen that bonie face,
31       But yet I canna name ye."
32   Quo’ she, an’ laughin as she spak,
33       An’ taks me by the han’s,
34   "Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck
35       Of a’ the ten comman’s
36           A screed some day.
37   "My name is Fun—your cronie dear,
38       The nearest friend ye hae;
39   An’ this is Superstition here,
40       An’ that’s Hypocrisy.
41   I’m gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,
42       To spend an hour in daffin:
43   Gin ye’ll go there, you runkl’d pair,
44       We will get famous laughin
45           At them this day."
46   Quoth I, "With a’ my heart, I’ll do’t:
47       I’ll get my Sunday’s sark on,
48   An’ meet you on the holy spot;
49       Faith, we’se hae fine remarkin!"
50   Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time
51         An’ soon I made me ready;
52   For roads were clad frae side to side
53       Wi’ monie a wearie body
54           In droves that day.
55   Here, farmers gash, in ridin graith,
56       Gaed hoddin by their cotters,
57   There swankies young, in braw braidclaith
58       Are springin owre the gutters.
59   The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
60       In silks an’ scarlets glitter,
61   Wi’ sweet-milk cheese in mony a whang,
62       An’ farls, bak’d wi’ butter,
63           Fu’ crump that day.
64   When by the plate we set our nose,
65       Weel heaped up wi’ ha’pence,
66   A greedy glowr Black Bonnet throws,
67       An’ we maun draw our tippence.
68   Then in we go to see the show:
69       On ev’ry side they’re gath’rin,
70   Some carryin dails, some chairs an’ stools,
71       An’ some are busy bleth’rin
72           Right loud that day.
82   Here some are thinkin on their sins,
83       An’ some upo’ their claes;
84   Ane curses feet that fyl’d his shins,
85       Anither sighs an’ prays:
86   On this hand sits a chosen swatch,
87       Wi’ screw’d-up grace-proud faces;
88   On that a set o’ chaps at watch,
89       Thrang winkin on the lasses
90           To chairs that day.
91   O happy is that man and blest!
92       Nae wonder that it pride him!
93   Whase ain dear lass that he likes best,
94       Comes clinkin down beside him!
95   Wi’ arm repos’d on the chair back,
96       He sweetly does compose him;
97   Which by degrees slips round her neck,
98       An’s loof upon her bosom,
99           Unken’d that day.
100 Now a’ the congregation o’er
101     Is silent expectation;
102 For Moodie speels the holy door,
103     Wi’ tidings o’ salvation.
104 Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
105     'Mang sons o’ God present him,
106 The vera sight o’ Moodie’s face
107     To’s ain het hame had sent him
108         Wi’ fright that day.
109 Hear how he clears the points o’ faith
110     Wi’ rattlin an’ wi’ thumpin!
111 Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath
112     He’s stampin, an’ he’s jumpin!
113 His lengthen’d chin, his turn’d-up snout,
114     His eldritch squeal and gestures,
115 Oh, how they fire the heart devout
116     Like cantharidian plaisters,
117         On sic a day!
118 But hark! the tent has chang’d its voice:
119     There’s peace and rest nae langer;
120 For a’ the real judges rise,
121     They canna sit for anger.
122 Smith opens out his cauld harangues,
123     On practice and on morals;
124 An’ aff the godly pour in thrangs,
125     To gie the jars an’ barrels
126         A lift that day.
127 What signifies his barren shine
128     Of moral pow’rs and reason?
129 His English style an’ gesture fine
130     Are a’ clean out o’ season.
131 Like Socrates or Antonine
132     Or some auld pagan heathen,
133 The moral man he does define,
134     But ne’er a word o’ faith in
135         That’s right that day.
136 In guid time comes an antidote
137     Against sic poison’d nostrum;
138 For Peebles, frae the water-fit,
139     Ascends the holy rostrum:
140 See, up he’s got the word o’ God
141     An’ meek an’ mim has view’d it,
142 While Common Sense has ta’en the road,
143     An’s aff, an’ up the Cowgate
144         Fast, fast that day.
145 Wee Miller niest the Guard relieves,
146     An’ Orthodoxy raibles,
147 Tho’ in his heart he weel believes
148     An’ thinks it auld wives’ fables:
149 But faith! the birkie wants a Manse,
150     So cannilie he hums them;
151 Altho’ his carnal wit an’ sense
152     Like hafflins-wise o’ercomes him
153         At times that day.
154 Now butt an’ ben the change-house fills
155     Wi’ yill-caup commentators:
156 Here’s cryin out for bakes an gills,
157     An’ there the pint-stowp clatters;
158 While thick an’ thrang, an’ loud an’ lang,
159     Wi’ logic an’ wi’ Scripture,
160 They raise a din, that in the end
161     Is like to breed a rupture
162         O’ wrath that day.
163 Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair
164     Than either school or college
165 It kindles wit, it waukens lear,
166     It pangs us fou o’ knowledge.
167 Be’t whisky-gill or penny-wheep,
168     Or ony stronger potion,
169 It never fails, on drinkin deep,
170     To kittle up our notion
171         By night or day.
172 The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent
173     To mind baith saul an’ body,
174 Sit round the table weel content,
175     An’ steer about the toddy,
176 On this ane’s dress an’ that ane’s leuk
177     They’re makin observations;
178 While some are cozie i’ the neuk,
179     An’ forming assignations
180         To meet some day.
181 But now the Lord’s ain trumpet touts,
182     Till a’ the hills rae rairin,
183 An’ echoes back return the shouts—
184     Black Russell is na sparin.
185 His piercing words, like highlan’ swords,
186     Divide the joints an’ marrow;
187 His talk o’ hell, whare devils dwell,
188     Our vera “sauls does harrow”
189         Wi’ fright that day.
190 A vast, unbottom’d, boundless pit,
191     Fill’d fou o’ lowin brunstane,
192 Whase ragin flame, an’ scorching heat
193     Wad melt the hardest whun-stane!
194 The half-asleep start up wi’ fear
195     An’ think they hear it roarin,
196 When presently it does appear
197     'Twas but some neibor snorin,
198         Asleep that day.
199 'Twad be owre lang a tale to tell,
200     How mony stories past,
201 An’ how they crouded to the yill,
202     When they were a’ dismist:
203 How drink gaed round in cogs an’ caups
204     Amang the furms an’ benches:
205 An’ cheese and bred frae women’s laps
206     Was dealt about in lunches
207         An’ dauds that day.
208 In comes a gausie, gash guidwife
209     An’ sits down by the fire,
210 Syne draws her kebbuck an’ her knife;
211     The lasses they are shyer:
212 The auld guidmen, about the grace
213     Frae side to side they bother,
214 Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
215     And gi’es them’t like a tether
216         Fu’ lang that day.
217 Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,
218     Or lasses that hae naething!
219 Sma’ need has he to say a grace,
220     Or melvie his braw clathing!
221 O wives, be mindfu’ ance yoursel
222     How bonie lads ye wanted,
223 An’ dinna for a kebbuck-heel
224     Let lasses be affronted
225         On sic a day!
226 Now Clinkumbell, wi’ rattlin tow,
227     Begins to jow an’ croon;
228 Some swagger hame the best they dow,
229     Some wait the afternoon.
230 At slaps the billies halt a blink,
231     Till lasses strip their shoon:
232 Wi’ faith an’ hope, an’ love an’ drink,
233     They’re a’ in famous tune
234         For crack that day.
235 How monie hearts this day converts
236     O’ sinners and o’ lasses
237 Their hearts o’ stane, gin night, are gane
238     As saft as ony flesh is.
239 There’s some are fou o’ love divine,
240     There’s some are fou o’ brandy;
241 An’ monie jobs that day begin,
242     May end in houghmagandie
243         Some ither day.
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