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Poem by John Stagg

The Panic

GOD prosper long auld T ALLENTIRE,
 His wife an' bairns an' a',
An' uncot feary fray there did,
 At Renwick yence befa'.

The guod fwoak of the parish erst,
 A vow to god did make,
That as the Kurk was like to fa',
 They down the pile wad take.

And on that spot and self-same room,
 Their former Church had fill'd,
They wad, as soon as possible,
 A better new yen build.

For in their Tabernacle frail,
 The people dought not bide,
And yet t'were mete on the Lword's day,
 The Lord war glorify'd.

To raise this fane wi' leyme an' stane,
 A' Renwick tuok their way;
The bairn sal laugh that's yet unbworn,
 At that eventful day.

But ere a temple could be rais'd,
 Wherein to preach and pray,
'Twas needful furst the auld yen sud
 Be tirl'd and clear'd away.

Wi' meeght and main the parish rwose,
 (God fearing), pious people;
Wi' easy fa's furst fell the wa's,
 Then bang came down the steeple.

For as king Solomon hath said,
 The place I'll not turn tilt,
There is a teyme to big and eke,
 To pull down that that's built.

Sea here wi' gavelicks, hacks, and shouls,
 The fwoak leyke furies work,
And lang or hauf the day was duone,
 They'd feckly down'd the kurk.

When as with lev'ling bats they bang'd,
 About the steeple's base,
To down an nndemolish'd nuok,
 An' fairly clear the place.

Wi' dreadful noise on sounding wings,
 A hideous monster rose,
And round their faces, eyes, and ears,
 Its dingy pinnions throws.

In corriscations here and there,
 Now high, now low it flew.
The people glop'd wi' deep surprise,
 Away their wark-gear threw.

And to their heels they tuok wi' speed,
 Seyne he that fastest ran,
Esteem'd himsel as fair he meeght,
 Wate weel the luckiest man.

For whea wad be sea daftly baul,
 Expos'd in sec a cease,
As madly stop and turn to meet
 The deevil in the feace.

Nae, for a meyle they ran at least,
 Till a' war felly spent,
Then down they sat in council grave,
 To muse on this event.

There monny a curious judgment past,
 And queerfar'd exposition,
What this infernal spright might be,
 This flaysome apparition.

Some said it was the de'il himsel,
 Whae aye in secret lurks,
To counteract the works of grace,
 In corner of auld kurks.

But others of opinion war,
 Some wand'ring ghaist 't meeght be,
That had been conjur'd here of yore,
 And thus by chance set free.

Tho' the majority agreed,
 Which nwotion took the sway,
That 'twas a Cockatrice an' weel,
 War they that ran away.

For had the monster fix'd his een,
 On them befwore they fled,
They had as seer as eggs are eggs,
 Been every soul struck dead.

But seyne 't'ad pleas'd the powers abuin,
 To shield them frae annoy,
'Twas mete that methods they devis'd,
 This pestment to destroy.

Yet where a champion might be fund,
 With heart and valour stout,
Sea terrible a foe to feace,
 Was matter of dispute.

Then up ruose doughty T ALLENTIRE ,
 At that teyme parish clerk,
And said guod neebor's ne'er be baz'd,
 I'll undertake the wark.

Wi' Rowan Tree weel fenc'd about,
 We're seafe frae every evil,
For weel I ken that wood has power,
 To scar away the deevil.

Sea said frae the furst buss they met,
 Each man ruove down a beugh,
But Tallentire cut for his sel,
 A stow'r beath lang and teugh.

Then back to Renwick Kurk they march,
 Tho' not at sec a peace
As when they left it, but as if
 They had the De'il to feace.

Bauld Tallentire wi' spelfu' spear,
 Unrival'd takes the lead,
The lave tho' hang'dly follow him,
 Wi' nea uncommon speed.

And monny a panting heart was there,
 That buode full bitter picks,
For tho' wi' witch wood weard, yet weel,
 They kend auld Hornie's tricks.

And should miscarriage in the end,
 Their tryste thus bauld befa',
Auld Nick wi' cowper han' wad tek
 Full vengeance on them a'.

At length they reach'd the fated spot,
 And circling round the peyle;
Halt, ere the bruoly they begin,
 To breathe and think awheyle.

For whea wi' rashness wad proceed,
 The de'il sea clwose at han',
Nay een the bauldest of the bauld,
 Wad here have meade a stan.

But suon tbe steans they gin to rowk,
 An' bicker but an' ben',
Wi' picks an' poles agean to raise,
 The deevil frae his den.

Forth frae the bit they scry'd it furst,
 Agean the demon springs,
An' roun' their lugs an' haffits flaps,
 His diabolic wings.

Struck wi' surprise, these sons of fear,
 Set up a piteous rwoar,
Tuok to their heels an' run as fast
 As they had done befwore.

Save Tallentire, the dauntless clerk,
 Of heart and mettle sound,
He scworn'd an Ignominious fleeght,
 And bravely stuode his ground.

And as the foe his circles wheel'd,
 Now darting high, now low,
The Champion at the fluttering fiend,
 Aim'd many a harmless blow.

Still by agility or chance,
 It shuns his fiercest strokes,
Tho' baith wi' pith and skill bestow'd,
 Which sair the Clerk provokes.

For tweyce or threyce between his een,
 It peck'd some sharpish blows,
At last as if from mere contempt,
 It sЧt upon his nose.

An' lang the goblin vex'd him sare,
 Till by yae lucky drub,
His adversary sunk beneath
 His massy magic club.

Drawn by his shouts triumphant, back
 His friends far scatter'd round
Returns to see the foe whea lies
 Expiring on the ground.

But what was their surprise to see
 This demon dire, why what?
In sooth 'twas nowther mair nor less,
 Than a puor owrgrown bat.

Thus hath the world been oft alarm'd,
 By bugbear panic fears;
The mountain labours, and behold
 A feckless mouse appears.

John Stagg

John Stagg's other poems:
  1. Occasional Reflections
  2. Sonnet on Winter
  3. Tom Pendant
  4. The Sapient Ass
  5. Sonnet on Autumn

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