[Page 40]


A robe of seeming truth and trust
Hid crafty observation;
And secret hung, with poison'd crust,
The dirk of Defamation:
A mask that like the gorget show'd,
Dye-varying, on the pigeon;
And for a mantle large and broad,
He wrapt him in Religion.
1 UPON a simmer Sunday morn,
2 When Nature's face is fair,
3 I walked forth to view the corn,
4 An' snuff the callor air.
[Page 41]
5 The rising sun, our GALSTON Muirs,
6 Wi' glorious light was glintan;
7 The hares were hirplan down the furrs,
8 The lav'rocks they were chantan
9 Fu' sweet that day.
10 As lightsomely I glowr'd abroad,
11 To see a scene sae gay,
12 Three hizzies, early at the road,
13 Cam skelpan up the way.
14 Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black,
15 But ane wi' lyart lining;
16 The third, that gaed a wee a-back,
17 Was in the fashion shining
18 Fu' gay that day.
19 The twa appear'd like sisters twin,
20 In feature, form an claes;
21 Their visage wither'd, lang an' thin,
22 An' sour as ony slaes:
[Page 42]
23 The third cam up, hap-step-an'-loup,
24 As light as ony lambie,
25 An' wi' a curchie low did stoop,
26 As soon as e'er she saw me,
27 Fu' kind that day.
28 Wi' bonnet aff, quoth I, "Sweet lass,
29 " I think ye seem to ken me;
30 "I'm sure I've seen that bonie face,
31 " But yet I canna name ye. "
32 Quo' she, an' laughan as she spak,
33 An' taks me by the han's,
34 " Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck
35 "Of a' the ten comman's
36 A screed some day."
37 "My name is FUN your cronie dear,
38 " The nearest friend ye hae;
39 "An' this is SUPERSTITION here,
40 " An' that's HYPOCRISY.
[Page 43]
41 "I'm gaun to ********* holy fair,
42 " To spend an hour in daffin:
43 "Gin ye'll go there, yon runkl'd pair,
44 " We will get famous laughin
45 At them this day. "
46 Quoth I, "With a' my heart, I'll do't;
47 " I'll get my sunday's sark on,
48 "An' meet you on the holy spot;
49 " Faith, we'se hae fine remarkin! "
50 Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time,
51 An' soon I made me ready;
52 For roads were clad, frae side to side,
53 Wi' monie a wearie body,
54 In droves that day.
55 Here, farmers gash, in ridin graith,
56 Gaed hoddan by their cotters;
57 There, swankies young, in braw braid-claith,
58 Are springan owre the gutters.
[Page 44]
59 The lasses, skelpan barefit, thrang,
60 In silks an' scarlets glitter;
61 Wi' sweet-milk-cheese, in monie a whang,
62 An farls, bak'd wi' butter,
63 Fu' crump that day.
64 When by the plate we set our note,
65 Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence,
66 A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws,
67 An' we maun draw our tippence.
68 Then in we go to see the show,
69 On ev'ry side they're gath'ran;
70 Some carryan dails, some chairs an' stools,
71 An' some are busy bleth'ran
72 Right loud that day,
73 Here stands a shed to fend the show'rs,
74 An' screen our countra Gentry;
75 There, racer Jess, an' twathree wh res,
76 Are blinkan at the entry.
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77 Here sits a raw o' tittlan jads,
78 Wi' heaving breasts an' bare neck;
79 An' there, a batch o' Wabster lads,
80 Blackguarding frae K*******ck
81 For fun this day.
82 Here, some are thinkan on their sins,
83 An' some upo' their claes;
84 Ane curses feet that fyl'd his shins,
85 Anither sighs an' prays:
86 On this hand sits an Elect swatch,
87 Wi' screw'd-up, grace-proud faces;
88 On that, a set o' chaps, at watch,
89 Thrang winkan on the lasses
90 To chairs that days.
91 O happy is that man, an' blest!
92 Nae wonder that it pride him!
93 Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best,
94 Comes clinkan down beside him!
[Page 46]
95 Wi' arm repos'd on the chair-back,
96 He sweetly does compose him;
97 Which, by degrees, slips round her neck,
98 An's loof upon her bosom
99 Unkend that day,
100 Now a' the congregation o'er
101 Is silent expectation;
102 For ****** speels the holy door,
103 Wi' tidings o' s—lv—t—n.
104 Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
105 'Mang sons o' G— present him,
106 The vera fight o' ******'s face,
107 To's ain het hame had sent him
108 Wi' fright that day.
109 Hear how he clears the points o' Faith
110 Wi' rattlin an' thumpin!
111 Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
112 He's stampan, an' he's jumpan!
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113 His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd up snout,
114 His eldritch squeel an' gestures,
115 O how they fire the heart devout,
116 Like cantharidian plaisters
117 On sic a day!
118 But hark! the tent has chang'd it's voice;
119 There's peace an' rest nae langer;
120 For a' the real judges rise,
121 They canna sit for anger.
122 ***** opens out his cauld harangues,
123 On practice and on morals;
124 An' aff the godly pour in thrangs,
125 To gie the jars an' barrels
126 A lift that day.
127 What signifies his barren shine,
128 Of moral pow'rs an' reason?
129 His English style, an' gesture fine,
130 Are a' clean out o' season.
[Page 48]
132 Or some auld pagan heathen,
133 The moral man he does define,
134 But ne'er a word o' faith in
135 That's right that day.
136 In guid time comes an antidote
137 Against sic poosion'd nostrum;
138 For *******, frae the water-fit,
139 Ascends the holy rostrum:
140 See, up he's got the word o' G ,
141 An' meek an' mim has view'd it,
142 While COMMON-SENSE has taen the road,
143 An' aff, an' up the Cowgate
144 Fast, fast that day.
145 Wee ******, niest, the Guard relieves
146 An' Orthodoxy raibles,
147 Tho' in his heart he weel believes,
148 An' thinks it auld wives' fables:
[Page 49]
149 But faith! the birkie wants a Manse,
150 So, cannilie he hums them;
151 Altho' his carnal Wit an' Sense
152 Like hafflins-wife o'ercomes him
153 At times that day.
154 Now, butt an' ben, the Change-house fills,
155 Wi' yill-caup Commentators:
156 Here's crying out for bakes an' gills,
157 An' there the pint-stowp clatters;
158 While thick an' thrang, an' loud an' lang,
159 Wi' Logic, an' wi' Scripture,
160 They raise a din, that, in the end,
161 Is like to breed a rupture
162 O' wrath that day.
163 Leeze me on Drink! it gies us mair
164 Than either School or Colledge:
165 It kindles Wit, it waukens Lear,
166 It pangs us fou o' Knowledge.
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167 Be't whisky-gill or penny-wheep,
168 Or ony stronger potion,
169 It never fails, on drinkin deep,
170 To kittle up our notion,
171 By night or day.
172 The lads an' lasses, blythely bent
173 To mind baith saul an' body,
174 Sit round the table, weel content,
175 An' steer about the toddy.
176 On this ane's dress, an' that ane's leuk,
177 They're makin observations;
178 While some are cozie i' the neuk,
179 An' forming assignations
180 To meet some day.
181 But now the L 's ain trumpet touts,
182 Till a' the hills are rairan,
183 An' echos back return the shouts;
184 Black ****** is na spairan:
[Page 51]
185 His piercin words, like Highlan swords,
186 Divide the joints an' marrow;
187 His talk o' H ll, whare devils dwell,
188 Our vera
* Shakespeare's Hamlet.
"Sauls does harrow"
189 Wi' fright that day!
190 A vast, unbottom'd, boundless Pit,
191 Fill'd fou o' lowan brunstane,
192 Whase raging flame, an' scorching heat,
193 Wad melt the hardest whun-stane!
194 The half asleep start up wi' fear,
195 An' think they hear it roaran,
196 When presently it does appear,
197 'Twas but some neebor snoran
198 Asleep that day.
199 'Twad be owre lang a tale to tell,
200 How monie stories past,
201 An' how they crouded to the yill,
202 When they were a' dismist:
[Page 52]
203 How drink gaed round, in cogs an' caups
204 Amang the furms an' benches;
205 An' cheese an' bread, frae women's laps,
206 Was dealt about in lunches,
207 An' dawds that day.
208 In comes a gawsie, gash Guidwife,
209 An' sits down by the fire,
210 Syne draws her kebbuck an' her knife;
211 The lasses they are shyer.
212 The auld Guidmen, about the grace,
213 Frae side to side they bother,
214 Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
215 An' gies them't, like a tether,
216 Fu' lang that day.
217 Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,
218 Or lasses that hae naething!
219 Sma' need has he to say a grace,
220 Or melvie his braw claithing!
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221 O Wives be mindfu', ance yoursel,
222 How bonie lads ye wanted,
223 An' dinna, for a kebbuck-heel,
224 Let lasses be affronted
225 On sic a day!
226 Now Clinkumbell, wi' rattlan tow,
227 Begins to jow an' croon;
228 Some swagger hame, the best they dow,
229 Some wait the afternoon.
230 At slaps the billies halt a blink,
231 Till lasses strip their shoon:
232 Wi' faith an' hope, an' love an' drink,
233 They're a' in famous tune
234 For crack that day.
235 How monie hearts this day converts,
236 O' sinners and o' Lasses!
237 Their hearts o' stane, gin night are gane,
238 As saft as ony flesh is.
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239 There's some are fou o' love divine;
240 There's some are fou o' brandy;
241 An' monie jobs that day begin,
242 May end in Houghmagandie
243 Some ither day.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE HOLY FAIR.
Author: Robert Burns
Genres: narrative verse

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Source edition

Burns, Robert, 1759-1796. POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, BY ROBERT BURNS. Kilmarnock: printed by John Wilson, M,DCC,LXXXVI., 1786, pp. 40-54. 240p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T91548) (Page images digitized by National Library of Scotland.)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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