Scottish Poetry Selection
- Oor Location
When Janet Hamilton (1795-1873) wrote this poem, the negative aspects of the Industrial Revolution were emerging and, in particular, many of the Victorian writers pointed to the evils of the "demon drink" - even though many of the poorer people used this as an escape from the reality of their lives.
As usual, there is a glossary of the Scots words at the end of the poem.
Oor LocationA hunner funnels bleezin', reekin',
Coal an' ironstane charrin', smeekin';
Navvies, miners, keepers, fillers,
Puddlers, rollers, iron millers;
Reestit, reekit, raggit laddies,
Firemen, enginemen, an' paddies;
Boatmen, banksmen, rough an' rattlin',
'Bout the wecht wi' colliers battlin',
Sweatin', swearin', fechtin', drinkin';
Change-house bells an' gill-stoups clinkin';
Police - ready men and willin' -
Aye at han' whan stoups are fillin';
Clerks an' counter-loupers plenty,
Wi' trim moustache and whiskers dainty -
Chaps that winna staun at trifles!
Min' ye, they can han'le rifles!
'Bout the wives in oor location -
An' the lassies' botheration -
Some are decent, some are dandies.
An' a gey wheen drucken randies;
Aye to neebors houses sailin',
Greetin' bairns ahint them trailing,
Gaun for nouther bread nor butter,
Juist to drink an' rin the cutter!
O the dreadfu' curse o' drinkin'! -
Men are ill, but, to my thinkin',
Leukin' through the drucken fock,
There's a Jenny for ilka Jock.
Oh the dool an' desolation,
An' the havock in the nation
Wrocht by dirty, drucken wives!
Oh hoo mony bairnies lives
Lost ilk year through their neglec'!
Like a millstane roun' the neck
O' the struggling toilin' masses
Hing drucken wives an' wanton lassies.
To see sae mony unwed mithers
Is sure a shame that taps a' ithers.
An' noo I'm fairly set a-gaun;
On baith the whisky-shop and pawn
I'll speak my min' - and what for no?
Frae whence cums misery, want, an' wo
The ruin, crime, disgrace, an' shame
That quenches a' the lichts o' hame?
Ye needna speer, the feck ot's drawn
Oot o' the change-hoose an' the pawn.
Sin an' Death, as poets tell,
On ilk side the doors o' hell
Wait to ha'rl mortals in -
Death gets a' that's catcht by sin:
There are doors where Death an' Sin
Draw their tens o' thoosan's in;
Thick an' thrang we see them gaun,
First the dram-shop, then the pawn;
Owre a' kin's o' ruination,
Drink's the King in oor location!
Meaning of unusual words:
gey wheen drucken randies=fair number of drunken foul-mouthed women
rin the cutter=carry liquor from the bar
feck ot's=greater part
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