1793 Poem, Samuel Thomson, ‘The Simmer Fair’

Author: Samuel Thomson

Date: 1793

Source: Poem: ‘The Simmer Fair’ from Poems, on Different Subjects, partly in the Scottish Dialect by Samuel Thomson (Belfast: printed for the author, 1793).

Comments: Samuel Thomson (1766–1816) from Lyles Hill near Templepatrick in South Antrim was the editor of the ‘Poets’ Corner’ in the Belfast United Irishman newspaper Northern Star until the paper was closed down in 1797. He exchanged poems with, and visited, Robert Burns, and published three books containing Ulster-Scots poetry — in 1793, 1799 and 1806. An account of his life and poetry can be found in the Introduction to The Country Rhymes of Samuel Thomson, by Philip Robinson and Ernest Scott (Belfast, 1992).

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1700-1799/014



On auld Hibernia’s northern side,

Whar corn and barley grow,

Whar pebbly, winding streamlets glide

An’ oxen graze and lowe;

Laigh in a vale there hauds a fair,

As monie folks do ken,

Whar lads an’ lasses ay repair

The Simmer day to spend

In sport and glee.


T’ inspire the bardie at this time,

Apollo be’t thy care,

That he in Norland, measured rhyme,

May sing the Simmer-fair;

Whar monie folks together hie,

Baith married anes an’ single,

Auld age and youth, wife, man an’ boy

A’ hobbling intermingle

In crowds this day.


Here grey-clad farmers, gash an’ grave

Drive in their sleekit hawkeys;

With monie a slee, auld-farrant knave,

To sell their heftit brockeys;

An’ Jockey louns, sae gleg an’ gare

Wi’ boot be-deckit legs,

To glow’r an’ drink, cheat, lie an’ swear

An’ sell their glossy naigs

Come here this day.


Here countra’ chiels, dock’d aff compleat,

Weel sheath’d in Sunday claes,

Sae trimly as they pace the street,

In shoen as black as slaes; —

The lasses fain, come stringing in,

Frae a’ parts o’ the country,

Ilk ane as feat’s a new made prin —

Ye’d tak them a’ for gentry,

Sae fine this day!


Here chapmen chiels unlock their packs,

An’ roun’ display their toys;

Intent an’ keen to wile the placks

Frae silly jades an boys;

Ah! bonie young things have a care!

Nor let their coaxin’ trash

E’er claim your notice i’ the fair,

Or twin you an’ your cash,

But scant this day.


Here cantin varlets, thrawn an’ cross,

Wi’ ballad singers skirle:

There blackguard boys at pitch-an-toss,

Gar baw-bees nimbly birle;

Baith ginge’bread wives and tinkler jades,

Stern W------s o’ monie a texture,

With fo’k o’ a’ kinds, callings, trades,

O! Heavens! what a mixture

Comes here the day!


But hark! a wabster on the brig,

Some how displeas’d a suttor,

Wha taks him in the wame a dig,

An ca’s him ‘creeshy bluttor:’

Quoth he, to’ve been sae won’rous quick,

‘Ye neededna a fash’d man;

By that great Power that made Auld-Nick,

‘I’se hae ye bravely thrash’d man,

This vera day!


Peace! (quoth the suttor) ‘creeshy brock,

‘Or by my precious saul!

‘Your poor, insipid, worthless bouk,

‘Shall in yon gutter spraul!

‘Is he on earth d’ye think wad bear

‘Sic stroke-provoking snash?

‘Then sirrah, cease! let’s hear nae mair!

‘Or Saul I’ll bravely smash

‘Your pate this day!’


Wi’ that he raught him sic a rout

Out o’er the dizzy crown,

As made thereat the claret spout,

And laid the callan down:

A ploughman then, raught out a fist,

Wi’ wrathfu’ choakin grapple,

And seiz’d the suttor ere he wist

Just by the hairy thrapple —

Held him that day.


Some hauds, an some as toughly draws,

While cowardly dogs they craiked;

An’ monie a ane, for ithers’ cause,

Gets bouk an’ banes weel paiked: —

But then had ye been there, an’ seen

How creature handled creature,

Ye might a steekit baith your e’en,

An’ pitied human nature

In sic a plight.


But soon the day’s departing blink

Gilds mountain, grove an’ spire;

Ilk lad tips his ain lass the wink

Syne outby a retire

Into the ale-house, warm an’ snug,

To court and quaff the brandy,

Whar kisses braid, frae lug to lug,

Gang smack! like sugar-candy

Sae sweet the night.


Now brandy punch, o’ drink the wale,

Skinks roun’ in jugs and glasses;

The thoughtfu’ swankies dinna fail

To help the bashfu’ lasses;

The jargon wild, frae Jockey’s tongues

Vociferous, endless roars;

While social chiels wi’ cracks and sangs

Beguile the wanton hours,

O’er short the night.

XXIII. [sic]

Here Liza sits, wi’ pride thrawn front,

A bonie lass but saucy,

Wha, ere she wad a leman want,

Taks Jock an’ cares na wha see:

There Rabin oxters up his Jean,

That’s now as grey’s a rat,

Wi’ runkled brows and hollow ein,

An’ whiskers like a cat,

Sae lang that night.


Much yet remains unsung, I swear,

Right monie odd relations,

Descriptions that wad tire your ear,

And far out-reach your patience:

For such a group as here was seen

To grace the D------r’s parlour,

Ye might, with weary steps I ween,

Sought a’ the crazy warl o’er

Frae side to side!


But weel I wat they toom’d the horn,

Till cocks began to craw —

Quoth some ‘we’ll catch a pour o’ scorn,

‘except we haste awa:

‘Our dads will gloom, and look right sour

‘That we’re no sooner hame,

‘Our Minnies flyte, an’ girn an’ glower

‘An’ ferlie an’ exclaim

On us this day.’


Sae a’ weel pleas’d, wi ae consent,

They drowsy hamewards steer:

Some tak the road, and some the bent,

Ilk lassie wi’’ her dear:

But some I wat, at nine months end,

Wi’’ hopeless dole, an’ care,

Whan geer’’s a wrang, that winna mend,

Will min’ the Simmer Fair,

An’ curse that day.


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