"Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
The simple pleasures of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art."
Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the Cove, to stray an' rove
Amang the rocks an' streams
To sport that night.
Amang the bonnie winding banks
Where Doon rins, wimplin', clear,
Where Bruce ance rul'd the martial ranks,
An' shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, countra folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
An' haud their Halloween
Fu' blythe that night.
The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine;
Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin';
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, an' some wi' gabs,
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
Whiles fast at night.
Then, first and foremost, thro' the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, an' graip an' wale,
For muckle anes an' straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
An' wander'd through the bow-kail,
An' pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.
Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
The vera wee-things, todlin', rin
Wi' stocks out-owre their shouther;
An' gif the custoc's sweet or sour,
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne coziely, aboon the door,
Wi' cannie care, they've placed them
To lie that night.
The lasses staw frae mang them a'
To pou their stalks o' corn;
But Rab slips out, an' jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard an' fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kiuttlin' in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.
The auld guidwife's weel hoordet nits
Are round an' round divided;
An' monie lads' an' lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle, couthie, side by side,
An' burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa' wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.
Jean slips in twa wi' tentie e'e;
Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, an' this is me,
She says in to hersel':
He bleez'd owre her, an' she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
'Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
An' Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.
Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
An' Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compar'd to Willie;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
An' her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swoor, by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.
Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel an' Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
'Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart, was dancin' at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonie mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.
But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel':
She through the yard the nearest taks,
An' to the kiln she goes then,
An' darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.
An' ay she win't, an' ay she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin';
'Till something held within the pat,
Guid L--d! but she was quaukin'!
But whether 'twas the Deil himsel',
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did na wait on talkin'
To spier that night.
Wee Jenny to her graunie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, graunie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass,
I gat frae uncle Johnnie:"
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notic't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out thro' that night.
"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul Thief onie place,
For him to spae your fortune:
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For monie a ane has gotten a fright,
An' liv'd an' died deleeret
On sic a night.
"Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I was na past fifteen:
The simmer had been cauld an' wat,
An' stuff was unco green;
An' ay a rantin' kirn we gat,
An' just on Halloween
It fell that night.
"Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever, sturdy fellow:
He's sin gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That liv'd in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o't;
But monie a day was by himsel',
He was sae sairly frighted
That vera night."
Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
An' he swoor by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense;
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
An' out a' handfu' gied him;
Syne bad him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Sometime when nae ane see'd him,
An' try't that night.
He marches thro' amang the stacks,
Tho' he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks,
An' haurls at his curpin;
An' ev'ry now an' then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
An' her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, an' draw thee
As fast that night."
He whistl'd up Lord Lennox' march,
To keep his courage cheery;
Altho' his hair began to arch,
He was sae fley'd an' eerie;
'Till presently he hears a squeak,
An' then a grane an' gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
An' tumbl'd wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.
He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
An' young an' auld cam rinnin' out,
An' hear the sad narration;
He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
'Till, stop! she trotted thro' them a';
An' wha was it but Grumphie
Asteer that night!
Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
An' twa red cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That vera night.
She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
An' owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca',
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa',
An' she cried, L--d preserve her!
An' ran thro' midden-hole an' a',
An' pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night.
They hoy't out Will, wi sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice,
Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak,
For some black, grousome carlin;
An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
'Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.
A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night, amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!
She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
An' owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn,
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.
Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays,
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.
Amang the brackens on the brae,
Between her an' the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up an' gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
But mist a fit, an' in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.
In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And ev'ry time great care is ta'en,
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
Sin Mar's-year did desire,
Because he gat the toom-dish thrice,
He heav'd them on the fire
In wrath that night.
Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they did na weary;
An' unco tales, an' funnie jokes,
Their sports were cheap an' cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin'
Fu' blythe that night.
Edwin C. Ranck
A night when witches skim the air,
When spooks and goblins climb the stair;
When bats rush out with muffled wings,
And now and then the door-bell rings;
But just the funniest thing of all
Is 'cause you can't see when they call.