Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ELDER'S WARNING; A LAY OF THE CONVOCATION, by             Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Noo, john makgill, my elder, come listen
Last Line: For cozily he kept the manse, and never took the hills.
Alternate Author Name(s): Bon Gaultier (with Theodore Martin)
Subject(s): Death; Prudence; Dead, The; Caution

'Noo, John Makgill, my elder, come listen to my word,
It's time to leave the harrows, it's time to draw the sword;
The sheep may wander on the hill, the stots rout in the byre --
But another path is ours, John, through danger and through fire.
The cloud o' tribulation that we hae lang foreseen
Has gathered ower the land, John, like mists that rise at e'en;
The palings o' oor vineyard are gey near broken doun,
An' the bits o' vines are trampled by greedy laird and loun.
The auld Erastian lords have put their feet upon oor necks.
And oor chalders they have dwindled to little mair than pecks;
Thae weary interlocutors come pelting every day,
And the bills and the expenses are mair than we can pay.
But what is waur nor a', John, while thus distressed we stand,
Black Prelacy is crawling like pushion through the land --
The scarlet woman will be here to sit within oor ha',
For when ye see a Bishop, John, the Paip's no far awa'.
They'll soon be here to tithe ye -- they'll tithe both stot and stirk;
O! waes me for the Covenant, and waes me for the Kirk!
They're ettling for the manses, John -- they're ettling fast and fain;
And they'll be bringing Tam Dalyell and Claverse back again.
But we'll meet them on the ground, John, whaur we met them ance afore,
And pay thae weary Moderates a black and bitter score.
Sae lang's we're a' united, it winna do to bow
To the cankered Lords o' Session, and their wigs o' plastered tow.
We'll gather on the hills, John -- we'll gather far and near --
And Candlish he will lead the van, and Cunningham the rear;
We'll think o' Bothwell Brig, John, and the Raid o' Rullion Green;
We'll show them that we lo'e the Kirk far better nor the Queen.
Our Zion is in danger, sae tak' your auld claymore;
And tak' ye down the rauchan that hangs ahint the door,
And put your braid blue bannet on, an' we'll daunder up the glen,
And meet the bauld Conventicle, as our fathers did, ye ken.'

Auld John Makgill he listened, and whiles he wat his thumb,
And whiles took up the cuttie-pipe that lay beside the lum,
And whiles he keekit in the pat that held the simmering kail;
But ne'er a bit he lifted his rauchan frae the nail.

'Nae doot, nae doot! an awfu' case! the times are unco hard,
And sae your thinking, minister, to leave your ain kailyard,
And the bonny manse and stipend, that was worth twa hundred pund --
And the Netherhaugh glebe-acres -- its grand potato-grund!
An awfu' dispensation! I canna say ye're wrang,
For gin ye think ye shu'dna stop, ye're very right to gang.
And sae the Lords have beat the Kirk? that's waefu' news to tell;
Ye'se hae my blessing, minister, but I canna gae mysel'.
My auld claymore's just useless, it's rusted fu' o' holes --
Indeed, the bairns have broke it wi' hacking at the coals.
The rheumatiz is in my back -- I canna tell how sair --
An' I got my death wi' driving the beasts to Hallow Fair.
I'm no the body that I was -- ye ken I'm getting auld;
And as for lying out o' doors, the nights are dismal cauld!
Ye'll need a gude thick greatcoat 'gin ye're ganging up to sleep
In the bare and broken heather, 'mang the moorcocks and the sheep.
Ye'll find its warmer lying, gif ye lie down heads and thraws,
Wi' the ither noble gentlemen that winna thole the laws.
I'm verra laith to lose ye, and so is Jenny here --
There's no a better liket man in ony parish near;
But gin the case is pressing, I wadna dare to say,
Ye'd better take a thought on't, and bide anither day.
'Twill be an unco comfort, when the nights are cauld and mirk,
To think that ye are chosen to suffer for the Kirk.
For me it's clean impossible -- ye ken I'm auld and frail;
But surely, sir, afore ye gang, ye'll stop and taste our kail.'

Now, glad should be our minister that he called at John Makgill's,
For cozily he kept the manse, and never took the hills.

Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net