Home  »  The Book of Georgian Verse  »  Sir John Clerk (1676–1755)

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

O Merry May the Maid Be

Sir John Clerk (1676–1755)

O MERRY may the maid be

That marries wi’ the miller,

For, foul day and fair day,

He’s aye bringing till her,—

Has aye a penny in his purse

For dinner or for supper;

And, gin she please, a good fat cheese

And lumps of yellow butter.

When Jamie first did woo me

I speir’d what was his calling;

‘Fair maid,’ says he, ‘O come and see,

Ye’re welcome to my dwalling,’

Though I was shy, yet could I spy

The truth o’ what he told me,

And that his house was warm and couth,

And room in it to hold me.

Behind the door a bag o’ meal,

And in the kist was plenty

O’ guid hard cakes his mither bakes,

And bannocks werena scanty.

A guid fat sow, a sleeky cow

Was standing in the byre,

Whilst lazy puss with mealy mouse

Was playing at the fire.

Guid signs are these, my mither says,

And bids me tak’ the miller;

For, foul day and fair day,

He’s aye bringing till her:

For meal and maut she doesna want,

Nor anything that’s dainty;

And now and then a keckling hen,

To lay her eggs in plenty.

In winter, when the wind and rain

Blaws o’er the house and byre,

He sits beside a clean hearth-stane,

Before a rousing fire.

With nut-brown ale he tells his tale,

Which rows him o’er fu’ nappy:—

Wha’d be a king—a petty thing,

When a miller lives so happy?