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

Caller Water

Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)

WHAN father Adie first pat spade in

The bonny yeard of antient Eden,

His amry had nae liquor laid in,

To fire his mou’,

Nor did he thole his wife’s upbraidin’

For being fou.

A caller burn o’ siller sheen,

Ran cannily out o’er the green,

And whan our gutcher’s drouth had been

To bide right sair,

He loutit down and drank bedeen

A dainty skair.

His bairns a’ before the flood

Had langer tack o’ flesh and blood,

And on mair pithy shanks they stood

Than Noah’s line

Wha still hae been a feckless brood

Wi’ drinking wine.

The fuddlin’ Bardies now-a-days

Rin maukin-mad in Bacchus’ praise,

And limp and stoiter thro’ their lays


While each his sea of wine displays

As big’s the Pontic.

My muse will no gang far frae hame,

Or scour a’ airths to hound for fame;

In troth, the jillet ye might blame

For thinking on’t,

Whan eithly she can find the theme

Of aqua font.

This is the name that doctors use

Their patient noddles to confuse;

Wi’ simples clad in terms abstruse,

They labour still,

In kittle words to gar you roose

Their want o’ skill.

But we’ll hae nae sick clitter-clatter,

And briefly to expound the matter,

It shall be ca’d good Caller Water,

Than whilk, I trow,

Few drogs in doctors’ shops are better

For me or you.

Tho’ joints are stiff as ony rung,

Your pith wi’ pain be fairly dung,

Be you in Caller Water flung

Out o’er the lugs,

’Twill mak you souple, swack and young,

Withouten drugs.

Tho’ cholic or the heart-scad teaze us,

Or ony inward pain should seize us,

It masters a’ sic fell diseases

That would ye spulzie,

And brings them to a canny crisis

Wi’ little tulzie.

Wer’t na for it the bonny lasses

Would glowr nae mair in keeking glasses,

And soon tine dint o’ a’ the graces

That aft conveen

In gleefu’ looks and bonny faces,

To catch our ein.

The fairest then might die a maid,

And Cupid quit his shooting trade,

For wha thro’ clarty masquerade

Could than discover,

Whether the features under shade

Were worth a lover?

As simmer rains bring simmer flow’rs

And leaves to cleed the birken bowers,

Sae beauty gets by caller show’rs,

Sae rich a bloom

As for estate, or heavy dow’rs

Aft stands in room.

What makes Auld Reikie’s dames sae fair,

It canna be the halesome air,

But caller burn beyond compare,

The best of ony,

That gars them a’ sic graces skair,

And blink sae bonny.

On May-day in a fairy ring,

We’ve seen them round St. Anthon’s spring,

Frae grass the caller dew draps wring,

To weet their ein,

And water clear as chrystal spring,

To synd them clean.

O may they still pursue the way

To look sae feat, sae clean, sae gay!

Then shall their beauties glance like May,

And, like her, be

The goddess of the vocal spray,

The Muse, and me.