Scottish Poetry Selection
- That Weary Gowf

Alexander Anderson (1845 – 1909) became a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway and generally wrote under the name of "Surfaceman". Largely self-educated, he began to send verses to the ‘People's Friend’ of Dundee in 1870. His fist book "A Song of Labour and other Poems", was published in 1873. Thanks to the support of The Peoples Friend, this issue sold out within a fortnight. Three further books followed. In 1880 he was made assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution there, he returned as Chief Librarian to the university. During these years he wrote little poetry.

All golfers (especially those who can remember their first, clumsy efforts) will appreciate the humour of this poem.

   That Weary Gowf

I tried the gowfin' when at Troon,
    The links are bonnie there to see,
A warm September day flung doon
    Its licht to gladden heart an' ee;
I had a cleek alang wi' me,
    I made it wheel, I wasna slack,
Then to the caddie said, “Now tee
    The ba', an' stan' a wee bit back.”

A' games o' skill come never wrang
    To ane wha has the nerve an' han',
Its just like croonin' a bit sang,
    Or what a fule micht understan';
A' that ye need is just the plan,
    An' where to fix a steady ee,
Then whirl the cleek, an' strike, an' than
    Gang on to where the ba' may be.

I swung on high my shinin' cleek,
    I struck, the caddie turned his back;
I thocht it better no' to speak,
    Nor enter into ony crack.
But what a day to ha'e a walk,
    Sae saft the turf, see green an' sweet,
An' then the sea laid oot a track
    O' white waves to my very feet.

I dinna think I need to say
    What mair I did in sic a case,
Some things are better hid away,
    It gi'es ane better heart o' grace.
A bunker is an awfu' place,
    An' tries the temper weel nae doot,
Ye dicht the sweit frae aff your face,
    An' tine a' houps o' gettin' oot.

My frien' wha took me roun' the links,
    An' got the cleek for me that day,
I aften wonder what he thinks
    When he looks back upon my play.
I did my best to mak' my way,
    But O, my shuider-banes were sair,
In fact, it's waur than mawin' hay,
    My fingers — but I'll say nae mair.

They tell this story still at Troon,
    That just when nicht begins to fa',
They hear a voice, wi' eerie soun',
    That cries oot, “Ha'e ye seen a ba'?”
An' then a cleek plays clink, an' a'
    The san' springs up twa yairds or three —
What can that story mean ava',
    And did that voice belang to me?

Meaning of unusual words:
gowfin' = golfing
links = a seaside golf course
cleek = golf club
crack = talk, conversation
sic = such
dicht the sweit = wipe the sweat
tine a' houps = forget/lose all hopes
shuider-banes = shoulder blades
waur than mawin' hay = worse than mowing hay
ava' = at all

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