Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Crookit Kirk

Here is another humorous poem by George Fortune (1898-1982), who served in France in World War 1, in the Royal Scots. His poetry often focuses on the local kirk and the people associated with it. The subject of this one, for example, is a new church. The construction workers think they have built it out of alignment - but only after rather a lot of celebration in the local hostelry!

The Crookit Kirk

It snuggled doon ablow the glen,
   A couthie inn, a but an' ben;
An' happy crood o' wice-like men
   Ae Sabbath eve were gaithered there
A' samplin' landlord's hamely fare.

They'd met that nicht tae celebrate
   A job weel-dune - an' thocht first-rate,
A braw new kirk, sae up-tae-date
   That doon tae open it - and bless
Had come the Moderator, nae less.

The nicht gaed by wi' richt guid cheer,
   Wi' nips galore - an mebbe beer,
Till Jock the plumber cried, "See here,
   The mune should noo hae cleared the mirk,
Let's a' ging oot an' see the kirk."

Noo, grouin' by the kirkyaird wa'
   Was birk, whiles roost o' mony a craw;
An' on kirk's gable-end did fa'
   The shadda o' the bent-like trunk
As if the wa' was kinda drunk.

Then oot o' inn cam happy crood,
   Fu' up wi' richt guid cheer an' food.
Jock stared at kirk - then cried oot lood,
   "It canna be - it is, by gum,
The blasted kirk is aff the plumb."

Aghast, they thocht aboot the morn,
   Foreseein' weel the kirk fowk's scorn,
Some wished they never had been born.
   A no-richt kirk? An' ane they'd built?
They never wad live doon the guilt.

Wi' yin accord they turned tae Jock;
   He steedied up, an' takin' stock
Weighed weel his judgement; then he spoke,
   "Let's pit oor shooders tae the wa'
She'll strauchten up wi' heave or twa."

Noo, as they heaved an' peched an' wrocht,
   The mune provided end they socht
An' shadda moved up gey near straucht;
   Noo they a' cheered, for tae their sicht,
The wa', it seemed, was comin' richt.

An' when the shadda disapperaed,
   That happy band a' stopped an' cheered
An' back intae the inn they steered;
   Then lood an' clear cam Jock's remark,
"Man, that was awfu' thirst wark."

The Sabbath cam, the kirk was fu',
   Oor heroes cam, a' sober noo,
An' as they sidled intae pew,
   Tam whispered ower tae Jack wi'pride,
"Thank God, she's noo a' richt inside."

The Moderator's text - in creeds
   Was faur abune maist hearers' heids;
But in oor Jock's were sown the seeds
   O' doubt: jist hoo a heave or twa
Could richt a crookit gable wa'.

An' when at last the kirk had skailed,
   His fellow-tradesmen a' he hailed
An' there an' then tae them retailed
   Thae doubts: an a' then gaithered roond
That gable-end's new stanes an' foond.

They argied a' the whys an' hoos,
   Wi' tousled hair and knitted broos,
Till Jock cam oot wi' ae word, "Booze."
   An' "We've a' been fu'er than we thocht,
We couldna hae been seein' straucht."

Meaning of unusual words:
couthie=comfortable, snug
but an' ben=two rooms
Moderator=head of the church
nips=measures of spirit
birk=birch tree
peched an' wrocht=panted and worked hard

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