Saturday, 29 December 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Now you have no excuse on Mon Night (Tues morning) and of course on the 25th as well.

Auld Lang Syne

Robert Burns
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c

Sunday, 23 December 2012

'Guid Wittins Frae Docter Luik'

Taken from: 'Guid Wittins Frae Docter Luik'
"Dinnae be feart, for A'm bringin yis tha best news iver; an it's for tha hale warl! Tha Saviour, ay, tha Christ, tha Lord, haes this nicht bin boarn in Bethlehem, tha toon o Davit. An this is hoo ye'll ken him. Ye'll fin a babbie, rowlt in bits o claith, lyin amang tha fother in a manger.'

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Yin Mere Clean Shirt

Yin Mere Clean Shirt

Greetins oul freens A hope this week fins ye aa weel fer thurs alocht o' seekness gan roon. Ivery ither cretter ye meet is deein' wi tha cowl. Ay, an Am nae exception. A hae an oul craitle in my breesht a cannae git ridd o'. Fower weeks A hae bin hirslin. Last week A tuk maesel tae tha doctor bit thon antibiotics he gien me micht es weel o' bin smerties fer aa tha guid the daen.
Durin' tha day its no tae bad bit at nicht Am splooterin an blooterin simthin wile. Ay, wi aa tha weeslin an clocerin gan oan it's a wunner oanyin in tha hoose's gits oany sleep.
Tha ither day tha plooterin' an bloicherin' wus sae fierce that A managed tae pu simthin in ma showlder an noo A hae tae houl maesel lik Ballyhalbert, aa tae tha yin side. An es if aa thon wusnae bad eneuch a hae cum doon wi a quare dose o tha cowl forbye. Ma heid's blocked, ma neb's rinnin' an ma thrapple is es reuch es a badgers erse.
Ay, a doot yin mere clean shirt 'ell dae mae. Bit the' say if ye dinnae laugh ye'll cry sae All lee ye wi this oul yin.
Thur wus an oul cretter wha wunt tae tha doctor wi a wile pain in haes richt han.
"Ach doctor," sez he, "A hae a pooerfu sore han. A can herdly clase it."
The doctor asts him tae strip tae haes simmit an gaes him a quare gan iver. Efter haes bin pued an hoaked fae heid tae fit.
The doctor sez, "A hae a cream fer ye that shud sort yer han oot in nae time."
Relieved tha oul boy sez, "Am gled tae hear it doctor, bit Am wunnerin wun tha pain gans, wull a bae fit tae play tha piano?"
"Aff coorse," sez tha doctor. Itll bae nae boather tae ye.
"Am quare an gled tae hear thon," sez tha oul cretter, "fer A cudnae play it befur."

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Christmas Rhymers

A few weeks ago, whilst researching a article on Halloween for my newspaper column. I came across several brief accounts of the 'Christmas Rhymers'. I happened to mention this largely forgotten tradition to a few friends fae tha Ards. The next day I was rewarded with an email from Mr Thompson with an attachment containing several pages from a book entitled 'Six Miles from Bangor' wherein there is a description of the Christmas Rhymers as remembered by the author from his childhood in Donaghadee.
Intrigued I began to research this local tradition and was surprised to find that many texts still exist detailing various versions of the play.
The play was brought to Ireland by English and Scottish settlers in the 1600s (despite what fanciful notions you may read on other websites) and is related to the medieval mystery plays.
The mummers play is an example of the Hero-Combat play, one of the prototypes of English folk drama and deals with the theme of death and revival.
Costumes varied from place to place but were not (contrary to some websites) all straw and wicker work. One character would wear a top hat, another armour, yet another a cardboard nose. Only one was in the full straw regalia and he was called, surprise surprise, 'Jack Straw'.
For more information on Christmas Mummers and Rhymers in Ireland you can click on the link below, where you will find a comprehensive study of the tradition by Alan Gailey

Having stumbled across this important piece of our past I was impressed upon by Mr Anderson to revive this tradition. To this end I have compiled and arranged a Christmas Rhymers play, which Mr Anderson is currently promoting in the Ards.
Please check out Mr Anderson's blog for details of forthcoming performances.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween is Cumin'

Halloween Is Cumin'

Halloween is cumin' tha goose is gettin' fat.
Wud ye please put a penny in tha oul mans hat.
If ye havnae got a penny a hapney wull do.
If ye havnae got a hapney God bless you.
And tha oul man to.

Ay, Halloween is cumin' bit A doot yell hear oany rhymers at yer dure. Yer mere lichtly tae fin a clatter o' weans dressed up es super heroes shootin', 'trick oor treat' an houlin oot plastic bags fer sweets. Maebe it's jist me bit A cannae wairm tae thon Amerikan idea o' Halloween. This notion o' gie es hanfus o' chocolate oor wull dae simthin oan ye seems a puir excuse fer oor ain traditions whur apples an nuts oor a wheen o' pence wus handit oot tae weans efter they'd gin ye a rhyme oor a sang.

Years ago naeboady haed elaborate ootfits bocht fae shaps an folk didnae feel tha need tae dae up thur wundas wi mak believe cobwebs an spiders oor plaster tha ootside o' thur hoose wi orange an bleck decorations. Half tha fun cum fae makin' yer ain costume oot o' oul claes an bleck'nin' yer face wi a drap o soot fae tha fire.

Aff coorse oanyin o a mere mature vintage wull tell ye that even tha Halloween rhymers ir a racent edition an that tha verse at tha stairt shud bae, 'Christmas is cumin tha goose is gettin' fat'. An thur nae wrang fer maist o' oor Halloween rhymes cum fae tha oul Christmas mumming plays. A tradition that haes aa bit disappear't iver tha last faftie year. Ay, A doot thur's oanyin left wha haes mine o' Room Room, Devil Doubt oor Johnny Funny, tha wee man that collects the money. Jist es in a wheen o' years thur bae naeboady left wha haes mine o carvin' turnips oor bobbin' fer apples.
Ach weel A suppose wae hae tae accept that things change es time gans oan. Stillanaw A cannae help bit think wae haed mere fun.

Like a Gander oan a Stook

Anither yin fae hame.
If oanyin is perched up high oan simthin then thur-
like a gander oan a stook

Coul es Clash

If simthin is wile coul. Then it's:
es Coul es Clash

Tha ither nicht A left a cup o' tay behind me an whun A haed mine o' it, it wus 'coul es clash'.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Ma twa minutes oan Kist

If ye hae twa minutes tae spare ye cud click oan
an gan tae 15.30 oan the timeline.
Tae regular listeners o Kist yer stuck wi me ivery ither week tae aboot christmas.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Anither Inconvenient Truth

Anither Inconvenient Truth 

A wunner hoo mony o ye hae herd o' a film caa'd 'An Inconvenient Truth' aboot tha former United States Vice President Al Gore's campaign tae edyecate folk aboot global wermin'. It wus yin o' tha maist successful films o' twa thoosan an seiven. It won twa Academy awerds an is uset aroon tha wurld tae edyecate weans.

Stillanaw iver faftie percent o' Amerikans dinnae believe in tha idea o' global wermin'.
A suppose thur's sum folk hoo jist cannae bae edyecated. Wether it's tae mitch boather, oor jist plain thranness, thur jist naw willin' tae appen thur mind tae tha truth, even an undeniable yin. Aff coorse thur's aye thon wi an interest in hidin' tha truth. Pooerfu organisations hoo profit fae tha ignorance o' ithers.

Ay, A can sympathise wi Mr Gore fer oor ain leid haes becum anither yin o' thon inconvenient truths. Tha Ulster-Scots people alang wi thur culture an language hae bin aroon fer iver fower hunner year. Yet accordin' tae twathry creeters, wi access tae a keyboord, bit no tha Internet it wud seem, tha Ulster-Scots language is a racent invention.

Hoo the' managed tae ignore tha screeds o' evidence tae tha contary is beyont me. Am dumfoonthered es tae hoo tha failt tae cum acroass wurks sitch es tha poems o tha weaver poets published in Irish newspapers throughoot tha late seiventeen hunners oor tha popular scrievens o' W. G. Lyttle in tha nineteenth century, aa o' whuch haes bin republished in tha last wheen o' years.

An a wee skelly oan tha internet wull inform oanyin aboot tha humorous an at times poignant buks o' Archibald McIlroy, sitch es, 'When Lint was in the Bell' (1897) an 'The Auld Meetin Hoose Green'. (1898).

Ay, aa o' tha abine ir fill't wi tha hamely tongue, wi oor ain undeniable leid. Efter aa hoo dae ye think I learnt tae spell aa thon Ulster-Scots wurds. Tae oanyboady hoo haes a notion tae scrieve in tha hamely tongue oor if yer jist lukkin tae fin oot mere aboot tha Ulster-Scots ye can gan tae,

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Anither Inconvient Truth - Links

In this weeks 'Fae Tha Pen o' an Aul Han' (published in the Belfast Newsletter 06/10/12) I directed those who wanted to find out more about the Ulster Scots people and their language to my blog.

Now to quote the words of Andy Dufresne, "...if you've come this far then maybe you're willing to come a little further".
In this case to those with a more experience than myself:

To find out more about the Ulster-Scots people click on the link below

To find out more about how to address those ill informed doubters and detractors click on the link below

To find out more about the Ulster-Scots language click on the links below

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Wurd O' Tha Week - Breeks

This weeks, wurd o' tha week is BREEKS
Breeks is the Scots / Ulster-Scots word for trousers (or pants if you're american)

Outside Scotland and parts of Ulster the term breeks is often used to refer to breeches, a trouser similar to plus fours.

I would encourage you all to use the word breeks instead of the word trousers it's sounds so much more colourful.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Wurd O' Tha Week - WHEESHT

This weeks, wurd o tha week is WHEESHT
Wheesht means to shush, to be quiet or wait your turn to speak.
This word is commonly spoken as part of the phrase: 'Howl yer wheesht.'

Monday, 20 August 2012

Coallie wud ye lick

Here's an oul yin A herd tha day. Its used tae describe sumyin hoos wile ticht. A cretter hoo refuses tae share whut they hae.
'He wudnae say coallie wud ye lick'

Wurd o' tha week: NYAM

This weeks, 'Wurd o' tha Week is NYAM. Nyam is used to describe one who is a nyammer or who is engaged in nyamin.
Nyam is one of those great Ulster-Scots words that sounds exactly like what it means. A nyam is the cry of a cat. And is used to describe someone who complains excessively. We all know a Nyam.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Wurd o' tha week - CARNAPTIOUS

This weeks wurd o' tha week is CARNAPTIOUS

Meaning a bad tempered person. Someone who's likely tae gie aff tae ye.
The next step down from carnaptious is crabbit, someone who is irratable.

There is a great wee article on these words at -

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wurd o tha week: NYIMMLE

Yin o' my wife's favourite Ulster-Scots wurds:
Nyimmle (meaning a wee bit o simthin oor a wee bite)
A wee nyimmle o' chocolate

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gan Awa - Noo wi soon

Ir Ye No Gan Awa?

Audio Only (Fer aa thon wha fin tha Ulster-Scots herd tae read)

Iver tha past twathry weeks A hae bin ast half a dizin times whur ir ye gan on yer hoalidays? Whun A tell thum naewhur tha aa luk at mae dumfoonthered, like they cannae git thur heid roon oanyboady stayin at hame. Surely Am no tha ainly yin wha can mind whun gaen' awa on yer hoalidays wus a weeks stap at yer granmithers, a wheen o minutes doon tha road.
Ay, simmer hoalidays ir quarely changed fae whun A wus a wean. Yin o ma favourite Ulster-Scots writers Hugh Robinson summed up tha hale thing far better than A iver cud in haes book 'Across The Fields Of Yesterday' whur he tells iz aboot tha hoalidays o his youth. " As fair as us boys wur consarned, hoalidays hud naethin tae dae wi sim place ye wunt awa tae in the simmer. It wus aa aboot sim place ye didnae gan. Schuil."
Ay, tha stert o July wus a magical time whun tha eenless days o simmer stretched oot afore iz wi promises o swemmin' in tha tide, runnin' thru fiels an haein adventures. Tha simmer wus aa aboot freedim. But then freedim wus easier cumby fer iz weans. Fer whun ye hae nithin yeve nithin tae loass. Oanythin wus possible an tha hale kintrie wus oors tae plunder.
 Aff coorse wae didnae git tae rin roon aa simmer, thur wus wurk tae bae din gatherin prootas oor bringin' in tha bales, bit even thon wus a sort o' adventure fer iz weans. A chance tae prove oorsels. Tae enter tha wurl o oor faither's an thur faither's. Tae be trate like men fer twathry days.
Sadly thon days ir lang gan bit whiles a michtnae bae fit tae gaether prootas ir rin acroass a fiel, a quait danner doon tha beaches an loanins o hame is worth a dizin weeks o leein sweetin unner an umbrella. Sae whun sim yin tells ye thur gan naewhur fer tha simmer it micht jist bae because naewhurs haird tae bate,
Until nixt time lang mae yer lum reek an yer spicket dribble. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Us Boys

Filmed over four years, this documentary follows the daily lives of Ernie & Stewart Morrow, bachelor brothers who farm Oldchurch in Glenarm, Co. Antrim. 

These two old Ulster-Scots farmers want nothing to do with the modern world and are content with a simple, traditional lifestyle (free from the interference of women).

Part 1 of 4

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Wurd o tha week - Thrane

This weeks wurd is Thrane

Meaning award or stubborn
Haes as thran as Donkey
This is one of my favourite Ulster-Scots wurds.

Ma oul freen Mr Thompson suggested-
As thran as a bag o weasels or As thran es a bag o' Whutricks (Stoats)
Done oor wye it wus,  Thran es a bag o' Wullicks

Whuch brought tae mine yin anither variation A herd brave an aftin:
Crabbit as a bag o' weasels.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wurd o tha Week - Dinnle

This weeks wurd o tha week is Dinnle oor Dinnlin
Meaning - tingle or reverbaerating

Efter Ah wus caned, ma han wus dinnlin fer hoors.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Fae tha pen o an Aul Han

(This article was first published in the Belfast Newsletter on 2nd June 2012)

Pale an white an rid aa iver

Ma Granny aye said, thurs nithin as hard on weans as tha sun. Am thinking thurs monys a yin roon tha country haes fun thon oot iver tha past wheen o days. Fer A hae loast coont o tha number o scalded folk A hae seen waakin aroon tha toon.
Noo, gettin burnt no oanythin new. A hae mine o monys a rid neck fae getherin prootas as a wean. Bit thurs nae caa fer it noo. Tha chemist shaps ir fair hotchin wae bricht yella bottles guaranteed tae stap tha sin fae strippin tha hide o ye. Mind ye it aye struck mae as sorta odd that tha next shelf wus filld wae rows o pale blue bottles tae gae ye ease efter tha yella yins haenae worked.
I hae a notion that thon wee bottles ir gan tae git a workin this week as wae aa gether tae celebrate Her Majestys Jubilee. Mind ye if folk can git a howl o simthin blue, aa thon rid an white airms wavin aroon wull luk quare an patriotic .
Noo fer aa tha readers o ' Fae tha pen o an Aul Han' am gan tae let ye in on an oul Ulster-Scots secret that guarantees yin hunner percent prevention o sunburn on amaist ivery pairt o tha boady. This oul remedy haes bin hand'd doon fae generation tae generation in mae femly. Ma faither swore by it, an haes faither afore thon, an whiles a locth o folk ir gan tae doot ye whun ye tell thum whut ye hae learnt ye can lee bak an think o aa tha siller ye ir savin fae no haein tae buy oany o thon yella bottles. Ye see tha secret tae avoidin sunburn iz, keep yer claes on. Ay it micht soond far fetched tae oor modern waes o thinking bit if ye gae it a go I ken ye'll bae pleased wae tha ootcum. Until next week, " Lang mae yer lum reek an yer spicket dribble".

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Wurd o tha Week

Tha Wurd fer tha Week

Meaning: upturn, fling over, over throw

Thon poor creeter haes whammled her

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wurd o tha Week

Tha wurd fer tha week:
Chullers  (occasionally - chulders)

Meaning - jowls
This poor creeter haes quare chullers

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Ullans Number 12 - Solace

The good people at the Ulster-Scots Language Society were kind enough to publish two of the poems I wrote last year in the latest edition of Ullans Magazine. They were also generous enough to provide some much needed editorial advice, for which I am greatly indebted. Below I have included my poem Solace which appears on page 23 of Issue 12


Tae danner doon loast loanins
Whaur time hings thick as stoor;
An skellied een can aftimes glean
Aa that cam afore.
Tae lay agin a waarm stane waa
That croons a drumlins heid,
Betwixt tha plan o God an man
An free fae unco need.
Tae sklent tha breakers’ fickle pad,
As spate owertaks tha lan,
And ower thair bak tae learn tae tak
Solace frae tireless plan.
Tae turn yinst mair an mak fur hame
Whane’er tha day iz gan –
Oor peace new-made wi him ’at sayed
Be still, an know I am.
D. Gibson,  2011

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dinnae waak Danner

Hae ye mind whun ye cud o gaen fir a danner wi'oot a bricth yella jerkin or a wee flashin licht? Whun ye cud o leed tha hoose wioot twa oors preparation. Aye, ye hae tae wunner if thon creeters wae watter bottles, heid phones and step coonters wud no be better aff on yin o thon waakin machines.

I think folk hae forgot hoo tae danner. Ye dinnae need a locth o parafinelia. Tha maist ye shud tak iz a guid stick an maybe a coat or a ganzy, jist hae mind tae follae tha oul sayin an cast ne'er a cloot tae Mays oot, an yell be aa richt.

Aye, a danners no a danner wi'oot a dascent waakin stick. Wather it's a blackthorn fir leanin on or a sally rod fir snickin tha heids o dandelions ye kennd yer gaen simwhar wae a stick in yer han.

Bit tha hairtsim thing aboot a guid danner is tha kintrieside: tha white snawdrops, tha yella whin blossoms, tha lopsided sycamore seeds burlin roon as they faa fae branches abain yer heid. It disnae seem licht oany yin taks tha time tae luk aroon thum nooadays. I doot Mr Davies hae'd it richt whun he said "A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare."

Whut use iz it tae ken hoo mony calories ye hae burnt. If ye saw naethin o worth.
If ye learnt naethin. If ye thoct aboot naethin bit yersel.

So tha nixt time yer oot on tha road, gaen oot o yer road, an appen yer een. Tak yer time, an dinnae waak, danner.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Tha Aul Crocks

Ivery year aroon Christmas I hae mine o ma faither hokin oot his oul tartan fitba bag. Its near foartie year sine a seen thon oul bag but I hae mind o it like it wus yisterday. It wus small compared tae thadays yins but it wus big enugh tae howl a tha kit ye needed. Thur wus an oul pair o shin guards, tha kind ye tucked intae yer socks, thur wus nae velcro in thon days. They wur aboot twa times as heavy as tha yins that weans wear thaday an ribbed wae whut lukked like wudden strips.

Thur wus also a pair o weel worn blak leather fitba boots, wae leather studs that ye hae’d tae hemmer in oer a lathe. Inside yin o tha boots thur wus a wee jar o dubbin wae a greasy rag wrapped roon it. Boots wurnae sae easy cumby an ye cudnae afford tae neglect them.

Last but no least lay a small thin clear glass bottle wae ribbed sides. It contained a dark brown liquid and had a picture o a gentleman wae a handlebar moustache on it. Noo I hae furgotten monies a thing but I can still remember the smell o Sloan’s Liniment. Yin whiff wud a clear’d yer heid fir a foartnicht

Yinst iverthin hae’d bin checked tha bag was pit in tae tha boot o tha car ready fir tha oul crocks fitba match. I’m sure it hae’d a mere formal title bit that’s whut we a caa’d it. Tha oul crocks match wus played ivery year aroon Christmas at tha Sand Field in Ballywalter an was appen tae players fae tha lower Ards iver thurtie-five. As weans wae wurnae much interested in wha won tha game, but wae fairly enjoyed pokin fun at a thon oul crocks, reekin o Sloan’s Liniment  an Winter Green, hirpplin up an doon tha pitch. Bit time maks fools o iz aa an noo its maesel whas hirpplen aroon. Maebae I shud hae a luk fir thon oul liniment bottle.

Until tha next time, lang mae yer lum reek an yer spicket dribble.
 (written for the press March 2012)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Stumpy's Brae

Tha burn tha tocht Stumpy cudnae cross

Whilst carrying out some research on ghost stories from the North West I came across the gruesome legend of Stumpy's Brae, occasionally called the Legend of Tom the Toiler.  

Stumpy's Brae is the steep brae between Craighadoes and Lifford near a bridge that is featured in the poem. It is interesting to note the use of the Ulster-Scots tongue throughout, as we tend to forget that this area was home to a sizable number of Scottish Planters

There is a wealth of information on the poem and it author Cecil Frances Alexander (who also wrote Once in Royal David's City. All Things Bright and Beautiful and There is a Green Hill Far Away) at

Twarthy miles fae Lifford

By Cecil Frances Alexander (Londonderry, December 1844)

Heard ye no tell o' Stumpy's Brae?
Sit doon, sit doon, young freen',
I'll mak your flesh to creep this night 
and your hair to stan' on end.

Young man, it's hard to strive wi' sin
And the hardest strife o' a'
Is when the greed o' gain comes in

And drives God's grace awa'.

O, it's quick to do, but it's lang to rue
When the punishment comes at last
And we'd gi' the whole world to undo the deed

That deed that's gone and past.

Over yon strip of meadow land
And over the bintie bright
Dinna ye mark a fir-tree stand

Beside yon gable white.

I mind it well in my young days
The story it was rife,
There lived in a lonely cottage
A farmer and his wife.

They sat all alone in the bright fire light
Wan blessed Autumn night,
The hedge without, the stones within,
Were streaked wi' the bright moonlight.

The boys and girls had a' gone doon a wee
To the old blacksmith's wake,
There passed one by the winda' sma',
And he gied the door a shake.

The auld man got up and opened the door,
And after he'd spoken a bit,
A pedlar man stept into the floor and tumbled doon the pack he bore,
A right heavy pack was it.

"Guid bless us a" cried the auld man wi' a smile,
"But ye're in the thrivin' trade",
"Aye, I have travelled mony a mile
An' plenty I have made."

The two sat on in the bright fire light,
The pedler had gone to his rest.
The devil he came to the auld man’s ear,
And slip’t intil his breast.

He looked at his wife across the fire
She was as bad as he,
"Could we no murder this man the nacht?"
"Aye could we rightly," quo’ she.

He lifted his pick without a word,
It stood behind the door,
And as he pressed in the sleeper stirred,
But he never wakened more.

"He’s deid!" cried the auld man coming back,
"What’s to do wi’ the corpse, me dear?"
"Oh, bury him snug in his ane wee pack.
Never mind the loss o' the sack. I’ve taken out the gear."

"The corpse's too long by two guid span,
Oh!  What’ll we do?" quo’ he.
Says she - "Ye're a doting, unthinkin' oul man,
Just snick him off at the knee."

They shortened the corpse, and they packed him tight
Wi’ his legs in a pickle o’ hay,
Over the burn in the bright moonlight
They carried him up to the Brae.

They shovelled a hole right speedily
And they laid him on his back,
"A right guid pair are ye" quo’ the Pedlar,
Sitting boldly up in his pack.

"Ye thought ye’d lay me snugly here
Where none should know my station
But I’ll haunt ye far, and I’ll haunt ye near
Father and son, wi' terror and fear, till the nineteenth generation.

They sat all alone the very next night,
When the wee bit dog began to cower
And they knew by the pale blue fire-light,
That the Evil One had power.

It had just struck nine o’ the clock,
That hour when the man lay dead,
When there came to the outer door a knock,
And a heavy, heavy tread.

The auld wife’s heid swam roun' and roun',
The auld man's blood did  freeze,
‘Twas not like a natural sound, but like someone
stumping over the ground
On the banes o’ his raw bare knees.

And in through the door like a sough of air,
And he stumped and he stumped around the twa’
Wi’ his bloody heid, and his knee bones bare
As he died that night awa.

The wife’s black locks ere morn grew white,
They say, as mountain snows.
The man was as straight as a rush that night
But he crooked when the next morn he rose.

And every night as the clock struck nine,
The hour they did the sin,
The wee dog began to whine
An' the ghost came clatterin’ in.

And stump, stump, stump to his ploys again
Over the taps o' the stools and chairs,
Ye’d surely hae thought it was ten weemen and men
Dancin' all in pairs.

A’ night, there was a fearful flood,
Three days the skies had poured
And the tap wi' foam and the bottom wi' mud,
The burn in fury roared.  

Quo’ she, "Guid man ye needne turn sae pale
In the dim fire light
The stumpy cannae cross the burn
He’ll naw be here the nacht."  

"For it’s ower the bank, it's ower
It's ower the meadow rig."
"Aye", said the ghost comin' clattering in a gied the auld wife a bat on the chin,
"But I cam' roun by the brig".

They sold their gear and across the sea,
To a foreign land they went
But sure what can flee 
from his appointed punishment?

The ship swam over the ocean clear,
Wi’ the help o’ the Western breeze
But the very first sound they heard on the wide, smooth deck
Was the thumpin’ o’ them twa bare knees.

Out in the wild woods of Americay
Where their weary feet they set,
But Stumpy was there first they say, and haunted them to
Their dying day, And he haunts their children yet.

Now that's the story o’ Stumpy’s Brae
And the murderer’s fearful fate.
Young friend, your face is turned that way,
This night you'll gang that gate.

Ye’ll ken it well, through the few fir trees
The house where they were wont to dwell
If ye meet any there as daylight flees,
Stumping about on the banes o’ his knees,
It’ll just be Stumpy himsel’.

Saturday, 31 March 2012


contained in the BALLADS OF DOWN by GEORGE


The Goodwife of the house had risen up
And cleared the liberal board of plate and cup,
And Maxwell to his press had turned about, .
To bring his best of gin and whiskey out.
When someone came a-knocking at the door,
And in, amid the night-wind's ocean-roar.
The Elder, Gordon, staggered, scared and cold,
And all at once his late experience told : —

“ Thon Ha'nted Glen sae murk wi' trees,
Wi' win's an' waters plainin',
It male's the bluid wi' terror freeze
Its paths tae walk alane in ;
Whun evenin's glooms aroon it fa'
An' dismal night grows thicker,
Ugh, then the wailin' voices ca'.
An' then the derk shapes flicker.

" It 's no that A believe the Deed
Can ha'nt an' scaur the leevin';
Tae Mon the Blessed Buik haes said
Tae dee but yince is given.
An', haevin' deed, anither Ian'
Becomes the sperrit's centre ;
It 's bad' this Airth far'weel, an' can
Nae mair this Airth reenter.

" It 's nae the Deed A fear, fur they
Can wark nae herm tae mortal ;
But dear ! sich shapes an' soon's uv wae
The staniest heart wud startle !
They 're moanin' there, they 're jibberin' here,
Ahint, afore, they 're flittin'.
They 're getherin' far, they 're crowdin' near,
Or cloak'd an' dumb they 're sittin';

" An' a' sae sudden ower my sight
The spectral forms come gl'amin',
A shiver ower wi' tinglin' fright.
My een wi' draps ir str'amin'.
It 's no that A believe the Deed,
Ye ken, can ha'nt the leevin';
But thon Glen's paths alane A '11 tread
Nae mair by night or even.

" A jist wuz walkin' frae the Kirk,
An' tuk the beechwud loanin' . .
An' my ! the night is wild an' murk.
An' hoo the wuds ir groanin'! . .
A miss'd the turn, an', ugh, A stray'd
Adoon the way A dreadit,
An' as it wound through deeper shade
A scarce had stren'th tae tread it.

"Ootstertit jist afore my fit
A rat, or weasel, slidin';
An' roon' aboot me seem'd tae flit
A grey owl frae his hidin';
An' then the Shapes begood tae talc'
Their sates on bank an' hollow ; —
An', ugh, A heerd ahint my back
A dismal futstep follow !

" A turn'd aroon', an' there A seed —
Great Gude ! — a ghaistly figure
Wi' bluid-stain'd neck and mangled heed !
A summon'd a' my vigour,
A strud alang, an' nae luik'd roon',
But onward strain'd a-trem'lin',
And aye A heerd the futstep's soon'
Through a' the tempest's rem'lin'.

" A gasp'd fur braith, my heart stud still,
My stren'th tae water meltit,
My fit, thrust doon tae climb the hill,
Scarce reach'd the road or felt it.
At last I spied the cheerfu' glame
Here shinin' frae yer wundee,
An', Gude be praised, ye 're a' at hame.
An' gie an' kin' A 've faund ye !

"It's no that A believe the Deed—
Ye min' — can ha'nt the Leevin';
But thon Glen's paths alane A '11 tread
Nae mair by night or even."

" Dear ! " said the Goodwife, " Mister Gurdon, Sir,
Thon wuz a fearfu' veesion ! . . Wully, stir
The greesugh. . . Sit ye. Mister Gurdon, doon,
An' Wully '11 mak' ye up a jorum soon,
An' thon 'ull scaur the spectres frae yer ee,
An' werm yer buzzom. Tak' thon erm-chair, see ! "
And Maxwell in his hand a tumbler set
And bade the Elder, cold and dazed and wet,
Sit in beside the hearth, and dry his feet
Before the glowing pile of logs and peat...