Ill Yoked

This tale concerns a man and wife,
A sorry, hapless, ill-yoked pair.
Who warred and quarrelled all through life,
Wi' threats and tears and woes tae spare.

Yet they had but themsel's tae blame,
But had they stopped a yes tae think -
They bad their fairm -a cosy hame,
And plenty aye tae eat and drink.

In many ways this pair were blessed,
They'd gear and money aye tae hand,
They'd frien's an neighbours o' the best,
And sixty acres o' fine land.

Baith had been bred and born nearby,
They'd been at school and church thegither,
Even in their youth - the neighbours say
They focht and swore at yin anither.

Their bitterness grew wi the years,
Contempt and hate - their daily fare.
Hard words and insults, taunts and jeers
Enslaved this odd unhappy pair.

They barged, they raged, they cursed and swore,
And for their woes each ither blamed.
Their private lives asunder tore,
Baith unrepentant, unashamed.

Oh by what strange unnatural law
Had this odd pair been joined thegither.
Tae banter, bicker, twist and thraw,
And hurl abuse at yin anither.

You'd nearly think the De'il himsel'
Engaged this pair in his employment,
And then when life got drab in Hell,
He came to them for his enjoyment.

And yet through all this woe and tears,
The mystery no-one could explain.
Was why this pair for years and years
Each 'Twelve-month' bred a sturdy wean.

You'd think some gleam o' mutual joy
Would be observed but once a year,
As each wee lass and each wee boy
Upon the scene would thus appear.

Instead - the battle raged anew
The hapless weans were cast aside,
Denied the love that was their due,
Yet by some miracle survived.

Six sturdy lads o' handsome build,
A credit tae the hame they filled,
And five wee gigglin' buxom girls
Wi' dimpled cheeks and dancin' curls.

Then lang at last Dame Nature shied,
The fruitful womb refused tae yield.
The neighbours wi' contentment sighed,
And hoped old scars would soon be healed.

Five years passed by, then to her grief,
The wife gave birth tae triplets three.
The neighbours gasped wi' disbelief,
The husband wildly danced wi' glee.

From that day forth the wife she swore,
She'd nevermore her husband see,
And padlocked fast her bedroom door,
And pledged to live in chastity.

To this the dauntless husband spake,
He chose these words from 'Wisdom's Page.'
"Stone walls do not a prison make .
Nor bars of iron form a cage."

John Clifford (1970)

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John Clifford