O THOU! whatever title suit thee— Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie, Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sootie, Clos’d under hatches, Spairges about the brunstane cootie, To scaud poor wretches!
Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee, An’ let poor damned bodies be; I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie, Ev’n to a deil, To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me, An’ hear us squeel!
Great is thy pow’r an’ great thy fame; Far ken’d an’ noted is thy name; An’ tho’ yon lowin’ heuch’s thy hame, Thou travels far; An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame, Nor blate, nor scaur.
Whiles, ranging like a roarin lion, For prey, a’ holes and corners tryin; Whiles, on the strong-wind’d tempest flyin, Tirlin the kirks; Whiles, in the human bosom pryin, Unseen thou lurks.
I’ve heard my rev’rend graunie say, In lanely glens ye like to stray; Or where auld ruin’d castles grey Nod to the moon, Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way, Wi’ eldritch croon.
When twilight did my graunie summon, To say her pray’rs, douse, honest woman! Aft’yont the dyke she’s heard you bummin, Wi’ eerie drone; Or, rustlin, thro’ the boortrees comin, Wi’ heavy groan.
Ae dreary, windy, winter night, The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light, Wi’ you, mysel’ I gat a fright, Ayont the lough; Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight, Wi’ wavin’ sough.
The cudgel in my nieve did shake, Each brist’ld hair stood like a stake, When wi’ an eldritch, stoor “quaick, quaick,” Amang the springs, Awa ye squatter’d like a drake, On whistlin’ wings.
Let warlocks grim, an’ wither’d hags, Tell how wi’ you, on ragweed nags, They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags, Wi’ wicked speed; And in kirk-yards renew their leagues, Owre howkit dead.
Thence countra wives, wi’ toil and pain, May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain; For oh! the yellow treasure’s ta’en By witchin’ skill; An’ dawtit, twal-pint hawkie’s gane As yell’s the bill.
Thence mystic knots mak great abuse On young guidmen, fond, keen an’ crouse, When the best wark-lume i’ the house, By cantrip wit, Is instant made no worth a louse, Just at the bit.
When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord, An’ float the jinglin’ icy boord, Then water-kelpies haunt the foord, By your direction, And ’nighted trav’llers are allur’d To their destruction.
And aft your moss-traversin Spunkies Decoy the wight that late an’ drunk is: The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies Delude his eyes, Till in some miry slough he sunk is, Ne’er mair to rise.
When masons’ mystic word an’ grip In storms an’ tempests raise you up, Some cock or cat your rage maun stop, Or, strange to tell! The youngest brither ye wad whip Aff straught to hell.
Lang syne in Eden’s bonie yard, When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d, An’ all the soul of love they shar’d, The raptur’d hour, Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird, In shady bower; 1
Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog! Ye cam to Paradise incog, An’ play’d on man a cursèd brogue, (Black be your fa’!) An’ gied the infant warld a shog, ’Maist rui’d a’.
D’ye mind that day when in a bizz Wi’ reekit duds, an’ reestit gizz, Ye did present your smoutie phiz ’Mang better folk, An’ sklented on the man of Uzz Your spitefu’ joke?
An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall, An’ brak him out o’ house an hal’, While scabs and botches did him gall, Wi’ bitter claw; An’ lows’d his ill-tongu’d wicked scaul’, Was warst ava?
But a’ your doings to rehearse, Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce, Sin’ that day Michael 2 did you pierce, Down to this time, Wad ding a Lallan tounge, or Erse, In prose or rhyme.
An’ now, auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkin, A certain bardie’s rantin, drinkin, Some luckless hour will send him linkin To your black pit; But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkin, An’ cheat you yet.
But fare-you-weel, auld Nickie-ben! O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’! Ye aiblins might-I dinna ken— Stil hae a stake I’m wae to think up’ yon den, Ev’n for your sake!
Note 1. The verse originally ran: “Lang syne, in Eden’s happy scene When strappin Adam’s days were green, And Eve was like my bonie Jean, My dearest part, A dancin, sweet, young handsome quean, O’ guileless heart.” [back] Note 2. Vide Milton, Book vi.—R. B. [back]