Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Herd's House

A "herd" or herdsman, who looks after a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle, did not have a highly esteemed job. But here Walter Wingate is full of admiration for the herdsman who has built his own house with his own hands.

The Herd's House

The wee herd laddie has biggit a hoose?
    He's biggit it a' his lane;
And there he can lie and watch his kye,
    And fear na win' nor rain.

He has pickit the place wi' a skeely thocht?
    On a knowe at the end o' the bicht;
And the door looks east, where the win' blaws least,
    And his chairge are a' in sicht.

Its twa-foot wa's are o' tide-mark stanes
    That the waves hae masoned roun';
And ilka bit chink, where the day micht blink,
    Wi' fog he has oakumed soun'.

It's roofed and theekit? - a tradesman's job!
    The rafters are runts o' whin,
Wi' bracken and heather weel soddit thegither,
    And wechtin' stanes abune.

There's an ingle neuk at the benmaist en',
    And the lum was a pail in its day;
And out at the back there's a wee peat stack,
    As a bien bit hoose sud hae.

He'll fen' for himsel', a laddie like yon;
    And lang may he leeve to tell?
When he's feathered his nest, and come hame for a rest?
    O' the hoose he biggit himsel' !

Meaning of unusual words:
a' his lane=all on his own
skeely thocht=skillful thought
bicht=winding path
fog=lichen, moss
soddit=settled in
ingle neuk=corner by the fire
benmaist=furthest through
bien bit=well built
sud hae=should have
fen' for himsel'=look after himself

Return to the Index of Walter Wingate Poems or the General Index of Scottish Poetry

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