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Halloween

Yes! Let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
The simple pleasures of the lowly train:
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Goldsmith

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation


1.
Upon the night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray and rove,
Amang the rocks and streams
To sport that night:
2.
Amang the bonie winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear;
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
An' shook his Carrick spear;
Some merry, friendly, country-folks
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
An' haud their Hallowe'en
Fu' blythe that night.
3.
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':
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs
Weel-knotted on their garten;
Some unco blate, an' some wi' gabs
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin
Whyles fast at night.
4.
Then, first an' foremost, thro' the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, an' grape an' wale
For muckle anes, an' straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
An' wandered thro' the bow-kail,
An' pow't, for want o' better shift,
A runt, was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.
5.
Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
The vera wee-things, toddlin, rin
Wi' stocks out-owre their shouther:
An' gif the custock 's sweet or sour,
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne coziely, aboon the door,
Wi' cannie care, they 've placed them
To lie that night.
6.
The lasses staw frae 'mang them a',
To pou their stalks o' corn,
But Rab (Burns) slips out, an' jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard an' fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
Whan kiutlin in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.
7.
The auld guid-wife's weel-hoordet nits
Are round an' round divided,
An' monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle couthie, side by side,
An' burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa wi' saucy pride,
An' jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.
8.
Jean slips in twa, wi' tentie e'e;
Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, an' this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleez'd owre her, an' she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till fuff! He started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.
9.
Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was burnt wi' primsie Mallie;
An' Mary, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compar'd to Willie:
Mall's nit lap out, wi' pridefu' fling,
An' her ain fit, it burnt it;
While Willie lap, an' swoor by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.
10.
Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel an' Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin:
Nell's heart was dancin at the view;
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonie mou,
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.
11.
But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashing at their cracks,
An' slips out by hersel:
She thro' the yard the nearest taks,
An' to the kiln she goes then,
An' darklins grapit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.
12.
An' ay she win't, an' ay she swat --
I wat she made nae jaukin;
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin!
But whether 'twas the Deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did na wait on talkin
To spier that night.
13.
Wee Jenny to her grannie says,
'Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass,
I gat frae uncle Johnie':
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin,
She notic't na an aizle brunt
Her braw, new, worset apron
Out thro' that night.
14.
'Ye little skelpie-limmer's-face!
I daur ye try sic sportin,
As seek the Foul Thief onie place,
For him to spae your fortune:
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For monie a ane has gotten a fright,
An' liv'd an' died deleeret,
On sic a night.
15.
'Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
I mind't as weel's yestreen --
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I was na past fyfteen:
The simmer had been cauld an' wat,
An' stuff was unco green;
An' ay a rantin kirn we gat,
An' just on Halloween
It fell that night.
16.
'Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever, sturdy fallow;
His sin gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmachalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
An' he made unco light o't;
But monie a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That vera night.'
17.
Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,
An' he swoor by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense:
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
An' out a handfu' gied him;
Syne bad him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Sometime when nae ane see'd him,
An' try't that night.
18.
He marches thro' amang the stacks,
Tho' he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks,
And haurls at his curpin;
And every now and then, he says,
'Hemp-seed I saw thee,
An' her that is to be my lass
Come after me, an' draw thee
As fast this night'.
19.
He whistl'd up Lord Lenox' March,
To keep his courage cheery;
Altho' his hair began to arch,
He was sae fley'd an' eerie;
Till presently he hears a squeak,
An' then a grane an' gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
An' tumbl'd wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.
20.
He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
An' young an' auld come rinnin out,
An' hear the sad narration:
He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie --
Till stop! she trotted thro' them a';
An' wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night?
21.
Meg fain wad to the barn gaen,
To winn three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the Deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
An' twa red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That vera night.
22.
She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
An' owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca',
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattl'd up the wa',
An' she cry'd, L-d preserve her!
An' ran thro' midden-hole an' a',
An' pray'd wi' zeal and fervour
Fu' fast that night.
23.
They hoy't out Will, wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice,
Was timmer-propt for thrawin:
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak
For some black gruesome carlin;
An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin
Aff 's nieves that night.
24.
A wanton widow Leezie was,
As cantie as a kittlin;
But och! that night, amang the shaws,
She gat a fearfu' settlin!
She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
An' owre the hill gaed scrievin;
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn,
To dip her left sark-sleeve in
Was bent that night.
25.
Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As thro' the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays,
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickerin, dancin dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel
Unseen that night.
26.
Amang the brachens, on the brae,
Between her an' the moon,
The Deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up an' gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool;
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
But mist a fit, an' in the pool
Out-owre thelugs she plumpit
Wi' a plunge that night.
27.
In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged;
And ev'ry time great care is taen
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
Sin Mar's-year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heav'd them on the fire
In wrath that night.
28.
Wi' merry sangs, an' friendly cracks,
I wat they did na weary;
An unco tales, an' funnie jokes --
Their sports were cheap an' cheery:
Till butter'd sow'ns, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin;
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin
Fu' blythe that night.



Upon the night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Low-lands dance,
Or over the pastures, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers (swift horses) prance;
Or for Colean the road is taken,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night:

Among the lovely winding banks,
Where Doon runs, winding, clear;
Where Bruce once ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear;
Some merry, friendly, country people
Together did convene,
To burn their nuts, and pull their plants,
And keep their Halloween
Full blythe that night.

The girls spruce and cleanly neat,
More lovely than when they are fair;
Their faces blythe full sweetly show
Hearts loyal, and warm, and kind:
The lads so neat, with love-knots
Well knotted on their garters;
Some uncommonly shy, and some with talk
make girls' hearts go beating
Sometimes fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the cabbage,
Their stocks must all be sought (looked for) once;
They shut their eyes, and grope and choose
For big ones, and straight ones.
Poor foolish Will lost the way,
And wandered through the cabbage,
And pulled, for want of better choice,
A stalk, was like a sows tail,
So bent that night.

Then, straight or crooked, earth or none,
They roar and cry all through other (pell-mell);
The very children, toddling, run
With stalks over their shoulders:
And if the pith is sweet or sour,
With pocket-knives they taste them;
Then cozily, above the door,
With prudent care, they have placed them
To lie that night.

The girls stole from among them all,
To pull their stalks of corn,
But Robert (Burns) slips out, and dodges about,
Behind the large thorn:
He gripped Nelly hard and fast;
Loud squealed all the girls;
But her tap-pickle (grain at the stalk top) most was lost,
When cuddling in the hole in the corn stack
With him that night.

The old house wife's well hoarded nuts
Are round and round divided,
Andmany lads' and girls' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some inflame comfortably, side by side,
And burn together trimly;
Some start away with saucy pride,
And jump over the fireplace
Full high that night.

Jean slips in two, with watchful eye;
Who it was, she would not tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She whispers to herself:
He blazed over her, and she over him,
As they would never more part;
Till puff! He started up the chimney,
And Jean had ever a sore heart
To see it that night.

Poor Willie, with his cabbage stalk,
Was burnt with prim Molly;
And Mary, no doubt, took the huff,
To be compared to Willie:
Mall's nut leaped out, with prideful start,
And her own foot, it burnt it;
While Willie leaped, and swore by jing,
It was just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the hole in the corn stalk in her mind,
She puts herself and Rob (Robert Burns) in;
In loving blaze they sweetly join,
Till white in ashes they are sobbing:
Nell's heart was dancing at the view;
She whispered Rob (Burns) to look for it:
Rob, by stealth, tasted her lovely mouth (lips),
Full cozy in the corner for it,
Unseen that night.

But Marian sat behind their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She leaves them gabbing at their talk,
And slips out by herself:
She through the yard the nearest takes,
And to the kiln she goes then,
And in the dark grasps for the cross beams,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right afraid that night.

And always she wound it, and always she sweated -
I bet she made no trifling;
Till something held within the kiln-pot,
Good Lord! but she was quaking!
But whether it was the Devil himself,
Or whether it was a beam end,
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did not wait on talking
To ask that night.

Little Jenny to her grandmother says,
'Will you go with me, grandmother?
I will eat the apple at the glass,
I got from uncle Johnny':
She puffed her pipe with such a smoke,
In wrath she was so peavish,
She noticed it not an cinder burned
Her lovely, new, worsted apron
Out through that night.

'You little skelpie-limmer's-face!
I dare you try such sporting,
As seek the Foul Thief (The Devil) any place,
For him to tell your fortune:
No doubt but you may get a sight!
Great cause you have to fear it;
For many a one has gotten a fright,
And lived and died delirious (mad),
On such a night.'

One harvest before the Sheriffmuir,
I remember it as well as last night -
I was a young girl then, I am sure
I was not past (older than) fifteen:
The summer had been cold and wet,
And the grain was very green;
And always a rollicking harvest-home we got,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

'Our chief harvester was Rab M'Graen,
A clever, sturdy fellow;
His son got Eppie Sim with child,
That lived in Achmachalla:
He got hemp-seed, I remember it well,
And he made uncommonly light of it;
But many a day was by himself (off his wits),
He was so sorely frightened
That vera night.'

Then up got fighting Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could sow hemp-seed a peck (1/4 bushel);
For it was all but (merely) nonsense:
The old master of the house reached down the sack,
And out a handful gave him;
Then bade him slip from among the folk,
Sometime when no one saw him,
And try it that night.

He marches through among the stacks,
Though he was something staggered;
The manure-fork he for a harrow takes,
And trails at his crupper;
And every now and then, he says,
'Hemp-seed I sow you,
And her that is to be my girlfriend
Come after me, and draw you
As fast this night'

He whistled up Lord Lenox' March,
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was so scared and awe-stricken;
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a groan and grunt;
He round his shoulder gave a look,
And tumbled with a summersault
Out over that night.

He roared a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadful desperation!
And young and old came running out,
And hear the sad narration:
He swore it was halting Jean McCraw,
Or hunchbacked Marian Humphie -
Till stop! she trotted through them all;
And who was it but the pig
Astir that night?

Meg desirous would to the barn have gone,
To winnow three measures of nothing;
But for to meet the Devil all by herself,
She put but little faith in:
She gives the shepherd a few nuts,
And two red-cheeked apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very night.

She turns the key with careful twist,
And over the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie (Alexander) gives a call,
Then boldly in she enters:
A rat rattled up the wall,
And she cried, Lord preserve her!
And ran through the dunghill gutter and all,
And prayed with zeal and fervour
Full fast that night.

They urged out Will, with sore advice;
They promised him some fine lovely one;
It chanced the stack he fathomed it three times,
Was timber propped for throwing;
He takes a twisted, old moss-oak
For some black gruesome old woman;
And uttered a curse, and made a hit,
Till skin in shreds came hurling
Off his fists that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As lively as a kitten;
But och! that night, among the woods,
She got a fearful settling!
She through the gorse, and by the cairn,
And over the hill went careering;
Where three lairds' lands met at a burn (stream),
To dip her left shirt sleeve in
Was bent that night.

Now over a waterfall the steam plays,
As through the glen it meandered;
Sometimes round a rocky cliff it strays,
Sometimes in a eddy it dimpled it;
Sometimes glittered to the nightly rays,
With bickering, dancing dazzle;
Sometimes hid underneath the hill sides,
Below the spreading hazel
Unseen that night.

Among the ferns, on the hillside,
Between her and the moon,
The Devil, or else a young cow in the open,
Got up and gave a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart almost leaped the sheath;
Near lark high she jumped,
But missed a foot, and in the pool
Out over the ears she plumped
With a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stone,
The small wooden vessel three are ranged;
And every time great care is taken
To see them duly changed:
Old uncle John, who wedlock's joys
Since Mar's-year (1715) did desire,
Because he got the empty dish three times,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

With merry songs, and friendly talk,
I wager they did not weary;
A wondrous tales, and funny jokes -
Their sports were cheap and cheery:
Till buttered sows, with fragrant smoke,
Set all their tongues a wagging;
Then, with a social glass of liquor,
They parted off careering
Full blythe that night.

 

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