Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Sheepieknowe: A Ballad

Aul' Sheepieknowe! how dear the name!
Lane birthplace o' my gude forbears;
Scene o' their life-lang cares an' toils,
Their sunny joys an' cloudy fears.
O! mony a simmer sun has shone,
An' mony a wintry blast has blawn
On thy laigh heather-theekit roof,
An' aul' grey wa's that steively staun.
An' mony a bairn first saw the licht
Aneath thy sooty, strang roof-tree-
That leev'd an' lov'd, an' toil'd, an there
Lay doun in faith an' hope to dee.
An' mony a bonnie lass, I ween,
Wi' blushin' cheek an' dooncast e'e,
In bridal gear thy cozie biel
Has left a dautit wife to be.
An' aft frae oot thy lowly door
The dead, wi' reverend hauns, were ta'en
To aul' Cam'nethan's lane kirkyard,
To sleep wi' frien's lang ages gane.
An' ilka nicht an' morn were heard
The soun' o' psalms, the voice o' prayer,
By faither raised, an' sweetly joined
By wife an' bairnies roun' him there.
Hoo welcome was the Sabbath rest!
Hoo sweet the Sabbath's holy calm!
On toilin' haun an' weary heart
It fell like heaven's ain blessed balm.
(May Scotlan' never quat the grip,
But haud her Sabbath firm an' fast,
Thro' skaith an' scorn, thro' taunts an' sneers,
An' let them lauch wha win at last.)
Thro' thy wee winnocks, Sheepieknowe,
Fell little sunshine in the cot;
Withoot, the beekin' simmer sun
Lay shadowless upon the spot.
The purple scad o' heather blooms
Fell on the e'e for acres roun';
But peesweep's cry and muirfowl's ca'
Ye wadna heard anither soun.'
A gowany sheet lay on the lee,
Spread by the hauns o' bonnie June;
Ilk simmer morn, on flichterin' wing,
The laverock liltit hie abune.
The wuds o' Murdiestane were green,
An' ringin' wi' the sang-birds' lay;
On Calder's wild an' wannerin' stream
The glintin' sunbeams saftly play.
In dowie mood, ae simmer day,
Alang the bank an' up the dell,
I wanner'd on. There's something wrang,
I said, but what I canna tell.
A shadow lay upon my heart,
The feydom o' some comin' ill;
I heard a stap, an' leukin' up,
Saw Cousin Hughie o' the Hill.
White as a ghaist, wi' bluidshot een,
He grasp'd an' chirted sair my haun;
'Oh Hughie!' then I gaspit oot,
'I thocht ye in a foreign lan'.'
'To me a' lan's are foreign noo-
Nae hame, nae haud ha'e I on yirth;
In burnin' shame, an' bitter wae,
I curse the hour that gied me birth.
'For she, wha's name I canna speak,
The woman that was ance my wife,
Has brocht disgrace upon my name,
An blastit a' my hopes in life.
'Ae year, nae mair, in luve an' bliss,
I spent wi' her, whan we were wed,
But luve, an' bliss, an' purity,
An' a' the wife should ha'e, have fled.
'I boud to leeve an' gang aboard
As surgeon in a man-o'-war;
Twa years frae hame, yet a' the while
She was my idol an' my star.
'We cam' to port, an' I got leeve,
An' flew on wings o' luve to rush
Into her arms, an' in my face
She leukit up withoot a blush.
'Her crime, like murder, wadna hide;
My frien's had kenn'd ere I cam' hame,
But had nae heart to sen' me word,
Sae bauld was she, e'en in her shame.
'I'll never leuk on her again,
Nor 'gainst my life will raise my haun;
Neist owk I sail to seek for death
By Afric's fever-stricken stran'.
'An' I am here ance mair to see-
Ance mair to tread upon the heather-
The wuds an braes o' Murdiestane,
Before I lea' them a' thegither.'
Like ane entranced I stude the while,
The tears were streaming down my cheek;
'God help, and guide thee, cousin dear'-
Anither word I cou'dna speak.
He took my haun again, an' said,
'Fareweel for ever, I maun gae.'-
I never saw his face again,
But mourn'd him sair for mony a day.
But, ere the heather bloomed again,
An' ere the gowans clad the lea,
He slept intil a foreign grave:
Rest, weary heart!-peace, peace to thee!
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