The Ulster-Scots Language Society, formed to promote the Ulster-Scots language, our own hamely tongue

The Spae-Wife


YE frien's o' deep knowledge, if wise ye wad be,
Creep into my cave an' a' secrets ye'll see;
If maiden, or mother, uncertainty bother,
Frae doubt an' frae darkness, their min's I can free:
Ilk lass, no tald lees on, wha deems, an' wi' reason,
The youth she oblig't frae her fond arms will flee,
An' wife, in a fear ay, that jilts meet her dearie,
May learn the hale truth by applyin' to me.

Gif Chanticlear's ta'en frae the roost whare he craw't;
Or horse, kye, or sheep, frae the pasture-fiel' ca't,
My head I'll bestow ye, if I dinna shew ye
The leuks in a glass, o' the loun that's in faut:
Or else if ye cleek up, an' toss my delft tea cup,
If danger, or death's near, the gruns plain will shaw't:
By cuttin' o' cartes folk, an' no' by black arts, folk,
O past, present, future, I'll read ye a claut.

A spunkie reply't, wha oureheard the dark dame -
"Guid wife! they wha trust ye defeat their ain aim;
'The henpecket taupie, wha'd wiss to be happy,
"Sud ax nane wha ken - what the wife does at hame:
"Ilk sport-lovin' weary, might dread to come near ye,
"Wha ken'st the dark neuk whare she try't the blythe game -
'The grand plan of Nature's conceal'd frae a' creatures;
"Nor cud their skill chang't gif they kent the hale scheme.

'Ye promise promotion, an' sin' frae the mead
'The shepherd to sea, whare some shark soon he'll feed;
'The young thing, sae bonie, weds some canker't clownie,
"Because ye've presag'd that nae ither's decreed -
"While dupes trust the sybil far mair than the bible,
"An' change the last sixpence that ye may be fee'd,
"I'll scorn the to-morrow, an' banishin' sorrow,
"Learn mair light frae whiskey than e'er fill't your head.

James Orr, Bard of Ballycarry