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

To the Tron-Kirk Bell

Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)

WANWORDY, crazy, dinsome thing,

As e’er was fram’d to jow or ring,

What gar’d them sic in steeple hing

They ken themsel’,

But weel wat I they couldna bring

War sounds frae hell.

What de’il are ye? that I should bann,

Your neither kin to pat nor pan;

Nor ugly pig, nor maister-cann,

But weel may gie

Mair pleasure to the ear o’ man

Than stroke o’ thee.

Fleece merchants may look bald, I trow,

Since a’ Auld Reikie’s childer now

Maun stap their lugs wi’ teats o’ woo,

Thy sound to bang,

And keep it frae gawn thro’ and thro’

Wi’ jarrin’ twang.

Your noisy tongue, there’s nae abideint:

Like scaulding wife’s, there is nae guideint:

Whan I’m ’bout ony bus’ness eident,

It’s sair to thole;

To deave me, than, ye tak’ a pride in’t

Wi’ senseless knoll.

O! war I provost o’ the town,

I swear by a’ the pow’rs aboon,

I’d bring ye wi’ a reesle down;

Nor shud you think

(Sae sair I’d crack and clour your crown)

Again to clink.

For whan I’ve toom’d the muckle cap,

An’ fain wad fa’ owr in a nap,

Troth I could doze as soun’s a tap,

Wer’t na for thee,

That gies the tither weary chap

To waukin me.

I dreamt ae night I saw Auld Nick;

Quo he, ‘this bell o’ mine’s a trick,

A wylie piece o’ politic,

A cunnin’ snare

To trap fock in a cloven stick,

Ere they’re aware.

‘As lang’s my dautit bell hings there,

A’ body at the kirk will skair;

Quo they, gif he that preaches there

Like it can wound,

We douna care a single hair

For joyfu’ sound.’

If magistrates wi’ me wud’ gree,

For ay tongue-tackit shud you be,

Nor fleg wi’ anti-melody

Sic honest fock,

Whase lugs were never made to dree

Thy doolfu’ shock.

But far frae thee the bailies dwell,

Or they wud scunner at your knell,

Gie the foul thief his riven bell,

And than, I trow,

The by-word hads, ‘the de’il himsel’

Has got his due.’