Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ECLOGUE, by ROBERT FERGUSSON



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AN ECLOGUE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twas e'ening whan the spreckled gowdspink sang
Last Line: And take your supper kail or sowens wi me.
Alternate Author Name(s): Ferguson, Robert
Subject(s): Conversation; Halloween; Marriage; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


'Twas e'ening whan the spreckled gowdspink sang,
Whan new-faan dew in blobs o' crystal hang;
Than Will and Sandie thought they'd wrought eneugh,
And loos'd their sair toil'd owsen frae the pleugh:
Before they ca'd their cattle to the town,
The lads to draw their breath e'en sat them down:
To the stiff sturdy aik they lean'd their backs,
While honest Sandie thus began the cracks.

SANDIE
Yence I could hear the laverock's shrill-tun'd throat,
And listen to the clattering gowdspink's note;
Yence I could whistle cantily as they,
To owsen, as they till'd my raggit clay;
But now I would as leive maist lend my lugs
To tuneless puddocks croakin i' the boggs;
I sigh at hame, a-field am dowie too,
To sowf a tune I'll never crook my mou.

WILLIE
Foul fa me gif your bridal had na been
Nae langer bygane than sin Hallow-e'en,
I could hae tell'd you but a warlock's art,
That some daft lightlyin quean had stown your heart;
Our beasties here will take their e'ening pluck,
An' now sin Jock's gane hame the byres to muck,
Fain would I houp my friend will be inclin'd
To gie me a' the secrets o' his mind:
Heh! Sandie, lad, what dool's come owr ye noo,
That you to whistle ne'er will crook your mou?

SANDIE
Ah! Willie, Willie, I may date my wae
Frae what beted me on my bridal day;
Sair may I rue the hour in which our hands
Were knit thegither in the haly bands;
Sin that I thrave sae ill, in troth I fancy,
Some fiend or fairy, nae sae very chancy,
Has driven me by pauky wiles uncommon,
To wed this flyting fury of a woman.

WILLIE
Ah! Sandie, aften hae I heard you tell,
Amang the lasses a' she bure the bell;
And say, the modest glances o' her een
Far dang the brightest beauties o' the green;
You ca'd her ay sae innocent, sae young,
I thought she kent na how to use her tongue.

SANDIE
Before I married her, I'll take my aith,
Her tongue was never louder than her breath;
But now it's turn'd sae souple and sae bauld,
That Job himsel could scarcely thole the scauld.

WILLIE
Lat her yelp on, be you as calm's a mouse,
Nor lat your whisht be heard into the house;
Do what she can, or be as loud's she please,
Ne'er mind her flytes but set your heart at ease,
Sit down and blaw your pipe, nor faush your thumb,
An' there's my hand she'll tire, and soon sing dumb;
Sooner should winter cald confine the sea,
An' lat the sma'est o' our burns rin free;
Sooner at Yule-day shall the birk be drest,
Or birds in sapless busses bigg their nest,
Before a tonguey woman's noisy plea
Should ever be a cause to danton me.

SANDIE
Weel could I this abide, but oh! I fear
I'll soon be twin'd o' a' my warldly gear;
My kirnstaff now stands gizzen'd at the door,
My cheese-rack toom that ne'er was toom before;
My kye may now rin rowtin to the hill,
And on the nakit yird their milkness spill;
She seenil lays her hand upon a turn,
Neglects the kebbuck, and forgets the kirn;
I vow my hair-mould milk would poison dogs,
As it stands lapper'd in the dirty cogs.
Before the seed I sell'd my ferra coo,
An' wi the profit coft a stane o' woo:
I thought, by priggin, that she might hae spun
A plaidie, light, to screen me frae the sun;
But though the siller's scant, the cleedin dear,
She has na ca'd about a wheel the year.
Last ouk but ane I was frae hame a day,
Buying a threave or twa o' bedding strae:
O' ilka thing the woman had her will,
Had fouth o' meal to bake, and hens to kill:
But hyn awa to Edinbrough scoured she
To get a making o' her fav'rite tea:
And 'cause I left her not the weary clink,
She sellt the very trunchers frae my bink.

WILLIE
Her tea! ah! wae betide sic costly gear,
Or them that ever wad the price o't spier.
Sin my auld gutcher first the warld knew,
Fouk had na fund the Indies, whare it grew.
I mind mysel, it's nae sae lang sin syne,
Whan Auntie Marion did her stamack tyne,
That Davs our gardiner came frae Apple-bogg,
An' gae her tea to tak by way o' drog.

SANDIE
Whan ilka herd for cauld his fingers rubs,
An' cakes o' ice are seen upo' the dubbs;
At morning, whan frae pleugh or fauld I come,
I'll see a braw reik rising frae my lum,
An' ablins think to get a rantin blaze
To fley the frost awa an' toast my taes;
But whan I shoot my nose in, ten to ane
If I weelfardly see my ain hearthstane;
She round the ingle with her gimmers sits,
Crammin their gabbies wi her nicest bits,
While the gudeman outby maun fill his crap
Frae the milk cogie, or the parritch cap.

WILLIE
Sandie, gif this were ony common plea,
I should the lealest o' my counsel gie;
But mak or meddle betwixt man and wife,
Is what I never did in a' my life.
It's wearin on now to the tail o' May,
An' just between the bear seed and the hay;
As lang's an orra morning may be spar'd,
Stap your wa's east the haugh, an' tell the laird;
For he's a man weel vers'd in a' the laws,
Kens baith their outs and ins, their cracks and flaws,
An' ay right gleg, whan things are out o' joint,
At sattlin o' a nice or kittle point.
But yonder's Jock, he'll ca your owsen hame,
And tak thir tidings to your thrawart dame,
That ye're awa ae peacefu meal to prie,
And take your supper kail or sowens wi me.





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