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Poem by Janet Hamilton
A Ballad She was wearin' awa'! she was wearin' awa'! Wi' the leaves in October, we thocht she wad fa', For her cheek was owre red, an' her e'e was owre bricht, Whaur the saul leukit oot like an angel o' licht. She dwelt in the muirlan's amang the red bells O' the sweet hinny heather that blooms on the fells, Whaur the peesweep an' plover are aye on the wing, An' the lilt o' the lav'rock's first heard in the Spring. As black as a craw, an' as saft as the silk, Were the lang locks that fell on a neck like the milk; She was lithesome an' lo'esome as lassie micht be, An' saft was the love-licht that danc'd in her e'e. Puir Effie had lov'd; a' the hopes an' the fears, The plagues an' the pleasures, the smiles an' the tears O' love she had kenn'd—she had gane thro' them a' For fause Jamie Crichton—O' black be his fa'! The auldest o' five, whan a lassie o' ten, She had baith the hoose an' the bairnies to fen'; The mither had gane whan she was but a bairn, Sae Effie had mony sad lessons to learn. At hame, had ye seen her amang the young chips, The sweet law o' kindness was aye on her lips; She kamed oot their hair, wash'd their wee hackit feet, Wi' sae tentie a haun that a bairn wadna greet. She was to her faither the licht o' his een, He said she wad be what her mither had been— A fair an' sweet sample o' true womanhood, Sae carfu' an' clever, sae bonnie an' guid, The cot-house it stood on the lip o' the burn, That wimpled an' jinkit wi' mony a turn Roun' the fit o' the heather-fring'd gowany brae, Whaur the ae cow was tether'd, an bairnies at play. Sweet Effie was juist in the midst o' her teens Whan she gat the first inkling o' what wooing means Frae a chiel in the clachan, wha aften was seen Stealin' up the burnside to the cot-hoose at e'en. On a saft simmer gloamin' I saw them mysel' On the bank o' the burnie, an' weel I cou'd tell, By the hue on her cheek, an' the blink o' her e'e, That her young love was his, an' wad evermair be. Belyve to fair Effie cam' wooers galore, An' mony saft tirlin's at e'en on the door; She smiled on them a', but gied welcome to nane— Her first love an' last was young Jamie's alane. An' Jamie, wha ne'er was a week frae her side, Had vowed e'er a towmond to mak' her his bride; Her troth she had gi'en him wi' blushes an' tears— It was sweet—O, hoo sweet! tho' whiles she had fears; For a wee burdie sang, as roun' her it flew, Sweet lassie, tak' tent—he's owre sweet to be true; He's oot in the e'enin's whan ye dinna ken, An' they say he's been seen wi' Kate o' the Glen. But Effie wad lauch, an' wad sae to hersel', What lees an' what clashes thae bodies maun tell, For my Jamie has sworn to be true to the death, An' nocht noo can pairt us as lang's we ha'e breath. Ae short winter Sabbath, juist as it grew mirk, The faither cam' hame—he had been at the kirk; His cheek was sae white, an' his leuk was sae queer, That Effie glower'd at him in dredour an' fear. Then he said, "My ain Effie, puir mitherless lass! Oh wha wad ha'e thocht this wad e'er come to pass? Thy Jamie, this day, in the kirk was proclaim'd, An' Katie MacLean for his bride they ha'e named. I was tauld on the road by ane that maun ken, Her grannie was ance the gudewife o' the Glen, An' she left to young Katie a hantle o' gear— It's gear Jamie wants, an' there's naething o't here." An' what said puir Effie? She stood like a stane, But faintin', or greetin', or cryin', was nane; Her sweet lips they quiver'd, the bluid frae her cheek Flew back to her heart, but nae word cou'd she speak. The faither sat doun, laid her head on his breast: "On God an' her faither my Effie maun rest, They ne'er will deceive thee—thy wrangs are richt sair; Gin Jamie had wed thee they micht ha'e been mair." Sune Effie gat up, gied her faither some meat, Put the bairnies to bed, yet ne'er could she greet— Her young heart was stricken—the fountains were dry That gush frae the een wi' a tearfu' supply. That nicht at the reading she joined in the psalm, Her cheek it was pale, but her brow it was calm; An' faither he pray'd, as she knelt by his side, That God his dear lassie wad comfort an' guide. The winter gaed by, an' the hale simmer thro' She tosh'd up the hoose, fed an' milkit the cow; The cauld warl' had nocht that she cared for ava, Her life it was silently meltin' awa'. O! whaur noo the love-licht that sparkled ere while In her bonny black e'e? O! whaur noo the smile That dimpled her cheek? They were gane! they were gane! Yet she ne'er shed a tear, an' ne'er made a mane. An' sae she was wearin', fast wearin' awa'! Wi' the leaves in October sweet Effie did fa'! Her mournin' was ended, an' blissfu' an' bricht The dear lassie dwells wi' the angels o' licht.
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