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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Gentle Shepherd

By Allan Ramsay (1686–1758)

Prologue to the Scene
BENEATH the south side of a craigy bield,

Where crystal springs the halesome waters yield,

Twa youthfu’ shepherds on the gowans lay,

Tenting their flocks ae bonny morn of May.

Poor Roger granes, till hollow echoes ring;

But blyther Patie likes to laugh and sing.

Tune—‘The Wauking of the Faulds.’

My Peggy is a young thing,

Just entered in her teens,

Fair as the day, and sweet as May,

Fair as the day, and always gay.

My Peggy is a young thing,

And I’m not very auld,

Yet well I like to meet her at

The wauking of the fauld.

My Peggy speaks sae sweetly,

Whene’er we meet alane,

I wish nae mair to lay my care,—

I wish nae mair of a’ that’s rare.

My Peggy speaks sae sweetly,

To a’ the lave I’m cauld;

But she gars a’ my spirits glow,

At wauking of the fauld.

My Peggy smiles sae kindly,

Whene’er I whisper love,

That I look down on a’ the town,—

That I look down upon a crown.

My Peggy smiles sae kindly,

It makes me blyth and bauld;

And naething gi’es me sic delight

As wauking of the fauld.

My Peggy sings sae saftly,

When on my pipe I play,

By a’ the rest it is confest,—

By a’ the rest, that she sings best.

My Peggy sings sae saftly,

And in her sangs are tauld,

With innocence, the wale o’ sense,

At wauking of the fauld.

This sunny morning, Roger, cheers my blood,

And puts all nature in a jovial mood.

How heartsome is’t to see the rising plants,—

To hear the birds chirm o’er their pleasing rants!

How halesome is’t to snuff the cawler air,

And all the sweets it bears, when void of care!

What ails thee, Roger, then? what gars thee grane?

Tell me the cause of thy ill-season’d pain.

I’m born, O Patie! to a thrawart fate;

I’m born to strive with hardships sad and great!

Tempests may cease to jaw the rowan flood,

Corbies and tods to grein for lambkins’ blood,

But I, opprest with never-ending grief,

Maun ay despair of lighting on relief.

The bees shall loath the flower, and quit the hive,

The saughs on boggie ground shall cease to thrive,

Ere scornfu’ queans, or loss of warldly gear,

Shall spill my rest, or ever force a tear!

Sae might I say; but it’s no easy done

By ane whase saul’s sae sadly out of tune.

You have sae saft a voice, and slid a tongue,

You are the darling of baith old and young.

If I but ettle at a sang, or speak,

They dit their lugs, syne up their leglens cleek,

And jeer me hameward frae the loan or bught,

While I’m confused with mony a vexing thought.

Yet I am tall, and as well built as thee,

Nor mair unlikely to a lass’s ee;

For ilka sheep ye have, I’ll number ten;

And should, as ane may think, come farther ben.

But aiblins! nibour, ye have not a heart,

And downa eithly with your cunzie part:

If that be true, what signifies your gear?

A mind that’s scrimpit never wants some care.

My byar tumbled, nine braw nowt were smoored,

Three elf-shot were, yet I these ills endured:

In winter last my cares were very sma’,

Though scores of wathers perished in the snaw.

Were your bein rooms as thinly stocked as mine,

Less ye wad loss, and less ye wad repine.

He that has just enough can soundly sleep;

The o’ercome only fashes fowk to keep.

May plenty flow upon thee for a cross,

That thou may’st thole the pangs of mony a loss;

Oh, may’st thou doat on some fair paughty wench,

That ne’er will lout thy lowan drowth to quench:

Till brised beneath the burden, thou cry dool,

And awn that ane may fret that is nae fool.

Sax good fat lambs, I said them ilka clute

At the West-port, and bought a winsome flute,

Of plum-tree made, with iv’ry virles round,

A dainty whistle, with a pleasant sound:

I’ll be mair canty wi’t,—and ne’er cry dool,—

Than you with all your cash, ye dowie fool!

Na, Patie, na! I’m nae sic churlish beast;

Some other thing lies heavier at my breast.

I dreamed a dreary dream this hinder night,

That gars my flesh a’ creep yet with the fright.

Now, to a friend, how silly’s this pretense,—

To ane wha you and a’ your secrets kens!

Daft are your dreams, as daftly wad ye hide

Your well-seen love, and dorty Jenny’s pride.

Take courage, Roger, me your sorrows tell,

And safely think nane kens them but yoursell.

Indeed now, Patie, ye have guessed o’er true;

And there is naithing I’ll keep up frae you.

Me dorty Jenny looks upon asquint,—

To speak but till her I dare hardly mint;

In ilka place she jeers me air and late,

And gars me look bombazed and unco blate.

But yesterday I met her yont a knowe,—

She fled as frae a shelly-coated kow.

She Bauldy looes,—Bauldy that drives the car,—

But gecks at me and says I smell of tar.

But Bauldy looes not her. Right well I wat

He sighs for Neps. Sae that may stand for that.

I wish I couldna looe her—but in vain:

I still maun doat, and thole her proud disdain.

My Bawty is a cur I dearly like:

Till he yowled sair she strak the poor dumb tyke;

If I had filled a nook within her breast,

She wad have shawn mair kindness to my beast.

When I begin to tune my stock and horn,

With a’ her face she shaws a cauldrife scorn.

Last night I played,—ye never heard sic spite:

‘O’er Bogie’ was the spring, and her delyte,

Yet tauntingly she at her cousin speered

Gif she could tell what tune I played, and sneered!

Flocks, wander where ye like, I dinna care:

I’ll break my reed, and never whistle mair!

E’en do sae, Roger, wha can help misluck?

Saebeins she be sic a thrawn-gabbit chuck,—

Yonder’s a craig, since ye have tint all houp:

Gae till’t your ways, and take the lover’s lowp!

I needna mak sic speed my blood to spill:

I’ll warrant death come soon enough a-will.

Daft gowk! leave aff that silly whingin way;

Seem careless,—there’s my hand ye’ll win the day.

Hear how I served my lass I looe as weel

As ye do Jenny, and with heart as leel.

Last morning I was gay and early out;

Upon a dyke I leaned glowring about;

I saw my Meg come linking o’er the lee;

I saw my Meg, but Meggy saw na me,—

For yet the sun was wading through the mist,

And she was close upon me e’er she wist;

Her coats were kiltit, and did sweetly shaw

Her straight bare legs that whiter were than snaw.

Her cockernony snooded up fou sleek,

Her haffet locks hang waving on her cheek;

Her cheek sae ruddy, and her een sae clear;

And oh! her mouth’s like ony hinny pear.

Neat, neat she was, in bustine waistcoat clean,

As she came skiffing o’er the dewy green.

Blythsome I cried, “My bonny Meg, come here:

I ferly wherefore ye’re sae soon asteer;

But I can guess, ye’re gawn to gather dew.”

She scoured awa, and said, “What’s that to you?”

“Then fare ye weel, Meg-dorts; and e’en’s ye like!”

I careless cried, and lap in o’er the dyke.

I trow, when that she saw, within a crack

She came with a right thieveless errand back:

Miscawed me first; then bad me hound my dog,

To wear up three waff ewes strayed on the bog.

I leugh; and sae did she; then with great haste

I clasped my arms about her neck and waist;

About her yielding waist, and took a fouth

Of sweetest kisses frae her glowing mouth.

While hard and fast I held her in my grips,

My very saul came lowping to my lips.

Sair, sair she flet wi’ me ’tween ilka smack,

But weel I kend she meant nae as she spak.

Dear Roger, when your jo puts on her gloom,

Do ye sae too, and never fash your thumb:

Seem to forsake her, soon she’ll change her mood;

Gae woo anither, and she’ll gang clean wood.

Tune—‘Fye, gar rub her o’er wi’ strae.’

DEAR Roger, if your Jenny geck,

And answer kindness with a slight,

Seem unconcerned at her neglect;

For women in a man delight,

But them despise who’re soon defeat,

And with a simple face give way

To a repulse: then be not blate,—

Push bauldly on, and win the day.

When maidens, innocently young,

Say often what they never mean,

Ne’er mind their pretty lying tongue,

But tent the language of their een:

If these agree, and she persist

To answer all your love with hate,

Seek elsewhere to be better blest,

And let her sigh when ’tis too late.

Kind Patie, now fair fa’ your honest heart,—

Ye’re ay sae cadgy, and have sic an art

To hearten ane! for now, as clean’s a leek,

Ye’ve cherished me since ye began to speak.

Sae, for your pains, I’ll mak ye a propine

(My mother, rest her saul! she made it fine):

A tartan plaid, spun of good hawslock woo,

Scarlet and green the sets, the borders blue;

With spraings like gowd and siller crossed with black:

I never had it yet upon my back.

Weel are ye wordy o’t, wha have sae kind

Redd up my raveled doubts, and cleared my mind.

Weel, had ye there! And since ye’ve frankly made

To me a present of your braw new plaid,

My flute’s be yours; and she too that’s sae nice

Shall come a-will, gif ye’ll take my advice.

As ye advise, I’ll promise to observ’t;

But ye maun keep the flute, ye best deserv’t.

Now tak it out, and gie’s a bonny spring,

For I’m in tift to hear you play and sing.

But first we’ll take a turn up to the height,

And see gif all our flocks be feeding right:

Be that time bannocks, and a shave of cheese,

Will make a breakfast that a laird might please;

Might please the daintiest gabs were they sae wise

To season meat with health instead of spice.

When we have ta’en the grace drink at this well,

I’ll whistle syne, and sing t’ye like mysell.[Exeunt.]