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HALLOW-FAIR, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: At hallowmas, whan nights grow lang
Last Line: Wi shame that day.
Alternate Author Name(s): Ferguson, Robert
Subject(s): Festivals; Halloween; Fairs; Pageants

At Hallowmas, whan nights grow lang,
And starnies shine fu clear,
Whan fock, the nippin cald to bang,
Their winter hap-warms wear,
Near Edinbrough a fair there hads,
I wat there's nane whase name is,
For strappin dames and sturdy lads,
And cap and stoup, mair famous
Than it that day.

Upo' the tap o' ilka lum
The sun began to keek,
And bade the trig-made maidens come
A sightly joe to seek
At Hallow-fair, whare browsters rare
Keep gude ale on the gantries,
And dinna scrimp ye o' a skair
O' kebbucks frae their pantries,
Fu saut that day.

Here country John in bonnet blue,
An' eke his Sunday's claes on,
Rins after Meg wi rokelay new,
An' sappy kisses lays on;
She'll tauntin say, "Ye silly coof!
Be o' your gab mair sparin."
He'll tak the hint, and criesh her loof
Wi what will buy her fairin,
To chow that day.

Here chapmen billies tak their stand,
An' shaw their bonny wallies;
Wow, but they lie fu gleg aff hand
To trick the silly fallows;
Heh, sirs! what cairds and tinklers come,
An' ne'er-do-weel horse-coupers,
An' spae-wives fenzying to be dumb,
Wi a' siclike landloupers,
To thrive that day.

Here Sawny cries, frae Aberdeen,
"Come ye to me fa need;
The brawest shanks that e'er were seen
I'll sell ye cheap an' gweed.
I wyt they are as protty hose
As come frae weyr or leem:
Here tak a rug and shaw's your pose;
Forseeth, my ain's but teem
An' light this day."

Ye wives, as ye gang thro' the fair,
O mak your bargains hooly!
O' a' thir wylie louns beware,
Or fegs! they will ye spulzie.
For fairn-year Meg Thamson got,
Frae thir mischievous villains,
A scaw'd bit o' a penny note,
That lost a score o' shillins
To her that day.

The dinlin drums alarm our ears,
The serjeant screechs fu loud,
"A' gentlemen and volunteers
That wish your country gude,
Come here to me, and I sall gie
Twa guineas and a croun,
A bowl o' punch, that like the sea
Will soum a lang dragoon
Wi ease this day."

Without, the cuissers prance and nicker,
An' owr the ley-rig scud;
In tents the carles bend the bicker,
An' rant an' roar like wud.
Then there's sic yellochin and din,
Wi wives and wee-anes gabblin,
That ane might trou they were akin
To a' the tongues at Babylon,
Confus'd that day.

Whan Phoebus ligs in Thetis' lap,
Auld Reikie gies them shelter,
Whare cadgily they kiss the cap,
An' ca't round helter-skelter.
Jock Bell gaed furth to play his freaks,
Great cause he had to rue it,
For frae a stark Lochaber aix
He gat a clamihewit,
Fu sair that night.

"Ohon!" quo he, "I'd rather be
By sword or bagnet stickit,
Than hae my crown or body wi
Sic deadly weapons nickit."
Wi that he gat anither straik,
Mair weighty than before,
That gar'd his feckless body aik,
An' spew the reikin gore,
Fu red that night.

He peching on the cawsey lay,
O' kicks and cuffs weel sair'd;
A Highland aith the serjeant gae,
"She maun pe see our guard."
Out spak the weirlike corporal,
"Pring in ta drunken sot."
They trail'd him ben, an' by my saul
He paid his drunken groat
For that neist day.

Good fock, as ye come frae the fair,
Bide yont frae this black squad;
There's nae sic savages elsewhere
Allow'd to wear cockade.
Than the strong lion's hungry maw,
Or tusk o' Russian bear,
Frae their wanruly fellin paw
Mair cause ye hae to fear
Your death that day.

A wee soup drink dis unco weel
To had the heart aboon;
It's good as lang's a canny chiel
Can stand steeve in his shoon.
But gin a birkie's owr weel sair'd,
It gars him aften stammer
To pleys that bring him to the guard,
An' eke the Council-chawmir,
Wi shame that day.

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