Heritage and Culture
Halloween by Robert Burns
Halloween by Robert Burns
(translated into English)
Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or over the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly horses prance;
Or for Colean the route 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 bonny winding banks,
Where the river Doon runs clear,
Where Bruce once ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nuts, and pile their shocks of wheat,
And have their Halloween
Full of fun that night.
The lasses feet, and cleanly neat,
More strong than when they're fine;
Their faces happy, full sweetly show,
Hearts faithful, warm, and kind;
The lads say true, with love knots,
Well knotted on their garters,
Some surprisingly shy, and some with chatter,
Cause the girls' hearts to get startin'
Whiles fast at night.
Then, first and foremost, through the cabbage,
Their stocks of wheat are sought at once;
They touch their own, and grasp and choose,
For very strong and straight ones.
Poor fellow Will fell off the drift,
And wander'd through the cabbage,
And pulled, for want o' better shift,
A cabbage like a pig's-tail,
So bent that night.
Then, straight or crooked, earth or none,
They roar and cry all throughout there;
The very little children, toddling, run,
With stocks out over their shoulders;
And if the custard's sweet or sour.
With pocketknives they taste them;
Thereafter cozily, about the door,
With clever care, they've placed them
To lie that night.
The girls steal away from among them all
To pull their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and plays about,
Behind the very large thorn:
He grabbed onto Nelly hard and fast;
Loud screamed all the other girls;
But the grain at the top of her stalk was lost,
When cuddling in the haystacks
With him that night.
The old guidwife's well-hoarded nuts,
Are round and round divided,
And many lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle cosily, side by side,
And burn together trimly;
Some start away, with saucy pride,
And jumpout over the chimney
Full high that night.
Jean slips in between with careful eye;
What it was she wouldn't tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to herself:
He drunk over her, and she over him,
As they would never more part;
Till, puff! he started up the hide and seek,
And Jean had a a sore heart
To see't that night.
Poor Willie, with his little cabbage,
Was stuck with prudish Mallie;
And Mallie, no doubt, thought it rude,
To be thought a match for Willie;
Mall's nut leaped out with prideful fling,
And her own fit it, inpertinent;
While Willie laughed, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.
Nell had the haystacks in her mind,
She puts herself and Rob in;
In loving bliss they sweetly join,
Till white in ashes they're sobbing;
Nell's heart was dancing at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to look for it:
Rob, stealthily, aprised her bonny mouth,
Full cosy in the nook for it,
Unseen that night.
But Merran sat behind their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She leaves them chattering at their tales,
And slips out by herself:
She through the yard the nearest takes,
And to the fire goes then,
And in the dark grabbed for the box,
And in the blue-spell throws then,
Right afraid that night.
And yes she won it, and yes she swore,
It was what she made no joking,
Till something held within the pot,
Good Lord! but she was quaking!
But whether it was the devil himself,
Or whether it was a shadow,
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did not wait on talking
To ask that night.
Small Jennie to her grannie says,
"Will ye go with me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass
I'll get free of Uncle Johnnie."
She puffed her pipe with such a column of smoke,
In anger she was so vapouring,
She noticed it not, an cinder burned
Her fine new worsted apron
Out through that night.
"You little scolding woman's face!
I dare you try such sporting,
As seek the foul thief any place,
For him to spy 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
On such a night.
"One harvest before the Sherramoor, --
I remember it as well as last night,
I was a young girl then, I'm sure
I was not past fifteen;
The summer had been cold and wet,
And stuff was very green;
And yes a merry harvest home we got,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.
"Our chief reaper was Rob McGreen,
A clever sturdy fellow:
His son got Eppie Sim with child,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He got hemp-seed, I remember it well,
And he made little fuss of it;
But many a day was by himself,
He was so sorely frighted
That very night."
Then up got fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could sow hemp-seed a peck;
For it was all but nonsense.
The old guidman reached down the bag,
And out a handful gave him;
Then asked him slip from among the folk,
Some time when no one would see him,
And try it that night.
He marches through among the stacks,
Though he was something frightened;
The dung fork he for a weapon takes.
And hurls it at the buttocks of his horse;
And every now and then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night."
He whistled up Lord Lennox' march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to stand on end,
He was so scared and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grown and grunting;
He over his shoulder gave a peek,
And tumbled with a stagger
Out over that night.
He roared a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadful desperation!
And young and old came running out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore it was hobbled Jean McCraw,
Or hunchbacked Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And what was it but a pig
A'stir that night!
Meg gladly would to the barn have gone,
To win three measures of nothing;
But for to meet the devil her alone,
She put but little faith in:
She gives the herdboy a little 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 quiet twist,
And ovre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sandy gives a call
The boldly in she enters:
A ratt rattled up the wall,
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through gutter at the bottom of the dung hole,
And prayed with zeal and fervour,
Full fast that night;
They hoisted out Will with strong advice;
They promised him some fine handsome one;
It chanced the stack he fathomed three times
Was timber-propped for twisiting;
He takes a twisted, old moss-oak,
For some black grusome witch;
And let a curse, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in shreds came trailing
Off his fists that night.
A wanton widow Lizzie was,
As cheerful as a kitten;
But, oh! that night among the woods,
She got a fearful settling!
She through the furz, and by the grave,
And over the hill goes careering,
Where three lords' lands met at a rivulet
To dip her left shirt-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.
While ovre a waterfall the river plays,
As through the glen it meandered;
While round a jutting rock it strays;
While in an eddy it dimpled;
While glittered to the nightly rays,
With bickering, dancing dazzle;
While hidden underneath the slope of a hill,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.
Among the brackens, on the slope,
Between her and the moon,
The devil, or else an unhoused cow,
Got up and gave a moo!
Poor Lizzie's heart most leap out of her chest!
Near lark-height she jumped;
But missed a foot, and in the pool
Out-over the ears she falls in,
With a plunge that night.
In order, on the clean hearth-stone,
The porrigers three are ranged,
And every time great care is taken,
To see them duly changed:
Old Uncle John, wanted wedlock joys
Since Mar's year (1715) did desire,
Because he got the empty dish three times,
He heaved them on the fire
In anger that night.
With merry songs, and friendly tales,
I know they didn't weary;
And many tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till buttered scones, with fragrant steam,
Set all their mouths a'stirring;
Then, with a social glass of liquor,
They parted off careering
Full happy that night.