Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Neebour Johnnie's Complaint

My aul' neebour Johnnie had lang been awa',
Twa towmonds an' mair I kent naething ava
O' what he was daein', or whaur he had been,
Till he juist pappit in to our dwallin' yestreen.
An' couthie an' kin' was oor meetin' I troo,
But the wrunkles were thick an' mair deep on his broo,
An' his heart it grew grit, an' his lip it would quiver,
An' he lookit as donsie an' dowie as ever.
Noo, Johnnie, quo' I, is't the wearifu' drink?
Is that neer-dae-weel callan o' yours on the brink
O' drucken destruction? has sorrow an' shame
Sitten doun on yer heart, yer house, an' yer name?
Weel, Nelly, my woman, it's e'en as ye say,
Like a ghaist I gae wan'erin' aboot a' the day,
At nicht, tho' sair wearit, my sleep I aft tine,
He is lost! O he's lost! an' I mourn an' repine.
An' aye ower my heart a dark feydom is hingin',
In my lug there's a soun' o' dule ever ringin'
For him wha ne'er sleeps till he's droon't his last groat,
An' wha's back is ne'er happit wi' jacket or coat.
To see him reel oot o' some publican's den
Wi' a face like the lum, an' his hair a' on en',
Gaun stoitin' an' sweerin' the hie road alang,
Hoo burnin' the shame, an' hoo bitter the pang.
But that's no the warst o't: he ance had a min'
That was mensefu' an' truthfu', an' honest an' kin',
But it's drink, O it's drink-a' gudeness is gane,
An' his heart is as caul' an' hard as a stane.
My malison on them, baith heavy an' deep,
Wha laid the first bow o' gude barley asteep,
An' wrocht it an' brocht it thro' worm an' thro' stell,
Till oot cam' a deil that the warl' canna quell.
Noo come ye wi' me an' leuk in at thae doors
Whaur barrels an' bottles are bing't up by scores,
It's there whaur the deil o' the stell ever lies,
An' we'll ne'er pit him oot till we stop the supplies.
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