Hallow-Fair

At Hallowmas, whan nights grow lang,

And starnies shine fu' clear,

Whan fock, the nippin cauld to bang,

Their winter hapwarms wear;

Near Edinburgh a fair there hads,

I wat there's nane whase name is,

For strappin dames and sturdy lads,

And cap and stoup, mair famous

Than it that day.

Upo' the tap o' ilka lum

The sun began to keek,

And bade the trig-made maidens come

A sightly joe to seek

At Hallow-fair, whare browsters rare

Keep gude ale on the gantries,

And dinna scrimp ye o' a skair

O' kebbucks frae their pantries

Fu' saut that day.

Here kintry John in bannet blue,

An' eke his Sunday's claes on,

Rins after Meg wi' rokelay new,

An' sappy kisses lays on;

She'll tauntin say, Ye silly coof!

Be o' your gab mair sparin;

He'll tak the hint, and criesh her loof

Wi' what will buy her fairin,

To chow that day.

Here chapmen billies tak their stand,

An' shaw their bonny wallies;

Wow, but they lie fu' gleg aff hand

To trick the silly fallows;

Heh, Sirs! what cairds and tinklers come,

An' ne'er-do-weel horse coupers,

An' spae-wives fenzying to be dumb,

Wi' a siclike landloupers,

To thrive that day.

Here Sawny cries frae Aberdeen,

" Come ye to me fa need;

" The brawest shanks that e'er were seen

" I'll sell ye cheap an' guid.

" I wyt they are as protty hose

" As come frae weyer or leem:

" Here tak a rug, an' shaw's your pose;

" Forseeth my ain's but teem

" An' light the day. "

Ye wives, as ye gang thro' the fair,

O mak your bargains hooly!

O' a' thir wylie lowns beware,

Or fegs they will ye spulzie.

For fairn-year Meg Thamson got,

Frae thir mischievous villains,

A sca'd bit o' a penny note,

That lost a score o' shillins

To her that day.

The dinlin' drums alarm our ears,

The serjeant screechs fu' loud,

" A' gentlemen and volunteers

" That wish your country gude,

" Come here to me, and I sall gie

" Twa guineas an' a crown,

" A' bowl o' punch that like the sea

" Will soum a lang dragoon

Wi' ease this day. "

Without the cuissers prance and nicher,

An' o'er the ley-rig scud;

In tents the carles bend the bicker,

An' rant an' roar like wud.

Than there's sic yellowchin and din,

Wi' wives and wee-anes gablin,

That ane might trow they were a-kin

To a' the tongues at Babylon,

Confus'd that day.

Whan Phaebus ligs in Thetis' lap,

Auld Reikie gies them shelter,

Whare cadgily they kiss the cap,

An' ca't round helter-skelter.

Jock Bell gaed furth to play his freaks,

Great cause he had to rue it,

For frae a stark Lochaber aix

He gat a clamehewit,

Fu' sair that night.

" Ohon! " quo' he, " I'd rather be

" By sword or bagnet stickit,

" Than hae my crown or body wi'

" Sic deadly weapons nickit. "

Wi' that he gat anither straik

Mair weighty than before,

That gar'd his feckless body aik,

An' spew the riekin gore,

Fu' red that night.

He peching on the cawsey lay,

O' kicks and cuffs well sair'd;

A Highland aith the sergeant gae,

" She maun pe see our guard. "

Out spak the weirlike corporal,

" Pring in ta drucken sot. "

They trail'd him ben, an' by my saul,

He paid his drucken groat

For that neist day.

Gude fock as ye come frae the fair,

Bide yont frae this black squad;

There's nae sic savages elsewhere

Allow'd to wear cockade.

Than the strong lion's hungry maw,

Or tusk o' Russian bear,

Frae their wanruly fellin paw

Mair cause ye hae to fear

Your death that day.

A wee soup drink does unco weel

To had the heart aboon;

It's gude as lang's a canny chiel

Can stand steeve in his shoon,

But gin a birkie's owr weel saird,

It gars him aften stammer

To pleys that bring him to the guard,

An' eke the Council-chaumir,

Wi' shame that day,

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