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James Chapman Craig


I ha'e been whaur I ance used to bide,
To the auld hoose in whilk I was born,
An' I speired at some folks, my feelin's to hide,
Why the place was sae sad an' forlorn.
When abroad, in my dreams aft I've been
In the auld hame wi' them that's awa',
But the mornin's first beam dispelled ilka dream
An' left me fu' lanely ana'.

But the dreams were sae real,
The good-bye I could feel
O' my faither's hand grippin' me fast,
An' my mither, sae true,
Laid her kiss on my broo,
Never thinking it would be the last.

I ha'e knelt on the place whaur, langsyne,
My mither sat croonin' to me,
An' the quaint bits o' stories she telt me sae fine
Cam' back, an' the tears fill'd my e'e.
Auld Time rows life's web swithly back:
I'm a young thochtless laddie ance mair,
An' my mither's sweet voice mak's my fond heart rejoice,
An' the place fills wi' visions fu' rare.

But owre sune, alas!
The visions a' pass;
Nor faither nor mither is spared,
They're free frae a' care,
I'll ne'er see them mair,
For they sleep in the Auld Kirkyaird.


When I leave the ploo an' horses,
When my darg o' wark is dune,
An' I gang to meet my Nancy
At the dowin' o' the sun,
A' the ither chiels are jealous,
I'm as happy as can be,
For I ken my dark-haired darlin'
Is lookin' out for me.

Dark-haired is my Nancy,
Wincey is her goon,
Ilka lad does fancy
Bonnie Nancy Broon;
Singin' like a lintie,
On her face nae froon,
Guid as ony, blithe an' bonnie-
Charming Nancy Broon.

Oh, her cheeks are broon an' ruddy,
But her een are clear an' bricht,
An' her lips are like ripe cherries,
An' her soul is pure as licht;
Tho' her goon is only wincey,
She's a lauch wad banish care,
An' she's like the queen o' simmer
Wi' the rosebuds in her hair.

Dark-haired is my Nancy,
Wincey is her goon,
A' the ladies fancy
Lovely Nancy Broon;
Singin' like a lintie,
Like a floo'r in June,
Trig an' neat, sae coy an' sweet-
Dainty Nancy Broon.

It was juist the ither Friday
That I spiered gin she'd be mine,
An' she telt me in a whisper
That her love wad never tine,
An' at the 'hind o' hervest time,
Gin God should spare oor life,
My winsome, dark-haired Nancy Broon,
Will be my ain dear wife.

Dark-haired is my Nancy,
Wincey is her goon,
Ilka lad does fancy
Bonnie Nancy Broon;
Singin' like a lintie,
O' my life the croon,
Lovin' fain, an' a' my ain-
Winsome Nancy Broon.


Ye maun ken Meg's the youngest,
An' there's ither five,
A' sturdy an' steery,
An' a' like to thrive;
An' aye on the pey-day,
They're round me like bees,
An' Meg, bless her wee face,
Maun get on my knees;
She'll cuddle an' wheedle me,
Kiss me an' a',
Till oot o' my pooch
I the siller maun draw,
An' Meg gets a bawbee to spend.

As sune as she gets it,
She's aff doon the street,
To Mistress MacFuffle,
Wha sells a'thing sweet;
An' there they'll conseeder,
Juist like millionaires,
What they will invest in-
"Lang candy" or "pears";
While ane suggests "toffy,"
Anither says "plooms,"
But Meg, i' the middle,
Stands sookin' her thooms,
An' keeks at the bawbee to spend.

Then Mistress Dulrymple's
Wee nickum, ca'ed Johnnie,
Tells Meg he ga'e her
"Yon stane, smooth and bonnie";
But in an aff-haunded an'
Dinna-care style-
"It's no for yer wealth
That I'm coortin' yer smile"
That's what ye wad think,
But, eh man ! he's sighin'
That he'll get a taste o'
What Meg thinks o' buyin'
Wi' the bawbee that she has to spend.

An' wee Jeanie Messer
Reminds her wi' care-
"I aye let ye come up
An' play in oor stair";
Anither injunction
Is on wee Meg ser'd,
Jimmie Elshander says-
"Ye can come up oor yaird";
An' Willie Macduff
Hopes to share in the "doles"-
"I'll let ye hurray
When my mither gets coals,"
An' adds as a mak'-wecht-
Wi' consummate airt-
"I'll let ye inowre,
It's my gran'faither's cairt-"
'Cause Meg has a bawbee to spend.

They a' tirn coortyers
An' leddies-in-waitin',
As guid as though cleaded
In fine silk or saitin;
Meg's queen for the nonce,
Aye, queen o' the toon,
An' needs ne'er a sceptre
To rule, nor a croon;
Her slichtest desire
Becomes law in the laund,
An' leal is the fealty
O' this joyous baund,
When Meg has a bawbee to spend.

May blessin's gang wi' them
In' a their young mirth,
There's nae sweeter sicht
On a' this braid earth,
Than a wheen merry bairns
A' loupin' wi' joy,
At spending a bawbee
Or sicna like ploy;
As floo'rs in the simmer
The bumbee allures,
While shop windows ye scan,
A like pleasure is yours,
When you ha'e a bawbee to spend.

Oh! the pleasures o' life
When we've grewn muckle men,
Is nocht to compare
Wi' the joy we had, when
A' guileless and young
In the years lang awa',
Ene soor Daddy Care
Thocht on gi'en's a ca';
A' the gowd in the warld
Is no half sae guid,
As when at some window
Wi' comrades we stuid,
When we had a bawbee to spend.


Wheesht ye noo, my bonnie bairn, dinna greet sae sair,
Mammie's gaen to mak' the tea, sit ye on the flair,
An' yer ta'll sune be hame, an' tak' ye on his knee,
And ride a horsey up an' doon, wheest ye, jist awee.

Greetin' yet, my bonnie man? It winna dae at a',
Gin ye dinna haud yen tongue, I'll jist greet ana';
See, man, there's yer purley pig, rattled up like mad!
There's yer doll ne'er says a word, she's no a greetin' jaud.

Greetin' yet? preserve us a'! what'll mammie dae?
I scarcely ha'e got time to dae a guid hands-tirn the day;
There's the bellises to blaw, blaw wi' a' yer micht,
Noo, there's pussy, hoo she rins, eh! she's got a fricht.

Sair, sair mouthie? puir wee thing, mammie kens fu' weel
What it is that mak's her bairn just a little deil;
Wheesht ye noo, there's somebody comin' up the stair,
Hide in mammie's bosie, quick, loo-man no get there.

There he's noo, I hear his voice, jist ootside the door,
"This whaur little Johnnie lives?" Sic an awfu' roar.
What ye want? "I've come to tak' a' the weans that greet."
Weel ye canna get my bairn; try the ither street.

Certes! but I've frichted him! hear his muckle feet!
Scliffin', sclaffin' down the stair, ech! it mak's me sweat;
Sic a farce! he has a stock o' impidence I'm shair,
To come here seekin' my wee man, he'll better just tak' care!

Quiet at last? ah! there's yer ta comin' up the stair,
Weel I ken his welcome fitstep; come an' sort his chair;
There he is. "Whaur's my wee man?" listen to his voice,
He's frank, guid nat'red, just the kind to make a wife rejoice.

Noo he's sleepin', puir wee man, roun' his mou's a smile,
Helplessness an' innocence pictured there the while.
Guardian angels hover round him, keep him in yer care,
Spare him, God, an' may he be to us a blessing rare.

Spare him, help him ower life's troubles, wha kens what's in store,
Rough, rough roads, an' maybe pitfa's, wha kens what's before;
But wi' God's kind help an' guidance, may he win abune,
When he's filled his purpose here an' his journey's dune.


While poets o' fame sing o' launds they ha'e seen,
O' graund lofty mountains, o' valleys aye green,
O' beauties o' nature, the floo'rs an' the trees,
The sun an' the blue lift, the birds an' the breeze,
There nocht speaks to me wi' a voice sae divine,
Nor tells me sae plainly mysel'to resign,
As the spot whaur my heart's dearest treasures are laid
Aneath the green turf in the Auld Kirkyaird.

In simmer the sod looks fu' bonnie an' sweet,
Bespangled wi' daisies sae modest an' neat;
The brier an' the haw tree their sweet fragrance throw
To cheer the sair hearts in this gairden o' woe;
A lesson we read in the sweet simmer time-
An' it's work while ye may when ye're life's in its prime-
The simmer is brief, lod, it disna lang last,
An' ye canna dae ocht in the days that are past.

In autumn the floo'rs dee, the leaves tirn broon,
An' ilk breath o' win' brings them rustlin' doon;
Their brief day is ended, wi' wae we repine,
They min' us o' frien's that we kent in langsyne-
Frien's wha, ane by ane, quietly slippit awa'
(Nae option ha'e we when the King gie's the ca');
But let's dae oor best, on His word aye depend,
An' He'll no mislippen's when nearin' the end.

When stern winter comes, like the gloamin' o' life,
An' snell are the tempests an' lood is the strife,
When the trees are a' leafless and deid are the floo'rs,
Snaw haps oor lost treasures, an' dark the lift lours;
'Tis then we find solace when ilka thing's bare,
Juist like oor ain greetin' hearts, love-stript an' sair,
Wi' the snaw for a shroud, auld Nature seems laid
To rest wi' the lave i' the Auld Kirkyaird.

But spring comes again, Nature wakes frae her sleep.
The bonnie wee snawdrap will first be to peep,
Syne crocus an' nose-leaf an' bud will appear,
An' birdies will mak' the day sweet wi' their cheer;
An' sae will we wauken again when we dee,
An' bonnier sichts than before we sall see,
An' a' oor lost treasures will meet us fu' fain,
An' couthie we'll be gin we've lived na in vain.


The "Auld Kirk," what a warl' o' thochts
The very name reca's;
An' faces keek frae oot the nooks
Whaur mem'ry's search-licht fa's;
An' voices that were dearly lo'ed,
In fastly-fadin' years,
Seem wauken'd by some mystic po'er,
An' thrills my list'nin' ears.

The auld seats wi' the snibbit doors,
They've ta'en them a' awa';
They've pitten in some graund new seats,
To mak' the kirk look braw.
But the straucht auld seats had mony ties
That made them dear to me,
An' oh! the sweet remembrances
Bring saut tears to my e'e.

'Twas in yon seat juist midway doon,
In by the nor'mest door,
When juist a bairn-that tak's me back
A bit ayont twa score-
My mither led me by the haund,
Wi' mony a pridefu' smirk,
(I was the aipple o' her e'e)
An' took me to the kirk.

I min' the folks that used to sit
A' in the seat th'gither--
My uncle, aunty an' my dey,
My faither an' my mither,
My mither's aunty neat an' prim,
A weel-hained carefu' craiter,
A lovin', genty, kind auld maid
Till trouble soored her natur'.

On Sawbaths when it didna rain
She wore a silken goon
An' Paisley plaid-a brawer ane
There wasna in the toon.
The plaid was fixed wi' denty care
Wi' twa braw jewel'd preens,
Baith tethered wi' a chain o' gowd,
An' set wi' Precious stanes.

Her "sprenticles" she used to wear
The Saums an' that to read,
But a'e day she was fair ashamed,
An' blushed at my misdeed!
For when her een were closed in prayer
I got them on my face!
The smile that gaed a' roond oor seat
Was sadly oot o' place.

As years gaed by wi' tentless heed
Fu' mony a cheenge I saw;
My uncle he got married, then
He brocht his wife ana'.
An' then their bairns as they grew up
Cam' in to fill the places
O' ithers wha had slipped awa';
Fond mem'ry limns their faces.

I mind them a' that are awa'
An' mingle wi' the cley-
My mither's aunty an' my ain,
My uncle an' my dey,
My sister an' my brithers-a'
Frae earthly cark set free;
Nae winder that the Auld Kirk seats
Were very dear to me.

When I gang to the Auld Kirk noo
It disna' seem the same.
But losh, I needna' shirk the faut,
It's maybe me's to blame;
Yet though we maybe canna' 'gree
On what may please the sicht,
It maitters nocht to you or me
As lang's oor hearts are richt.


Fondly the heart clings
To the scenes of yore,
And, oft when grief stings,
Clings still the more;
Oh! what a longing
For some vanished face,
Visions come thronging
In a wild chase;
Cheered by the sun's rays
Hope bright will burn,
Oh! could those happy days
Once more return.

Anon the memory
Of a mother's voice,
Fills our cold heart with joy-
Bids us rejoice;
But should the ghost rise
Of some careless deed,
Memory of weeping eyes
Makes our heart bleed;
Thought which our peace slays
Deep, deep will burn,
Wishing to recall the days
That ne'er return.

Oft through the dim mists
Voices we hear,
Keenly our soul lists
For one more dear;
Memory recalls the sound,
Cheats our list'ning ear
And keeps us spell-bound
With the music near,
Till the wandering tear betrays
How our hearts yearn
For these bright, happy days
That ne'er return.

With us are friends true,
Strong and steadfast,
But to the dreamer's view
Hearts of the past
More of his love share
Than friends of to-day;
Things here are less rare
Than things lost for aye.
For smiles departed,
For faces gone,
Well-nigh broken-hearted
Weep we oft alone.


A wooden horse-all dappled grey-
And a little toy drum
Are waiting patiently to-day
For a little chap to come.
They stand behind a little chair
In a corner on the floor,
But the little chap with the sunny hair
Will play with them no more.

The horse's mouth is open wide,
Its brass eyes idly stare,
But to my wet eyes they seem to chide
For their master not being there
To tap the drum with a rataplan,
And trot the "dappled grey,"
And resume the romps that the little man
Had with them yesterday.

Ah! yesterday, my heart was light,
And had no load of care;
My sky was blue, my sun shone bright,
And all the world seemed fair,
For the little man the whole day long
Was happy as could be,
And my heart was atune with a mother's song
Of wonderful melody.

To-day my sky is overcast,
My sun's no longer bright-
The air is chill, for a biting blast
Wailed eerily through the night-
For a little soul, all pure and white,
Has left its house of clay,
And on angels' wings has taken flight
To realms of endless day.

I bow my head and try to say,
"Father, Thy will be done,"
But my stricken heart cries out all day-
"O, give me back my son."
I cry in vain, for the vernal grass
Is o'er him where he lies;
But we shall meet when the shadows pass
In the land beyond the skies.


Eh! Nineteen-an'-twa,
Man, ye're slippin' awa',
Yer coorse is aboot nearly run.
Ye're hirplin' twa-fauld,
Ye're donnert an' auld,
Ye're lookin' yer last on yon sun.
Ye're sune to be laid
In the grave that we've made.
We'll hap ye wi' turf dank an' green,
An' lay ye awa'
In the lang or short raw,
Wi' the lave o' the years we ha'e seen.

Ye've seen some queer things
While ye flew on yer wings,
An' watch kept frae faur pole to pole.
Ye've seen the weans greet
When they'd naething to eat,
An' hunger's a sorrowfu' thole.
Ye've seen fine hearts broken,
Ye've heard prayers unspoken
Frae mither's in sorrow repinin'.
Ye've seen the cheek pale
Wi' some cankerin' tale,
An' ye've seen ithers droopin' an' dwinin'.

Ye've keekit in there
Whaur gloomy Despair
Sat muffled in black to the een.
Ye've glower'd thro' the place
Whaur shamefu' Disgrace
Sat doon whaur she ne'er shu'd ha'e been.
Ye've seen the false smile
Maskin' cunnin' an' guile,
An' lives wracked ayont a' repair,
Through no' peyin' heed
To the prayer-sown seed
Sown by them that can pray never mair.

Ye ha'e seen sorrow's clouds
Dreepin' tears on the shrouds
O' the faithers laid low in their prime.
Ye ken the heart sobbed
When the husband was robbed
O' his bairn an' his wife at a'e time.
Ye've heard the clods fa'
On the black shells ana'
O' them wha had pined lang an' sair,
Wi' sufferin' distressed,
Fainly sighin' for rest
Frae this warl's eatin' canker an' care.

Ye ha'e seen horrid war
In its bluid-bedecked can,
Ridin' rouch owre the dead an' the dyin'.
Ye ha'e heard the last sigh
An' the waefu' death cry
Frae the sodgers on Afric's veldt lyin'.
Ye've heard thoosands preach peace,
An' yet nae surcease
Frae ill-will, an' fechtin', an' sinnin',
For still obstinate
Man gangs his ain gate
E'en as he has frae the beginnin'.

Ye ha'e seen as ye went
Scenes o' sweetest content
In some o' the hames o' the puirest,
An' owre weel ye ken
That the richest o' men
Dinna aye ha'e the hearts that are rarest.
For aft riches rust
Roond the heart like a crust,
An' keeps oot the licht o' the love,
That mak's aft the cot,
Although puirtith's their lot,
Like a glint o' the Heaven above.

Ye ha'e seen every phase
In the hale o' the days
O' what mak's the life o' a man,
Frae the faint cry at birth
To the happin' wi' earth,
Ye ha'e seen the mysterious plan.
Ye had yer ain spring
Whilk sune took its wing,
Yer simmer an' autumn ana'.
Yer winter has come,
Yer minstrels are dumb,
They ken ye're fast slippin' awa'.

Aye! Nineteen-an'-twa,
Ye're slippin' awa,
Yer coorse is aboot nearly run.
Ye're hirplin' twa-fauld,
Ye're donnert an' auld,
Ye're lookin' yer last on yon sun.
The soond that'll tell
O' yer funeral knell
Will be smoored owre wi' mirth an' wi' singin',
For as sune as ye dee
Young nineteen-an'-three
Will be hailed wi' hurrahs loodly ringin'.


[ANDREW MONTEITH, the city bellringer, a faithful servant. Deeply regretted.]
"Act well your part, there all the honour lies." - POPE.

And so he died! A pauper's end!
Whom everybody thought a friend.
Who morning after morning rung
The warning bell.
To wake the sleeping throng, and tell
"'Tis time to waken; time to work
Come on, do not your duty shirk-
Wake up, wake up, wake up each one
'Tis five o'clock; the day's begun!

"'Tis time for bed; the bairns' bell
Is rung. I've heard my mother tell,
'Tis time from romping play to cease,
'Tis time for sleep, 'tis time for peace."
The warning bell he always tolled,
And on the air the deep tones rolled,
And oftentimes I've deeply pondered
About that chiming bell, and wondered
How it could know, how it could tell
The bairns' bedding time so well?

Full oft the joyous bell he's rung,
And told the story with its tongue,
Of courtly joys, of natal days,
And often sung Victoria's praise,
And then, when death the great would steal,
He rung of woe as well as weal,
And in the muffled monotone
He'd tell of all the greatness gone,
And on the bell he loved so well
He'd ring a measured solemn knell.

And those who knew him best doth tell
He was a man few could excel
For honesty and uprightness,
Nor would he stoop to fawn and kiss
The hand that chance had rendered rich,
But sterling, honest, humbly proud,
He worshipped no one save his God,
And truer Christian could not be
Than this man, who from guile was free.
His life was peace, nor sought he strife,
But lived a quiet, godly life;
To many more pretentious far,
His life might be a guiding star.

And did I say a pauper's end?
Well, mark me well, he did forefend,
For with his scanty pittance he
From the poor man's demon, debt, kept free.
Kept clear of debt, but he did more,
For carefully he kept a store
Against the day he knew must come
When he'd be laid in his long home,
And in a good and true man's hand
He left his money and commands.
A weight was off the old man's mind
For knowing that he left behind
Enough to pay the last expense,
Appeared to give him confidence
To face the King of terrors grim.
Sweet solace it afforded him
To know that though he had to slave
He'd never fill a pauper's grave.

If only half of the regret
Had been expressed ere 'twas too late
This good man might have closed his eyes
In his own earthly paradise.
For to an independent soul
His home's his castle though a hole;
Nor would he change for courtly halls
The home within his own four walls,
And from his own poor home to part
Might well-nigh break the old man's heart.
Some paltry pence from some full purse
The doctor would have paid, and nurse;
And so his good and honest pride
Had not been broken ere he died.


"A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud will be."


O blessings on oor Andra
For gi'en us the Glen,
The sweetest gift he'll ever gi'e
I carena' hoo or when.
Some o' his gowd micht mak' us rich
But wi' it we'd ha'e care,
But roon' ilk turn doon by the burn
There's nocht but pleasure there.

It's bonnie in the Springtime
When life bursts forth anew,
When ilka blade o' gress glints fresh
Wi' words o' hope sae true.
When birds that ha'e been chitterin' cauld
Begin their pipes to tune,
An' frae their throats rich golden notes
Gi'e thanks to Him abune.

The stalwart trees, their stiff limbs rax
Then slowly rub their een,
Syne drookin' shoo'rs an' sunny 'oors
Sune mak' them livin' green.
Ilk branch an' bud is fu' o' life
An' lauchs wi' joyous ring,
An' wi' sweet charm spread oot each arm
To clap their hands an' sing.

An' sae throughoot the bonnie Glen
Ilk inch hauds something sweet:
Unfurlin' fern, or primrose pale,
Blue-bell, or daisy neat;
In ilka nook that ye may look
Fresh winders come to view,
On Nature's face it's guid to trace
God's goodness ever new.

 Return to Poems of James Chapman Craig


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