On Halloween


Some folk in courts for pleasure  sue,
	An' some ransack the theatre:
The airy nymph is won by  few;
        She's of so coy a nature.
She shuns the great bedaub'd with lace,
        Intent on rural jokin
An' spite o' breeding, deigns to grace
        A merry Airshire rockin,
			Sometimes at night.

At Halloween, when fairy  sprites
        Perform their mystic gambols,
When ilka witch her neebour greets,
       On their nocturnal  rambles;
When elves at midnight-hour are  seen,
       Near hollow caverns  sportin,
Then lads an' lasses aft convene,
        In hopes to ken their  fortune,
			By freets that night.

At Jennet Reid's not long  ago,
       Was held an annual  meeting,
Of lasses fair an' fine  also,
       With charms the most  inviting:
Though it was wat, an' wondrous  mirk,
       It stopp'd nae kind  intention;
Some sprightly youths, frae Loudon-kirk,
       Did haste to the  convention,
			Wi' glee that night.

The nuts upon a clean hearthstane,
       Were plac'd by ane  anither,
An' some gat lads, an' some gat  nane,
        Just as they bleez'd the gither.
Some sullen cooffs refuse to burn;
        Bad luck can ne'er be mended;
But or they a' had got a  turn,
        The pokeful nits was ended
			Owre soon that night.

A candle on a stick was  hung,
        An' ti'd up to the kipple:
Ilk lad an' lass, baith auld an' young,
        Did try to catch the  apple;
Which aft, in spite o' a' their  care,
         Their furious jaws  escaped;
They touch'd it ay, but did nae  mair,
         Though greedily they  gaped,
			Fu' wide that night.

The dishes then, by joint  advice,
         Were plac'd upon the floor;
Some stammer'd on the toom ane thrice,
         In that unlucky hour.
Poor Mall maun to the garret  go,
         Nae rays o' comfort meeting;
Because sae aft she's answered no,
         She'll spend her days in  greeting,
			An' ilka  night.

Poor James sat trembling for his fate;
          He lang had dree'd the worst o't;
Though they had tugg'd and rugg'd till yet,
          To touch the dish he durst  not.
The empty bowl, before his  eyes,
          Replete with ills appeared;
No man nor maid could make him  rise,
          The consequence he feared
			Sae much that night.

Wi' heartsome glee the minutes  past,
          Each act to mirth conspired:
The cushion game perform'd at last,
          Was most of all admired.
From Janet's bed a bolster  came,
          Nor lad nor lass was missing;
But ilka ane wha caught the  same,
          Was pleas'd wil routh o' kissing,
			Fu' sweet that night.

Soon as they heard the forward  clock
           Proclaim 'twas nine, they  started,
An' ilka lass took up her rock;
           Reluctantly they parted,
In hopes to meet some other  time,
           Exempt from false aspersion;
Nor will they count it any  crime,
           To hae sic like diversion
			Some future night.

(1792)


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