Scottish Poetry Selection
- Life's a Faught

Robert Allan, the author of this poem, was born in 1774 in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire. His poetic and musical talents were encouraged by Robert Tannahill from nearby Paisley and like his contemporary, became a weaver by trade. 100 years after his birth, the inhabitants of Kilbarchan decided to erect in his memory a small fountain in Kilbarchan incorporating a likeness of the poet.

Although the title of this poem is "Life's a Faught" (Life's a struggle), many of the verses point to hope, cheerfulness, loyalty, love and contentment with simple pleasures as a way of counteracting despair.

Life's a Faught

That life's a faught there is nae doubt,
   A steep and slipp'ry brae,
And wisdom's sel', wi' a' its rules,
   Will aften find it sae.
The truest heart that e'er was made
   May find a deadly fae.
And broken aiths and faithless vows
   Gi'e lovers mickle wae.

When poortith looks wi' sour disdain,
   It frights a body sair,
And gars them think they ne'er will meet
   Delight or pleasure mair.
But though the heart be e'er sae sad,
   And prest wi' joyless care,
Hope lightly steps in at the last,
   To fley awa' despair.

For love o' wealth let misers toil,
   And fret baith late and air',
A cheerfu' heart has aye enough,
   And whiles a mite to spare:
A leal true heart's a gift frae Heav'n,
   A gift that is maist rare;
It is a treasure o' itsel',
   And lightens ilka care.

Let wealth and pride exalt themsel's,
   And boast o' what they ha'e.,
Compared wi' truth and honesty,
   They are nae worth a strae.
The honest heart keeps aye aboon,
   Whate'er the world may say,
And laughs and turns its shafts to scorn,
   That ithers would dismay.

Sae let us mak' life's burden light,
   And drive ilk care awa';
Contentment is a dainty feast,
   Although in hamely ha';
It gi'es a charm to ilka thing,
   And mak's it look fu' braw,
The spendthrift and the miser herd,
   It soars aboon them a'.

But there's ae thing amang the lave
   To keep the heart in tune,
And but for that the weary spleen
   Wad plague us late and soon;
A bonnie lass, a canty wife,
   For sic is nature's law;
Without that charmer o' our lives
   There's scarce a charm ava.

Meaning of unusual words:
brae=slope, hill
mickle wae=a lot of woe
lave=rest, remainder
canty=cheerful, pleasant
ava=at all

Return to the Index of Scottish Poetry Selection

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line