|David Wingate ( The Collier Poet)|
|Freedom For scotland|
By a burn, that dimpling crept,
Neath the leaves that o're it slept,
In the balmy breezeless eve, sat an old man, thin and grey,
And two children at his side,
Sunny-faced and merry-eyed,
Aweary with their sport, on the green sward lay:
And while from the poplar tail
Fell the blackbirds madrigal,
While the wagtail on the boulders chirruped near,
And the thrush sang down the dell,
In the thorn above the well,
The story of his youth they sought to hear.
Uncle Ruben, long ago,
When the fields were white with snow,
And the glen with gleaming icicles was gay,
Well we mind that even then
You went daily from the glen
To sit among the tombs on yonder brae.
And when the spring had come,
And the bees began to hum,
And morn came with her chalice filled with dew,
Still the graveyard had its charm-
Long you sat, when days were warm,
But why you went at all we never knew.
Once we asked you why you went,
And what your lingering meant,
Oh! Not to-night,' you answered-'not to night."
Would it pain you now to tell,
While yon labour-closing bell
Sounds sweetly, and the sky is golden bright?
We'll be silent as the thrush
That is listening on yon bush,
The while her mate with rapture cheers the dale:
Uncle Ruben, will you not? "
And the old man, so besought,
Assenting, thus began the promised tale:-
And sae ye wish to ken
Why I daily leave the glen
To spend a lonely hour in the auld kirkyard,
That nestles 'neath the limes
That, since the olden times,
Hae a solemn shadow flung owre its billowy swaird.
Be still, and ye shall hear;
But if ye ha'e nae tear
To drop ower sorrow's tale, or sigh to heave,
Then to your play begone,
And leave me here alone
To paint anew my heaven- my old dream web to weave.
Ower bye, near yonder bank
Where the coltsfoot's growing rank,
And the binweed thrives where the bere should be;
Where the rigs are hower yet
Langsyne there was a pit,
And auld anes ower ayond it was twa or three.
Twere ower lang a tale tae tell,
How in thae times, aft it fell
That sic pits, 'wi bounds unmarked, and of water brimming fou,
Were but traps for maids and men;
The pent flood now and then,
Wi' ruin in its roar, bursting through.
In the pit near yonder bank,
Where the coltsfoot grows sae rank,
And the bindweed thrives sae well,'twas mine to toil;
And there earth's dearest maid,
Like a glow-worm in the shade,
Made an Eden o' the gloom wi'her smile.
Oh! She was fairer far
Than the gowan or the star,
In the green glades o' earth or the blue o' heaven,
And gentler than the dove;
And her heart's first love,
In its freshness and its faith, to me was given.
She wisnae seventeen,
But at work she lang had been,
And up the weary stairs wi' her coal-creel laden,
Day by day, wi trembling limb,
In the twilight dim,
For her frail old father's sake, clamb the peerless maiden.
That her silken auburn hair,
Snawy haun's and face so fair,
Should be daily soiled sae sair I aye was mourning;
But my Annie at her wark,
Aye as lichtsom as the lark.
Gaed singing to the stair, and sang returning.
Oh! sweet's the laverocks trill
In the cloud that crowns the hill,
And the hidden blackbird's sang in the hazel bush at een;
But ne'er sae sweet nor dear
As the sang o' Annie Weir,
In the darkness o' the pit heard-hersel' unsean.
Ae morn-ae summer morn-
When white was every thorn-
When the barley braird was silvered wi' the dew,
Sweet was every scene and soun';
And but few, I mind, gaed doun,
But I and Annie Weir were o' few.
Frae the ithers far awa'
We toiled our ainsel's twa-
Strange fears that day came ower me now and then;
Aften down my pick I flang,
Listening eerie for her sang,
And thinking she was lang o' coming ben.
Tak' yoursel's in fancy doun,
And frae the waste aroun'
Let his sudden cry o' terror strike the ear-
Oh! The waters broken in!
To the stair for saety rin!
And fancy a' the fears o' Annie Weir.
She heard the awesome din,
And she saw the others rin-
She saw them to the stairs for safety flee;
She heard the distant rush
O' the water's coming gush
Looked upwards, and the sunshine filled her e'e
Her foot on the stair,
But, oh! I wisnae there;
Sae, flinging aff her creel, she flew for me.
In the shearing I was thrang
Crooning Annie's fav'rite sang
(A lay of humble love and its reward),
When from the silent waste
Cam' the voice o' ane in haste
And 'Ruben, Ruben, rin!' I wondering heard.
Oh, Ruben, Ruben, rin!
For the waters broken in!-
They a' cam' to the bottom but yoursel'.
Oh! Ruben, haste ye fast,
For it's coming like a blast,
And how we're to win oot I canna tell.
Though I trusted she wis wrang,
Yet I dinna tarry lang.
But hurried out my frichted burd to meat,
And we ran to win the stairs;
Oh! But lang ere we were there
The black and stoury flood was at our feet.
Turning roun' wi' frantic speed,
O' nae danger taking heed,
Through the waste for safety's path we sought in vain,
Then eerie, bruised, and sair,
Haun' in haun', and in despair,
To the road the best we kent we came again.
We dinna tear our hair,
But it surely was despair,
That made us ither's haun's sae wildly tak';
For our heavy hearts aye sunk,
As wi' hollow, dismal clunk,
The water slowly rose and drove us back.
;For hope there was nae room,
There we saw and kent our doom,
Nae skill, nor faith, nor prayer could scaur't awa;
It would creep up pace by pace,
And to reach the farthest face
It could but tak' a day, or maybe twa.
Come, Annie, lets gae ben,
A our sorrows soon will en,
For us nae earthly morn can hae a breakin,
Well our watch in patience keep-
Oh! That we could but sleep,
Ere ower us creeps the flood, and never [email protected]
Oh! Ruben, Ruben Shaw,
I' the' nae way out ava?
Wi'this as feeble light on our white faces streaming,
Maun we our hopes resign
And our dear lives tyne?
Oh! waefu', waefu' end o' a' our gouden dreaming!,
Sae in the first wild hour
Did we our wailing pour,
Nor thought how e'en the feeble light would fail us;
Nor that the flood might stay,
Far frae us on the brae,
And yet a sterner foe ere lang assail us.
Let your fancy, if it can,
Paint us sitting worn and wan,
Watching ower our last bit candle as it flared its dying flare;
Fled our guardian Angel seemed,
And till then we had not dreamed
That ony darker shade could fa' on our despair.
Like parents ower a child
That its hindmost smile hath smiled,
Ower the glowing loweless wick low we learned wi' fondling care,
And, gently blowing, starve
The lowe alive to save,
And chase away the gloom for ae brief moment mair.
But we gently blew in vain,
So we raised our een again
At ance, I kenna why nor what we wished to see;
But I saw - and see it noo-
Beaming memory's mazes through,
The old sweet look o' love and trust in Annie's e'e.
But the wick a faint dull red
In its ain white ase half hid,
Lang glowed and seemed a soul that the Fates were loath to sever;
Then it dwindled to a spark,
That a star seemed in the dark-
A star that sudden set to rise no more for ever.
And then no more was seen,
Save as we strained our een,
To bless our longing hearts wi' anither look o' ither,
Ae flash we though we saw,
But it could be nocht ava',
Save the e'e o' frenzied Hope as she left us a' thegither.
Oh! ne'er before since Light
Half his kingdom won frae Night,
Had the darkness of the pit haen a dreariness sae drear;
For the shadow seemed to clasp
With the stifling, chilling grasp,
While uncanny feet we heard on the water drawing near.
How the laneness grew mair lane
When a' note o' time was gane;
How our hearts sank now and then, and to die we laid us doun;
How the hours crept into days;
How we prayed and warbled praise
That wakened in the wasted a sadly solemn soun';
How the hunger pangs we bare
When the water was our fare;
How we tried to be contented with our cheer;
How the flood rose to our feet;
How it stood, and durstane weet
The garments o' the Angel, Annie Weir.
"How we heard sweet music swell,
If asleep we briefly fell,
And, waking, heard what seamed the hum o' bees;
How we closer crept in awe
When he phosohor-light we saw,
That seemed a spirit sitting 'mong the trees.
"How the old folks were our thought-
How to want they might be bought;
How the God aboon would surely guide them through;
What we would ha'e done ava'
Had our number no' been twa,
And how a solace aye from that we drew;
"How the fearfu thought that death
Mightnae come at ance to baith,
Made the sore-tried reason reel, and the blood with horror chill-
A' this, and mickle mair,
Ye the telling o' maun spare,
For the memory o't awakens horror still.
"But the end at last drew near;
At my side lay Annie Weir,
And murmured lowly, 'Ruben, part maun we,
Oh! How wearied I ha'e grown,
Like a haunted bird that's flown,
Despairing, lang across a biel'less lea.
Oh! Sweet it was to dream
We at ance should cross the stream
Whase shores are Earth and Heaven, but 'twinna be;
A' my dreaming's been in vain
I the stream maun cross alane,
And ye your weary doom alane maun dree,
Then she seemed asleep to fa',
And I thought she wis awa',
When, hark! 'twis surely voices in the waste
(It sae like a fancy seemed That I though I had but dreamed)-
'Twas the searchers coming cautious in their haste.
Frae another, ebber pit-
I can tell ye where it's yet-
Three weary days they, hour aboot, had redd;
Like giants had they toiled,
And success had on them smiled,
For safely to the sunshine wee we led.
Annie Weir and I were wed,
But her bloom for aye was fled;
Ae year she lived; and ere she was a mither
She was laid in yon kirkyard,
'Neath the greenest o' its swaird,
And, oh! that we were ance again thegither.
|Dalziel In Winter|
|January 25th 1888|
|The Collier's Ragged Wean|
|A Miner's Morning Song|
|The Quarter Folk's Fair|
|Hower; Where the strata and soil above the workings of the pit had subsided.
Sheering: Was the most important part of the working face.