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Poem by James Macaulay

On the Expulsion of the Scots Language


Gae wa, gae wa, e antique wight,
An neer be seen by day or night;
Out oer the muntains tak your flight, 
	Bet west or north,
But never mair come in o sight
	O bonny Forth.


You dinna suit the present age. 
Whan pure refinement is the rage, 
An ilka birky maun engage
	In some new ferlie,  
No like your antiquated sage,
	In times mair early.


The modes, the fashions, an the laws,
Hae seen in you a heap o flaws; 
An folk, wi ony feck o braws,
	That wont to prize you, 
I winna say I ken the cause,
	But they despise you.


Some wad-be bardies, now an then,     
Will try to flourish wi their pen,
An mak an unco clumsy fen
	To paint your beauty;
But a wha reads may easy ken 
	Their aims but fouty.


Na, na; fin Habby Simpfon1 sung,
Thy Muse her harp has seldom strung; 
For ane may as weel on a rung
	Ride oer to Five, 
As finish ought as he begun,
	An sang thro life.


Now Fergusson contends the bays 
In vain, wi Ramsays hame-spun lays; 
Theyre gotten baith their skair o praise,
	An now theyre gane
Whar ilka chieldys words an ways
	Maun stan their lane.


They had their day;  an sae hae you, 
An (tween us twa) theyve no been few, 
For fernyear after fernyear grew
	Your hydra head, 
But southran lingo, now, I trow,
	Maun tak the lead.


We a maun cour to JONNY BULL, 
Sin now our ilka laws his will;
For he can hand as weel as pull, 
	Do what we like,
An, wha wad risk a broken scull
	Wi fic a tyke?


You needna wonder youre addressd
In rhimes sae mony now detest; 
Its just because you ken them best,
	An naething ither,
For fair Im grievd, I maun confesst,
	To drive you thither.  


I own, whan ane stays in a place, 
An dinna kith nor kin disgrace, 
Its hard they dare na shaw their face
	But now an then 
Like some far-aff outlandish race,
	That few folk ken:


For naething can be to your charge
Sae laid, as may your good name splarge; 
Tho drest in superfine, or serge,
	You graced the causey: 
Frae poortith you may yet emerge,
	An look sou gawsey?


Im sure, I wish it may be sae,
An that you stay na lang away;
For mony a canty, happy day, 
	Us twa hae seen,
Whan minding naething but our play
	Frae morn till een:


An gin you ever shoud come back, 
An a your former honours tak; 
Whan that day comes, Is no be slack 
	To use you brawly,
For Im your friend (tho thus I crack),

1. Late piper of Kilbarchan.

James Macaulay

James Macaulay's other poems:
  1. On the Warlike Preparations of 1787
  2. To Mr. R***** B****, Ayrshire

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