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Go, Fame, an' canter like a filly Thro' a' the streets an' neuks o' Killie, * Tell ev'ry social, honest billie
To cease his grievin, For yet, unskaith'd by death’s gleg gullie,
Tam Samson's livin.
* Killie is a phrase the country-folks sometimes use for Kilmarnock.
THE following Poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood; but for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added, to give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such should honour the author with the perusal, to see the remains of it, among the more unenlightened in our own.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
Upon that night, when fairies light,
On Cassilis Downansi dance,
On sprightly coursers prance;
* Is thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings, are all abroad on their baneful, midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the Fairies, are said on that night, to hold a grand anniversary.
+ Certain little, romantic, rocky, green hills, in the peighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of Cassilis.
Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams; There,
the cove,* to stray and rove Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night.
Amang the bonnie, winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear,
An' shook the Carrick spear,
Together did convene,
Fu' blythe that night.
The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine ; Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin':
* A noted cavern near Colean-house, called The Cove of Colean; which, as Cassilis Downans, is famed in country story for being a favourite haunt of fajries.
+ The famous family of that name, the ancestors of Robert, the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of Carrick.
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten, Some unco blate, an' some wi' gabs, Gar lasses hearts
Then first and foremost, thro' the kail,
Their stocks* maun a' be sought ance; They steek their een, an' graip an’ wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes. Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
An' wander'd thro' the bow-kail, An' pow't, for want o' better shift, A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.
* The first ceremony of Halloween, is pulling each a stock, or plant of kaii. They must go out, hand in hand, with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with : Its being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size and shape of the grand object of all their spells—the husband or wife. If any yird, or earth, stick to the root, that is tocher, or fortune; and the taste of the custoc, that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or to give them their ordinary appellation, the runts, are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the christian names of the people whom chance brings into the house, are, according to the priority of placing the runts, the names in question.