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A Bit o' Banter ©

This was written when it was said I knew nothing of Burns or his language.

Jim McRobert
Edinburgh, Scotland
2003

Tam Graham frae Shanter Farm
Tae sail thi Clyde he hud a pram
A fancy boat fae oor thi waatir
Sic a boat wis 'Tam o' Shanter'

Wae-in thi hauns o' yin Robert Burness
Pit oannae crew tae sum distress
Up an doon thi Clyde coast
Thi greatest sailor wis his boast

He gaithird up a mottled crew
Whit he saw jist knurled his broo
Only yin wid sail wi him
His guid freend Willie, things looked grim

Upon thi waater they did stravaig
Bi thi sooth o' Arran an Ailsa Craig
Thi pram wis rinnin licht an free
Aroon thi waves o' barley bree

Then, fae thi east thir rose a squall
"Let's get aboot" wis Willie's caw
yir shairly feart said Rob thi Maistir
a wee bit wind is nae disastir

Waves wur white awe in mush
thi boat sailed oan in sic a rush
wind wis howlin thro' thi riggin
baith thae lads soon wur wringin

Claes wur sodden tae thi skin
whit a state they lads wur in
fingirs chappit wae thi cauld
'Wull shairly droon', pair Willie bawled

Aheed thim stood dark Davaar
Island safe ahint thi bar
Past thae rushed at breakneck speed
Wae-in thi loch wis luck indeed

Aimin noo fir Glenramskil's hoose
A chance tae land an save thur puce
Gratin on Kilkerran saun
Relief oor lads wi shaky haun

Tied thi pram weel up thi beach
Where thi waves coodnae reach
Huntin fir a place tae sheltir
A place tae hide thim frae thi weathir

There, jist there, aside thi burn
Wis a bit thit wid dae a turn
An auld ruin dry inside
Thi cinnae place wur a tramp wid bide

Noo baith settled safe
Willie moanin, sic a rage
Robert hingin heed in shame
He widnae play wi fate again

In a coernir stid a boetil
Foo it wis wi waatir still
Daar they hae a canny look
Daar they tak a canny sowp

Man it was thi finest whisky
Naen wi see, it wisnae risky
Aye an it wis sae strang
Anithir sip wid dae nae wrang

Jist yin mair, noo boetils empty
Can harrly stan, baith hud plenty
Lyin noo in stupor deep
Baith thae lads soon fast asleep


Dawn hus cum, pram hus gone
Wi burstin heids wi baith in haun
Whey o' thim hud tied thi rope
Tae gan hame noo thae hud nae hope

Thae cursid lang thae cursid hard
Thae wid o' fought bit naen hud han
Thi staggird roon an baith did swear
Freends yins wur, noo nae mair

Aboot thin a man appeard
A wee wee man wi a lang, lang beard
Fancy cloot awe roon his heid
Aye queer he wis, aye queer indeed

He asked aboot his boetil o' drink
Afore baith hud time tae think
He telt thim he hud taen thir pram
It wis only fair, they'd taen his dram

Thae pleaded hard tae git thi boat
Wid go bare scuddie if he'd tak thir coat
Dae onythin he asked if he'd jist gae it back
Daar thae stay twa days fir a wee bit crack!

He sated thim baith wi tatties an neep
Herrin weel smoked tasted real sweet
Offird a dram which neither wid tak
Feert o' thi heidache wit neither kid hack

Twa days later he gae thim thur boat
He wis keeping thi sail tae dae as a coat
Tae paddle tae Ayrshir wir tak a while
Thi sea wis calm, nae chance wid it bile

At Tam's ferm his missis wis sick
Lost thae twa lads, droond in a tick
Droond in thi storm whit raged in thi Clyde
Not yin trace wis seen oan that coast side

Thi boats went oot an searchd thi shore
Foond a trace o' sail an broken oar
Prayers wur spoke bi folks in Kirk
An tears ran heavy frae sum at wirk

Thin sum time later a boat thae saw
T'was thi pram whit sailed awaw
An thi lads wur in thi boat
Felt thi lump in every throat

Wir huv yi been? wis yin cry
Yir baith aricht anithir cry
Wid pass'd thi wird on every coast
Thi said yid droont on yonnir post

At Shanter Ferm thae telt thur tale
How thae hud baith survived thi gale
Wur thaed stiy'd fur sum sheltir
Aboot thi man thir droll wee helpir

Aboot thi hooch wae-in thi boetil
An thi affect wae-in yir thrapple
How thaed rowed whin he'd kept thi sail
Tak-in it turns fir each tae bail

Baith thae lads noo hung thir heid
Baith wur sorry thaed done thi deed
Taen thi boat oot fir a sail
Stiyd oot throughoot thi gale

As Tam's missis stood wi burnin cheeks,
sayin "Did yi naw know yiv bin gan fir weeks?
Spent awe this time awaw in 'Tam o' Shanter'
It's naw thi time fir wilful banter!"

Noo explain tae me wur yuv been
Wur yiv been an no been seen
Wur worrit sick an searchd thi Clyde
Noo whaar wis it you lads did bide

Noo nae maer nonsense tell it plain
Tell me noo yir tale again
Maer lik it yi went tae Ulstir
Tell it plain, nae mair blustir

A dinnae expect this o' you Willie
A dinnae think yi wur sae silly
Naw, naw, yill naw bi back
Noo baith yoo lads git doon thi track

Tae think o' thi tears wuv lost
As you pair dallied roon thi coast
Jist yoo wait till yi see yir faithirs
Thill naw believe in awe yir havirs.


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