Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Five Shilling Fee
The Five Shilling FeeMa Mither was wae, for ma faither was deid,
And they threatened tae tak' the auld hoose ower her heid:
Her earnings grew scant, and the meal it grew dear,
I wis the auldest o' five and could whiles see a tear
When she cam' hame at nicht, glistnin' bricht in her een
Half-hid as if it just didna 'want tae be seen.
I spoke nae a word but my wee heart would ache
And I wished I was big for my puir Mither's sake.
There were fairmers aroon' wantin' herds for their kye
And ma Mither had said she had yin that would try.
I mind how I trembled, half fear and half joy
When a maister ca'd on us, for tae look at the boy.
He bade me stand up for he thocht I was wee
But my frank honest face he said pleased his e'e,
He would tak' me and try me for sax months to see,
For a pair o' new shune and a five-shilling fee.
So I set to my wark and I pleased richt weel
Just a word or a wave and I plied ban' and heel
But ma troubles cam' oan, the fences were bad,
And the mid-summer flees gar the cattle run mad,
And in cauld blashy weather sae drenched wi' the rain,
Wee thochts o' leavin'would steal o'er ma brain.
But wi' courage I aye dashed the tear frae ma e'e
When I thocht o' ma shune and ma five-shilling fee.
But the long-looked for Martinmass cam' wi' its store
And proudly I coonted it twenty times o'er,
Though years since have fled in a fortunate train
I never could feel such rapture again.
The sailor just safe o'er the wild breakers steered,
Proud Waterloo's victor when Blucher appeared
Ne'er felt what I felt when I placed on the knee
Of a fond-hearted Mither, ma five-shillin' fee.
Meaning of unusual words:
five-shilling=equivalent to 25 new pence
ban' and heel=straw and scythe
blashy=drenching shower of rain
Martinmass=legal term day in November when servants changed employment
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