In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Robert Burns |
THE SUN had clos’d the winter day,
The curless quat their roarin play,
And hunger’d maukin taen her way,
To kail-yards green,
While faithless snaws ilk step betray
Whare she has been.
The thresher’s weary flingin-tree,
The lee-lang day had tired me;
And when the day had clos’d his e’e,
Far i’ the west,
Ben i’ the spence, right pensivelie,
I gaed to rest.
There, lanely by the ingle-cheek,
I sat and ey’d the spewing reek,
That fill’d, wi’ hoast-provoking smeek,
The auld clay biggin;
An’ heard the restless rattons squeak
About the riggin.
All in this mottie, misty clime,
I backward mus’d on wasted time,
How I had spent my youthfu’ prime,
An’ done nae thing,
But stringing blethers up in rhyme,
For fools to sing.
Had I to guid advice but harkit,
I might, by this, hae led a market,
Or strutted in a bank and clarkit
While here, half-mad, half-fed, half-sarkit.
Is a’ th’ amount.
I started, mutt’ring, “blockhead! coof!”
And heav’d on high my waukit loof,
To swear by a’ yon starry roof,
Or some rash aith,
That I henceforth wad be rhyme-proof
Till my last breath—
When click! the string the snick did draw;
An’ jee! the door gaed to the wa’;
An’ by my ingle-lowe I saw,
Now bleezin bright,
A tight, outlandish hizzie, braw,
Come full in sight.
Ye need na doubt, I held my whisht;
The infant aith, half-form’d, was crusht
I glowr’d as eerie’s I’d been dusht
In some wild glen;
When sweet, like honest Worth, she blusht,
An’ steppèd ben.
Green, slender, leaf-clad holly-boughs
Were twisted, gracefu’, round her brows;
I took her for some Scottish Muse,
By that same token;
And come to stop those reckless vows,
Would soon been broken.
A “hair-brain’d, sentimental trace”
Was strongly markèd in her face;
A wildly-witty, rustic grace
Shone full upon her;
Her eye, ev’n turn’d on empty space,
Beam’d keen with honour.
Down flow’d her robe, a tartan sheen,
Till half a leg was scrimply seen;
An’ such a leg! my bonie Jean
Could only peer it;
Sae straught, sae taper, tight an’ clean—
Nane else came near it.
Her mantle large, of greenish hue,
My gazing wonder chiefly drew:
Deep lights and shades, bold-mingling, threw
A lustre grand;
And seem’d, to my astonish’d view,
A well-known land.
Here, rivers in the sea were lost;
There, mountains to the skies were toss’t:
Here, tumbling billows mark’d the coast,
With surging foam;
There, distant shone Art’s lofty boast,
The lordly dome.
Here, Doon pour’d down his far-fetch’d floods;
There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds:
Auld hermit Ayr staw thro’ his woods,
On to the shore;
And many a lesser torrent scuds,
With seeming roar.
Low, in a sandy valley spread,
An ancient borough rear’d her head;
Still, as in Scottish story read,
She boasts a race
To ev’ry nobler virtue bred,
And polish’d grace. 2
By stately tow’r, or palace fair,
Or ruins pendent in the air,
Bold stems of heroes, here and there,
I could discern;
Some seem’d to muse, some seem’d to dare,
With feature stern.
My heart did glowing transport feel,
To see a race heroic 3 wheel,
And brandish round the deep-dyed steel,
In sturdy blows;
While, back-recoiling, seem’d to reel
Their Suthron foes.
His Country’s Saviour, 4 mark him well!
Bold Richardton’s heroic swell,; 5
The chief, on Sark who glorious fell, 6
In high command;
And he whom ruthless fates expel
His native land.
There, where a sceptr’d Pictish shade
Stalk’d round his ashes lowly laid, 7
I mark’d a martial race, pourtray’d
In colours strong:
Bold, soldier-featur’d, undismay’d,
They strode along.
Thro’ many a wild, romantic grove, 8
Near many a hermit-fancied cove
(Fit haunts for friendship or for love,
In musing mood),
An aged Judge, I saw him rove,
With deep-struck, reverential awe,
The learned Sire and Son I saw: 9
To Nature’s God, and Nature’s law,
They gave their lore;
This, all its source and end to draw,
That, to adore.
Brydon’s brave ward 10 I well could spy,
Beneath old Scotia’s smiling eye:
Who call’d on Fame, low standing by,
To hand him on,
Where many a patriot-name on high,
And hero shone.
DUAN SECONDWith musing-deep, astonish’d stare,
I view’d the heavenly-seeming Fair;
A whispering throb did witness bear
Of kindred sweet,
When with an elder sister’s air
She did me greet.
“All hail! my own inspired bard!
In me thy native Muse regard;
Nor longer mourn thy fate is hard,
Thus poorly low;
I come to give thee such reward,
As we bestow!
“Know, the great genius of this land
Has many a light aerial band,
Who, all beneath his high command,
As arts or arms they understand,
Their labours ply.
“They Scotia’s race among them share:
Some fire the soldier on to dare;
Some rouse the patriot up to bare
Some teach the bard—a darling care—
The tuneful art.
“’Mong swelling floods of reeking gore,
They, ardent, kindling spirits pour;
Or, ’mid the venal senate’s roar,
They, sightless, stand,
To mend the honest patriot-lore,
And grace the hand.
“And when the bard, or hoary sage,
Charm or instruct the future age,
They bind the wild poetric rage
Or point the inconclusive page
Full on the eye.
“Hence, Fullarton, the brave and young;
Hence, Dempster’s zeal-inspired tongue;
Hence, sweet, harmonious Beattie sung
His ’Minstrel lays’;
Or tore, with noble ardour stung,
The sceptic’s bays.
“To lower orders are assign’d
The humbler ranks of human-kind,
The rustic bard, the lab’ring hind,
All choose, as various they’re inclin’d,
The various man.
“When yellow waves the heavy grain,
The threat’ning storm some strongly rein;
Some teach to meliorate the plain
And some instruct the shepherd-train,
Blythe o’er the hill.
“Some hint the lover’s harmless wile;
Some grace the maiden’s artless smile;
Some soothe the lab’rer’s weary toil
For humble gains,
And make his cottage-scenes beguile
His cares and pains.
“Some, bounded to a district-space
Explore at large man’s infant race,
To mark the embryotic trace
Of rustic bard;
And careful note each opening grace,
A guide and guard.
“Of these am I—Coila my name:
And this district as mine I claim,
Where once the Campbells, chiefs of fame,
Held ruling power:
I mark’d thy embryo-tuneful flame,
Thy natal hour.
“With future hope I oft would gaze
Fond, on thy little early ways,
Thy rudely, caroll’d, chiming phrase,
In uncouth rhymes;
Fir’d at the simple, artless lays
Of other times.
“I saw thee seek the sounding shore,
Delighted with the dashing roar;
Or when the North his fleecy store
Drove thro’ the sky,
I saw grim Nature’s visage hoar
Struck thy young eye.
“Or when the deep green-mantled earth
Warm cherish’d ev’ry floweret’s birth,
And joy and music pouring forth
In ev’ry grove;
I saw thee eye the general mirth
With boundless love.
“When ripen’d fields and azure skies
Call’d forth the reapers’ rustling noise,
I saw thee leave their ev’ning joys,
And lonely stalk,
To vent thy bosom’s swelling rise,
In pensive walk.
“When youthful love, warm-blushing, strong,
Keen-shivering, shot thy nerves along,
Those accents grateful to thy tongue,
Th’ adorèd Name,
I taught thee how to pour in song,
To soothe thy flame.
“I saw thy pulse’s maddening play,
Wild send thee Pleasure’s devious way,
Misled by Fancy’s meteor-ray,
By passion driven;
But yet the light that led astray
Was light from Heaven.
“I taught thy manners-painting strains,
The loves, the ways of simple swains,
Till now, o’er all my wide domains
Thy fame extends;
And some, the pride of Coila’s plains,
Become thy friends.
“Thou canst not learn, nor I can show,
To paint with Thomson’s landscape glow;
Or wake the bosom-melting throe,
With Shenstone’s art;
Or pour, with Gray, the moving flow
Warm on the heart.
“Yet, all beneath th’ unrivall’d rose,
T e lowly daisy sweetly blows;
Tho’ large the forest’s monarch throws
His army shade,
Yet green the juicy hawthorn grows,
Adown the glade.
“Then never murmur nor repine;
Strive in thy humble sphere to shine;
And trust me, not Potosi’s mine,
Nor king’s regard,
Can give a bliss o’ermatching thine,
A rustic bard.
“To give my counsels all in one,
Thy tuneful flame still careful fan:
Preserve the dignity of Man,
With soul erect;
And trust the Universal Plan
Will all protect.
“And wear thou this”—she solemn said,
And bound the holly round my head:
The polish’d leaves and berries red
Did rustling play;
And, like a passing thought, she fled
In light away. [To Mrs. Stewart of Stair Burns presented a manuscript copy of the Vision. That copy embraces about twenty stanzas at the end of Duan First, which he cancelled when he came to print the price in his Kilmarnock volume. Seven of these he restored in printing his second edition, as noted on p. 174. The following are the verses which he left unpublished.]
Note 1. Duan, a term of Ossian’s for the different divisions of a digressive poem. See his Cath-Loda, vol. 2 of M’Pherson’s translation.—R. B. [back]
Note 2. The seven stanzas following this were first printed in the Edinburgh edition, 1787. Other stanzas, never published by Burns himself, are given on p. 180. [back]
Note 3. The Wallaces.—R. B. [back]
Note 4. William Wallace.—R. B. [back]
Note 5. Adam Wallace of Richardton, cousin to the immortal preserver of Scottish independence.—R. B. [back]
Note 6. Wallace, laird of Craigie, who was second in command under Douglas, Earl of Ormond, at the famous battle on the banks of Sark, fought anno 1448. That glorious victory was principally owing to the judicious conduct and intrepid valour of the gallant laird of Craigie, who died of his wounds after the action.—R. B. [back]
Note 7. Coilus, King of the Picts, from whom the district of Kyle is said to take its name, lies buried, as tradition says, near the family seat of the Montgomeries of Coilsfield, where his burial-place is still shown.—R. B. [back]
Note 8. Barskimming, the seat of the Lord Justice-Clerk.—R. B. [back]
Note 9. Catrine, the seat of the late Doctor and present Professor Stewart.—R. B. [back]
Robert Burns |
UPON that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans 2 dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the Cove, 3 to stray an’ rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night;
Amang the bonie winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear;
Where Bruce 4 ance rul’d the martial ranks,
An’ shook his Carrick spear;
Some merry, friendly, countra-folks
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an’ pou their stocks,
An’ haud their Halloween
Fu’ blythe that night.
The lasses feat, an’ cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they’re fine;
Their faces blythe, fu’ sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, an’ warm, an’ kin’:
The lads sae trig, wi’ wooer-babs
Weel-knotted on their garten;
Some unco blate, an’ some wi’ gabs
Gar lasses’ hearts gang startin
Whiles fast at night.
Then, first an’ foremost, thro’ the kail,
Their stocks 5 maun a’ be sought ance;
They steek their een, and grape an’ wale
For muckle anes, an’ straught anes.
Poor hav’rel Will fell aff the drift,
An’ wandered thro’ the bow-kail,
An’ pou’t for want o’ better shift
A runt was like a sow-tail
Sae bow’t that night.
Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar an’ cry a’ throu’ther;
The vera wee-things, toddlin, rin,
Wi’ stocks out owre their shouther:
An’ gif the custock’s sweet or sour,
Wi’ joctelegs they taste them;
Syne coziely, aboon the door,
Wi’ cannie care, they’ve plac’d them
To lie that night.
The lassies staw frae ’mang them a’,
To pou their stalks o’ corn; 6
But Rab slips out, an’ jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippit Nelly hard and fast:
Loud skirl’d a’ the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
Whan kiutlin in the fause-house 7
Wi’ him that night.
The auld guid-wife’s weel-hoordit nits 8
Are round an’ round dividend,
An’ mony lads an’ lasses’ fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle couthie side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa wi’ saucy pride,
An’ jump out owre the chimlie
Fu’ high that night.
Jean slips in twa, wi’ tentie e’e;
Wha ’twas, she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, an’ this is me,
She says in to hersel’:
He bleez’d owre her, an’ she owre him,
As they wad never mair part:
Till fuff! he started up the lum,
An’ Jean had e’en a sair heart
To see’t that night.
Poor Willie, wi’ his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi’ primsie Mallie;
An’ Mary, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compar’d to Willie:
Mall’s nit lap out, wi’ pridefu’ fling,
An’ her ain fit, it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
’Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.
Nell had the fause-house in her min’,
She pits hersel an’ Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they’re sobbin:
Nell’s heart was dancin at the view;
She whisper’d Rob to leuk for’t:
Rob, stownlins, prie’d her bonie mou’,
Fu’ cozie in the neuk for’t,
Unseen that night.
But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell:
She lea’es them gashin at their cracks,
An’ slips out-by hersel’;
She thro’ the yard the nearest taks,
An’ for the kiln she goes then,
An’ darklins grapit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue 9 throws then,
Right fear’t that night.
An’ ay she win’t, an’ ay she swat—
I wat she made nae jaukin;
Till something held within the pat,
Good L—d! but she was quaukin!
But whether ’twas the deil himsel,
Or whether ’twas a bauk-en’,
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did na wait on talkin
To spier that night.
Wee Jenny to her graunie says,
“Will ye go wi’ me, graunie?
I’ll eat the apple at the glass, 10
I gat frae uncle Johnie:”
She fuff’t her pipe wi’ sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap’rin,
She notic’t na an aizle brunt
Her braw, new, worset apron
Out thro’ that night.
“Ye little skelpie-limmer’s face!
I daur you try sic sportin,
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune:
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
An’ liv’d an’ died deleerit,
On sic a night.
“Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
I mind’t as weel’s yestreen—
I was a gilpey then, I’m sure
I was na past fyfteen:
The simmer had been cauld an’ wat,
An’ stuff was unco green;
An’ eye a rantin kirn we gat,
An’ just on Halloween
It fell that night.
“Our stibble-rig was Rab M’Graen,
A clever, sturdy fallow;
His sin gat Eppie Sim wi’ wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, 11 I mind it weel,
An’he made unco light o’t;
But mony a day was by himsel’,
He was sae sairly frighted
That vera night.”
Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,
An’ he swoor by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a’ but nonsense:
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
An’ out a handfu’ gied him;
Syne bad him slip frae’ mang the folk,
Sometime when nae ane see’d him,
An’ try’t that night.
He marches thro’ amang the stacks,
Tho’ he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks,
An’ haurls at his curpin:
And ev’ry now an’ then, he says,
“Hemp-seed I saw thee,
An’ her that is to be my lass
Come after me, an’ draw thee
As fast this night.”
He wistl’d up Lord Lennox’ March
To keep his courage cherry;
Altho’ his hair began to arch,
He was sae fley’d an’ eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
An’ then a grane an’ gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
An’ tumbled wi’ a wintle
Out-owre that night.
He roar’d a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu’ desperation!
An’ young an’ auld come rinnin out,
An’ hear the sad narration:
He swoor ’twas hilchin Jean M’Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie—
Till stop! she trotted thro’ them a’;
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!
Meg fain wad to the barn gaen,
To winn three wechts o’ naething; 12
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
An’ twa red cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That vera night.
She turns the key wi’ cannie thraw,
An’owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca’,
Syne baudly in she enters:
A ratton rattl’d up the wa’,
An’ she cry’d Lord preserve her!
An’ ran thro’ midden-hole an’ a’,
An’ pray’d wi’ zeal and fervour,
Fu’ fast that night.
They hoy’t out Will, wi’ sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanc’d the stack he faddom’t thrice 13
Was timmer-propt for thrawin:
He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak
For some black, grousome carlin;
An’ loot a winze, an’ drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin
Aff’s nieves that night.
A wanton widow Leezie was,
As cantie as a kittlen;
But och! that night, amang the shaws,
She gat a fearfu’ settlin!
She thro’ the whins, an’ by the cairn,
An’ owre the hill gaed scrievin;
Whare three lairds’ lan’s met at a burn, 14
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.
Whiles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As thro’ the glen it wimpl’t;
Whiles round a rocky scar it strays,
Whiles in a wiel it dimpl’t;
Whiles glitter’d to the nightly rays,
Wi’ bickerin’, dancin’ dazzle;
Whiles cookit undeneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel
Unseen that night.
Amang the brachens, on the brae,
Between her an’ the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up an’ ga’e a croon:
Poor Leezie’s heart maist lap the hool;
Near lav’rock-height she jumpit,
But mist a fit, an’ in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi’ a plunge that night.
In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies 15 three are ranged;
An’ ev’ry time great care is ta’en
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock’s joys
Sin’ Mar’s-year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heav’d them on the fire
In wrath that night.
Wi’ merry sangs, an’ friendly cracks,
I wat they did na weary;
And unco tales, an’ funnie jokes—
Their sports were cheap an’ cheery:
Till butter’d sowens, 16 wi’ fragrant lunt,
Set a’ their gabs a-steerin;
Syne, wi’ a social glass o’ strunt,
They parted aff careerin
Fu’ blythe that night.
Note 1. Is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the fairies, are said on that night to hold a grand anniversary.—R. B. [back]
Note 2. Certain little, romantic, rocky, green hills, in the neighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of Cassilis.—R.B. [back]
Note 3. A noted cavern near Colean house, called the Cove of Colean; which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is famed, in country story, for being a favorite haunt of fairies.—R. B. [back]
Note 4. The famous family of that name, the ancestors of Robert, the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of Carrick.—R. B. [back]
Note 5. The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each a “stock,” or plant of kail. They must go out, hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with: its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their spells-the husband or wife. If any “yird,” or earth, stick to the root, that is “tocher,” or fortune; and the taste of the “custock,” that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or, to give them their ordinary appellation, the “runts,” are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the Christian names of the people whom chance brings into the house are, according to the priority of placing the “runts,” the names in question.—R. B. [back]
Note 6. They go to the barnyard, and pull each, at three different times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wants the “top-pickle,” that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.—R. B. [back]
Note 7. When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being too green or wet, the stack-builder, by means of old timber, etc., makes a large apartment in his stack, with an opening in the side which is fairest exposed to the wind: this he calls a “fause-house.”—R. B. [back]
Note 8. Burning the nuts is a favorite charm. They name the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire; and according as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.—R. B. [back]
Note 9. Whoever would, with success, try this spell, must strictly observe these directions: Steal out, all alone, to the kiln, and darkling, throw into the “pot” a clue of blue yarn; wind it in a new clue off the old one; and, toward the latter end, something will hold the thread: demand, “Wha hauds?” i. e., who holds? and answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and surname of your future spouse.—R. B. [back]
Note 10. Take a candle and go alone to a looking-glass; eat an apple before it, and some traditions say you should comb your hair all the time; the face of your conjungal companion, to be, will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over your shoulder.—R. B. [back]
Note 11. Steal out, unperceived, and sow a handful of hemp-seed, harrowing it with anything you can conveniently draw after you. Repeat now and then: “Hemp-seed, I saw thee, hemp-seed, I saw thee; and him (or her) that is to be my true love, come after me and pou thee.” Look over your left shoulder, and you will see the appearance of the person invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Some traditions say, “Come after me and shaw thee,” that is, show thyself; in which case, it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing, and say: “Come after me and harrow thee.”—R. B. [back]
Note 12. This charm must likewise be performed unperceived and alone. You go to the barn, and open both doors, taking them off the hinges, if possible; for there is danger that the being about to appear may shut the doors, and do you some mischief. Then take that instrument used in winnowing the corn, which in our country dialect we call a “wecht,” and go through all the attitudes of letting down corn against the wind. Repeat it three times, and the third time an apparition will pass through the barn, in at the windy door and out at the other, having both the figure in question, and the appearance or retinue, marking the employment or station in life.—R. B. [back]
Note 13. Take an opportunity of going unnoticed to a “bear-stack,” and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time you will catch in your arms the appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow.—R. B. [back]
Note 14. Take an opportunity of going unnoticed to a “bear-stack,” and fathom it three times round. The last fathom of the last time you will catch in your arms the appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow.—R. B. [back]
Note 15. Take three dishes, put clean water in one, foul water in another, and leave the third empty; blindfold a person and lead him to the hearth where the dishes are ranged; he (or she) dips the left hand; if by chance in the clean water, the future (husband or) wife will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the arrangement of the dishes is altered.—R. B. [back]
Note 16. Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them, is always the Halloween Supper.—R. B. [back]
Henry Lawson |
It was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went,
For you sought the greener patches and you travelled like a gent;
And you curse the trams and buses and the turmoil and the push,
Though you know the squalid city needn't keep you from the bush;
But we lately heard you singing of the `plains where shade is not',
And you mentioned it was dusty -- `all was dry and all was hot'.
True, the bush `hath moods and changes' -- and the bushman hath 'em, too,
For he's not a poet's dummy -- he's a man, the same as you;
But his back is growing rounder -- slaving for the absentee --
And his toiling wife is thinner than a country wife should be.
For we noticed that the faces of the folks we chanced to meet
Should have made a greater contrast to the faces in the street;
And, in short, we think the bushman's being driven to the wall,
And it's doubtful if his spirit will be `loyal thro' it all'.
Though the bush has been romantic and it's nice to sing about,
There's a lot of patriotism that the land could do without --
Sort of BRITISH WORKMAN nonsense that shall perish in the scorn
Of the drover who is driven and the shearer who is shorn,
Of the struggling western farmers who have little time for rest,
And are ruined on selections in the sheep-infested West;
Droving songs are very pretty, but they merit little thanks
From the people of a country in possession of the Banks.
And the `rise and fall of seasons' suits the rise and fall of rhyme,
But we know that western seasons do not run on schedule time;
For the drought will go on drying while there's anything to dry,
Then it rains until you'd fancy it would bleach the sunny sky --
Then it pelters out of reason, for the downpour day and night
Nearly sweeps the population to the Great Australian Bight.
It is up in Northern Queensland that the seasons do their best,
But it's doubtful if you ever saw a season in the West;
There are years without an autumn or a winter or a spring,
There are broiling Junes, and summers when it rains like anything.
In the bush my ears were opened to the singing of the bird,
But the `carol of the magpie' was a thing I never heard.
Once the beggar roused my slumbers in a shanty, it is true,
But I only heard him asking, `Who the blanky blank are you?'
And the bell-bird in the ranges -- but his `silver chime' is harsh
When it's heard beside the solo of the curlew in the marsh.
Yes, I heard the shearers singing `William Riley', out of tune,
Saw 'em fighting round a shanty on a Sunday afternoon,
But the bushman isn't always `trapping brumbies in the night',
Nor is he for ever riding when `the morn is fresh and bright',
And he isn't always singing in the humpies on the run --
And the camp-fire's `cheery blazes' are a trifle overdone;
We have grumbled with the bushmen round the fire on rainy days,
When the smoke would blind a bullock and there wasn't any blaze,
Save the blazes of our language, for we cursed the fire in turn
Till the atmosphere was heated and the wood began to burn.
Then we had to wring our blueys which were rotting in the swags,
And we saw the sugar leaking through the bottoms of the bags,
And we couldn't raise a chorus, for the toothache and the cramp,
While we spent the hours of darkness draining puddles round the camp.
Would you like to change with Clancy -- go a-droving? tell us true,
For we rather think that Clancy would be glad to change with you,
And be something in the city; but 'twould give your muse a shock
To be losing time and money through the foot-rot in the flock,
And you wouldn't mind the beauties underneath the starry dome
If you had a wife and children and a lot of bills at home.
Did you ever guard the cattle when the night was inky-black,
And it rained, and icy water trickled gently down your back
Till your saddle-weary backbone fell a-aching to the roots
And you almost felt the croaking of the bull-frog in your boots --
Sit and shiver in the saddle, curse the restless stock and cough
Till a squatter's irate dummy cantered up to warn you off?
Did you fight the drought and pleuro when the `seasons' were asleep,
Felling sheoaks all the morning for a flock of starving sheep,
Drinking mud instead of water -- climbing trees and lopping boughs
For the broken-hearted bullocks and the dry and dusty cows?
Do you think the bush was better in the `good old droving days',
When the squatter ruled supremely as the king of western ways,
When you got a slip of paper for the little you could earn,
But were forced to take provisions from the station in return --
When you couldn't keep a chicken at your humpy on the run,
For the squatter wouldn't let you -- and your work was never done;
When you had to leave the missus in a lonely hut forlorn
While you `rose up Willy Riley' -- in the days ere you were born?
Ah! we read about the drovers and the shearers and the like
Till we wonder why such happy and romantic fellows strike.
Don't you fancy that the poets ought to give the bush a rest
Ere they raise a just rebellion in the over-written West?
Where the simple-minded bushman gets a meal and bed and rum
Just by riding round reporting phantom flocks that never come;
Where the scalper -- never troubled by the `war-whoop of the push' --
Has a quiet little billet -- breeding rabbits in the bush;
Where the idle shanty-keeper never fails to make a draw,
And the dummy gets his tucker through provisions in the law;
Where the labour-agitator -- when the shearers rise in might --
Makes his money sacrificing all his substance for The Right;
Where the squatter makes his fortune, and `the seasons rise and fall',
And the poor and honest bushman has to suffer for it all;
Where the drovers and the shearers and the bushmen and the rest
Never reach the Eldorado of the poets of the West.
And you think the bush is purer and that life is better there,
But it doesn't seem to pay you like the `squalid street and square'.
Pray inform us, City Bushman, where you read, in prose or verse,
Of the awful `city urchin who would greet you with a curse'.
There are golden hearts in gutters, though their owners lack the fat,
And we'll back a teamster's offspring to outswear a city brat.
Do you think we're never jolly where the trams and buses rage?
Did you hear the gods in chorus when `Ri-tooral' held the stage?
Did you catch a ring of sorrow in the city urchin's voice
When he yelled for Billy Elton, when he thumped the floor for Royce?
Do the bushmen, down on pleasure, miss the everlasting stars
When they drink and flirt and so on in the glow of private bars?
You've a down on `trams and buses', or the `roar' of 'em, you said,
And the `filthy, dirty attic', where you never toiled for bread.
(And about that self-same attic -- Lord! wherever have you been?
For the struggling needlewoman mostly keeps her attic clean.)
But you'll find it very jolly with the cuff-and-collar push,
And the city seems to suit you, while you rave about the bush.
. . . . .
You'll admit that Up-the Country, more especially in drought,
Isn't quite the Eldorado that the poets rave about,
Yet at times we long to gallop where the reckless bushman rides
In the wake of startled brumbies that are flying for their hides;
Long to feel the saddle tremble once again between our knees
And to hear the stockwhips rattle just like rifles in the trees!
Long to feel the bridle-leather tugging strongly in the hand
And to feel once more a little like a native of the land.
And the ring of bitter feeling in the jingling of our rhymes
Isn't suited to the country nor the spirit of the times.
Let us go together droving, and returning, if we live,
Try to understand each other while we reckon up the div.
William Butler Yeats |
Shakespearean fish swam the sea, far away from land;
Romantic fish swam in nets coming to the hand;
What are all those fish that lie gasping on the strand?
William Butler Yeats |
What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman's rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You'd cry, 'Some woman's yellow hair
Has maddened every mother's son':
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they're dead and gone,
They're with O'Leary in the grave.
Thomas Hardy |
When of tender mind and body
I was moved by minstrelsy,
And that strain "The Bridge of Lodi"
Brought a strange delight to me.
In the battle-breathing jingle
Of its forward-footing tune
I could see the armies mingle,
And the columns cleft and hewn
On that far-famed spot by Lodi
Where Napoleon clove his way
To his fame, when like a god he
Bent the nations to his sway.
Hence the tune came capering to me
While I traced the Rhone and Po;
Nor could Milan's Marvel woo me
From the spot englamoured so.
And to-day, sunlit and smiling,
Here I stand upon the scene,
With its saffron walls, dun tiling,
And its meads of maiden green,
Even as when the trackway thundered
With the charge of grenadiers,
And the blood of forty hundred
Splashed its parapets and piers . . .
Any ancient crone I'd toady
Like a lass in young-eyed prime,
Could she tell some tale of Lodi
At that moving mighty time.
So, I ask the wives of Lodi
For traditions of that day;
But alas! not anybody
Seems to know of such a fray.
And they heed but transitory
Marketings in cheese and meat,
Till I judge that Lodi's story
Is extinct in Lodi's street.
Yet while here and there they thrid them
In their zest to sell and buy,
Let me sit me down amid them
And behold those thousands die . . .
- Not a creature cares in Lodi
How Napoleon swept each arch,
Or where up and downward trod he,
Or for his memorial March!
So that wherefore should I be here,
Watching Adda lip the lea,
When the whole romance to see here
Is the dream I bring with me?
And why sing "The Bridge of Lodi"
As I sit thereon and swing,
When none shows by smile or nod he
Guesses why or what I sing? . . .
Since all Lodi, low and head ones,
Seem to pass that story by,
It may be the Lodi-bred ones
Rate it truly, and not I.
Once engrossing Bridge of Lodi,
Is thy claim to glory gone?
Must I pipe a palinody,
Or be silent thereupon?
And if here, from strand to steeple,
Be no stone to fame the fight,
Must I say the Lodi people
Are but viewing crime aright?
Nay; I'll sing "The Bridge of Lodi" -
That long-loved, romantic thing,
Though none show by smile or nod he
Guesses why and what I sing!
Thomas Hardy |
Since Reverend Doctors now declare
That clerks and people must prepare
To doubt if Adam ever were;
To hold the flood a local scare;
To argue, though the stolid stare,
That everything had happened ere
The prophets to its happening sware;
That David was no giant-slayer,
Nor one to call a God-obeyer
In certain details we could spare,
But rather was a debonair
Shrewd bandit, skilled as banjo-player:
That Solomon sang the fleshly Fair,
And gave the Church no thought whate'er;
That Esther with her royal wear,
And Mordecai, the son of Jair,
And Joshua's triumphs, Job's despair,
And Balaam's ass's bitter blare;
And Daniel and the den affair,
And other stories rich and rare,
Were writ to make old doctrine wear
Something of a romantic air:
That the Nain widow's only heir,
And Lazarus with cadaverous glare
(As done in oils by Piombo's care)
Did not return from Sheol's lair:
That Jael set a fiendish snare,
That Pontius Pilate acted square,
That never a sword cut Malchus' ear
And (but for shame I must forbear)
That -- -- did not reappear! . . .
- Since thus they hint, nor turn a hair,
All churchgoing will I forswear,
And sit on Sundays in my chair,
And read that moderate man Voltaire.
George (Lord) Byron |
When Friendship or Love
Our sympathies move;
When Truth, in a glance, should appear,
The lips may beguile,
With a dimple or smile,
But the test of affection's a Tear:
Too oft is a smile
But the hypocrite's wile,
To mask detestation, or fear;
Give me the soft sigh,
Whilst the soultelling eye
Is dimm'd, for a time, with a Tear:
Mild Charity's glow,
To us mortals below,
Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
Compassion will melt,
Where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear:
The man, doom'd to sail
With the blast of the gale,
Through billows Atlantic to steer,
As he bends o'er the wave
Which may soon be his grave,
The green sparkles bright with a Tear;
The Soldier braves death
For a fanciful wreath
In Glory's romantic career;
But he raises the foe
When in battle laid low,
And bathes every wound with a Tear.
If, with high-bounding pride,
He return to his bride!
Renouncing the gore-crimson'd spear;
All his toils are repaid
When, embracing the maid,
From her eyelid he kisses the Tear.
Sweet scene of my youth!
Seat of Friendship and Truth,
Where Love chas'd each fast-fleeting year
Loth to leave thee, I mourn'd,
For a last look I turn'd,
But thy spire was scarce seen through a Tear:
Though my vows I can pour,
To my Mary no more,
My Mary, to Love once so dear,
In the shade of her bow'r,
I remember the hour,
She rewarded those vows with a Tear.
By another possest,
May she live ever blest!
Her name still my heart must revere:
With a sigh I resign,
What I once thought was mine,
And forgive her deceit with a Tear.
Ye friends of my heart,
Ere from you I depart,
This hope to my breast is most near:
If again we shall meet,
In this rural retreat,
May we meet, as we part, with a Tear.
When my soul wings her flight
To the regions of night,
And my corse shall recline on its bier;
As ye pass by the tomb,
Where my ashes consume,
Oh! moisten their dust with a Tear.
George (Lord) Byron |
Ye scenes of my childhood, whose lov'd recollection
Embitters the present, compar'd with the past;
Where science first dawn'd on the powers of reflection,
And friendships were form'd, too romantic to last;
Where fancy, yet, joys to retrace the resemblance
Of comrades, in friendship and mischief allied;
How welcome to me your ne'er fading remembrance,
Which rests in the bosom, though hope is deny'd!
Again I revisit the hills where we sported,
The streams where we swam, and the fields where we fought;
The school where, loud warn'd by the bell, we resorted,
To pore o'er the precepts by Pedagogues taught.
Again I behold where for hours I have ponder'd,
As reclining, at eve, on yon tombstone I lay;
Or round the steep brow of the churchyard I wander'd,
To catch the last gleam of the sun's setting ray.
I once more view the room, with spectators surrounded,
Where, as Zanga, I trod on Alonzo o'erthrown;
While, to swell my young pride, such applauses resounded,
I fancied that Mossop himself was outshone.
Or, as Lear, I pour'd forth the deep imprecation,
By my daughters, of kingdom and reason depriv'd;
Till, fir'd by loud plaudits and self-adulation,
I regarded myself as a Garrick reviv'd.
Ye dreams of my boyhood, how much I regret you!
Unfaded your memory dwells in my breast;
Though sad and deserted, I ne'er can forget you:
Your pleasures may still be in fancy possest.
To Ida full oft may remembrance restore me,
While Fate shall the shades of the future unroll!
Since Darkness o'ershadows the prospect before me,
More dear is the beam of the past to my soul!
But if, through the course of the years which await me,
Some new scene of pleasure should open to view,
I will say, while with rapture the thought shall elate me,
Oh! such were the days which my infancy knew.