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Poem by Robert Nicoll

My Grandfather

HALE be thy honest trusty heart,
    And hale thy beld and snawy pow,
The hand of eld ne'er furrowed o'er
    A baulder or a manlier brow.
The laddie wha was ance thy pet,
    Has been in places far awa',
But he thy marrow hasna met
    Amang the great nor yet the sma'.

Ance proud eneuch was I to sit
    Beside thee in the muirland kirk,
A ruling elderane o' weight,
    Nae wonder though your oe did smirk
And braw eneuch was I to find
    My head the preacher's hand upon,
While by the kirkyard stile he cracked
    Of holy things wi' Elder John!

And syne as hame alang the muir
    I prattling by your side did rin,
Ye mind how ye rebuked thae thochts
    And ca'd them vanity and sin.
But pennies frae your auld breek pouch
    Wi' dauds o' counsel ye would gie,
The last war gudebut aye the first
    I liket best, I winna lee!

Thy daily fireside worship dwalls
    Within this inmost soul of mine:
Thy earnest prayersae prophet-like
    For a' on earth I wadna tyne.
And you and granny sang the Psalms
    In holy rapt sincerity;
My grannydinna greet, auld man
    She's looking down on you and me.

Can I forget how lang and weel
    The carritches ye made me read?
Or yet the applesrosy anes
    I gat to gar me mend my speed?
Can I forget affection's words,
    That frae your lips like pearls ran?
Can I forget the heart that prayed
    To see me aye an honest man?

And mind ye how we gat us beuks,
    And read wi' meikle care and skill,
Until ye thocht this head wad wag
    The pu'pit's holy place intil?
For mony an idle whim of mine
    Wad my auld father journeys gang;
His auld heart danced when I did right,
    And sair it grieved when I did wrang.

But mair than a'frae beuks sae auld
    Frae mony treasured earnest page,
Thou traced for me the march of truth,
    The path of right from age to age:
A peasant, auld, and puir, and deaf,
    Bequeathed this legacy to me,
I was his bairnhe filled my soul
    With love for liberty!

Be blessings on thy reverend head,
    I dinna need for thee to pray;
The path is narrow, but nae een
    E'er saw thee from it stray.
God bears his ancient servants up
    He's borne thee since thy life began;
I'm noble by descent:thy grave
    Will hold an honest man.

This patriarch of Auchtergaven, the maternal grandfather of Nicoll, survived to the venerable age of ninety-two, in the enjoyment of nearly uninterrupted health and activity, and with full possession of his mental faculties to the last. He was a respectable farmer of the old school, and probably the very last wearer of the broad blue Lowland bonnet. With "Elder John"or Mr. John Fenwickhis grandson, Robert, was a very great favourite. To those who read the above poem it is superfluous to say that the affection was mutual and fervent.

Robert Nicoll

Robert Nicoll's other poems:
  1. We'll A' Go Pu' the Heather
  2. The Provost
  3. Bonnie Bessie Lee
  4. Fiddler Johnnie
  5. The Ha' Bible

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