The Poetry Corner

The Great Calamity

By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

MacFierce'un came to Whiskeyhurst When summer days were hot, And bided there wi' Jock MacThirst, A brawny brother Scot. Good faith! They made the whisky fly Like Highland chieftains true, And when they'd drunk the beaker dry They sang, "We are nae fou! There's nae folk like oor ain folk, Sae gallant and sae true." They sang the only Scottish joke Which is, "We are nae fou". Said bold MacThirst, "Let Saxons jaw Aboot their great concerns, But Bonnie Scotland beats them a', The Land o' Cakes and Burns, The land of pairtridge, deer, and grouse; Fill up your glass, I beg, There's muckle whiskey i' the house, Forbye what's in the keg." And here a hearty laugh he laughed, "Just come wi' me, I beg." MacFierce'un saw with pleasure daft A fifty-gallon keg. "Losh, man, that's graund," MacFierce'un cried, "Saw ever man the like, Moo, wi' the daylicht, I maun ride To meet a Southron tyke, But I'll be back ere summer's gone, So bide for me, I beg; We'll mak' a graund assault upon Yon deevil of a keg." * * * * * * MacFierce'un rode to Whiskeyhurst When summer days were gone, And there he met with Jock MacThirst Was greetin' all alone. "MacThirst, what gars ye look sae blank? Hae all your wuts gane daft? Has that accursed Southron bank Called up your overdraft? Is all your grass burnt up wi' drouth? Is wool and hides gane flat?" MacThirst replied, "Guid friend, in truth, 'Tis muckle waur than that." "Has sair misfortune cursed your life That you should weep sae free? Is harm upon your bonnie wife, The children at your knee? Is scaith upon your house and hame?" MacThirst upraised his head: "My bairns hae done the deed of shame, 'Twere better they were dead. To think my bonnie infant son Should do the deed o' guilt, He let the whiskey spigot run, And a' the whiskey's spilt!" * * * * * * Upon them both these words did bring A solemn silence deep; Good faith, it is a fearsome thing To see two strong men weep.