Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tit For Tat; or The Rater Rated - Anonymous

This latest poem TIT for TAT; or the Rater rated was published in The Ulster Miscellany in 1753 ie before Robert Burns was even born. Nine of the poems were entitled Scotch poems. They are all anonymous, but were written in the Laggan area of East Donegal. In this one, a Laggan farmer is infuriated at the local Church of Ireland rector's attempts to gather tithes (which were taken regardless of your denomination) and his wife gives the rector's wife a piece of her mind.

TIT for TAT; or the Rater rated
A new song, in Way of Dialogue, between a Laggan farmer and his Wife

HE

Ye’re welcome hame, my Marg’y,
Frae the grim craving clergy;
How deeply did they charge ye,
Wi’ fair oppresive tythe?
While some are chous’d, and cheated;
Some rattled are, and rated;
Ye hae been better treated,
I trow, ye luick sae blythe.

SHE

I hae been wi’ the rector;
His wife did scould and hector;
Instead o’ a guid lecture –
Quo’ she, ‘Ye go too fine,
‘With scarlet cloaks and bedgowns,
‘With velvet puggs and plaid-gowns,
‘With ruffled sleeves and headrounds,
‘More rich and gay than mine.’

‘Forbear, proud madam Persian,
‘Take back ye’r ain aspersian,
‘Wi’ tea, ye’r chief diversion,
‘Ye waste ye’r time awa;
‘While dressing ye’r and pinning,
‘I’ll spin, and bleach my linnen,
‘And wear my ain hands winning,
‘Ye rector’s lazy daw.

‘I rise e’er the cocks craw day;
‘My hands I spare not a’ day,
‘And wi’ my farmer laddie
‘At night I take my ease;
‘My husband plows and harrows,
‘He sows and reaps the farrows,
‘Shame fa’ them wad change marrows,
‘For rector’s gown and chaise.

‘Sure some kind deed has brought us
‘Yon yellow chiel, that taught us
‘To cleek the tythe potatoes
‘Frae ilk a greedy gown!
‘Nae bishop, dean, or rector,
‘Nae vicar, curate, proctor,
‘Dare ettle now to doctor
‘Our skeedyines under ground.

HE

Dear Madgie, e’en fairfaw ye!
I’m blest that e’er I saw ye!
A braid-claith coat I aw ye,
Fac’d wi a velvet cape:
May milk and meal ne’er fail ye,
May loss of yews ne’er ail ye,
But geer grow on ye daily,

For birking madam Crape.

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