The Ghaists, A Kirk-Yard Eclogue
WHERE the braid planes in dowie murmurs wave
Their ancient taps out-owre the cauld-clad grave,
Where Geordie Girdwood, mony a lang spun day,
Houkit for gentles' banes the humblest clay,
Twa sheeted ghaists, sae grizly an' sae wan,
'Mang lanely tombs their douff discourse began.
Cauld blaws the nippin' North wi' angry sough,
An' showers his hailstanes frae the Castle Cleugh
Owre the Grayfriars, where, at mirkest hour,
Bogles an' spectres wont to tak their tour,
Harlin' the pows an' shanks to hidden cairns,
Amang the hemlocks wild, an' sun-burnt ferns;
But nane the night, save you an' I, hae come
Frae the dear mansions o' the midnight tomb.
Now when the dawnin's near, when cock maun craw,
An' wi' his angry bougil, gar's withdraw,
Ayont the kirk we'll stap, and there tak bield,
While the black hours our nightly nightly freedom yield.
I'm weel content; but binna cassen down,
Nor trow the cock will ca' ye hame owre soon;
But, though the eastern lift betokens day,
Changing her rokelay black for mantle grey,
Nae weirlike bird our knell of parting rings,
Nor sheds the cauler moisture frae his wings.
Nature has chang'd her course; the birds o' day
Dozin' in silence on the bending spray,
While owlets round the craigs at noontide flee,
An' bluidy hawks sit singin' on the tree.
Ah, Caledon! The land I ance held dear,
Sair maen mak I for thy destruction near:
An' thou, Edina! Ance my dear abode,
When royal Jamie sway'd the sovereign rod,
In thae blest days, weel did I think bestow'd
To blaw they poortith by wi' heaps o' gowd;
To mak thee sonsy seem wi' mony a gift,
An' gar thy stately turrets speel the lift.
In vain did Danish Jones, wi' gimgrack pains,
In Gothic sculpture fret the pliant stanes;
In vain did he affix my statue here,
Brawly to busk wi' flowers ilk coming year:
My towers are sunk; my lands are barren now;
My fame, my honour, like my flowers, maun dow.
Sure, Major Weir, or some sic warlock wight,
Has flung beguilin' glamour owre your sight;
Or else some kittle cantrip thrown, I ween,
Has bound in mirlygoes my ain twa een;
If ever aught frae sense cou'd be believ'd
(An seenil hae my senses been deceiv'd),
This moment owre the tap o' Adam's tomb,
Fu' easy can I see your chiefest dome.
Nae corbie fleein' there, nor croupin craws,
Seem to forspeak the ruin o' thy ha's;
But a' your towers in the wonted order stand,
Steeve as the rocks that hem our native land.
Robert Fergusson (1751-1774)
Poem selected by The Scottish Poetry Library
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