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

The Daft Days

Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)

NOW mirk December’s dowie face

Glowrs owr the rigs wi’ sour grimace,

While, thro’ his minimum of space,

The bleer-ey’d sun,

Wi’ blinkin’ light and stealing pace,

His race doth run.

From naked groves nae birdie sings;

To shepherd’s pipe nae hillock rings;

The breeze nae od’rous flavour brings

From Borean cave;

And dwyning Nature droops her wings,

Wi’ visage grave.

Mankind but scanty pleasure glean

Frae snawy hill or barren plain,

Whan Winter, ’midst his nipping train,

Wi’ frozen spear,

Sends drift owr a’ his bleak domain,

And guides the weir.

Auld Reikie! thou’rt the canty hole,

A bield for mony a caldrife soul,

Wha snugly at thine ingle loll,

Baith warm and couth;

While round they gar the bicker roll

To weet their mouth.

When merry Yule-day comes, I trow,

You’ll scantlins find a hungry mou;

Sma’ are our cares, our stamacks fou

O’ gusty gear,

And kickshaws, strangers to our view,

Sin’ fairn-year.

Ye browster wives! now busk ye bra,

And fling your sorrows far awa’;

Then, come and gie’s the tither blaw

O’ reaming ale,

Mair precious than the Well of Spa,

Our hearts to heal.

Then, tho’ at odds wi’ a’ the warl’,

Amang oursells we’ll never quarrel;

Tho’ Discord gie a canker’d snarl

To spoil our glee,

As lang’s there’s pith into the barrel

We’ll drink and ’gree.

Fiddlers! your pins in temper fix,

And roset weel your fiddlesticks,

But banish vile Italian tricks

From out your quorum,

Nor fortes wi’ pianos mix—

Gie’s Tullochgorum.

For nought can cheer the heart sae weel

As can a canty Highland reel;

It even vivifies the heel

To skip and dance:

Lifeless is he wha canna feel

Its influence.

Let mirth abound; let social cheer

Invest the dawning of the year;

Let blithesome innocence appear

To crown our joy;

Nor envy, wi’ sarcastic sneer,

Our bliss destroy.

And thou, great god of aqua vitae!

Wha sways the empire of this city—

When fou we’re sometimes capernoity—

Be thou prepar’d

To hedge us frae that black banditti,

The City Guard.