Scottish Poetry Selection
- Here's to You Again

Just as there were many poems warning about the dangers of drinking alcohol, there were also many praising its benefits - particularly Scotland's gift to the world - whisky. This gentle, humorous poem by Alexander Rodger (1784-1846) is very much in the latter category!

Here's to You Again

Let votaries o' Bacchus o' wine make their boast,
And drink till it mak' them as dead's a bed-post;
A drap o' maut broe I wad far rather pree,
And a rosy-faced landlord's the Bacchus for me.
Then I'll toddle but and I'll toddle ben,
And let them drink at wine wha nae better do ken.

Your wine it may do for the bodies far south,
But a Scotsman likes something that bites i' the mouth,
And whisky's the thing that can do't to a tee.
Then Scotsmen and whisky will ever agree;
For wi' toddlin' but and toddlin ben,
Sae lang we've been nurst on't we hardly can spean.

It's now thretty years since I first took the drap,
To moisten my carcase and keep it in sap;
And though what I've drunk might hae slacken'd the sun,
I find I'm as dry as when first I begun;
For wi' toddlin' but and toddlin' ben,
I'm nae sooner slacken'd than drouthy again.

Your douse folk aft ca' me a tipplin' auld sot,
A worm to a still, a sand-bed, and what not;
They cry that my hand wad ne'er bide frae my mouth;
But, oddsake! They never consider my drouth;
Yet I'll toddle but and I'll toddle ben,
An' laugh at their nonsense wha nae better ken.

Some hard-grippin' mortals wha deem themselves wise,
A glass o' gude whisky affect to despise;
Poor scurvy-soul'd wretches, they're no very blate,
Besides, let me tell them, they're foes to the state;
For wi' toddlin but and toddlin' ben,
Gin folk wadna drink, how could government fen'?

Yet wae on the tax that maks whisky sae dear,
An' wae on the gauger sae strict and severe;
Had I but my will o't, I'd soon let you see,
That whisky, like water, to a' should be free;
For I'd toddle but and I'd toddle ben,
And I'd mak it rin like the burn after rain.

What signifies New'r day? - a mock at the best,
That tempts but poor bodies and leaves them unblest?
For ance-a-year fuddle I'd scarce gie a strae,
Unless that ilk year were as short as a day;
Then I'd toddle but and I'd toddle ben,
Wi' the hearty het pint and the canty black hen.

I ne'er was inclined to lay-by ony cash,
Weel kennin' it only wad breed me more fash;
But aye when I had it I let it gang free,
And wad toss for a gill wi' my hindmost bawbee;
For wi' toddlin' but and toddlin' ben,
I ne'er kent the use o't but only to spen'.

Had siller been made in the kist to lock by,
It ne'er wad been rund, but square as a die;
Whereas by its shape ilka body may see,
It aye was designed it should circulate free;
Then we'll toddle but and we'll toddle ben,
An' aye when we get it, we'll part wi't again.

I ance was persuaded to 'put in the pin,'
But foul fa' the bit o't ava wad bide in;
For whisky's a thing sae bewitchingly stout,
The first time I smelt it the pin it lap out;
Then I toddled but and I toddled ben,
And I vow'd I wad ne'er be advised sae again.

Oh, leeze me on whisky! It gie's us new life,
It maks us aye cadgy to cuddle the wife;
It kindles a spark in the breast o' the cauld ,
And it maks the rank coward courageously bauld;
Then we'll toddle but and we'll toddle ben,
An' we'll coup aff our glasses, 'Here's to you again!'

Meaning of unusual words:
votaries o' Bacchus=supporters of Bacchus, god of wine
maut broe=malt liquor
toddle but and I'll toddle ben=walk out and in with unsteady steps
spean=be weaned
slacken'd=thirst quenched
douse=sober, respectable
sand-bed=a very heavy drinker
fen'=support itself
bawbee=small coin (six Scots pennies, equivalent to a half-penny sterling)
put in the pin=become tee-total
ava=at all
lap out=leapt out
leeze me on=an expression of great pleasure
cadgy=merry, sportive

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