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Poems from Francis Kerr Young
The Ballad of Pearlie Wilson

A true story

In a kirkyard grave in Strathaven town
there lies a brave, brave man,
who was hanged for treason by the Crown,
here's how it all began:

James Wilson knew the weaver's trade,
the purl stitch brought him fame
for seamless hose that his loom made
on a revamped stocking frame.
Scots weavers hailed this accolade:
"Noo Purlie is yer name!"

The Corn Laws brought on discontent,
great strife spread far afield,
when folk cried for abolishment,
the Tories would not yield;
soon Radicals became hell-bent
to have this Act repealed.

Pearlie cautioned each Radical
and gave them good advice:
"No violence . . . Be practical . . .
Petitions will suffice!"

James Wilson loved the Avondale,
he hunted, fished and laughed,
he lived on porridge, game and kale,
and weaving was his craft:
it seemed his wisdom would prevail
for Pearlie wisna daft!

A mob prepared for armed sedition,
as planned at Threestanes Farm,
they purloined guns and ammunition
which caused townsfolk alarm.

Hotheads ran wild, though Pearlie pleaded,
till came an army troop,
they marched from Glasgow, so was needed
an unsuspecting dupe.

Oh Purlie, Purlie, gang on hame,
an' kiss yer wife, Guidbye.
Oh Purlie, Purlie, Life's nae game
when ye're aboot tae die!

His trial was a mummery,
all Scotland did agree;
the jury urged for clemency,
the judge ignored their plea,
and promised Pearlie: "Hanged ye'll be
upon the gallows tree!"

For oan yon day, he left his loom
tae march for liberty,
auld Pearlie strode aff tae his doom
an' intae history:
Noo, Strathaven kirkyard hauds his tomb
(the ithers were set free).

Oh Purlie, Purlie, whit became
o' Justice, Truth, an' Richt?
Oh Purlie, Purlie, took the blame
for ither folk yon nicht.


The warp beam holds the upright thread,
the loom's our world so wide;
the weft is but the life we've led,
the heddles were our guide:
On Judgement Day our cloth is spread
revealing flaws we hide!

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