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AGAINST [OR, AGANIS] THE THIEVES OF LIDDESDALE, by             Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis    
First Line: Of liddesdale the common thiefis [thieves]
Last Line: Hing on a tree whill they be deid.
Alternate Author Name(s): Lethington, Lord
Subject(s): Capital Punishment; Crime & Criminals; Lynching; Hanging; Executions; Death Penalty

Of Liddisdale the common thievis
Sa pertlie stealis now and reivis,
That nane may keep
Horse, nolt, nor sheep,
Nor yit dar sleep for their mischiefis.
They plainlie through the countrie ridis;
I trow the meikle devil them guidis;
Where they onset
Ay in their gate
There is na yett nor door them bidis.
They leif richt nocht; wherever they gae
There can na thing be hid them frae;
For, gif men wald
Their houses hald,
Then wax they bauld to burn and slay.
Thae thievis have nearhand herreit haill
Ettrick Forest and Lauderdale;
Now are they gane
In Lothiane,
And sparis nane that they will wale.
Thae landis are with stouth sa socht,
To extreme povertie are brocht;
Thae wicked shrewis
Has laid the plowis,
That nane or few is that are left oucht.
By common taking of black-mail,
They that had flesh and bread and ale,
Now are sa wraikit,
Made pure and naikit,
Fain to be slaikit with water-kail.
Thae thievis that stealis and tursis hame,
Ilk ane of them has ane to-name:
Will of the Lawis,
Hab of the Shawis;
To mak bare wa'is, they think na shame.
They spuilye puir men of their packis;
They leave them nocht on bed nor backis;
Baith hen and cock,
With reel and rock,
The Lairdis Jock, all with him takis.
They leave not spindle, spoon, nor spit,
Bed, bowster, blanket, serk, nor sheet:
John of the Park
Ripes kist and ark;
For all sic wark he is richt meet.
He is weil kend, John of the Side;
A greater thief did never ride:
He never tires
For to break byres;
Owre muir and mires owre gude ane guide.
There is ane, callit Clement's Hob,
Fa ilk puir wife reivis her wob,
And all the lave,
Whatever they have:
The devil resave therefor his gob!
To see sa great stouth wha wald trow it,
Bot gif some great man it allowit?
Richt sair I rue,
Though it be true,
There is sa few that dar avow it.
Of some great men they have sic gate,
That ready are them to debate
And will up-wear
Their stolen gear,
That nane dar steir them, air nor late.
What causes thievis us our-gang
Bot want of justice us amang?
Nane takis care
Though all forfare:
Na man will spare now to do wrang.
Of stouth thoch now they come gude speed
That neither of men nor God has dreid
Yet, or I die,
Some sall them see
Hing on a tree whill they be deid.

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