1799 Poem, Samuel Thomson, ‘Listen Lizie, Lilting to Tobacco’

Author: Samuel Thomson

Date: 1799

Source: Poem: ‘Listen Lizie, Lilting to Tobacco’, from New Poems, on a variety of different subjects by Samuel Thomson (Belfast: Doherty & Simms, 1799)

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/1700-1799/027



“Now cease your sweet pipes, shepherds; cease your lays

Ye warbling train, that fill the echoing groves

With your melodious love-notes; die ye winds,

That o’er Arcadian valleys blow; ye streams,

Ye garrulous old streams, suspend your course,

And listen “Lizie.”


Tobacco dear, attend a wee,

I’m gawn to tune my pipe to thee;

This threty year, I’m sure, and three,

I hae enjoy’d thee;

Ten times a day, to gie me glee,

Hae I employ’d thee.

Let ither poets praise the Diel,

Rant, rhyme, an’ tipple till they reel,

Or roose potatoes or ait-meal

In sonnet slee;

Here, hale an’ hearty, at my wheel,

I’ll croon to thee.

But och, alas! whan thou wears short,

Nae thought hae I for sang or sport;

And neebour loons, that come athort,

Then like to taunt ay;

Haf deaf, haf blin’, my tow I ort,

And girn and gaunt ay.

An’ whan thou’rt out, O potent weed!

Our house gaes fairly wrang indeed;

Cogs, pots an’ pans fa’ arse o’er head,

An’ lie unwashen,

An’ aften kicks an’ licks succeed

A rash expression.

Our auld gude man haf tynes his wit,

As by the fire he’ll girn an’ sit;

His nose an’ chin wad mak a nit

In flinners flee!

Diel haet he dow but girn an spit,

When wantin thee.

E’en Colley shuns the fire-side,

An’ Baudrons flyt within to bide,

Maun to the stack-yard rin an’ hide,

Or to the kiln,

Else monie a bang does her betide,

Gien wi’ gude will.

But soon as haf-a-quarter’s come,

Ill nature sinking, maun sing dumb,

That girnin pest that sticks to some

Fok while they move,

When ilka gab, just like a lum,

Begins to stove.

Thou hast a wonderful effect

Upon the human intellect;

Can mair than hafflins correct

Our strife and din,

And passions, wayward things, detect,

An’ haud them in.

Even squalid beggars, cheer’d by thee,

Can sit them down, baith blythe and free,

Just in the shade o’ some auld tree,

Upon their poaks,

Gie ilka care an’ pain the lee,

An’ tak’ their smoaks.

How hae I leugh a meikle deal,

At thoughtless gowk, frae cutty stale,

Puff out great mouthfu’s — syne grow pale,

As onie hawkey;

Sweat, shake, an’ bokin’, lose his meal,

Then damn tobacco.

Frae this let ilka raw mou’d slab,

An’ geeglin’ fool, newfangled drab,

Nae mair their squeamish stammacks crab,

For by my sang

They’ll fin it tak’s a season’d gab

To thole thee lang.

But by degrees whan younker tries thee,

Just bit by bit, no to surprise thee,

I’ll lay my lugs he gaes and buys thee,

Dear as thou art,

And faith he’ll never mair despise thee,

Nor seek to part.

Wad ilka ragged, tippling hash,

But learn to quat that whisky trash,

An’ up wi’ thee the matter clash,

An’ stay at hame,

He’d hain his health an’ save his cash,

Nor stain his name.

Whan supper’s o’er an’ our blythe fok,

Aroun’ the ingle sit an’ joke,

How sweet to tak’ our social smoak,

An’ tell the news;

Discord dare never gie a croak,

Into the house.

But soon as kittle politicks

Amang our cracks begin to mix,

The settling clouds o’ anger fix

On every brow;

We curse the wars — wish broken necks,

What can we do?

O***** **** I’ll no misca thee,

Nor e’er be heard to say foul fa thee,

But wad auld Hornie arslins draw thee,

To his mirk sty,

And there sae curry, nip, an’ claw thee,

I’d dance for joy.

But why this wicked fool digression!

Why put mysel in sic a passion?

Rebellion’s got a pretty thrashin —

Sedition’s choakin;

When peace returns, we’ll thrive in fashion,

So let’s be smoakin.

Tobacco, monie a whang o’ thee,

Has wil’d awa the placks frae me;

What I hae coft for ae bawbee,

Now stans me twa,

But siccan times as now we see,

We never saw.

An’ yet, in spite o’ a’ their dow,

Auld Erin will yet in plenty row,

Hae rowth o’ thee to smoak I trow,

Baith night and day,

Whan monie a wily wicked pow

Stinks in the clay.

Some like to snuff thee, some to chow,

While frae their jaws the slavers flow,

Till it wad sconner onie sow,

An’ poison pigs,

To see their beards a’ laggart grow

Like sooty wigs!

An wives, forsooth, wi’ nebs like snipes,

Stan’ out frae cheeks, like scrapit tripes,

Snievel an’ dreep, but onie wipes,

Save on their cuff —

Might gie a Highlandman the gripes

At takin snuff.

Since chewing thus your jaws exposes,

An’ snuff makes tar-pigs o’ yer noses;

Since smoakin breaks nae law o’ Moses,

Come seat you free,

Lug out your pipe, fill’d up jocusus,

An’ smoak wi’ me.

As some day soon I mean to tak’ a

Day, to sing to thee Tobacco,

Some dainty lilt that fok’ may crack o’

Gin’t dinna miss,

Thou’lt suffer me, but words to mak’ a

Tail end to this.

Now musie light, an’ rest thy wing,

While I sall slack the merry string,

And up the canty fiddle hing,

Syne we sall tak’ a

Hearty smoak — an’ close the spring,

Wi’ hail Tobacco.


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