THE AULD FARMER'S
NEW-YEAR MORNING SALUTATION TO HIS
AULD MARE MAGGIE,
ON GIVING HER THE ACCUSTOMED RIPP OF CORN TO HANSEL IN THE NEW YEAR
["Whenever Burns has occasion," says Hogg, "to address or mention any
subordinate being, however mean, even a mouse or a flower, then there
is a gentle pathos in it that awakens the finest feelings of the
heart." The Auld Farmer of Kyle has the spirit of knight-errant, and
loves his mare according to the rules of chivalry; and well he might:
she carried him safely home from markets, triumphantly from
wedding-brooses; she ploughed the stiffest land; faced the steepest
brae, and, moreover, bore home his bonnie bride with a consciousness
of the loveliness of the load.]
A guid New-year I wish thee, Maggie!
Hae, there's a rip to thy auld baggie:
Tho' thou's howe-backit, now, an' knaggie,
I've seen the day
Thou could hae gaen like onie staggie
Out-owre the lay.
Tho' now thou's dowie, stiff, an' crazy,
An' thy auld hide as white's a daisy,
I've seen thee dappl't, sleek, and glaizie,
A bonny gray:
He should been tight that daur't to raize thee,
Ance in a day.
Thou ance was i' the foremost rank,
A filly, buirdly, steeve, an' swank,
An set weel down a shapely shank,
As e'er tread yird;
An' could hae flown out-owre a stank,
Like ony bird.
It's now some nine-an'-twenty year,
Sin' thou was my guid-father's Meere;
He gied me thee, o' tocher clear,
An' fifty mark;
Tho' it was sma', 'twas weel-won gear,
An' thou was stark.
When first I gaed to woo my Jenny,
Ye then was trottin wi' your minnie:
Tho' ye was trickle, slee, an' funny,
Ye ne'er was donsie:
But hamely, tawie, quiet an' cannie,
An' unco sonsie.
That day ye pranc'd wi' muckle pride,
When ye bure hame my bonnie bride:
An' sweet an' gracefu' she did ride,
Wi' maiden air!
Kyle-Stewart I could bragged wide,
For sic a pair.
Tho' now ye dow but hoyte and hoble,
An' wintle like a saumont-coble,
That day, ye was a jinker noble,
For heels an' win'!
An' ran them till they a' did wauble,
Far, far, behin'!
When thou an' I were young an' skeigh,
An' stable-meals at fairs were dreigh,
How thou wad prance, an' snore, an' skreigh,
An' tak the road!
Town's bodies ran, an' stood abeigh,
An' ca't thee mad.
When thou was corn't, an' I was mellow,
We took the road ay like a swallow:
At Brooses thou had ne'er a fellow,
For pith an' speed;
But every tail thou pay't them hollow,
Where'er thou gaed.
The sma', droop-rumpl't, hunter cattle,
Might aiblins waur't thee for a brattle;
But sax Scotch miles thou try't their mettle,
An' gar't them whaizle:
Nae whip nor spur, but just a whattle
O' saugh or hazle.
Thou was a noble fittie-lan',
As e'er in tug or tow was drawn:
Aft thee an' I, in aught hours gaun,
In guid March-weather,
Hae turn'd sax rood beside our han'
For days thegither.
Thou never braindg't, an' fetch't, an' fliskit,
But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit,
An' spread abreed thy weel-fill'd brisket,
Wi' pith an' pow'r,
'Till spiritty knowes wad rair't and risket,
An' slypet owre.
When frosts lay lang, an' snaws were deep,
An' threaten'd labour back to keep,
I gied thy cog a wee-bit heap
Aboon the timmer;
I ken'd my Maggie wad na sleep
For that, or simmer.
In cart or car thou never reestit;
The steyest brae thou wad hae fac't it;
Thou never lap, an' sten't, an' breastit,
Then stood to blaw;
But just thy step a wee thing hastit,
Thou snoov't awa.
My pleugh is now thy bairntime a';
Four gallant brutes as e'er did draw;
Forbye sax mae, I've sell't awa,
That thou hast nurst:
They drew me thretteen pund an' twa,
The vera worst.
Monie a sair daurk we twa hae wrought,
An, wi' the weary warl' fought!
An' monie an anxious day, I thought
We wad be beat!
Yet here to crazy age we're brought,
Wi' something yet.
And think na, my auld, trusty servan',
That now perhaps thou's less deservin,
An' thy auld days may end in starvin,
For my last fow,
A heapit stimpart, I'll reserve ane
Laid by for you.
We've worn to crazy years thegither;
We'll toyte about wi' ane anither;
Wi' tentie care I'll flit thy tether,
To some hain'd rig,
Whare ye may nobly rax your leather,
Wi' sma' fatigue.