Underwoods

Page 11

"The hale concern (baith hens an' eggs, Baith books an' writers, stars an' clegs) Noo stachers upon lowsent legs An' wears awa'; The tack o' mankind, near the dregs, Rins unco law.

"Your book, that in some braw new tongue, Ye wrote or prentit, preached or sung, Will still be just a bairn, an' young In fame an' years, Whan the hale planet's guts are dung About your ears;

"An' you, sair gruppin' to a spar Or whammled wi' some bleezin' star, Cryin' to ken whaur deil ye are, Hame, France, or Flanders - Whang sindry like a railway car An' flie in danders."

II - ILLE TERRARUM

Frae nirly, nippin', Eas'lan' breeze, Frae Norlan' snaw, an' haar o' seas, Weel happit in your gairden trees, A bonny bit, Atween the muckle Pentland's knees, Secure ye sit.

Beeches an' aiks entwine their theek, An' firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique. A' simmer day, your chimleys reek, Couthy and bien; An' here an' there your windies keek Amang the green.

A pickle plats an' paths an' posies, A wheen auld gillyflowers an' roses: A ring o' wa's the hale encloses Frae sheep or men; An' there the auld housie beeks an' dozes, A' by her lane.

The gairdner crooks his weary back A' day in the pitaty-track, Or mebbe stops awhile to crack Wi' Jane the cook, Or at some buss, worm-eaten-black, To gie a look.

Frae the high hills the curlew ca's; The sheep gang baaing by the wa's; Or whiles a clan o' roosty craws Cangle thegether; The wild bees seek the gairden raws, Weariet wi' heather.

Or in the gloamin' douce an' gray The sweet-throat mavis tunes her lay; The herd comes linkin' doun the brae; An' by degrees The muckle siller mune maks way Amang the trees.

Here aft hae I, wi' sober heart, For meditation sat apairt, When orra loves or kittle art Perplexed my mind; Here socht a balm for ilka smart O' humankind.

Here aft, weel neukit by my lane, Wi' Horace, or perhaps Montaigne, The mornin' hours hae come an' gane Abune my heid - I wadnae gi'en a chucky-stane For a' I'd read.

But noo the auld city, street by street, An' winter fu' o' snaw an' sleet, Awhile shut in my gangrel feet An' goavin' mettle; Noo is the soopit ingle sweet, An' liltin' kettle.

An' noo the winter winds complain; Cauld lies the glaur in ilka lane; On draigled hizzie, tautit wean An' drucken lads, In the mirk nicht, the winter rain Dribbles an' blads.

Whan bugles frae the Castle rock, An' beaten drums wi' dowie shock, Wauken, at cauld-rife sax o'clock, My chitterin' frame, I mind me on the kintry cock, The kintry hame.

I mind me on yon bonny bield; An' Fancy traivels far afield To gaither a' that gairdens yield O' sun an' Simmer: To hearten up a dowie chield, Fancy's the limmer!

III

When aince Aprile has fairly come, An' birds may bigg in winter's lum, An' pleisure's spreid for a' and some O' whatna state, Love, wi' her auld recruitin' drum, Than taks the gate.

The heart plays dunt wi' main an' micht; The lasses' een are a' sae bricht, Their dresses are sae braw an' ticht, The bonny birdies!- Puir winter virtue at the sicht Gangs heels ower hurdies.

An' aye as love frae land to land Tirls the drum wi' eident hand, A' men collect at her command, Toun-bred or land'art, An' follow in a denty band Her gaucy standart.

An' I, wha sang o' rain an' snaw, An' weary winter weel awa', Noo busk me in a jacket braw, An' tak my place I' the ram-stam, harum-scarum raw, Wi' smilin' face.

IV - A MILE AN' A BITTOCK

A mile an' a bittock, a mile or twa, Abune the burn, ayont the law, Davie an' Donal' an' Cherlie an' a', An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

Ane went hame wi' the ither, an' then The ither went hame wi' the ither twa men, An' baith wad return him the service again, An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

The clocks were chappin' in house an' ha', Eleeven, twal an' ane an' twa; An' the guidman's face was turnt to the wa', An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

A wind got up frae affa the sea, It blew the stars as clear's could be, It blew in the een of a' o' the three, An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his head, "The best o' frien's maun twine," he said; "I'm weariet, an' here I'm awa' to my bed." An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

Twa o' them walkin' an' crackin' their lane, The mornin' licht cam gray an' plain, An' the birds they yammert on stick an' stane, An' the mune was shinin' clearly!

O years ayont, O years awa', My lads, ye'll mind whate'er befa'- My lads, ye'll mind on the bield o' the law, When the mune was shinin' clearly.

Underwoods Page 12

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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