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At sunrise they leap
From their cradles steep
At noontide they flow
Through the woods below,
And at night they sleep
In the rocking deep
Like spirits that lie
In the azure sky,
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT..
INSCRIBED TO ROBERT AIKEN, ESQ.
My loved, my honored, much respected friend!
No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride I scorn each selfish end :
My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise : To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequestered scene; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
What Aiken in a cottage would have been ; Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The shortening winter-day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh,
The blackening trains o craws to their repose :
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
The toil-worn cotter frae his labor
goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary o'er the moor his course does homeward
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree; Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin', stacher thro'
To meet their dad, wi' Aichterin' noise and glee. His wee bit ingle, blinkin' bonnily,
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does all his weary, karking care beguile, An' makes him quite forget his labor an' his toil.
Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out, among the farmers roun' ; Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neebor town:
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e, Comes hame, perhaps, to show a braw new gown,
Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee,
With joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet,
An each for other's welfare kindly spiers : The social hours, swift-winged, unnoticed fleet;
Each tells the unco's that he sees or hears ; The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years ;
Anticipation forward points the view. The mother, wi' her needle an' her shears,
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel 's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.
Their master's an' their mistress's command
The younkers a' are warned to obey ; And mind their labors wi' an eydent hand,
An' ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play: “ And, O, be sure to fear the Lord alway!
And mind your duty, duly, morn and night! Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Imp!ore his counsel and assisting might: They never sought in vain, that sought the Lord
aright! But, hark! a rap comes gently to the door ;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious fame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and Aush her cheek; With heart-struck, anxious care inquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak; Weel pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild, worth
less rake. Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben;
A strappan youth ; he takes the mother's eye; Blythe Jenny sees the visit 's no ill-ta’en;
The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye. The youngster's artless heart o’erflows with joy,
But blate and laithfu', scarce can weel behave; The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy
What makes the youth sae bashfu'and sae grave; Weel pleased to think her bairn 's respected like the
lave. O happy love, where love like this is found!
O heart-felt raptures ! bliss beyond compare ! I've pacèd much this weary, mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare:
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
u If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
One cordial, in this melancholy vale, "T is when a youthful, loving, modest pair,
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale, Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening
Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,
A wretch ! a villain ! lost to love and truth !That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth ? Curse on his perjured arts ! dissembling smooth !
Are honor, virtue, conscience, all exiled ? Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child, Then paints the ruined maid, and their distraction
wild? But now the supper crowns their simple board,
The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food; The
soup their only hawkie does afford, That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood : The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
To grace the lad, her weel-hained kebbuck fell, An' aft he 's pressed, an' aft he ca's it guid;
The frugal wifie garrulous will tell,
They round the ingle form a circle wide ;
The big ha’-Bible, ance his father's pride; His bonnet reverently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare ; Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care ; And “Let us worship God !” he says, with solemn
They chant their artless notes in simple guise ;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim; Perhaps Dundee's” wild-warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive “ Martyrs,” worthy of the name ; Or noble “ Elgin ” beats the heavenward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays: Compared with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickled ear no heart-felt raptures raise ; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high ; Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny ; Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire, Or Job's pathetic plaint and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire ;
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; How He, who bore in heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay his head ; How his first followers and servants sped,
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land; How he who lone in Patmos banished
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand, And heard great Babylon's doom pronounced by
Then kneeling down, to heaven's eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays: Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,"
That thus they all shall meet in future days;