Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Drunkard's Raggit Wean
A considerable increase in the consumption of alcohol was one of the by-products of the Industrial Revolution and the dreadful living conditions endured by of most of those crammed into the hastily built towns. This, in turn, gave rise to the temperance movement, attempting to turn people away from the evils of drink. The poem below, by James P Crawford (1825-1887) was written in 1855. It was one of the most successful and frequently performed in the temperance movement of its time. Crawford was a tailor and the poem (which also had music written to accompany it) was said to have been written in a United Presbyterian Church in Glasgow, while the minister was delivering a long sermon.
The Drunkard's Raggit WeanA wee bit raggit laddie gangs wan'rin' through the street,
Wadin' 'mang the snaw wi' his wee hackit feet,
Shiverin' i' the cauld blast, greetin' wi' the pain-
Wha's the puir wee callan? He's a drunkard's raggit wean.
He stan's at ilka door, an' keeks wi' wistfu' e'e
To see the crowd aroun' the fire a' laughin' loud wi' glee;
But he daurna venture ben, though his heart be e'er sae fain,
For he mauna play wi' ither bairns, the drunkard's raggit wean.
Oh, see the wee bit bairnie, his heart is unco fu',
The sleet is blawin' cauld, and he's droukit through and through;
He's speerin' for his mither, an' he won'ers whare she's gane:
But oh ! his mither, she forgets her puir wee raggit wean.
He kens nae faither's love, and he kens nae mither's care,
To soothe his wee bit sorrows, or kaim his tautit hair,
To kiss him when he waukens, or smooth his bed at e'en;
An' oh ! he fears his faither's face, the drunkard's raggit wean.
Oh, pity the wee laddie, sae guileless an' sae young!
The oath that lea's the faither's lips 'll settle on his tongue,
An' sinfu' words his mither speaks his infant lips 'll stain;
For oh! there's nane to guide the bairn, the drunkard's raggit wean.
Then surely we micht try an' turn that sinfu' mither's heart,
An' try to get his faither to act a faither's part,
An' mak' them lea' the drunkard's cup, an' never taste again,
An' cherish wi' a parents' care their puir wee raggit wean.
Meaning of unusual words:
Raggit Wean=child with ragged clothes
puir wee callan=poor, small lad
fain=affectionate, in love
unco fu'=very drunk
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