Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Maggots

This poem by Charles Spence (1779-1869) may not be quite in the same class as Burns' "To a Louse" - but it certainly raises a smile. Towards the end, Spence tips his hat again to Burns, with ideas of the brotherhood of man - or maggots!

         The Maggots

The maggots have nestled in Geordie's hat;
   The maggots have quarrelled in Geordie's hat;
There were three of them murdered, and thirty-three grat -
   The poor silly maggots in Geordie's hat,

Up gat an auld maggot, a wonder to see,
   His gnarled grey head was so silly and wee,
And he said, after ten times he hoasted and spat,
   "There are owre mony maggots in Geordie's hat."

An impudent maggot sprang out of the raw,
   And cried, "Daddy, wha hath begotten us a'?
"Tis a foul flyte for ane that's sae faur in the faut
   If there's owre mony maggots in Geordie's hat"

Here an old mother maggot skreeched out "Hold thy peace,
   Thou varlet, thou viper, thou vile scant o' grace!
Snap ye your ain daddy wi' ill-seasoned chat,
   Thou silliest maggot in Geordie's hat?"

Up spake a bold leader - "What means this ill weather?
   Are we not all maggots - all maggots together?
Though our number were double - the better for that -
   We are all brother-maggots in Geordie's hat."

Meaning of unusual words:
grat = cry
gat = got
hoasted = coughed
owre = over
sae faur in the faut = so much to blame

Return to the Index of Scottish Poetry Selection

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