“Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke.”
Gawin Douglas.

When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthyneibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to takthe gate,
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An’ getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter:
(Auld Ayr, whamne’er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonie lasses).

O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise,
As taenthy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weelthou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;
That ilka melderwi’ the Miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That ev’ry naigwas ca’d a shoe on
The Smith and thee gatroarin’ fou on;
That at the Lord’s house, ev’n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday,
She prophesied that late or soon,
Thou wad 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 sAats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnie,
His ancient, trusty, drougthy crony:
Tam lo’edhim like a very brither;
They had been foufor weeks thegither.
The night drave on wi’ sangs an’ clatter;
And aye the ale was growing better:
The Landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi’ favours secret, sweet, and precious:
The Soutertauldhis queerest stories;
The Landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rairand rustle,
Tam did na mindthe storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E’endrown’d himselamangthe nappy.
As bees fleehamewi’ 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 flitere you can point their place;
Or like the Rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm. –
Nae man can tether Time nor 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 blawnits last;
The rattling showers 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 deilhad business on his hand.

Weel-mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro’ duband mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gudeblue bonnet,
Whiles crooningo’er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow’rin round wi’ prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

By this time he was cross the ford,
Where in the snawthe chapmansmoor’d;
And past the birks and meikle stane,
Where drunken Charlie brak’sneck-bane;
And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn,
Where hunters fandthe murder’d bairn;
And near the thorn, aboonthe well,
Where Mungo’s mitherhang’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 borethe 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 swatssaeream’d in Tammie’s noddle,
Fair play, he car’d na deils a boddle,
But Maggie stood, right sairastonish’d,
Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d,
She ventur’d forward on the light;
And, wow! Tam sawan uncosight!

Warlocks and witches in a dance:
Naecotillon, brentnew frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunkerin the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To giethem 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 cantraipsleight)
Each in its cauldhand held a light.
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the halytable,
A murderer’s banes, in gibbet-airns;
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns;
A thief, new-cutted fraea rape,
Wi’ his last gasp his gabudid gape;
Five tomahawks, wi’ blude 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 of life bereft,
The grey-hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi’ mairof horrible and awfu’,
Which even to name wad be unlawfu’.
Three lawyers tongues, turned inside oot,
Wi’ lies, seamed like a beggars clout,
Three priests hearts, rotten, black as muck,
Lay stinkin, vile in every neuk.

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,
The reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swatand reekit,
And coosther duddiesto the wark,
And linkit at it in her sark!

Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans,
A’ plump and strapping in their teens!
Their sarks, instead o’ creeshieflainen,
Been snaw-white seventeen hunderlinen!-
Thirbreekso’ mine, my only pair,
That ancewere plush o’ guidblue hair,
I wad haegienthem off my hurdies,
For ae blinko’ the bonie burdies!
But wither’d beldams, auldand droll,
Rigwoodiehags wad speana foal,
Louping an’flingingon a crummock.
I wonder did na turn thy stomach.

But Tam kent what was what fu’ brawlie:
There was ae winsome wench and waulie
That night enlisted in the core,
Langafter ken’d on Carrick shore;
(For mony a beast to deadshe shot,
And perish’d mony a bonieboat,
And shook baithmeiklecorn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear);
Her cuttysark, o’ Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.
Ah! little ken’d thy reverend grannie,
That sarkshe coftfor her weeNannie,
Wi twapundScots (’twas a’her riches),
Wadever grac’d a dance of witches!

But here my Muse her wing mauncour,
Sicflights are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie lapand flang,
(A souplejade she was and strang),
And how Tam stood, like anebewithc’d,
And thought his very eenenrich’d:
Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’fain,
And hotch’dand blew wi’ might and main:
Tillfirst ae caper, syneanither,
Tam tinthis reason a thegither,
And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”
And in an instant all was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied.
When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizzout wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie’s mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi’ mony aneldritchskreich and hollow.

Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou’ll getthy fairin!
In hell, they’ll roast thee like a herrin!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy-utmost, Meg,
And winthe key-stone o’ the brig;^1
There, at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare nacross.
But erethe keystane she could make,
The fient atail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi’furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie’s mettle!
Aespringbrought off her master hale,
Butleft behind her aingrey tail:
The carlinclaughther bythe rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

Now, whathis tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilkman and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to Drink you are inclin’d,
Or Cutty-sarks rinin your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o’er dear;
Remember Tam o’Shanter’s mare.