The Bandsman’s Ballad.


Come wind the horn of the harvest—hark !1
The harp strings thrill, and the pipes at wark ;2
And the festal light gleams through the door,3
And the snooded dames bound to the floor ;4
And the dancer tries his deftest craft,5
And the roof wags its remotest raft ;6
No thought of reap-hook and ripe grain,7
They shake the sweat from their locks like rain.8


Bound to the strings ! it is gladsome wark,9
The clasp o’ the hand, and the kiss i’ the dark ;10
When the willing lips must in secret meet11
I hae tried it, and never was ought so sweet ;12
The hoary men gaze, and they smile demure13
At their blythe bairns bounding on the floor ;14
And there is shout, and scream, and smack15
Of lips—and full cups come empty back.16


O’er my simmer of life’s come a nipping frost17
And worried wi’ eld, and this kirk-yard hoast ;18
I maun gaunt and glower when the piper’s croon,19
An’ beat time wi’ the end o’ my crutch to the tune,20
And my frozen blood begins to creep21
When the grass-green gowns come by with a sweep ;22
Oh, prayer, and fast, and penance, and pain,23
Canna bring youth’s golden days again.24


My auld limbs streeked ’neath the round cauld moon,25
I maun pore on the stars, and sift how soon,26
The Ae shall come down wi’ a foam and a dash27
And the loosened winds shall our ripe rigs thrash ;28
How mony ripe kimmers, “tween beltane and yule,29
Shall faut and grace the repentance-stool30
All this I can learn as I streek my shanks31
On the dewy grass, by the bonnie burn banks.32