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Kate O'Shanter by Ruth Adamson

15th January 2016

It’s January, when our thoughts naturally turn to Burns Night. For women at any rate there has been quite a change of perspective on the traditional Burns Supper. Aspects of the set programme are sometimes considered sexist and Poosey Nancy is banned from the proceedings.  Women may now aspire to do other speeches than reply to the Toast to the Ladies. There are even many “Alternative” Burns Suppers in which modern women play major roles, their menfolk either excluded or admitted as guests.

Here we have a poem in the style of Tam O’Shanter, but from Kate’s perspective. She’s not taken in, but she’s not puttin up wi it ony mair. It’s a smashing wee poem. 

We found Ruth Adamson, from Renfrew, via our friendly Paisley Writer’s Group. She’s a keen member of the Paisley group and has performed with them at events, and she’s a bit of a linguist too. It’s just great that there are new women writers in Scots coming up the ranks.
Kate O'Shanter by Ruth Adamson

An whare's he now, that Tam o mine,
That should be sittin by ma side?
What if he's bin hurt? misgane?
What if he's no coming hame?
A widow then I'll be, ma lane,
Withoot a man tae caa my ain;
An when ma cloth starts wearin thin
I'll have tae sell ma weddin ring,
The horse as weel, an aa the hens    
Tae pay the factor this year's rent
An I'll be beggin in the street
Jist tae get a bite to eat...
But simmer doon, Kate; like as not
Tam's found hissel a nice wee spot
Tae chat an sing an booze away
Each wee coin o market pay:
Guid cheer wi aa his fellow men
An ne'er a thocht by any o them
O wives left waiting aa their lane...
He promised he'd be comin hame!
But mind, he's promised that afore,
An dawn's come reeling thro the door
Afore ma Tam, that feckless pest,
The man I chose aboon the rest...
If I'd kend then what I ken now
I'd married John; he's ten cows,
A bonnie hoose, a clinkit cairt;
But changin what's bin done's an Airt
Beyond ma ken; I'll aff tae bed,
An rest ma poor wee worrit head.
I'll lock the door an damp the fire...
Tam can make his bed in the byre! \

Ruth Adamson