These are poems that Nancy and I liked and I have selected some that had some meaning for us. Some are by well known poets and others by people we knew.
John Anderson my jo John
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld John,
Your locks are like the snaw,
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson my jo.
John Anderson my jo John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a cantie day John,
We’ve had wi’ ane anither,
Now we maun totter down John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson my jo.
This piece by Rupert Brooke 1887-1915 was admired by Nancy and I.
Breathless we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass,
You said, Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun and earth remain, the birds sing still
When we are old, are old, and when we die-
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips, said I,
“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won.”
We are earth’s best that learnt her lesson here,
Life is our cry, we have kept the faith we said,
We shall go down with unreluctant tread,
Rose crowned into the darkness; proud we were
And laughed that had such brave true things to say
And then you suddenly cried and turned away.
We write our names upon the sand,
Like children in an hour of play,
And build the castles of our dreams,
That vanish in the waves away,
The names engraven on the sands,
Endure the circle of the clock,
But one man in a million carves,
His name on solid rock.
Two pieces for children
Wee Willie Winkie---by Wm. Miller
Wee Willie Winkie rins through the town
Up stairs and doon stairs in his night gown.
Tirling at the window, crying at the lock,
Are the weans in their bed, for its now ten o’clock.
The Sair Finger. by Walter Wingate.
You’ve hurt your finger, puir wee man-
Your pinkie-deary me-
Noo, juist you haud it that wey till-
I get my specs and see-
My-so it is-and there’s the skelf-
Noo dinna greet nae mair-
See there-my needle’s gotten’t oot-
I’m sure that wisna sair-
And noo, to mak it hale the morn-
Put on a wee bit saw-
And tie a bonnie hankie roun’t-
Noo-there na- rin awa-
Your finger sair ana’ – ye rogue-
Ye’re only letting on-
Weel, Weel—then—see noo-there ye are—
Row’d up the same as John.
The Maister and the Bairns
The Maister sat in a wee cot hoose-
Tae the Jordan’s water near-
And the fisher folk crushed and an’ crooded roon-
The Maisters words tae hear-
An’ even the bairns frae the near haun streets-
War mixin’ wi’ the thrang—
Laddies and lassies wi’ wee bare feet—
Jinkin’ the crood amang-
An’ ane o’ the twal’ at the Maisters side
Rase up and cried alood-
“Come-come bairns this is nae place for you—
Rin awa’ hame oot o’ the crood-
But the Maister said as they turned awa’-
“Let the wee bairns come tae me”—
An’ he gaithered them roon him where he sat-
An’ lifted ane up on his knee-
Aye—he gaithered them roon him whaur he sat—
An’ straiked their curly hair-
An’ said tae the won’erin’ fisher folk-
That crooded roon him there-
Sen’ na the weans awa frae me-
But raither this lesson learn-
That nane’ll win in at Heaven’s yett—
That isna as puir as a bairn-
An’ he that wisna oor kith an’ kin-
But a prince o’ the far-awa-
Gaithered these wee yins in his airms-
An’ blessed them ane an’ a’-
O’ thou who watchest the ways o’ men—
Keep oor feet in the Heavenly airt-
An’ bring us at last tae thy hame above
As puir as the bairns in hert.
A Thought on the Modern Ploughman
Whit’s this I see before ma een
Ploughin’ done wi’ a big machine,
Nae horses noo atween the dreels
but noisy, ugly things on wheels,
The fermer sittin in a cab
stuffin’ yorkies in his gab,
An’ no ane dreel gets turned but three
an’ sometime four at times I see,
Nae silky curves o’ horses flank
tae look at jist a smelly tank,
Nae need o’ fodder--oats or hay
the monsters fed on oil they say,
The ploughman’s hands they never blister
unless frae haudin a transistor,
A box that spews oot sic a din
It seems tae me an awfu’ sin,
That natures sang frae thrush and lark,
Canny be heard when at their wark,
The barley rigs in days gone by,
Whaur Jean and I did aften lie
Are nae mair seen-and for the harvest,
Oot comes a monster for the worst.
As quick as a wink its cut an’ packit,
Intae things called bales and whit a rackit
Nae chance for the timourous beastie noo
This muckle thing could kill a coo,
An’ whit wid bonie Jean noo think,
If she could see the kitchen sink,
Nae widden tubs tae wash the claes
Or shiny steel range wi’ fire ablaze,
Everything works wi’ the flick o’ a switch
An’ fermers wives noo, are terribly rich.
She trevles noo, in her big shiny car
Tae play at the bools, she travels far,
Her ploughman mate dis a’ tae please her
An’ gets his dinner oot a freezer,
Men may be men but still they’re losers
‘Tis women noo that wear the troosers,
An’ lookin’ roon the yerd, ye ken
ye never see a single hen,
Scrapin’ aboot amang the straw
The puir wee things are shut awa’,
In cages whaur they lay their eggs
Until they fa’ doon aff their legs,
If this is progress I’m content
That tae god’s hame in heaven I went,
Tae leave them tae their fancy ferming
Its only they that they’ll be herming,
The deil will fill the idle hand,
Wi’ things that I can’t understand.
The Twenty Third Psalm
Wha is my shepherd weel I ken the Lord himsel is he,
He leads me whaur the girse is green an’ burnies quaet that be.
Aft times I fain astray wad gang an’ wanner far awa’
He fin’s me oot, he pits me richt an’ brings me hame an’ a’
Tho’ I pass through the gruesome cluegh fine I ken he’s near,
His muckle crook will me defend sae I hae nocht tae fear.
Ilk comfort whilk a sheep could need, his thouchful care provides
Tho’ wolves and dogs may prowl aboot in safety me he hides.
His guidness an’ his mercy baith Nae doot will bide wi’ me
While faulded on the fields o’ time or o’ eternity.
“The Land is the Lord’s” by Andrew Dodds.
Yae day as I gaed oot tae catch, a rabbit for a pie,
A keeper cam and took my name, and my address forby.
And then I had tae gang tae court, and stand afore the judge;
And when the charge was read tae me, I up and answered “Fudge”.
“The land”, says I, “It is the Lord’s, the rabbits and the hares
Ye’ll see it in the book “ says I, “It is ” says he, “Lord Stairs”.
Sae thirty days I got for that, In a cell as dark as mirk,
And when they let me oot, says they, “Noo, gaun and jine the kirk.
Weel, Cranston Kirk I gaed and jined, determined tae be guid;
Bit it looked as some perversity, still hankered in my blood.
Yae day the minister read oot, a bit between twa prayers;
“The land it is the Lord’s” says he, “It is” says I. “Lord Stairs”.
For that they put me oot the kirk, As I’d committed sin,
And for the other way aboot, the jile they put me in.
Breathes there a man,. With soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own my native land.
Whose heart has ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand.
If such their be breathe, go, mark him well,
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite these titles, power and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Livinshall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying shall go down,
To the vile dust from whence he sprung
Unwept unhonoured, and unsung.
My Lord did you forsake me when,
Delivered into hands of men
Their jaws did split and snap my limbs,
Their teeth tore and scourged my skin
Oh Father forgive these doubting cries,
Of this your tortured son
For father soon to you I’ll come
From this sad crucifixion hill.
And in celestrial forests safe,
May learn why man on earth must kill
Till then I shall endure the nails
And raise no more enquiring groans but one
Why must I share my fate of pain with this
The heavens above have ground to a standstill,
With the angels on strike and God on the panel.
All the earth’s bad guys get even more cruel,
Now the thunderbolt aimers are working to rule.
Can no saint halt the flow of our sins
Even some black-leg Cherubims
Oh never again religion I’d mock,
If the immortal unions came out of dead-lock,
But I guess its too late for them up a kye,
To work out a settlement before we all die,
So I’m hoping and praying before my death-knell
That auld Nick—the Devil—has a go slow in Hell.
THE LAST PRAYER OF A DYING TREE
My Father, must I suffer this grievous pain,
and know no reason why
If I could see my misery was to your gain
I’d bear it all with joy.
My Father, was I sinning there by yonder glade
Amid’ the multitude of green,
Did I not share enough my sustenance or shade,
Or beautify enough your scene.
My Father, was I by man alone betrayed,
Into a terror such as this
Or was the marking brush by your power led,
To paint on me the cross, the Judas Kiss.
Cuddle Doon-----by Alexander Anderson
The Bairnies cuddle doon at nicht, wi’ muckle faught an’ din-
Oh, try an’ sleep, ye waukrife rouges, your faithers comin in,
They never heed a word I speak—I try to gie a froon,
But aye I hap them up an’ cry, Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon.
Wee Jamie wi’ the curly heid, he aye sleeps neist the wa’,
Bangs up an’ cries, “I want a piece”, the rascal starts them a’
I rin an’ fetch them pieces, drinks, they stop awee the soun’
Then draw the blankets up an’ cry, “Noo, weanies, cuddle doon.
But ere five minutes gang, wee Rab, cries oot frae neath the claes,
Mither, mak Tam gie ower at ance, he’s kittlin’ wi’ his taes,
The mischief’s in that Tam for tricks, he’d bother half the toon,
But aye I hap them up and cry, Oh, bairnies cuddle doon.
At length they hear their faither’s fit, An’ as he steeks the door,
They turn their faces to the wa’ , while Tam pretends to snore,
Hae a’ the weans been guid? He asks, As he pits aff his shoon,
The Bairnies, John, are in their beds, An’ lang since cuddled doon.
An’ jist before we bed oorsels, We look at oor wee lambs,
Tam has his airm roun wee Rab’s neck, An’ Rab his airm roun Tam’s
I lift wee Jamie up the bed, An’ as I straik each croon
I whisper, till my he’rt fills up, Oh bairnies, cuddle doon.
The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht, Wi’ mirth that’s dear to me,
But soon the big warl’s cark an’ care, will quaten doon their glee,
Yet, come what will to ilka ane, May he who rules abune,
Aye whisper, though their pows be beld, Oh, bairnies, cuddle doon.
How good it is that God above, has never gone on strike
Because he was not treated fair, in things he didn’t like,
If only once he’d given up, and said, that’s it, I’m through,
I’ve had enough of those on earth, so this is what I’ll do.
I’ll give my orders to the Sun, Cut off the heat supply,
And to the Moon, give no more light, and run the oceans dry.
Then just to make things really tough, And put the pressure on,
Turn off the vital oxygen, till every breath is gone.
You know he would be justified, If fairness was the game,
For no one has been more abused, or met with more disdain.
Than God. And yet he carries on, supplying you and me,
With all the favours of his grace, And everything for free.
Men say they want a better deal, And so on strike they go,
But what a deal we’ve given God, To whom all things we owe,
We don’t care who we hurt to gain, all those things we like,
But what a mess we’d all be in, If God should go on strike.
The Indispenable Man
Sometimes when you’re feeling important,
Sometimes when your ego’s in bloom.
Sometimes when you feel you’re becoming,
The most important man in the room.
Sometimes when you feel that your going,
Would leave an un-fillable hole,
Just follow this simple instruction,
And see how it humbles your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it, up to the wrist,
Take it out and the space that is left
Is the measure by which you’ll be missed.
You may shake all about as you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop. And you’ll find in a minute,
That it’s just the same as before.
The moral of this is quite simple,
Aye do the best that you can,
But always be sure to remember,
There is NO indespensable man.
I’m noo arrived, thanks tae the Gods;
Through pathways, rough and muddy.
A certain sign that mak’n roads,
Is no this peoples study.
An’ though I’m no wi’ scripture cram’d,
I’m sure the guid book says,
That heedless sinners will be damned,
Who do not mend their ways.
Nostalgia of the Tenements
I saw a barefoot boy today, and memory sent me far away
To times and happenings long since past,
the sands o’ time are running fast.
As deep within my mind I see, A barefoot lad, that once was me.
Of folks and places a’ weel kent, Nostalgia of the tenement.
Twa wally dugs upon the brace, Maw—throw me ower a jeely piece
The jawbox where she scrubbed ma feet,
The pipeclay patterns on the street,
We little had o’ worldly wealth, A jeely pan upon the shelf,
A jug or twa at Chritmas sent, Nostalgia of the Tenement.
Milk cans rattlin’ at the dawn, The fender stool we a’ sat on,
The Monday ritual o’ the pawn,
Things and customs long since gone.
The jet black kettle on the hob, The dinner cover minus knob,
The auld zinc bath below the bed, the highland soldier made o’ lead
The next door neighbour auld and bent, Nostalgia of the tenement.
The day a’ won a hundred jorries, stolen rides on backs o’ lorries
A golliwog deprived o’ hair,
Doon the watter at the fair,
The lobby and the kitchen press, the blankets in the auld wid chest,
Things o’ childish sentiment, Nostalgia of the tenement.
The rumble o’ the Airdrie tram, A twa pun pot o’ rhubarb jam,
A card frae Flanders from the war,
Insurance money in the drawer.
Wax cloth polished oh so bright,The bathbrick used on Friday night,
A footprint in the new cement, Nostalgia of the tenement.
The built-in bed where four weans slept,
green bunker where the coal was kept,
The wee canary, bonny bird, that early in the morn was heard,
The dabbities that widna stick, the auld oil lamp, wi’ flick’ring wick,
Saturday penny, carefully spent, Nostalgia of the tenement
Hunch-cuddy-hunch & kick the can, the many barefoot miles we ran,
Peever, forfeits, gird and stick, release and moshie, take your pick,
These were our games of yesteryear, Little we knew of adult fear,
Ragged, maybe, but happy, content, Nostalgia of the tenement.
The clabber dancing, mouth piece bands, how many cards in my hand
The dykes, the jumps, the battered toes,
Climbs, adventures, tattered clothes,
Guesses at the sweetie shop, meetings at the tramway stop,
Patch sheets make a bonny tent, Nostalgia of the tenement.
Picnics at the cuddies park, Scurrie hame before the dark,
Ali bali, whose got the ball, Wickets chalked upon the wall
Fetch the rags for candy rock, A jumper or your faithers sock,
Eddie Polo, Pearl White, episode three on Thursday night,
Oh for the happy days well spent, Nostalgia of the tenement.
Nuts and apples, Halloween, dook for them, the bath is clean,
Ha’penny pea-brae, vinegar sour, George’s square, pinch a flower,
Carters, horses, heavy loads, jam the bredth o’ Parly road,
Wan, two three a leery, I want oot tae spin ma peerie,
The ship that sailed eely ally oh, a step for a hint I didn’t know,
Never a word of discontent, Nostalgia of the tenement.
Are you a Billie or a Dan, some bodies sent for the cruelty man,
Take your choice cock or hen, join the fitba’ team again,
And though we didn’t own a thing, some paper or a dawd o’ string
Would mak’ a baw, that we could boot, ‘til the Bobby made us scoot,
Up the closes, through the pend, Nostalgia of the tenement.
The car has disappeared for good, A car park where the chippy stood
The auld Toonheed, a windswept wreck, the tallies shop, a discoteque,
Now as I reach my final page, I look back on a bye-gone age.
And wish that once again could I, Hear ma Mithers goodnight cry,
“Ben the room and coorie doon” children o’ auld Glesca toon,
Close the book, ma juse is spent, Nostalgia of the tenement
Lament for James Earl of Glencairn
by Robert Burns
O’ why was worth so short a date,
when villains ripen grey with time,
Must thou, the Noble, gen’rous, great,
Fall in bold manhood’s hardy prime?
Why did I live to see that day,
A day to me so full of woe;
O, had I met the mortal shaft,
Which laid my benefactor low.
The Bridegroom may forget the Bride,
Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The Monarch may forget the crown,
That on his head an hour has been;
The Mother may forget the bairn,
That smiles sae sweetly on her knee,
But I’ll remember thee Glencairn,
And a’ that thou has done for me.
Stranger with a pile of luggage, proudly labelled for Portree
How I wish this night of August, I were you and you were me.
Think of all that lies before you, when the train goes sliding forth,
And the lines athwart the sunset, lead you swiftly to the north.
Think of breakfast at Kingussie, think of high Drumochter pass,
Scabious blue and yellow daisy, tender fern beside the train.
Rowdy Tummel falling, brawling, seen and lost and glimpsed again.
You will pass my golden roadway of the days of long ago;
You will realise the magic of the names I used to know.
Clachnaharry, Achnashellach, Achnasheen and Duirinish?
Every moor alive with coveys, every pool aboil with fish?
Every well remembered vista, more exciting mile by mile,
Till the wheeling gulls are screaming round the engine at the Kyle
Think of cloud on Bheinn na Cailleach, Jagged Cuchullins soaring high,
Scent of peat and all the glamour, of the misty Isle of Skye
I Leave Tonigh from Euston
I shall leave tonight from Euston, by the seven-thirty train,
And from Perth in the morning, I shall see the hills again.
From the top of Ben Macdhui I shall watch the gathering storm,
And see the crisp snow lying at the back of Cairngorm.
I shall feel the mist from Bhrotain, and pass by Lairig ghru,
To look on dark loch Eenich from the hights of Sgoran Dubh.
From the broken barns of BynackI shall see the sunrise gleam
On the forehead of Ben Piennes and Strathspey awake from dream
And again in the dusk of evening I shall find once more alone
The dark water of the green loch, and the pass beyond Ryvoan.
For tonight I leave from Euston, and leave the world behind,
Who has the hill as a lover, will find them wondrous kind.
Both Nancy and I liked this piece by W. B. Yeats, the English-Irish poet.
“When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire,
take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.”
The Parting Kiss
Humid seal of soft affections—Tenderest pledge of human bliss
Dearest tie of young connections—Love’s first snowdrop—virgin kiss
Speaking silence-dumb confession-Passions birth -and infants play-
Dove like fondness- chaste concession-Glowing dawn of future day-
Sorrowing joy- Adieu’s last action- Lingering lips must now disjoin-
What words can ever speak affection , So thrilling and sincere as thine.