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That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was nae sober ;
That ilka melder, wi' the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller ;
That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on;
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
That at the L-d's house, ev'n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirton Jean till Monday.
She prophesy'd, that late or soon,
Thou would be found deep drown'd in Doon;
Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how.mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises !
But to our tale: Ae market night,
Tam had got planted unco right;
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, souter Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;
Tam lo’ed him like a vera brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither.
The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter:
And ay the ale was growing better :
The landlady and Tam grew gracious ;
Wi' favours, secret, sweet, and precious :
The souter tauld his queerest stories;
The landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair and rustle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E’en drown'd himself
nappy; As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure, The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed ! Or like the snow-falls in the river, A moment white-then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That fit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm.Nae man can tether time or tide; The hour approaches Tam maun ride; That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in, As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in. The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last; The rattlin show'rs rose on the blast: The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd; That night, a child might understand, The deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg, A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares ;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry~
By this time he was cross the ford,
Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor’d;
And past the birks and meikle stane,
Whare drunken Charlie brak 's neck-bane;
And thro' the whins, and by the cairn,
Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel.-
Before him Doon pours all his floods;
The doubling storm roars thro' the woods !
The lightnings flash from pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll;
When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze;
Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing;
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.-
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil;
Wi' usquabae we'll face the devil!
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle,
Fair play, he card na deils a boddle.
But Maggie stood right sair astonish'd,
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd,
She ventur'd forward on the light;
And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillion brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunker in the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.-
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses;
And by some devilish cantrip slight,
Each in its cauld hand held a light,
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns ;
Twa span-lang, wee unchristend bairns;
A thief new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape :
Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red-rusted;
Five scimitars wi' murder crusted;
A garter, which a babe had strangled;
A knife, a father's throat had mangled,
Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
The gray hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi' mair o horrible and awfu',
Which ev'n to name wad be unlawfu'.
As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The piper loud and louder blew;
The dancers quick and quicker flew;
They reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And coost her duddies to the wark,
And linket at it in her sark!
Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans A' plump and strapping, in their teens ; Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! Thir breeks o'mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair, I wad hae gi’en them off my
hurdies! For ae blink o' the bonnie burdies !
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,
Lowping and flinging on a crummock,
I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
But Tam kenn'd what was what fu' brawlie,
There was ae winsome wench and walie,
That night inlisted in the core,
(Lang after kenn'd on Carrick shore!
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perish'd mony a bonnie boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear)