Willie brew’d a peck o’ malt,
And Rob and Allan cam to see,
But to our tale:- Ae market night,
Tam had got planted unco right,
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow Souter Johnie,
His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony:
Tam lo’ed him like a very Brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither.
The night drave on with sangs and clatter;
And ay the ale was growing better:
The Landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi’secret favours, sweet and precious:
The Souter told his queerest stories
The Landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair and rustle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E’en drowned himsel amang the nappy.
As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,
The minutes wing’d their way wi’ pleasure:
Kings may be blest but Tam was glorious,
Oe’r a’ the ills o’ life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white – then melts for ever;
Or like the Borealis race,
That flit ‘ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.
Nae man can tether Time nor Tide,
The hour approaches Tam maun ride –
That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane
That dreary hour Tam mounts his beast in:
And sic a night he took the road in,
As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d;
Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellow
That night, a child might understand,
The deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his grey meare Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire,
Despising wind and rain and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning oe’r an auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glowering round wi’ prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Aloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry.
Warlocks and witches in a dance:
Nae cotillon, brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunker in the East,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He screwed the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl. –
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw’d the dead in their last dresses;
And (by some devilish cantraip sleight)
Each in its cauld hand held a light.