The Christmas Rhymers

When days are chilly, drab, and drear,
And Christmas time is drawin' near,
The long foresupper does provide,
Contentment roun' a snug fireside.
A kindly neighbour danders in,
A friendly yarn or two to spin,
The sturdy weans are washed and fed,
And soon be safe and snug in bed.

The barns, the byres, the stable doors,
Are safely closed wi' bolts and bars.
Contentment reigns and happy peace,
Descends alike on man and beast.
The kitchen door is on the latch,
Where Collie keeps his faithfu' watch,
His birses rise wi' warnin' bark
As forth he saunters through the dark.

He tries his best to keep at bay,
A score o' Christmas rhymers gay,
They know him weel, the ca' his name,
And in the end he leads them hame.
Lord knows the places they have been,
They're dung and gutters to the e'en.
They've rhymed their way for miles and miles,
Through shughs and loanin's, slaps and stiles.

Disguised as Lords and Knights of yore,
They clatter roun' the farmhouse door,
Adjust their wigs, their masks, their swords,
And check their entrance cues and words,
Then flingin' wide the kitchen door,
"Room, Room, my gallant boys," they roar.
The nervous weans in terror flee,
In safety to their parents' knee.

And then begins the age-old tale,
How 'George' weel-clad in coat o' mail,
So "rammed his dagger through and through,"
That he the monstrous dragon slew.
The kitchen floor becomes a stage,
Whereon these rustic actors rage.
Their audience huddled roun' the hearth,
Enjoy this bout o' homely mirth.

Sometimes the nervous weans'll squeal,
When through the kitchen jumps the De'il,
Wi' great lang horns and hairy mane,
Frae roun' his middle swings a chain.
And outside waitin' in the coul',
Just waitin' till the story's toul',
Comes rushin' in wee "Johnny Funny,"
"He's the boy who carries the money."

The weans by now have cast their fears,
As in we Johnny Funny tears,
An' roun' the house wi' fearfu' din,
Seeks coppers for his wee ow' tin.
So in the end weel satisfied,
They sing a song o' Christmas-tide,
A verse or two o' local lore,
And then they clatter out the door.

They've gone - Their noisome frolics cease,
The home resumes it's tranquil peace,
Till by and by "John Nod" appears,
To coax the youngsters up the stairs ..
The lamps are snubbed, and very soon
The tireless, lonely midnight moon,
Will ride her course, then steal away.
Awake, Awake, 'tis Christmas day.

John Clifford (1952)

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John Clifford
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