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“I can not drink without I break
The pledge I took when I was weak-
The pledge I took when drink had seared
My soul with sin, when shame besmeared
My daily walks, and vice o'erthrew
The good resolves I would pursue,
But could not. True I'll keep till death.
And no alluring art of thine
Shall tempt me to forsake my vow;
For it is sealed by grace divine!"
“By grace divine!" Those words sufficed
To slay the arts the tempter prized —
Sufficed to rob him of his prey,
And scatter all his hopes away;
And, angry at his own defeat,
He, murmuring, made a quick retreat.
“I will not drink!” The words were grand;
The man that spoke them brave and true. He felt the blessings temperance brings,
And vowed he would her path pursue.
HEN chapman billies1 leave the street,
An' thirsty neebors neebors meet;
As market-days are wearin' late,
An' folk begin to tak’ the gate;
While we sit drinkin' at the nappy,
An' gettin' fou an' unco happy;
We think na on the lang, lang miles,
The mosses, waters, gates an' styles,
That lie between us an' our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gath'rin' her brows like gath'rin' storm,
Nursin? her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam O’Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter.
O Tam, hadst thou but been sae wise,
As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum, 3
A bletherin', blusterin', drucken blellum;4
That frae November till October
Ae market-day thou wast na sober;
She prophesied that, late or soon,
Thou wad be found, deep-drown'd in Doon;
Or catch'd wi' wizards in the mirk 5
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
But to our tale: Ae market-night
Tam had got planted, unco right,
Fast by a fireplace bleezing finely,
Wi' frothin' ale that drank divinely;
An' at his elbow, Cobbler Johnny,
His ancient, trusty, thirsty crony.
The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter,
An'aye the ale was growin' better,
The landlady an' Tam grew gracious,
Wi' favors secret, sweet, an' precious;
The cobbler tauld his queerest stories;
The landlord's laugh was ready chorus.
The storm without might rair an' rustle-
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed,
Or like the snowfall in the river,
A moment white—then melts forever;
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 or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride
That hour, o' night's black arch the keystane,
That dreary hour he mounts his bcast in;
An' sic a night he tak's the road in,
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattlin' show'rs rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd, -
That night a child might understand.
The deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his gray meare, Meg-
A better never lifted leg-
Tam hasten'd on thro' dub? an' mire,
Despisin' wind an' rain an' fire;
Whiles holdin' fast his guid blue bonnet,
Whiles croonin' o'er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow'rin' round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares,
Kirk-Alloway was drawin' nigh,
Whare ghosts an' houlets nightly cry.
By this time he was cross the foord
Whare in the snaw the chapman smoor’d;
An' past the same unlucky stane
Whare drucken Charlie brak's neck-bane;
An' near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel'.
Before him Doon pours a' his floods;
The doublin' storm roars thro' the woods;
The lightnin's flash frae pole to pole;
Near an' more near the thunders roll;
When, glimmerin' through the groanin' trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze;
Thro’ilka hole the beams were glancin'
An' loud resounded mirth an' dancin'.
Inspirin', bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst mak’ us scorn !
The ale sae frothed in Taminie's noddle,
Fair play, he car'd na deils a boddle 8
Bnt Maggie stood, right sair astonished,
Till by the heel an' hand admonish'd,
She ventur'd forward on the light;
An', wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Goblins an' witches in a dance-
Nae cotillon brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, 9 an' reels
Put life an' mettle in their heels.
Upon a window in the east,
There sat Auld Nick, in shape o' beast,
A shaggy dog, black, grim, an' large,
To gie them music was his charge.
He screw'd the pipes an' made them skirli.
Till roof an' rafters a' did dirl. 11
Coffins stood round like open presses,
That shaw'd the dead in their last dresses,
An', by some dev’lish cantraip12 slight,
Each in his cauld hand held a light,
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table
Five tomahawks wi' bluid red-rusted,
Five scimitars wi' murder crusted,
Wi' mair o' horrible an' awfu'
Which ev’n to name wad be unlawfu'.
As Tammie glow'r'd, amaz’d an’ curious,
The mirth an' fun grew fast an' furious.
The piper loud an’ louder blew,
The dancers quick an' quicker flew.
But Tam kenn'd what was what fu' brawlie,
There was ae winsome wench an’ walie, 1 3
That night enlisted in the core
(Lang after kenn'd on Carrick shore;
For mony a beast to dead she shot,
An' perish'd mony a bonnie boat,
An' shook baith meikle corn an' bear, 14
An' kept the country-side in fear).
Behold how Nannie lap an' flang
(A souple jade she was an’ strang);
An' how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d,
An' thought his very een enrich'd.
Ev'n Satan glow'r'd an' fidg’d fu' fain,
An' hotched an' blew wi' might an' main.
Till, first ae caper, syne anither,
Tam lost his reason a'thegither,
An' roars out, “Weel done, pretty lark!”
An' in an instant a' was dark.
An' scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke15
When plunderin' herds assail their byke;16
As open pussie's mortal foes
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When “Catch the thief !” resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi' mony a ghostly screech an' hollow.
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'lt get thy fairin',
Below they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin'!
Kate soon will be a woefu' woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,
An' win the keystane o' the brig;
There, at them thou thy tail may toss,
A runnin' stream they dare na cross;
But ere the keystane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,