1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Ramsay

Alexander Wilson, in The Laurel Disputed (1791) 20-23.



In days whan Dryden sang ilk bonny morn,
An' Sandy Pope began to tune his horn,
Whan chiels round Lon'on chaunted a' fu' thrang,
But poor, cauld Scotlan' sat without a sang;
Droll Will Dunbar frae flyting than was freed,
An' Douglas too, an' Kennedy were dead,
An' nane were left, in hamely cracks to praise
Our ain sweet lasses, or our ain green braes.
Far aff our gentles for their poets flew,
An' scorn'd to own that lallan sangs they knew,
Till Ramsay raise. O blythsome, hearty days!
Whan Allan tun'd his chaunter on the braes!
Auld Reekie than frae blackest, darkest wa's
To richest rooms resounded his applause,
An' whan the nights were dreary, lang an' dark,
The beasts a' fothert an' the lads frae wark,
The lasses wheels, thrang birring round the ingle,
The ploughman borin wi' his brogs an' lingel,
The herds wires clicking owr the ha'f-wrought hose,
The auld Gudeman's een ha'flins like to close,
The Gentle Shepherd frae the bole was ta'en,
Than sleep I trow was banish'd frae their een,
The cankriest than was kittled up to daffin,
An' sides and chafts maist riven war wi' laughin.

Sic war the joys his cracks cou'd eith afford,
To Peer an' Ploughman, Barrowman or Lord,
In ilka clauchan wife, man, wean an' callan,
Cracket an' sang frae morn to e'en o' Allan.

Learn'd fouk that lang in colleges an' schools
Hae sooket learning to the vera hools,
An' think that naething charms the heart sae weel's
Lang cracks o' Gods, Greeks, Paradise, and Deils,
Their pows are cram't sae fu' o' lear an' art,
Plain, simple nature canna reach their heart;
But whare's the rustic, that can, readin', see
Sweet Peggy skiffin ow'r the dewy lee,
Or wishfu' stealing up the sunny howe
To gaze on Pate, laid sleeping on the knowe;
Or hear how Bauldy ventur'd to the deil,
How thrawn auld Carlines skelpit him afiel';
How Jude wi's hawk met Satan i' the moss;
How Skin-flint grain't his pocks o' goud to loss;
How bloody snouts an' bloody beards war gi'en
To smiths and clowns at Christ's kirk on the green;
How twa daft Herds wi' little sense or havings,
Din'd by the road — on honest Hawkie's leavings,
How Hab maist brak the priest's back wi' a rung;
How deathless Addie died, an' how he sung;
Whae'er can thae (o' mae I needna speak)
Read twenty ow'r at his ain ingle cheek,
An' no fin', something glowan thro' his blood,
That gars his een glowr thro' a siller flood,
May close the beuk, poor coof! and lift his spoon;
His heart's as hard's the tackets in his shoon.