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


John Mayne (1759–1836)

OF a’ the festivals we hear,

Frae Handsel-Monday till New Year,

There’s few in Scotland held mair dear

For mirth, I ween,

Or yet can boast o’ better cheer,

Than Hallowe’en.

Langsyne indeed, as now in climes

Where priests for siller pardon crimes,

The kintry ’round in Popish rhymes

Did pray and graen;

But customs vary wi’ the times

At Hallowe’en.

Ranged round a bleezing ingleside,

Where nowther cauld nor hunger bide,

The farmer’s house, wi’ secret pride,

Will a’ convene;

For that day’s wark is thrawn aside

At Hallowe’en.

Placed at their head the gudewife sits,

And deals round apples, pears, and nits;

Syne tells her guests, how, at sic bits

Where she has been,

Bogle’s ha’e gart folk tyne their wits

At Hallowe’en.

Grieved, she recounts how, by mischance,

Puir pussy’s forced a’ night to prance

Wi’ fairies, wha in thousands dance

Upon the green,

Or sail wi’ witches over to France

At Hallowe’en.

Syne, issued frae the gardy-chair,

For that’s the seat of empire there,

To co’er the table wi’ what’s rare,

Commands are gi’en;

That a’ fu’ daintily may fare

At Hallowe’en.

And when they’ve toomed ilk heapit plate,

And a’ things are laid out o’ gate,

To ken their matrimonial mate,

The youngsters keen

Search a’ the dark decrees o’ fate

At Hallowe’en.

A’ things prepared in order due,

Gosh guide’s! what fearfu’ pranks ensue!

Some i’ the kiln-pat thraw a clew,

At whilk, bedene,

Their sweethearts by the far end pu’

At Hallowe’en.

Ithers, wi’ some uncanny gift,

In an auld barn a riddle lift,

Where, thrice pretending corn to sift,

Wi’ charms between,

Their joe appears, as white as drift,

At Hallowe’en.

But ’twere a langsome tale to tell

The gates o’ ilka charm and spell.

Ance, gaen to saw hampseed himsel,

Puir Jock Maclean,

Plump in a filthy peat-pot fell

At Hallowe’en.

Half filled wi’ fear, and droukit weel,

He frae the mire dught hardly speel;

But frae that time the silly chiel

Did never grien

To cast his cantrips wi’ the Deil

At Hallowe’en.

O Scotland! famed for scenes like this,

That thy sons walk where wisdom is,

Till death in everlasting bliss

Shall steek their e’en,

Will ever be the constant wish


Jockie Mein.