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Braid Claith

Shairp observation o human naitur, relevant theday.
Robert Fergusson (1750 - 1774)

Braid Claith

Ye wha are fain to hae your name
Wrote in the bonny book of fame,
Let merit nae pretension claim
To laurel'd wreath,
But hap ye weel, baith back and wame,
In gude Braid Claith.

He that some ells o this may fa,
An slae-black hat on pow like snaw,
Bids bauld to bear the gree awa,
Wi a this graith,
Whan bienly clad wi' shell fu braw
O gude Braid Claith.

Waesuck for him wha has na fek o't!
For he's a gowk they're sure to geck at,
A chiel that ne'er will be respekit
While he draws breath,
Till his four quarters are bedeckit
Wi gude Braid Claith.

On Sabbath-days the barber spark,
When he has done wi scrapin wark,
Wi siller broachie in his sark,
Gangs trigly, faith!
Or to the meadow, or the park,
In gude Braid Claith.

Weel might ye trow, to see them there,
That they to shave your haffits bare,
Or curl an sleek a pickly hair,
Woud be right laith,
Whan pacing wi' a gawsy air
In gude Braid Claith.

If only mettl'd stirrah green
For favour frae a lady's ein,
He maunna care for being seen
Before he sheath
His body in a scabbard clean
O gude Braid Claith.

For, gin he come wi coat threadbare,
A feg for him she winna care,
But crook her bonny mou fu sair,
And scald him baith.
Wooers shoud ay their travel spare
Without Braid Claith.

Braid Claith lends fock an unco heese,
Makes mony kail-worms butterflies,
Gies mony a doctor his degrees
For little skaith:
In short, you may be what you please
Wi gude Braid Claith.

For thof ye had as wise a snout on
As Shakespeare or Sir Isaac Newton,
Your judgment fouk wou'd hae a doubt on,
I'll tak my aith,
Till they coud see ye wi a suit on
O gude Braid Claith.


Leuk at the rhyme scheme. Aince ye ken whit it is, whit dis that tell ye aboot the pronoonciation o:

fa, snaw, awa



Stanza 1. There is something in the grammar of this stanza that you would not expect to find in English. What is it? Discuss.

Stanza 2. Whit wey dis slae an snaw big a picter? Whit dis the wird shell say tae ye aboot the wey fowk wear claes?

Stanza 3. Whit is Fergusson daen wi gowk an geck?

Stanza 4. Or...or Whit dis the first or mean?

Stanza 5. Tell us aboot the weys barbers behave differently whan thay are awa fae thir wark?

Stanza 6. Explain the metaphor in this stanza. Is it a guid ane?

Stanza 7. Dae ye think men an wemen judge ilk anither be thir claes?

Stanza 8. Whit kind o butterlee dis a kail-worm growe intil? The clue is in the wird kail. (Anither clue is that the butterflee is white.) There is an affa guid poem aboot thaim called Flying Crooked by Robert Graves. Is it a compliment or a wee bit o an insult tae be compared wi a butterflee? Discuss.

Stanza 9. Aince the wirds though and cough in baith Scots an Inglis end wi a soond like the –ch in loch. In Inglis, this soond disappeared in the saxteenth century. Scots kept it a fell bit langer. Here though is spelt thof. Whit dae ye think micht hae been goin on in Scots at the time this poem wis scrieved? Whit words hae a gh spellin in Inglis? Whit are they in Scots?

Farder wark

Ye micht like tae find oot mair aboot Fergusson. He wis educatit at the University o St Andrews an monie o his poems war published by Walter Ruddiman. There's  a statue tae him in Edinburrae. Whit else can ye fin oot? 

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