Hallow Fair

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 bad 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 claise on,
Rins efter Meg wi' rokelay new,
   An' sappy kisses lays on;
She'll tauntin say, Ye silly coof!
   Be o' your gab mair spairin;
He'll tak the hint, and criesh her loof
   Wi' what will buy her fairin,
            To chow that day.

Here chapman 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' guid.
'I wyt they are as protty hose
   'As come fae 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 lowns beware,
   Or fegs they will ye spulyie.
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 shall gie
   'Twa guineas and a crown,
'A bowl o' punch, that like the sea
   'Will soum a lang dragoon
             'Wi' ease this day.'

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

Whan Phoebus ligs in Thetis lap,
   Auld Reekie 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 nicket.'
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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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin