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The minutes winged 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,
That fit ere you can point their place;
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride:
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
Weel mounted on his gray mare, Meg, (A better never lifted leg,)
1 Candidior nivibus, tunc cum cecidere recentes,
Tam skelpit on through dub and slapped-puddle
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots humming sonnet ;
Whiles glowering round wi' prudent cares, staring
By this time he was cross the ford,
1" Alloway Kirk, with its little enclosed burial-ground, stands beside the road from Ayr to Maybole, about two miles from the former town. The church has long been roofless, but the walls are pretty well preserved, and it still retains its bell at the east end. Upon the whole, the spectator is struck with the idea that the witches must have had a rather narrow stage for the performance of their revels, as described in the poem." Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, 1833.
Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze; Through ilka bore the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn,
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' usquebae, we'll face the devil!
Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle.
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
He screwed the pipes and gart them skirl, scream
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shawed the dead in their last dresses;
Each in its cauld hand held a light:
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes in gibbet airns;
Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape;
The gray hairs yet stack to the heft:
As Tammie glow'red, amazed and curious, stared The mirth and fun grew fast and furious:
The piper loud and louder blew;
The dancers quick and quicker flew ;
They reeled, they set, they crossed, they
Till ilka carline swat and reekit,
Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans,
1 "The manufacturer's term for a fine linen, woven in a reed of 1700 divisions.” Cromek.
That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair,
But Tam kenned what was what fu' brawlie; There was ae winsome wench and walie, goodly That night enlisted in the core,
(Lang after kenned on Carrick shore;
For monie a beast to dead she shot,
And perished monie a bonny boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear, barley
And kept the country-side in fear.)
Her cutty-sark, o' Paisley harn, short shift —huckaback
1 A solitary-living woman, named Katie Steven, who dwelt at Laighpark, in the parish of Kirkoswald, and died there early in the present century, is thought to have been the personage represented under the character of Cutty-sark. She enjoyed the reputation of being a good fortune-teller, and was rather a favorite guest among her neighbors; yet with others, who knew her less, she was reputed a witch, addicted to those