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The Ghaist O' Waulkmill Glen, by Seán Mór Ó Cuinn

10th March 2016

This is quite a long poem and in a particular tradition, which could be described as slightly old-fashioned as in pre-TV entertainment, when folk would sit around the fire and listen to a scary story in verse, in this case a locally situated Ghost story. These stories were no doubt used to keep people (and children) away from dangerous places, or places where dubious activity such as poaching or smuggling were going on.    Typically the descriptions of the terrible figure are laid on thick, and the moral of the poem is not to go wandering by the mill in the darkness.
Sean sent it to me in the old style peppered with apostrophes, and he agreed it looks better after I have edited them out. The argument goes that apostrophes make Scots look like a lesser form of English, which of course it isn’t. We retain them when part of a word is elided, as in the examples Ah’ve, Wha’d, seen in the poem. 
   We could imagine it sung with an accompanying guitar.

The Ghaist O' Waulkmill Glen
Ane darkened nicht, as a rid moon rose fu
An ae cauld eerie blast, wi out warnin came thro
Ah wis oan the auld gate thit gangs thro the glen
When biddin guid nicht tae the teugh haunts o men
An "Aye" tis true, thit ah'd haen a sowpe or twa
Tho neer tae the point thit Ah'd been proppin up the bar
Sae, wi a wee heid oan, ah wis richt tae tak the gate
Tho neer did ah ken whit haly hell lay in wait
Fur tis said that this land wis ay curs'd lang ago
An the Lord o the manor, wha'd styed there afore
Wis the ghaist wha appear'd tae frighten the weans
Wi blackest velvet cloak, tap hat an cane
Een rid-rimmed an black, lik the deepest abyss
An evry tap o his cane, thro thon thick Scotch mist
Wad sen ten tingles up an doon ony man's spine
Frae the hardiest o men, tae the devoutly divine
As the bricht lichts ahent, grew eer farther awa
Twis then in thon darkness, then thit ah saw
A black figure appear, as tall as twa men
Twis nane er than the ghaist o Waulkmill glen 
Ah gasped sic a gasp, fur the tales they wur true
As ah stood hair oan end; froze in mine shoes
Sure enough, his ain een stared back blacker than coal
Nae longer wis he jist a story bein told
An as he drew closer; wi each tap o his cane
Ah swear in thon darkness, he did ca ma name
An wae that ah wis aff; ah did tak tae ma heels
Back doon the auld gate, an doon past the fields
Syne thon darken'd nicht, when the rid moon rose fu
Ah've ne'er been back near the auld gate thit gangs thro
An ah'll gie a stark warnin tae ony brave men
Tred nae near the haunt o the ghaist o the glen

Seán Mór Ó Cuinn