The Tax-Gatherer

O!  Do ye ken Peter, the taxman and writer?
Ye're weel aff wha ken naething 'bout him ava;
They ca' him Inspector, or Poor Rates Collector -
My faith! he's weel kent in Leith, Peter M'Craw!
He ca's, and he comes again - haws, and he hums again,
He's only ae hand, but it's gude as twa;
He pu's 't an' raxes, an' draws in the taxes,
An' pouches the siller - shame!  Peter M'Craw!

He'll be at your door by daylight on Monday,
On Tyesday ye're favoured again wi' a ca';
E'en a slee look he gied me at kirk the last Sunday,
Whilk meant - "Mind the preachin' an' Peter M'Craw!"
He glowrs at my auld door as if he had made it,
He keeks through the keyhole when I am awa';
He'll syne read the auld stane, that tells a' wha read it
To "blisse God for a' giftes" - but Peter M'Craw!

His sma' papers neatly are 'ranged a' completely,
That yours, for a wonder, 's the first on the raw!
There's nae jinkin' Peter, nae antelope's fleeter -
Nae cuttin' acquaintance wi' Peter M'Craw!
'Twas just Friday e'enein'. Auld Reekie I'd been in,
I'd gatten a shillin' - I maybe gat twa:
I thought to be happy wi' friends ower a drappie,
When wha suld come pap in - but Peter M'Craw!

I'm auld, now, an' donner't, though yince I was honoured,
Oh!  Peter, tak pity and some mercy shaw!
I yince had a hunder o' notes - do ye wonder? -
Hae ye made as mony yet?  Peter M'Craw!
My yill stands nae mair in yon auld girded barrel,
The rattans sit squeakin' in nooks o' the wa';
Nae bonnie lass now bakes for me scon or farl -
You've made a toom house to me!  Peter M'Craw!

There's houp o' a ship though she's sair pressed wi' dangers,
An' roun' her frail timmers the angry winds blaw;
I've aften gat kindness unlooked for frae strangers,
But wha need houp kindness frae Peter M'Craw?
I've kent a man pardoned when just at the gallows,
I've kent a chiel honest whase trade was the law!
I've even kent fortune's smile fa' on gude fallows,
But I ne'er kent exceptions wi' Peter M'Craw!

Our toun, yince sae cheery, is dowie an' eerie,
Our shippies hae left us, our trade is awa';
There's nae fair maids strayin', nae wee bairnies playin',
Ye've muckle to answer for!  Peter M'Craw!
But what gude o' grievin' as lang's we are leevin',
My banes I'll sune lay within yon kirk-yard wa';
There nae care shall press me, nae taxes distress me,
For there I'll be free frae thee, - Peter M'Craw!

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin