Tam o' Shanter: A Tale
By Robert Burns
"Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke."
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate,
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter:
(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonie lasses).
O Tam! had'st thou but been sae wise,
As taen thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;
That ilka melder wi' the Miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on
The Smith and thee gat roarin' fou on;
That at the Lord's house, ev'n on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday,
She prophesied that late or soon,
Thou wad be found, deep drown'd in Doon,
Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway's auld, haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!
But to our tale: Ae market night,
Tam had got planted unco right,
Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,
Wi reaming sAats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnie,
His ancient, trusty, drougthy crony:
Tam lo'ed him like a very brither;
They had been fou for weeks thegither.
The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter;
And aye the ale was growing better:
The Landlady and Tam grew gracious,
Wi' favours secret, sweet, and precious:
The Souter tauld his queerest stories;
The Landlord's laugh was ready chorus:
The storm without might rair and rustle,
Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy,
E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy.
As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure,
The minutes wing'd their way wi' pleasure:
Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
O'er a' the ills o' life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the Borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the Rainbow's lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm. -
Nae man can tether Time nor Tide,
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
And sic a night he taks the road in,
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd:
That night, a child might understand,
The deil had business on his hand.
Weel-mounted on his grey mare, Meg,
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow'rin round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry.
By this time he was cross the ford,
Where in the snaw the chapman smoor'd;
And past the birks and meikle stane,
Where drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane;
And thro' the whins, and by the cairn,
Where hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Where Mungo's mither hang'd hersel'.
Before him Doon pours all his floods,
The doubling storm roars thro' the woods,
The lightnings flash from pole to pole,
Near and more near the thunders roll,
When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees,
Kirk-Alloway seem'd in a bleeze,
Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing,
And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil;
Wi' usquabae, we'll face the devil!
The swats sae ream'd in Tammie's noddle,
Fair play, he car'd na deils a boddle,
But Maggie stood, right sair astonish'd,
Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd,
She ventur'd forward on the light;
And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance:
Nae cotillon, brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunker in the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. -
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That shaw'd the Dead in their last dresses;
And (by some devilish cantraip sleight)
Each in its cauld hand held a light.
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table,
A murderer's banes, in gibbet-airns;
Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns;
A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,
Wi' his last gasp his gabudid gape;
Five tomahawks, wi' blude red-rusted:
Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted;
A garter which a babe had strangled:
A knife, a father's throat had mangled.
Whom his ain son of life bereft,
The grey-hairs yet stack to the heft;
Wi' mair of horrible and awfu',
Which even to name wad be unlawfu'.
Three lawyers tongues, turned inside oot,
Wi' lies, seamed like a beggars clout,
Three priests hearts, rotten, black as muck,
Lay stinkin, vile in every neuk.
As Tammie glowr'd, amaz'd, and curious,
The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;
The Piper loud and louder blew,
The dancers quick and quicker flew,
The reel'd, they set, they cross'd, they cleekit,
Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,
And coost her duddies to the wark,
And linkit at it in her sark!
Now Tam, O Tam! had they been queans,
A' plump and strapping in their teens!
Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flainen,
Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen!-
Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair,
That ance were plush o' guid blue hair,
I wad hae gien them off my hurdies,
For ae blink o' the bonie burdies!
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll,
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,
Louping an' flinging on a crummock.
I wonder did na turn thy stomach.
But Tam kent what was what fu' brawlie:
There was ae winsome wench and waulie
That night enlisted in the core,
Lang after ken'd on Carrick shore;
(For mony a beast to dead she shot,
And perish'd mony a bonie boat,
And shook baith meikle corn and bear,
And kept the country-side in fear);
Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn,
That while a lassie she had worn,
In longitude tho' sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie.
Ah! little ken'd thy reverend grannie,
That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
Wi twa pund Scots ('twas a' her riches),
Wad ever grac'd a dance of witches!
But here my Muse her wing maun cour,
Sic flights are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie lap and flang,
(A souple jade she was and strang),
And how Tam stood, like ane bewithc'd,
And thought his very een enrich'd:
Even Satan glowr'd, and fidg'd fu' fain,
And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main:
Till first ae caper, syne anither,
Tam tint his reason a thegither,
And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!"
And in an instant all was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied.
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie's mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud;
So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
Wi' mony an eldritch skreich and hollow.
Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin!
In hell, they'll roast thee like a herrin!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin!
Kate soon will be a woefu' woman!
Now, do thy speedy-utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stone o' the brig;^1
There, at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the keystane she could make,
The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie's mettle!
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother's son, take heed:
Whene'er to Drink you are inclin'd,
Or Cutty-sarks rin in your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o'er dear;
Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.
That's the poem that invented the fictional character for whom the Cutty Sark was named (if you prefer a version with a glossary, visit Burns Country). I'm so upset about the ship! I saw the BBC photos while looking up Patrick Stewart's new Shakespeare productions. We were at the ship in 2003 and took the tour in 2005 before she was closed to visitors for renovations. I hope those renovations are completed anyway, and I really hope it wasn't arson.
I was with viva_gloria when I took this photo.
Another from the Thames, this time from our 2005 trip with my friend Vera.
I had to write about the aforementioned Stewart plays and can never decide how much of a prevaricator I think he is...he was desperately homesick for England, or for his much-much-much younger co-star from the last play he did over there before he dumped his American wife? Ah well, I'd love to see him in Macbeth anyway...I saw him in Othello and he was terrific. (In other good Trek news, Data has been inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon University.) And Tim Russ thinks CBS is going to let him charge money for Of Gods and Men, the Star Trek "not a fan film" starring Walter Koenig, Garrett Wang and several others who...well, let's just say that Star Trek was the highlight of their careers and they haven't stopped trying to
Younger son and his best friend have been having problems with an older kid in the neighborhood who keeps telling them stories about how he throws stones at cats when he sees them. Today the kid was provoking them, and they called him a loser, and he threw a stone at younger son and the friend, and the friend retaliated with a much larger stone, and a neighbor saw...needless to say things were Not Good. Now both my kids are grounded from video games, which seems to have older son in a better mood. Or maybe it's that I bought him Messenger, the sequel to The Giver, at Borders when I took younger son to the orthodontist in the morning. (Younger son wanted the novelization of Pirates 3; I got it for him on the condition that he not tell me about it.) I was excited to discover that they had Zerner and Farber's True Love Tarot for $3.99 -- I like her artwork very much.
perkypaduan came over (with sushi!) and brought Grey Gardens, the documentary about Jacqueline Kennedy's Bouvier cousins who were living in miserable co-dependent squalor in the family mansion in the Hamptons, the younger of whom ended up becoming a cult figure after this film, which she apparently took as a major compliment. I can't decide whether it's really amusing or really sad. As for the Heroes season finale...some aspects rocked (mostly character interactions between my favorite pairings all seasons, and I don't mean 'ships necessarily -- I mean Claire with her dad and Nikki and her alter ego, for instance). And some aspects were kind of confusing, like whether a character I never assumed had a super-power is actually using mind-control on her nearest and dearest or whether some of them are just wishy-washy pushovers. But as for the one I haven't liked all season, no tacked-on redemption could change my mind about that.
I mean Nathan, of course, who at the very last possible moment got out from under Mommy's thumbs -- perhaps literally, because when she was stroking his back I thought maybe we were supposed to assume that she was manipulating his brain, not just seducing him to the Dark Side -- yet remains a selfish bastard unto death. Yeah, fine, he saved the world...he decided he personally couldn't live without his brother. I don't think that had anything to do with compassion for the people of New York, for Claire or for anyone. Slash the Petrellis away...I remain underwhelmed until the end, if it is the end, since Peter can't die and Nathan could have flown away at the last minute (and, being Nathan, might very well have done just that).
I love the contrast between Nathan and Noah (yay, Bennett has a first name! But wasn't there a Noah Bennett on some nighttime soap?) because while Bennett is perfectly capable of self-serving violence and single-mindedness (he'd shoot a little girl!) it's all in the name of his daughter who isn't even really his daughter, so it's not like there can be any biological imperative at work. Mohinder uses the biological imperative argument for saving Molly -- his blood is in her veins -- but it's Matt in the end who once again becomes her protector. (He's not dead, is he? The sheet wasn't over his head and he had an IV in, which says to me that they can bring him back at any moment.) It's not that I'd want Noah as my congressman any more than I'd want Nathan, his work and plans have been self-serving all along, but fundamentally he operates out of love.
It's a bit weird that his daughter is more important to him than his wife or son, but there's all kind of playing favorites among family members anyway...Mr. Nakamura clearly has more invested in his struggling son than his smart and competent daughter, Nathan hardly seems to remember that he has a wife and children (oh yeah, mom, stick 'em on a helicopter and get 'em out of here please), and Mama Petrelli's playing favorites may have cost her both her sons...since she is playing Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, this is not altogether surprising (and oh does Cristine Rose play her well...she deserves an Emmy nomination, as does Jack Coleman and probably others). I like that Hiro's dad finally accepts that saving Ando is part of living up to his legacy, and I love the dialogue between Hiro and Ando first when they escape from Sylar, then when Hiro explains that he has to go back alone and Ando tells him he's a Star Trek hero.
So in addition to all the X-Men (Cyclops and his brother this time around) and X-Files ripoffs that pop up regularly, this week I kept saying, "It's so Harry Potter!" I mean, Hiro and Ando were always a little Harry and Ron, and Sylar was always a little Voldemort, and Candice is Tonks only somewhat more evil and far more interesting, and if Harry Potter had a Claire instead of a Ginny I would be looking forward to Book Seven so much more. But the Peter "love is all you need" business from a dead mentor just made me howl. (I still maintain that Nathan saved Peter out of an inherently selfish impulse -- it's pretty sad when he needs a lesson about family values from the daughter he abandoned. And to quote apaulled as Claire watched the Petrellis fly up, "Where is the earth shattering kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth shattering kaboom!" Which makes it impossible not to giggle.) Oh and apparently there's an Eye of Sauron, too, since it can see Molly when she looks at it! And she has to talk about him like You Know Who!
So Nikki-Jessica, DL and Micah remain very awesome, though I have lots of questions: how did Linderman know Nikki's inner Jessica in such detail that he could coach someone else to fight as her? Was the genetics project that caused him to try to hook her up with DL supposed to produce someone with Micah's specific abilities or was that just a lucky result of their union, and he really wanted them just for their potential criminal skills, with blackmail material in case whatever small-time thing it was they were doing at the beginning of the series didn't work out?
On the Love Is All You Need count, I think the top winner for the series is Mohinder. How many near-strangers has he stopped to save, with his own blood or his skills at the risk of his life? He's not the bravest nor the cleverest and he often needs someone else for his follow-through, but his heart definitely has the ability to love unconditionally and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make...oops, sorry, when it's not Harry Potter it's the Beatles, and I am even more rambly than usual.
I have trouble being deep about this show. I enjoy it very much, but I can't go any deeper than that...or maybe I could, if I frequented NBC's web extras and watched the episodes repeatedly so I could remember things that haven't been mentioned in the past fourteen episodes, but too many years of the aforementioned X-Files have taught me not to want to watch so closely. Anyway, I'm very glad Hiro is returning, and I hope the fact that he seems to be exploring his legacy means his father will be back too, and I'm glad most of the people I really like are alive and seemingly healthy, and I'll never miss the Petrellicest. So thumbs up on the episode though I wish it wasn't making me realize I have a mental list of things I really do NOT want to happen in Deathly Hallows, far more than any particular thing I do want to happen!