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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.


A Sunday in Edinburgh

By Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)

(From Auld Reekie)

ON Sunday, here, an altered scene

O’ men and manners meets our een.

Ane wad maist trow, some people chose

To change their faces wi’ their clo’es,

And fain wad gar ilk neibour think

They thirst for guidness as for drink;

But there ’s an unco dearth o’ grace

That has nae mansion but the face,

And never can obtain a part

In benmost corner o’ the heart.

Why should religion mak us sad,

If good frae virtue ’s to be had?

Na! rather gleefu’ turn your face,

Forsake hypocrisy, grimace;

And never hae it understood

You fleg mankind frae being good.

In afternoon, a’ brawly buskit,

The joes and lasses loe to frisk it.

Some tak a great delight to place

The modest bon-grace owre the face;

Though you may see, if so inclined,

The turning o’ the leg behind.

Now, Comely-Garden and the Park

Refresh them, after forenoon’s wark:

Newhaven, Leith, or Canonmills,

Supply them in their Sunday’s gills;

Where writers aften spend their pence,

To stock their heads wi’ drink and sense.

While danderin’ cits delight to stray

To Castlehill or public way,

Where they nae other purpose mean,

Than that fool cause o’ being seen,

Let me to Arthur’s Seat pursue,

Where bonnie pastures meet the view,

And mony a wild-lorn scene accrues,

Befitting Willie Shakespeare’s muse.

If Fancy there would join the thrang,

The desert rocks and hills amang,

To echoes we should lilt and play,

And gie to mirth the livelang day.

Or should some cankered biting shower

The day and a’ her sweets deflower,

To Holyrood-house let me stray,

And gie to musing a’ the day;

Lamenting what auld Scotland knew,

Bein days forever frae her view.

O Hamilton, for shame! the Muse

Would pay to thee her couthy vows,

Gin ye wad tent the humble strain,

And gie ’s our dignity again!

For, O, wae ’s me! the thistle springs

In domicile o’ ancient kings,

Without a patriot to regret

Our palace and our ancient state.