The Banishment of Poverty

Pox fa' that poltroon Poverty!
   Wae worth the time that I him saw!
Sin' first he laid his fang on me,
   Myself from him I dought ne'er draw.

His wink to me has been a law,
   He haunts me like a penny-dog;
Of him I stand far greater awe
   Than pupil does of pedagogue.

The first time that he met with me
   Was at a clachan in the west;
Its name, I trow, Kilbarchan be,
   Where Habbie's drones drew mony a blast.

There we shook hands - cauld be his cast!
   An ill death may that custron dee!
For then he grippit me full fast
   When first I fell in cautionry.

Yet I had hopes to be relieved,
   And freed from that foul lairdly loun,
Fernyear, when Whigs were ill mischieved,
   And forced to fling their weapons doun.

When we chasd them from Glasgow toun,
   I with that swinger thought to grapple;
But when indemnity came doun
   The laidron laid me by the thrapple.

But yet, in hopes of some relief,
   A raid I made to Arinfrew,
Where they did bravely buff my beef,
   And made my body black and blue.

At Justice court I thme pursue,
   Expecting help by their reproof;
Indemnity thought nothing due-
   The deil a farthing for my loof.

But, wishing that I might ride east -
   To trot on foot I soon would tire -
My page allowed me not a beast;
   I wanted gilt to pay the hire.

He and I lap ower mony a syre,
  I heukit him at Calder-cult;
But lang ere I wan to Snipes-mire
   The ragged rogue took me a-whilt.

By Hollin-Bush and Brig o' Bonnie
   We bickered down towards Bankier;
We feared no reivers for our money,
   Nor whilly-whaes to grip our gear.

My tattered tutor took no fear,
   Though we did travel in the mirk,
But thought it fit, when we drew near,
   To filch a forage at Falkirk.

No man would open me the door,
   Because my comrade stood me by;
They dread full ill I was right poor
   By my forecasten company.

But Cunningham soon me espied;
   By hue and hair he brought me in,
And swore we should not part so dry,
   Though I were naked to the skin.

We bade all night, but lang ere day
   My curst companion made me rise;
I start up soon and took my way;
   He needed not to bid me twice.

But what to do we did advise;
   In Lithgow we might not sit down:
On a Scots groat we baited thrice,
   And in at night to Edinburgh town.

We held the Lang-gate to Leith Wynd,
   Where poorest purses use to be;
And the Calton lodgèd syne,
   Fit quarters for such company.

Yet I the High-town fain would see,
   But that my comrade did me discharge;
He willed me Blackburn's ale to pree,
   And muff my beard that was right large.

The morn I ventured up the Wynd,
   And slunk in at the Netherbow,
Thinking that troker for to tyne,
   Who does me damage what he dow,

His company he doth bestow
   On me, to my great grief and pain;
Ere I the thrang could wrestle through
   The loun was at my heels again.

I greined to gang on the plain-stanes,
   To see if comrades wad me ken:
We twa gaed pacing there our lanes,
   The hungry hour 'twixt twelve and ane.

Then I kenned no way how to fen;
   My guts rumbled like a hurl-barrow -
I dined with saints and noblemen,
   Even sweet Giles and the Earl of Murray.

Tyke's tes'ment take him for their treat!
   I need not my teeth to pyke;
Though I was in a cruel sweat
   He set not by, say what I like.

I called him Turk and traikit tyke,
   And wearied him with many a curse:
My banes were hard like a stone dyke
   No Reg. Marie was in my purse.

Kind Widow Caddel sent for me
   To dine, as she had oft, forsooth;
But ah! alas, that might not be,
   Her house was o'er near the Tolbooth.

Yet God reward her for her love
   And kindness, which I fectlie fand
Most ready still for my behoof
   Ere this hell's hound took me in hand.

I slipped my page, and stoured to Leith,
   To try my credit at the wine;
But foul a dribble filed my teeth,
   He gripped me at the coffee sign.

I staw down through the Nether-wynd,
   My Lady Semple's house was near;
To enter there was my design,
   When Poverty durst ne'er appear.

I dinèd there, but bade not lang,
   My Lady fain wad shelter me,
But oh! alas, I needs must gang,
   And leave that comely company.

Her lad conveyed me with her key
   Out through the garden to the fields;
Ere I the Links could graithly see
   My governor was at my heels.

I dought not dance to pipe nor harp,
   I had no stock for cards and dice;
But I fure to Sir William Sharp,
   Who never made his counsel nice.

That little man he is right wise,
   And sharp as any brier can be;
He bravely gave me his advice
   How I might poison Poverty.

Quoth he, "There grows hard by the dial,
   In Hatton's garden, bright and sheen,
A sovereign herb called Pennyroyal,
   Whilk all the years grows fresh and green.

"Could ye but gather it fresh and clean,
   Your business would go the better;
But let account of it be seen
   To the physicians of exchequer.

"Or if that ticket ye bring with you,
   Come unto me, ye need not fear,
For I some of that herb can give you,
   Whilk I have planted this same year.

"Your page it will cause disappear,
   Who waits on you against your will;
To gether it I shall you lear
   In my own yards of Stonyhill."

But when I dread that would not work,
   I overthought me of a wile,
How I might at my leisure lurk,
   My graceless guardian to beguile.

It's but my galloping a mile
   Through Canongate, with little loss,
Till I have sanctuary a while
   Within the girth of Abbey-close.

There I wan in, and blyth was I
   When to the inner court I drew;
My governor I did defy,
   For joy I clapt my wings and crew.

There messengers dare not pursue,
   Nor with their wands men's shoulders steer;
There dwell distressèd lairds enough,
   In peace, though they have little gear.

There twa hours I did not tarry
   Till my blest fortune was to see
A sight, sure by the mights of Mary,
   Of that brave Duke of Albany.

Where one blink of his princely eye
   Put that foul foundling to the flight;
Frae me he banished Poverty,
   And gart him take his last good-night.

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin