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Poem by David Sillar


Soon as the potion works their human count’nance
Th’ express resemblance of the gods, is chang’d
Into some brutish form of Wolf or Bear;
And they, so perfect is their misery,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement.
But boast themselves more comely than before;
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.

                                        MILTON’S COMUS.

Poets, wi’ muckle wit an’ skill, 
Hae sung the virtues o’ Scots yill; 
An’ wi’ the worth o’ Highlan’ gill
	Our ears hae rung: 
The bad effects o’ Whisky still	
	Remains unsung.	

I’m fair surpris’d how whisky poison,
Frae’ men o’ sense, has got fie fraisin’: 
They might hae sung, wi’ greater reason,
	Gude callor water, 
Which cheaper is in ony season,	
	An’ slockens better.

Hail! callor burn! chief o’ Scots drink! 
To purchase thee we need nae clink: 
Just lout out owre a burny’s brink,
	An’ tak our fill; 
’Twill neither mak us glowr nor wink,
	Like whisky gill.

But whisky, warst o’ Scotland curses, 
Than it I ken o’ nane that warse is; 
It maks poor bodies draw their purses,
	Tho’ hunger stare, 
An’ pawn their dudds for’t aff their a – es,
	An’ rin thread bare.

The whisky trade – Deil cares wha had it: 
My curse on him at first wha made it;
May’t doubly light on those wha spread it,
	An’ drinkin’ cherish;
Lord toom their pouch, an’ clip their credit,
	For fear we perish.

Whaever at their wark wad thrive, 
Sud a’ wi’ ane anither strive, 
To keep a sense o’ shame alive,	
	Within their sphere, 
An’ no’ let whisky-drinkin’ drive
	Them to despair.

I’ve seen chiels aft-times, i’ their daffin, 
Sit down to tak a social chappin; 
But ere they raise, wi’ their gif-gaffin,
	Hae bred a brulzie, 
Was like to en’ their mirth an’ laughin’
	In bitter tulzie.

When kintra fock gang till a roup,
Wee blastet ghaist! the whisky stoup,
Aft gars them claw a ragget doup –
	Their fear it buries,
Then gars them dance hap-stap-an’-loup, 
	An’ bid like furies.

It maks men to their passions blin’,
It maks young lasses unco kin’:	
Fill ten o’ them, I’ll wad there’s nine	
	Their fame wad spatter, 
Whase characters wad catch nae stain
	Frae callor water.

It taks the best bits o’ the fiel; 
It robs our markets o’ gude meal; 
It aft-times maks the simple chiel
	Baith fa’ an’ swagger;
An’ turns him aft a ne’er-do-well,
	Or randy begger.

It mither is o’ much offence; 
It borders ay on some mischance; 
It leads poor mortals aft a dance,
	Shame to be seen!
Then lea’es them in a drunken trance,
	Fyl’d to the een.

A wee drap whisky’s unco gude;
It cheers the heart, an’ warms the blood,
An’ pits our spirits in gude mood;
	But tent niest verse: 
Owre muckle o’t pits fock red wood,
	An’ sometimes warse.

“I own a man brought frae the hill,
“Clap in his cheek a Highlan’ gill;
“Say, Such is royal George’s will,
	“An’ there’s the foe,
“He’ll hae nae thought, but how to kill
	“Twa at a blow.” 

But gie him whisky till he’s fou, 
Then o’ his actions tak a view: 
Poor, doited deil! what can he do,
	In sic debauches, 
But curse, blaspheme, swear, bock an’ spue?
	The wretch o’ wretches!

I’ve seen (an’ aft my heart’s been wae)
Unthinkin’ mortals led astray;
By whisky made a certain prey,
	First to dejection,
Then led by B**ds the beaten way
	To their destruction.

O a’ ye Lords wha rule the nation. 
An’ Commoners o’ ev’ry station, 
Ye’ll sen’ the kintra to d-mn-tion,
	An’ that ye’ll see, 
Whene’er ye grant the distillation
	O’ curst whisky.

But tak your chance, gif ye do grant it,
I’ll lay my lugs ye’ll be affrontet:
Ye’ll maybe fair some day repent it,
	When past remead,
That ever whisky free was ventet
	On this fide Tweed.

By grantin’ it, ye’re maybe thinkin’, 
Your rents at Beltan ye’ll get clinkin’; 
But, deil-ma’-care! ye’ll get a jinkin’
	Will gar you glunch, 
When rents are spent by tenants drinkin’
	Your whisky punch.

I speak na this like frantic fools, 
Or children o’ the prophet’s schools, 
Wha at this wark   are merely tools
	Without reflection; 
I point out facts, an’ Nature’s rules
	Gie me direction.

But no’ to mak mae words about it, 
Those wha believe it not may doubt it, 
An’ bouse till ance they’re fairly goutet,
	An’ then they’ll ken, 
If they, or those wha live without it,
	Are wisest men.

David Sillar

Poem Theme: Whisky

David Sillar's other poems:
  1. Epistle to the Critics
  2. Epistle to J**N G****E, a Famous Theologist and Astronomer
  3. Verses, Occasioned by a Reply to Burns’ Calf by an Unco Calf
  4. Money Makes the Mare to Go
  5. Song IV

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • William M’Vitie Whisky ("O Whisky! Whisky! pest and nuisance")

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