Home  »  The Book of Georgian Verse  »  Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne (1766–1845)

William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Caller Herrin’

Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne (1766–1845)

WHA’LL buy my caller herrin’?

They’re bonnie fish and halesome farin’:

Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’,

New drawn frae the Forth?

When ye were sleepin’ on your pillows,

Dreamed ye aught o’ our puir fellows—

Darkling as they faced the billows,

A’ to fill our woven willows?

Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’?

They’re no brought here without brave darin’:

Buy my caller herrin’,

Hauled through wind and rain.

Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’?

Oh, ye may ca’ them vulgar farin’,—

Wives and mithers, ’maist despairin’,

Ca’ them lives o’ men.

When the creel o’ herrin’ passes,

Ladies, clad in silks and laces,

Gather in their braw pelisses,

Cast their heads, and screw their faces.

Caller herrin’s no got lightly;

Ye can trip the spring fu’ tightly;

Spite o’ tauntin’, flauntin’, flingin’,

Gow has set you a’ a-singin’.

Neebour wives, now tent my tellin’

When the bonnie fish ye’re sellin’,

At ae word be in your dealin’,—

Truth will stand when a’ thing’s failin’.