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James Chapman Craig


Cuddle in cosie,
Close as ye can,
In mammie's bosie,
Bonnie wee man.
Mammie'll sing ye
A bonnie wee sang;
Daddie'll bring ye
Something ere lang.
Hushie-ba', lammie, hushie-ba' loo,
Lammie-loo, shut yer een, hushie-ba' noo.

What can I dae noo?
No sleepin' yet?
Eh, man! I'm wae noo,
Bonnie wee pet.
What is't that ails ye?
What gars ye greet?
Cuddle in cosie,
Sweetest o' sweet.
Hushie-ba', lammie, hushie-ba' loo,
Lammie-loo, shut yer een, husbie-ba' noo.

Up in the black lum
Geordie's aye near;
Doon here he daurna come,
Na, na, nae fear.
Into his stoorie pock
Gang weans that greet;
Wheesht, and you'll hear him knock
Wi' his big feet.
Hushie-ba', lammie, hushie-ba' loo,
Lammie-loo, shut yer een, hushie-ba' noo.

What's that he's speerin'?
"Wha's here the nicht?"
O'd sakes, I'm fearin'
A'thing's no' richt.
"Naebody's here, man,
But 'winkie-wee.'
What mak's ye spier, man?
Wha is't ye see?"
Hushie-ba', lammie, hushie-ba' loo,
Lammie-loo, shut yer een, hushie-ba' noo.

"There's a wean greetin'
Ken ye his name?
I cam' to meet 'im,
An' tak' 'im hame."
"Aye, man, there was ane,
But he's awa;
Sae you'd best be gane,
Mak' nae fraca'."
Hushie-ba', lammie, hushie-ba' loo,
Lammie-loo, shut yer een, hushie-ba' noo.

Certies, he's got a fricht,
Clean up the lum;
Back here anither nicht
He'll no daur come.
Women and muckle men
Aft need a fley,
Something tae keep them
Frae gangin' agley.
Eh! he's asleep at last-gled am I noo;
Steekit his een are fast, sweet lammie-loo.


Eh, mithers! the fecht
When the bairnies are wee;
But for gowd, wecht for wecht,
We wadna them gi'e.
We lo'e them 'bune a',
Tho' often we chide;
An' we ken for ilk ma'
That the Lord will provide.

We gaird them wi' care
Till they toddle alane,
And bid them beware
O' the slippery stane;
An' often we pray
To the wise Ane abune,
That they'll ne'er gang astray,
An' keep free frae sin.

An' when, wi' the nicht fa,
We gang the lang road,
Oh, may kindly licht fa'
An' airt us to God.
The King o' the land
I trust we will see;
An' He'll rax out His hand,
Kindly welcome to gi'e.


The Auld Kirk Bells, hoo sweet the soond
O' the sang they sing to me,
I hear them aft in my thochts o' hame,
In this laund faur owre the sea;
An' morn an' e'en, awake I dream,
For it hauds me in a spell-
An' my een grows dim, when I hear the chime
O' the soond a' the Auld Kirk Bell.

It's mony a year sin' I left the toon,
Sin' I looked at the graund auld pile,
Wi' it's buttress'd wa's, an' it's steepled to'er
O' it's ain queer faushioned style;
But I see it fine, as I did langsyne,
What I feel I canna tell-
On my cheek there's a tear, when I think I hear
The clang o' the Auld Kirk Bell.

I see the folks i' their Sunday braws
A' airtin' to God's hoose
Wi' cannie gait, an' tak' their seat
Decorously an' douce;
I hear the minister gi'e oot
The Psaulm, an' hear them singin',
An' the sweet refrain o' the sacred strain
Faint in my ear is ringin'.

The singin' soond o' the Auld Kirk Bells
Brings a warm flood frae my heart,
An' breeds a bliss, like a bairnie's kiss
Gars heart hame-hungerin' start;
An' misty faces come an' gang,
An' voices we loved well,
Seem circlin' roond an' blends wi' the soond
O' the sough a' the Auld Kirk Bell.

O juist to see the place aince mair,
An' hear the bells again,
An' hear the cheer o' some comrade dear,
I'm yearnin' aft fu' fain;
The very thocht o't mak's me gled,
Wi' joy my bosom swells
For the Auld Grey Toon an' the hauntin' soond
O' the bonnie Auld Kirk Bells.


Lang years ha'e passed sin' I left hame,
An' mony launds I've seen,
Sin' last I trod the weel-kent streets
Some sairly cheenged ha'e been;
But yesterday I got a sniff
That made my sair heart crack,
For it brocht to mind the bannocks
That my mither used to mak'.

I was walkin', fondly dreamin',
An' no seein' ocht I'm shair,
When a warm waff o' bakin'
Cam' frae oot an open door,
An' roond aboot my heart it gaed,
It took me lang years back,
An' I saw the raw o' bannocks
That my mither used to mak'.

I stood an' saw, as in a dream,
A scene fu' sweet an' rare-
A wee auld hoose, wi' open door,
An' bairnies on the flair-
Some sax or seven hungry weans,
An' me amang the pack,
A' waitin' on the bannocks
That my mither used to mak'.

An' as the tears welled owre my een,
I saw my mither's face
As it was in the days langsyne,
Ilk feature I could trace;
Her sleeves row'd up, her aipron on,
Her mutch strings hingin' slack,
While she tended to the bannocks
That she used sae weel to mak'.

She could mak' a kind wi' tawties
Feenished aff wi' halesome meal
(Wi' a half ane in my pouch weel stow'd
I've aft set oot to schule):
An' when we had a routh o' floor
Some treackle she micht tak',
An' pit some in the bannocks
That my mither used to mak'.

I ha'e feasted wi' the Yankees,
I ha'e dined wi' Parley-voos;
I ha'e filled my wame wi' fricassees,
Wi' entrées an' ragoos;
But midst it a' I've aften sighed
For a'e bit tuithsome snack-
A bit butter an' the bannocks
That my mither used to mak'.


A rhymin' chield in days gane by,
John Grumlie pictured fine,
But 'odsake dinna think he's dead,
There's plenty o' his kin'.
They're hardly ever in the richt,
But aye "It's you that's wrang";
They'll yerp an' argy owre a threed
Till it's a tether lang.

Their claes are auld, their hats are bashed,
Their buits are lettin' in;
An' blamin' some ane else for'd a'
Is their besettin' sin.
There's something wrang at breakfast time,
But gin the truth was kent,
'Twas started ere he left the wark,
An' noo it's gettin' vent.

Some faut he's dune, an' kent fu' weel
That he shu'd bear the strife;
But na! he sulks an' hauds his tongue,
Then pits it on his wife.
Puir sowl, she kens na what to do,
She wants to soothe his ire,
But gin a single word she says-
Phoof! the fat is in the fire!

He'll tell her then "her tongue ne'er lies,
But wags for evermair;
She deaves him wi' her constant clack
Until his lugs are sair."
But he'll yerp on far hauf-an-'oor
An' aye the angrier grow,
His ain tongue actin' like the wind
That fresher fans the lowe.

If parritch be upon the board-
"Huh! parritch every day!"
If ham an' eggs, I'll wager ye
That he wad quickly say-
"Ye've shairly plenty siller-'od
Ye'd think we're made o't-fegs
Whaever saw a workin' man
Fed up an ham an' eggs?"

At denner time, shu'd it be kail
That's laid doon on the table,
He'll likely say "What, kail again?"
An' raise a din like Babel.
"The peas are hard," the "leeks owre big,"
"I'm sham they're faur owre saut,"
"They're scant a' barley," "faur owre green,"
An' mony anither fau't.

Gin't had been soup it's very like
The fau't had been the same-
The tawties tastin' badly, then
The wife is still to blame.
I've seen me aften winder, hoo
A woman's bluid could stand
Sic snash frae onything on legs,
An' tholin', haud her hands!

I've aften windered hoo it cam'
Thae kind e'er got a wife,
An' hoo they coorted is to me
A queery a' my life,
They are sae scrimp o' human love
Nor ken o' earthly bliss;
I dinna think they ken the wey
To cuddle or to kiss.

I canna think hoo women folk
E'er taigle wi' sic men,
Unless it be, they're fear'd a chance
May never come again;
But better faur to bide a maid
In a'e wee room wi' pleasure,
Than drudge an' toil for ony man
Wha thinks himsel' a treasure!

I dinna like to stir up strife-
That's no the way wi' me-
I'd raither dae my very best
To mak' a'body 'gree;
An' sae although I tell this tale
Ye maunna think I'm sayin'
It's what you wives should ever think
On gaun awa an' daein'.


John Never-Pleased was mairrit to
A lass ca'd Leezebeth Loman;
I kent her in her maiden days
A cheery, cracky woman;
A better winder never stuid
An' carefu' watched a frame;
But efter she got mairrit! man-
She never seemed the same.

Hooever, ere a year had gane,
Mair trouble to be sharin',
Puir Leebie's haunds were sairer tied
Wi' a bit bonnie bairn.
But Leebie's life hung by a threed,
An' dreech, dreech was her mendin';
John didna muckle seem to care
Whether 'twas "mend" or "endin'."

Hooever, Leeb at last got weel,
Her strength cam' slowly back;
'Twas little sympathy or help
She got frae John, alack!
But roon' an' roon' her hungerin' heart,
E'en to its inmost core,
The bairn twined an' filled her heart
As't ne'er had been before.

Noo ere the first (the lassie bairn)
Was turned three year auld,
A wee bit brither cam' to claim
A sta' in Leebie's fauld;
But spite o' care an' doctor's skill,
An' a'thing o' the best,
He dwin'd an' dee'd-the bonnie lam'
Was better faur at rest.

Twa years passed by-the wee bit lass
Was five year auld that day,
By way o' celebratin' it
Her mither fond did say-
"I'll mak' a sandwiche puddin', lass
(If guid ye'll mind an' be),
Wi' plenty fine strawberry jam-
Ye'll get it to your tea."

At sax o'clock in stappit John,
His broos pursed wi' a froon,
The puddin' wis juist aff the fire,
An' Leeb wis lowsen'd doon;
He grumphed aboot "extravagance
O' a' the women kind,"
Hoo puir folks' siller was misspent,
According to his mind.

Leeb's cheeks lowed up, her lips gaed ticht,
Then on the impulse sudden
She threw wi' a' her micht at him
The bilin' jeely puddin'.
It struck him on the chafts an' neck
An' scoudered him, I'll swear
He yelled an' danced, an' turned aboot,
An' bolted doon the stair.

The neebours when they saw John rin,
Wi' puddin' ornamented,
Declared his brains had been ca'd oot,
An' twa-three nearly fented.
But John ne'er halted in his speed
Till weel ootside the toon,
Nor ventured to seek hame again
Till darkness settled doon.

It cured him, though, I'm prood to say-
Leeb's onslacht cured him fairly-
An' frae that day it cheenged him sac
He grummles unco rarely;
An' shu'd it chance that ony day
He'll no dae what he's buddin',
Leeb's juist to look an' nod her head,
An' whisper-"Mind the puddin'!"


There's joy a' roond the very soond
O' my dear mither's voice;
My bosom thrills, an' gladness fills
My heart, an' I rejoice
When I think on my bairnhood days,
My petty cares a' cease,
I'm young aince mair an' stand to share
A muckle treackle peece.

The scene I see in my mind's e'e
Hauds nocht ye cu'd ca' rare-
A kitchen dear wi' simple gear,
An' bairnies in the flair,
A mither busy wi' her wark
That never seems to cease,
The noisy brood a' cryin' lood
An' yammerin' for a peece.

"What I peeces noo? I seena hoo
Ye can be needin' bread,
Gin ye had claut yer coggies toom
'Twad ne'er been in yer head."
"It's juist a sin, ye're never dune,
My pantry ye fair fleece;"
But as she spak' the loaf she'd tak'
An' cut ilk ane a peece.

There's Tib an' me cu'd ne'er agree
Wha'd get the thickest slice,
My mither aften seemed to doot
If we were really wice.
She'd tell me to gang doon the stair
Or else she'd "kaim my heckle,"
An' Tib wad bounce that she had got
An extra slaik o' treackle.

Oh, mony waes since thae sweet days
Ha'e wrung my mither's heart,
My faither's, too, though dull an' wae
To mither's maistly airt;
But owre them a', the Wise abune
Has cannie held her up,
An' o' her faith through dule an' death
She's never lost her grup.

Baith west an' east, to fair an' feast,
'Mang "gentles" an' 'mang "commons,"
Baith late an' ear' I've aft been there,
But, man! in a' my roamin's
Sometimes we canna help but sigh,
For siclike ploys surcease,
Shove Auld Time back, an' stand to tak'
A muckle treackle peece.


Yesterday was very wet,
An' mother had to go
To town-she had some things to get-
It often happens so.
But when it's fine, of course we play
At some game in the garden,
Like "Water, water wallflower"
or "Dolly, Dolly Varden."

But yesterday, I said, was wet,
And so, of course, we couldn't
Play any games outside; at least
Our mother said we shouldn't.
So we got some partic'lar friends,
Who live quite close beside us,
To come and say they'd spend the day,
And mother didn't chide us.

Now, Ella, she's the mother
When the mother "goes to town,"
And when she tells us what to do
It's done without a frown.
She kissed wee Babbsy's tears away
When he fell with a flop,
And made him smile because she said
"You'll help me to keep shop."

We'd Mable Webb-she stays next door-
And little Johnny Skinner,
His mother made us promise
That we'd send him home to dinner.
We'd little Willie with his watch,
And little Molly Hope,
And Fanny, too, they all were in
To help us playin' shop.

A chair that hasn't got a back
(It fell and ne'er was mended)
It was the shop, and then two stools
On right and left extended,
They were the counters, laden well
With line on line of treasure;
We'd everything to satisfy
Necessity or pleasure.

For scales we took our Daddy's hats,
His stick was made the beam;
And with some strings we tied them on
And they all right did seem.
A paper torn up into bits
Was ready money found,
A small piece was a penny,
And a large bit was a pound.

Ella was the grocery man
And sold most everything,
And put on airs as if she were
Purveyor to the King.
Of course, she could do as she liked,
We dared not disagree;
She knew there was no other shop
Where we could go, you see.

Her goods were very, very dear;
But then we were quite willing
To buy up little biscuits
At a sixpence and a shilling.
Her weights were very, very light,
At least it seemed to me,
Two pounds of sugar you would need
To sweeten a cup of tea.

Some shells we gathered at the sea
Were nuts and things like these
Sand was sugar, bread was ham,
And coal was sold as cheese;
Some buttons and some bits of string
Were sold for chains and watches,
For "bundled wood for kindling fires"
We tied up half-burnt matches.

Some little bits of broken delf
Were sold for crockery ware,
And cups were sold, I give my word,
At two-and-six a pair;
And all our caps and jackets, too,
Were added to the stock,
And sold by Mistress Ella quick,
While we were playin' shop.

Whenever anything was asked
That wasn't asked before,
The keeper of the store would look
All round the well-stocked store,
And say, with quite a pleasing air,
"I'm really very sorry
We're out of it just now, but we
Will have it in to-morry."

To-morry in some minutes came
(Time didn't count a button)
And then the coal that had been cheese
Was sold for beef and mutton.
And so we went on playing shop
As happy as could be,
Till all at once there came to pass
A sad catastrophie.

Wee little Babs who seemed to think
The shop was splendid fun,
Took up a piece of crockery
In mistake for a bun.
On the unhappy incident
I need not longer linger,
He howled, nor would be pacified
Because he'd cut his finger.

A rat-tat sounded on the door,
Who was it? Mistress Skinner!
She'd come for little Johnnie, dear,
To take him home for dinner;
And then our mother she came in,
Our game we had to stop,
But we were happy as could be
'Cause we'd been playin' shop.



Another milestone you pass to-day,
Come let us joy together
Now that the smiling month of May
Reigns with genial weather,
Nature opes the buds, and flowers
Anew to life are springing,
In leafing trees, and budding bowers,
Inspired birds are singing,
E'en so sing I, and fondly pray
God send you many a natal day.


Auld Allan Ramsay said lang syne
In language terse an' bricht,
That happiness springs frae a mind
Whase principles are richt,
An' o' the means to keep it aye
In healthy clear condition,
So that ane can keep up the crack
Whate'er be his position,
Is learnin' sayings, quaint and auld,
That ha'e come doon through ages,
An' haud mair wisdom in their fauld
Than beuks wi' many pages.

His strong appeal nae doot did weel
In thae days lang awa,'
But careless rust an' ages' dust
Ha'e happit maist them a'.
They're lost as gin' they'd never been,
Except at ant'rin times,
When some auld buddy strings aff ane
That wi' the confab rhymes.
The young ears that the "proverb" hears
Are cockit-dinna doot,
An' waukened wits are keen to ken
What ilka word's aboot.

The pawky words - auld-farrant, queer,
Are juist like Greek and Laitin,
An' fair upset the young folks-yet
The truth I'm laithfu' statin'.
They kenna that for pith an' po'er
There mither-tongue's historic,
An' that thochts tak' a firmer grup
Expressed in bonnie Doric.
Noo, here are some "proverbial" lines,
That arena waled wi' care,
But ta'en haphazard frae a stock
Whaur there are plenty mair:-

"Lat alane mak's mony a lurden";
"Mony haunds mak' licht wark";
Thowlessness has aye a burden;
Gaun-tae never weesh a sark;
"Thole, aye thole, is gweed for burns";
"Kame sindle, kame sair"
Canna, winna, never learns;
Sulky carle coorts care.
"A gangin' fit is aye gettin,
Gin it be but a thorn,"
"Pampered bairns are aft begrutten,"
"Thangs are easier coft than corn."

"He rives the Kirk to theik the quire"
Is just oor wey o' sayin'
We're robbin' Peter o' his hire
That Paul we may be payin'.
A chield that mak's a story lang
Is brankit by the Scot,
"Gi'e him a hair" he isna thrang
He'll mak' a tether o't.
"Ye're as lang in tunin' yer pipes, my lad,
As another wad play a spring"
Is lattin' the airn black and cauld
Ere we gar the anvil ring.

"A brank-new bissom soops clean"
But owre it "mak' nae sang,"
An "he that will to Cupar, freen,
Maun e'en to Cupar gang."
"Bourd na wi' bawtie lest he bites,"
"Aince peyed should ne'er be craved,"
"Wary deem, an' wat wha' wytes"
Adders arena easy deaved.
"Mony sma's sune mak' a muckle,"
An' "Ill weeds wax aye weel."
Sypin' leglans waste a puckle,
"Tell the truth an' shame the deil."

"Mair whistle than woo, as the souter said
When shearing the baxter's soo,"
"Ilka ane to her taste as the auld wife said
When she kissed the brockit-coo"
Baudrons lippened wi' a bird
Is plainly coortin' skaith,
"As sure as death's" yer hinmaist word
An' bindin' as an' aith.
"Reivers shouldna rewers be"
"Dummy canna lee at a'"
"Aye flee laich if lang ye'd flee"
"Nae plie is best o' a'."
"There's watter whaur the stirkie droons"
"Folly's a bonnie doug,"
"Ye canna weel mak' silken goons
Frae oot an auld soo's lug."

There's plenty sayings juist like thae
That only want the seekin',
Let ilka ane up an' buckle tae
An' keep the puddin' reekin'."
I hinna tried to lat ye ken
What's in the auld words linkin,'
Thae verses will ha'e gained my en'
Gin they but set ye thinkin'.


I lauch at what my Grannie says
She had to dae in her young days,
Or rather what she didna dae,
An' what her mither wadna ha'e.
Like dirty haunds on smudgy face,
An' naething hung in its richt place,
Frae what she says it's plain to me
The bairns were auld when she was wee.

Her face an' haunds were aye kept clean,
Her peenie like a new-made preen,
Her claes hung on the nail at nicht,
An' for the mornin' aye were richt.
My Grannie's auld an' fykie noo,
Has wrunkles whaur aince dimples grew,
She says the years ha'e ca'd ajee
An' cheenged maist things since she was wee.

If what my Grannie says is true,
It's plain to me, an' maun to you,
She's never kent a baker's woe
O' makin' pies wi' cley for dough.
An' never, when it's rained pell-mell,
A gushel has she made hersel',
Nor sailed boats in the guit'ry stream-
To dae sic things she didna dream!

She never screwed her face, she says,
At medicine in her young days,
But took the "sinny-tea" or "ile,"
Her "story" maistly gars me smile.
I daurna say, "Noo, that's a lee,"
For a'e thing 'cause I'm faur owre wee;
But hoo a wean without a scunner
Drank "sinny-tea" fills me wi' wunner.

When auld folks were in deep confab
She cud aye steckit keep her gab,
She micht be seen but never heard,
She never tried to add her word;
An' never questioned what was dune,
"What for?" or "Whey?" was maist a sin,
As shure as ocht I canna see
Hoo Grannie lived when she was wee.

But even though my Grannie's thrawn
Aboot the gaits the weans are gaun,
I wadna niffer her ava
For ony Grannie e'er I saw;
For when I gang to bed at nicht
She haps me up an' packs me ticht,
An' whiles I keek atowre an' see
A tear o' love in Grannie's e'e.

I dinna speer what wey she greets
When wi' me she the rhyme repeats-
"This night when I lie dawn to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Bless Daddy, Mum, an' Grannie, dear,
Good Lord in Thy great mercy hear.


O weary fa' the siller, the queer illusive siller;
Man! wi' it we are vauntie; without it-feckless trash.
O weary fa' the siller, the quick evasive siller,
We ha'ed-ilk ane is booin'; we hinna'd-we get snash.

O weary fa' the siller, the generative siller;
The root o' a' the evil in the warld the Guid Book says.
But mankind o' every station, tend the root wi' much elation;
A' watch its growth wi' a'e e'e, while wi' ither steek't he prays.

O weary fa' the siller, the sleek assuasive siller;
Baith breed an' brains maun hirsle yont when Mammon seeks a place.
An' though in much we differ, few there be wha wadna niffer,
Their sowl for siller ony day an' think it nae disgrace.

The Israelites in lang syne days set up a Gowden Cauf,
An' booed the knee in worship tae'd an' sang it sangs o' praise.
But Mammon took their homage a', an' never heard their praise ava',
An' cudna', for baith blin' an' deaf has gowd been a' the days.

But some things are beyond the po'er o' siller e'en to buy;
Sic like as life, an' love, an' weans, an' guid health best o' a'.
For though the pooch be toom indeed, an' sair may be the fecht for bread,
Wi' health we're kings compared wi' some held fast in troubles thra'.

 Return to Poems of James Chapman Craig


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