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Holy Fair, The

Robert Burns 1759 (Alloway) – 1796 (Dumfries)

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 caller air.
5 The risin' sun owre Galston muirs
6 Wi' glorious light was glintin,
7 The hares were hirplin down the furrs,
8 The lav'rocks they were chantin
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 skelpin up the way.
14 Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black,
15 But ane wi' lyart linin;
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.
23 The third cam up, hap-step-an'-lowp,
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' laughin 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.
41 I'm gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,
42 To spend an hour in daffin:
43 Gin ye'll go there, you 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 hoddin by their cotters,
57 There swankies young, in braw braidclaith
58 Are springin owre the gutters.
59 The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
60 In silks an' scarlets glitter,
61 Wi' sweet-milk cheese in mony a whang,
62 An' farls, bak'd wi' butter,
63 Fu' crump that day.

64 When by the plate we set our nose,
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'rin,
70 Some carryin dails, some chairs an' stools,
71 An' some are busy bleth'rin
72 Right loud that day.

...

82 Here some are thinkin 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 a chosen swatch,
87 Wi' screw'd-up grace-proud faces;
88 On that a set o' chaps at watch,
89 Thrang winkin on the lasses
90 To chairs that day.

91 O happy is that man and blest!
92 Nae wonder that it pride him!
93 Whase ain dear lass that he likes best,
94 Comes clinkin down beside him!
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 Unken'd that day.

100 Now a' the congregation o'er
101 Is silent expectation;
102 For Moodie speels the holy door,
103 Wi' tidings o' salvation.
104 Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
105 'Mang sons o' God present him,
106 The vera sight o' Moodie'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' wi' thumpin!
111 Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath
112 He's stampin, an' he's jumpin!
113 His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd-up snout,
114 His eldritch squeal and gestures,
115 Oh, how they fire the heart devout
116 Like cantharidian plaisters,
117 On sic a day!

118 But hark! the tent has chang'd its voice:
119 There's peace and rest nae langer;
120 For a' the real judges rise,
121 They canna sit for anger.
122 Smith opens out his cauld harangues,
123 On practice and on moral
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Burns

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. more…

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