Tam o' Shanter (1825)

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For other versions of this work, see Tam o' Shanter.
Tam O'Shanter  (1825) 
by Robert Burns (1759-1796)




Brownyis and of Bogilis full is this Book.





When Chapman billies leave the street,
And dronthy neibours neibours meet,
As market-days are wear in late,
And fock begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
And getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scotch miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles,
That lie between us and oar hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gath'ring ber brows like gath'ring storin
Nursin ker' walk to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses.)
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise,
As taen thy ain wife Kate's advice;
She tauld thee Weel thoir was a skellum,
A bsbethering, blistering, drunken blellum,
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was nae sober;
That ilka melder, wi' the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thon had siller;
That every nag was ca'd a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
That at the L—d's House, even on Sunday
Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday
She prophesy'd, that late or soon,
Thou wad be fond deep drown'd in Doon o
Or catch'd wi' warlocks the mirk,
Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how many counsels sweet,
How many lengthen'd sage advices,
The husband frae the wife-despises
But to our tale! Ae market night
Tamhad got planted unco right
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely
Wi'reaming swats that drink divinely,
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;
Tam lo'ed him like a very brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither
The night drave on wi' songs and clatter,
And aye the ale was growing better:
The landlady and Tam grew gracious,
wi'favours, secret, sweet, and precious:
The Souter tauld his queerest stories;
The landlord's laugh was ready chorus;
The storm without might rair and rustle.
Tam did not mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man so happy to:
E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy.
As bees flee bane wir lades o' treasure,
The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure
Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
O'er a' the ills o 'life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
One moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit e'er you can point their place,
Or like the rainbow's lovely form,
Evanishing amid the storm—
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o' night's bļack arch the keyrstane
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in
And sic a night he taks the road in,
As ne'er poor singer was abroad in!
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last,
The rattlin showrs rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep and lang the thunder bellow'd!
That night a child might understand
The deil had, bis'ness on his hand.
Weel mounted on his grey mare Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despisin wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiyles haddin fast hiş guid blue bonnet,
Whyles croonin owre some aold Scots sonnet
Whyles glow'rin round wi' prudent care
Lest bogles catch him unaware's
Kirk-Alloway was drawin nigh,
Whar glaists and howlets nightly cry
By this time he was cross'd the ford,
Whar in the snaw the chapman smoor'd;
And past the birks and muckle stane,
Whar drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane;
And thro the whins, and by the cairn,
Whar hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whar Mungo's mother hang'd hersel—
Before him loon pours a' his floods,
The doublin storm spars through the woods;
The lightnings flash frae pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll!
When, glimmerin thrpsthe groaning trees
Kirk Alloway! seem;d in a bleeze!
Thro' ilka borethe behms were glancin
And loud resounded mirth and dancin.
Inspirin bold John Baileycorn
What dangets thou can mak us scorn!
Wi' tippeny we fear nae evil;
Wi' usquebae we'll face the devil!—
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle;
Fair play, he car'd na deilas a boddle;
But Maggie stood right aair astonish'd,
Till by the heel and hand admonish'd,
She ventur'd forward on the light;
And, vow Tam sav an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillion brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys and reels,
Pat life and mettle in their heels:
A winnock-bunker in the cast,
There sat auld Nick ih shape o' beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He screw'd the pipes, and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters in' did dirl,—
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses,
And by some devilish cantrip slight
Each in its could hand held a light;—
By which heroic, Tam was: able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns;
Twa span-lang, wee, uncristen'd bairns;
A thief, new cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp this gab did gape!
Five tomahawks, wi' blude red rusted
Five scymitars, wi' murder crusted!
A garter, which a babe had strangled!
A knife, a father's throat had mangled!
Whom his ain son o' life bereft,
The grey hairs yet stack to the host
Three lawyer's tongues turn'd inside-out,
Wi' lies seam'd like a beggar's close;
And priests' hearts, rotten black as muck,
Lay stinkin vile in every neak!
Wi' mair o' horrible and awfu'!
Which ev'n to name wad le uulawfu'
As Tammie glowr'd, amag'd and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious!
The piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew!
They reel'd, they set, they crass'd, they cleekit,
Til ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And koost her duddies to the wark,
And linkit at it in her sark!
Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans
A' plump and strapping in their teens,
Their sarks, instead o' creechie flannen,
Been snaw-white se'enteen hunder linen,
Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair,
That alice were plush, o gade blue hair,
I wad hae gi'en them aff my hurdies,
For ae blink o' the bonny burdies!
But withier'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal;
Louping and flinging on a crummock,
I wonder't didna turn your stomach.
But Tam kend what was what fu' brawlie,
There was ae wulsomeswench and walie,
That night enlisted in the core,
Lang after kend on Carrick-shore;
For monie, a beast to dead she shot,
And perish'd monie a bonnie boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and beam
And kept the country-side in fear;
Her cutty Sark o' Paisley-harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho sorely scanty
It was her best and she was vauntie—
Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie,
That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
Wi' twa pund Scots ('twas achier riches)
Wad e'er hae grae'd a dance o' witches.
But here my Muse: her wing maun cow'r;
Sic flights are-far beyond her pow'r;
To sing hour Nannie lap and flang,
(A souple jade ghie was and strang);
And how Tam stood like ane bewitch'd
And thougt this very een enrich'd!
Ev'n Satan glowr'd, and fidgr'd fu fain,
And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main!
Till first ae caper, syne anither,
Tam tint his reason thegither,
And roars out, Weel done cutty sarks;
And in an instant a' was dark!
And scarcely bad he Maggie rallied
When out the hellish legion sallied
As bees biz out wi' angry fyke,
When plund'ring herds assail their byke;
As open pussies portal foes,
When, pop she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market crowd,
When Catch the thief! resounds aloud;
So Maggie rins, the witches follow,
Wi' mony an eldritch screech and hollow!
Ah, Tam! ah Tam thou'lly get the fairin,
In hell they'll roast time like a herrin
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin
Kate soon will be a waefu' woman!
Now do thy speedy utmost Meg
And win the key-stane[1] o' the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A rinnin stream they daren't cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi' furious ettele
But little wist she Maggie's mettle—
Ae spring brought after maste Kate,
But left behint her grey tail;
The carlin caught her by the rump
And left poor! Alagirie scarce a stump.
Now when this the o' truth shall read,
Ilk main and mother's son tak ded,
Whene'er to drink you are inclin'd,
Or cutty-sarks rin in your mind
Think ye mayy buy the joys owve dear,
Remember Tam Shanter's mare.

  1. It is a well known fact, that witches or any evil spirts have no power to follow a poor wight any farther than the middle of the next running stream.—It may be proper like wise to mention to the benighted traveller, that when he fall in with bogles, whatever danger may be this going, forward there is much more danger in turning back.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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