'The Rhymers' by John Clifford

When days are chilly, drab and drear, and Christmas time is drawing 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, will soon be safe and snug in bed.

The barns, the byres, the stable doors are safely closed wi' bolts an' bars.
Contentment reigns and happy peace descends alike on man an' beast.
The kitchen door is on the latch, where Collie keeps his faithful watch;
His birses rise wi' warnin' bark as forth he saunters through the dark.

He tries his best to keep at bay a score of Christmas rhymers gay;
They know him weel, they ca' his name an' in the end he leads them hame.
Lord knows the places they have been - they're dung an' gutter to the e'en.
They've rhymed their way for miles an' miles, through sheughs an' loanins slaps an' stiles.

Disguised as Lords an' Kinights of yore they clatter roun' the farmhouse door,
Adjust their wigs, their masks, their swords, an' check their entrance cues and words.
Then nervous weans in terror flee for safety to their parents' knee.

And then begins the old-age tale - how George, weel-clad in coat-o'-mail
So "rammed his dagger through an' 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' homly mirth.

Sometimes the nervous weans'll squeal when through the kitchen jumps the De'il,
Wi' great lang horns an' hairy mane - frae roun' his middle swings a chain.
An' 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 wee Johnny Funny tears,
An' roun' the house wi' fearfu' din seeks coppers for his wee oul' tin.
So, in the end weel satisfied, they sing a song o' Christmas-tide,
A verse or two o' local lore, an' then they clatter out the door.

They've gone - their noisome frolics cease, the home resumes its 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!

By John Clifford

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