Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Daft Days

Hew Ainslie (1792- 1878), who wrote this poem, was born in Bargeny Mains, Ayrshire, 5 April 1792. He left school at 14 because of ill-health. He later began studying law - but gave that up too. He then tried landscape gardening and then being a clerk in Register House in Edinburgh. He married in 1812 and emigrated to the United States ten years later. One of his jobs in America was working in a brewery - and that may have been a factor in the poem below.

The Daft Days

The midnight hour is clinking, lads,
An' the douce an' the decent are winking, lads;
Sae I tell ye again,
Be't weel or ill ta'en,
It's time ye were quatting your drinking, lads.
Gae ben, 'an mind your gauntry, Kate,

Gi'es mair o' your beer, an' less bantry, Kate,
For we vow, whaur we sit,
That afore we shall flit,
We'se be better acquaint wi' your pantry, Kate.
The "daft days" are but beginning, Kate,

An we're sworn. Would you hae us a sinning, Kate?
By our faith an' our houp,
We will stick by the stoup,
As lang as the barrel keeps rinning, Kate.

Thro' hay, an' thro' hairst, sair we toil it, Kate,
Thro' Simmer, an' Winter, we moil it, Kate;
Sae ye ken, whan the wheel
Is beginning to squeal,
It's time for to grease an' to oil it, Kate.

Sae draw us anither drappy, Kate,
An' gie us a cake to our cappy, Kate;
For, by spiggot an' pin!
It's waur than a sin
To flit when we're sitting sae happy, Kate.

Meaning of unusual words:
douce = sober, respectable
quatting = quitting
Gae ben = go through
gauntry = gantry from which measures of spirits are drawn from the bottles
bantry =scolding
houp = hope - but also meaning a gulp of liquid
stoup = a jug with a handle, a measure of liquor
hairst = harvest
moil = work hard
cappy = a type of beer, between ale and table beer; also a drinking cup

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