Scottish Poetry Selection
- My First Bawbee

This poem is very much in the tradition of teaching the value of thrift to young Scots - even with a coin as small as a "bawbee", worth a half-penny. Of course, you could buy quite a lot for that sum over 100 years ago, when Archibald M'Kay wrote this poem.

My First Bawbee

O! nane, I trew, on a' the yirth
   Was happier than me,
When in my wee breek pouch I gat
   My first bawbee.
I turned it roun' and roun' wi' pride,
   Syne toddled aff wi' glee,
To wair, on something that was guid,
   My first bawbee.

I met auld grannie at the 'door,
   Quo' she, "Noo, Rab, tak' care,
Nae feckless whigmaleeries buy
   When ye gang to the fair";
A gaucie row or sonsie scone
   Is best for ane that's wee -
Mind, muckle lies in how ye spen'
   Your first bawbee."

But grannie's words were soon forgot
   When to the fair I gaed,
And saw sae mony ferlies there
   On ilka stan' arrayed.
I glowr'd at this, I glowr'd at that,
   Wi' roving, greedy e'e,
And felt dumfounder't how to wair
   My first bawbee.

Here apples lay in mony a creel,
   A' tempting to the view;
And plums and pears whose very look
   Brocht water tae my mou'.
And there were tosh wee picture beuks,
   Spread oot a' fair to see-
They seemed to say "come here and spen'
   Your first bawbee."

I kent the ane wad gust the gab,
   The ither tell me how
Cock Robin fell that waefu' day
   The sparrow drew his bow;
But baith, waesock! I couldna get,-
   And sae wi' teerfu' e'e
I swithered lang on whilk to wair
   My first bawbee.

At length a wheedlin' eerish loon
   Began to bawl and brag:
"Come now," said he, "my little lad,
   And try the lucky bag;
If you have but one copper got,
   For it you may get three-
Shure, never venture, never win,
   Come, sport your bawbee."

Thinks I, this is the vera thing,
   I'll mak' my bawbee twa,
And syne I'll get the plums or pears,
   The wee bit beuk and a':
Sae at the bag I tried my luck,
   But hope was dang agee -
A blank was mine, and sae I lost
   My first bawbee.

A tear cam' hoppin' ower my cheek
   As sad I daunert hame,
Wi' hunger rumblin' up and doon,
   Like win' within my wame.
I telt auld grannie a' my tale-
   "Ye've gane far wrang," quo' she,
"But muckle guid may yet come out
   Your lost bawbee."

And true she spak'- my loss was gain -
   It lairn'd me usefu' lair
It made me aft, sinsyne tak' tent
   O' mony a gilded snare.
And still when loons to catch the flock.
   Their fleechin', phrases gie,
A something whispers, " Robin, mind
   Your first bawbee."

Meaning of unusual words:
trew=trust, believe
wee breek pouch=small trouser (pants in US) pocket
whigmaleeries=foolish fancies
gaucie row=large roll of wool
ferlies=curiosities, wonderful things
tosh=neat, smart
ane wad gust the gab=one would please the palate
eerish loon=Irish lad
dang agee=knocked aside
sinsyne=since then
tak' tent=take care
fleechin'=fawning, coaxing

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