BETA

VERSES ADDRESSED TO ONE OF THE HUMAN TEETH DUG OUT OF THE CAIRN ON
AIRSWOOD-MOSS, MAY 1828.

Tooth of the olden time ! I’d wish to learn1
Thy living history ; what age and nation2
Thou represented’st underneath the cairn,3
Fruitful of antiquarian speculation ;4
Nor are my queries an unmeaning sally5
Tooth is to tongue a neighbour and an ally.6
Was it thy proud distinction, ancient tooth,7
To ornament and arm a Roman jaw,8
When the all-conquering legions of the south9
Imposed on us their language and their law ?10
When death or bondage seem’d to overtake us,11
Pray, didst thou gnash defiance on Galgacus ?12
Was thy proprietor a sky-blue Pict,13
Remarkable for longitude of arm ?14
One of that tribe which kingly Kenneth kick’d15
From crown and kingdom, to their no small harm ?16
Well known they were, I wot, for uncouth grammar,17
For painting, too, and throwing the sledge-hammer.18
Perhaps thou art a tooth of Saxon breed,19
(A heath’nish cruel race with yellow hair,) 20
And haply grinn’d within some helmed head,21
With very transport, when the victim fair22
Was seized and slain, and sacrificed, and sodden,23
And served up to bloody Thor and Woden.24
Thou’rt not Druidical, I’m prone to think,25
For near thy lonely tomb no forests grow ;26
Nor, o’er thy bending river’s grassy brink27
Hath the green oak its shade been known to throw,28
Forming a fane of gloom for Druid sages,29
Or all hath perish’d in the lapse of ages.30
What was thy owner, then ? a warrior dire,31
Who lived and died amid the din of battle ?32
Or perhaps some consequential feudal squire,33
Who bought and sold his serfs like other cattle ?34
Mayhap a bard, with soul of gentler quality,35
Who sigh’d for, but obtain’d not, immortality.36
If so, what funeral rites appeased his shade ?37
Waked minstrelsy her wildest intonations ?38
Did silent sorrow many a breast pervade ?39
Or rung the welkin wide with ululations,40
While rose in air the monumental stones ?41
A graceful cone—most venerable—of bones !42
Ah ! little thought the magnet of his times43
Th’ aspiring bard—the man of power—the hero44
That his renown should rise in these my rhymes45
After ten centuries’ repose at Zero ;46
And that his tooth, ejected from its socket,47
Should toss and tumble in my waistcoat pocket.48
Having discuss’d these high concerns a little,49
(I hope with some decorum and propriety,)50
There yet remain some minor points to settle,51
Though not less interesting to society ;52
Questions connected with domestic quiet53
And happiness—I now allude to diet.54
Much as I’ve sought thy lineage and descent,55
Thou bony remnant of departed glory !56
I own I’m not less anxiously bent57
To learn thy private, more immediate story58
What meats, or common, or by way of cordial,59
Have undergone thy masticating ordeal.60
’Twere an uncourteous question, “ Didst thou fare61
On luxuries which modern teeth disable ? ”62
Thy hardy frame and healthful looks declare,63
That no such trash e’er trifled on thy table :64
Thine was the food of undegenerate ages,65
Else never hadst thou figured in my pages.66
’Twas thine, heroic tooth ! ’ twas thine to pierce67
The red deer’s swelling sides with pride dilated ;68
The wild boar’s head, terrific, grim, and fierce,69
Thy eager, ardent onset too awaited ;70
Then teeth with tusk in deadly conflict meeting,71
Display’d the feats of true, primeval eating.72
’Twere equally uncivil to enquire73
If aught thou knowest of the frightful ache ;74
Thy fangs are sound as one could well desire,75
Thy hard enamel smooth as frozen lake.76
Thy triumph is twofold, O tooth sublime !77
Thou scorn’st alike tooth-ache and tooth of time.78
And here thou art, a prodigy—a wonder79
A monument of undecaying earth ;80
Nor more of thee we’ll know till the last thunder81
Shall from his slumbers call thy master forth ;82
These puzzles which I grapple with in vain83
Shall then be solyed—and all thy case seem plain.84

This and the preceding Poem, “ Ode to Poverty,"—communicated to us
by a Lady whom we greatly esteem—are the production of William Park,
farm-servant, or “ Minister’s man,” to the Rev. Dr Brown of Eskdale-muir.
They exhibit, in the highest and purest light, that intellectual and moral
worth, which adorns, dignifies, and ennobles the character of the peasantry
of Scotland.