Monday, 9 February 2009

The Auld Wife's Lament For Her Teapot

This latest posting is a poem entitled The Auld Wife's Lament for her Teapot by David Herbison (1800-1880) the Bard of Dunclug. Dunclug is near Ballymena, in County Antrim. Like many of the Ulster-Scots folk poets, Herbison was a weaver by trade. Five separate volumes of his verse were published during his lifetime. These were then reprinted after his death in a single volume, along with additional material.

Alas! Alas! what shall I do,
My auld black pot is broke in two,
In which I did sae often brew
The wee drap tea,
And thought it would hae cheered me through
Life’s weary way.

A better pot,sure, ne’er was made.
It wadna vent the sma’est blade;
Still when the tablecloth was laid
And it appeared
A smile out o’er my visage played
And a’ things cheered.

Before I brought it frae the town
It cost me nearly half-a-crown,
Nor did I grude’t, it was sae roun’,
And very snug –
At every party it was down,
Throughout Dunclug.

Lang after it cam’ to our house
I kept it for our Sunday use;
But when my daughters a’ got spruce,
And wanted men
Ah! then it got the sore abuse
Baith but and ben.

Whene’er their wooers cam’ to see them,
A wee drap tae they be to gie them,
For fear, as I thought, they would lea’ them,
Alone to rove,
They never failed wi’ sweets to free them
Frae ither’s love.

’Twas then my teapot had to thole
The power of mony a blazening coal,
Which gnawed me to the very soul
To hear it crackin’,
While they prepared the buttered roll
For lads to smack on.

They burned it till it was as thin
As my auld wrinkled, bluidless skin,
I still must say it was a sin
To use it sae
For lads that didnae care a pin
About their tae.

But noo my daughters a’ are wed,
And health and peace frae me are fled,
I find it hard to earn my bread
And creamless tea,
And wish I wi’ the pot was laid
Low in the clay.

For ah! I’m sure I’ll never see
Such joys as charmed my youthfu’ e’e –
The days are past when folks like me
Could earn their bread,
My auld wheel now sits silently
Aboon the bed.

And well may Erin weep and wail
The day the wheels began to fail;
Our tradesmen now can scarce get kail
Betimes to eat,
In shipfuls they are doomed to sail
In quest o’ meat!

For that machine that spins the yarn
We’re left unfit our bread to earn;
O Erin! will you ne’er turn stern
Against your foe,
When every auld wife can discern
Your overthrow.

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