Beginners
Experts
Burns Supper
Top Features
Discussion Forum
Newsletter
Poems & Songs
The Letters
Federation
E- Membership
Schools
Contributions
Links
Search the Site
Scottish History
The Burns Shop

Translation
Index

The Holy Fair.

 

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation



The Holy Fair.
A robe of seeming truth and trust
Hid crafty observation;
And secret hung, with poison'd crust,
The dirk of defamation:
A mask that like the gorget show'd,
Dye-varying on the pigeon;
And for a mantle large and broad,
He wrapt him in Religion.
HYPOCRISY A-La-Mode.
1.
Upon a simmer Sunday morn,
When Nature's face is fair,
I walked forth to view the corn,
An' snuff the caller air.
The rising sun, owre Galston Muirs,
Wi' glorious light was glintin;
The hares were hirplin down the furs,
The lav'rocks they were chantin
Fu' sweet that day.
2.
As lightsomely I glower'd abroad,
To see a scene sae gay,
Three hizzies, early at the road,
Cam skelpin up the way,
Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black,
But ane wi' lyart lining;
The third, that gaed a wee a-back,
Was in the fashion shining
Fu' sweet that day.
3.
The twa appear'd like sisters twin,
In feature, form, an' claes;
Their visage wither'd, lang an' thin,
An' sour as onie slaes:
The third cam up, hap-step-an'-lowp,
As light as onie lambie,
An' wi' a curchie low did stoop,
As soon as e'er she saw me,
Fu' kind that day.
4.
Wi' bonnet aff, quoth I, 'Sweet lass,
I think ye seem to ken me;
I'm sure I've seen that bonie face,
But yet I canna name ye'.
Quo' she, an' laughin as she spak,
An' taks me by the han's,
'Ye, for my sake, hae gi'en the feck
Of a' the Ten Comman's
A screed some day.
5.
'My name is Fun - your cronie dear,
The dearest friend ye hae;
An' this is Superstition here,
An' that's Hypocrisy.
I'm gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,
To spend an hour in daffin:
Gin ye'll go there, yon runkl'd pair,
We will get famous laughin
At them this day.'
6.
Quoth I, 'Wi' a' my heart, I'll do't;
I'll get my Sunday's sark on,
An' meet you on the holy spot;
Faith, we'se hae fine remarkin!'
Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time,
An' soon I made me ready;
For roads were clad, frae side to side,
Wi' monie a wearie body,
In droves that day.
7.
Here farmers gash, in ridin graith,
Gaed hoddin by their cotters;
There swankies young, in braw braid-claith,
Are springin owre the gutters.
The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
In silks an' scarlets glitter;
Wi' sweet-milk cheese, in monie a whang,
An' farls, bak'd wi' butter,
Fu' crump that day.
8.
When by the plate we set our nose,
Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence,
A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws,
An' we maun draw our tippence.
Then in we go to see the show:
On ev'ry side they're gath'rin;
Some carryin dails, some chairs an' stools,
An' some are busy bleth'rin
Right loud that day.
9.
Here stands a shed to fend the show'rs,
An' screen our countra gentry,
There Racer Jess, an' twa-three whores,
Are blinkin at the entry.
Here sits a raw o' tittlin jads,
Wi' heavin breasts an' bare neck;
An' there a batch o' wabster lads,
Blackguardin frae Kilmarnock,
For fun this day.
10.
Here some are thinkin on their sins,
An' some upo' their claes;
Ane curses feet that fyl'd his shins,
Anither sighs an' prays:
On his hand sits a chosen swatch,
Wi' screw'd-up, grace-proud faces;
On that a set o' chaps, at watch,
Thrang winkin on the lasses
To chairs that day.
11.
O happy is that man an' blest!
Nae wonder that it pride him!
Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best,
Comes clinkin down beside him!
Wi' arm repos'd on the chair back,
He sweetly does compose him;
Which by degrees, slips round her neck,
An's loof upon her bosom,
Unkend that day.
12.
Now a' the congregation o'er
In silent expectation;
For Moodie speels the holy door,
Wi' tidings o' damnation:
Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
'Mang sons o' God present him;
The very sight o' Moodie's face
To's ain het hame had sent him
Wi' fright that day.
13.
Hear how he clears the points o' Faith
Wi' rattlin and thumpin!
Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
He's stampin, an' he's jumpin!
His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd-up snout,
His eldritch squeal an' gestures,
O how they fire the heart devout--
Like cantharidian plaisters
On sic a day!
14.
But hark! the tent has chang'd its voice;
There's peace an' rest nae langer;
For a' the real judges rise,
They canna sit for anger:
Smith opens out his cauld harangues,
On practice and on morals;
An' aff the godly pour in thrangs,
To gie the jars an' barrels
A lift that day.
15.
What signifies his barren shine,
Of moral pow'rs an' reason?
His English style, an' gesture fine
Are a' clean out o' season.
Like Socrates or Antonine,
Or some auld pagen heathen,
The moral man he does define,
But ne'er a word o' faith in
That's right that day.
16.
In guid times comes an antidote
Against sic poison'd nostrum;
For Peebles, frae the water-fit,
Ascends the holy rostrum:
See, up he's got the word o' God,
An' meek an' mim has view'd it,
While Common-sense has taen the road,
An' aff, an' up the Cowgate
Fast, fast that day.
17.
Wee Miller niest, the guard relieves,
An' orthodoxy raibles,
Tho' in his heart he weel believes,
An' thinks in auld wives' fables:
But faith! the birkie want a manse:
So, cannilie he hums them;
Altho' his carnal wit an' sense
Like hafflins-wise o'ercomes him
At times that day.



The Holy Fair.
A robe of seeming truth and trust
Hid crafty observation;
And secret hung, with poisoned crust,
The dagger of defamation:
A mask that like the gorget showed,
Dye varying on the pigeon;
And for a mantle large and broad,
He wrapped him in Religion.
HYPOCRISY A-La-Mode.

Upon a summer Sunday morning,
When Nature's face is fair,
I walked forth to view the corn,
And sniff the fresh air.
The rising sun, over Galston Moors,
With glorious light was glinting;
The hares were hopping down the furrows,
The larks they were chanting
Full sweet that day.

As lightsomely I gazed around,
To see a scene so gay,
Three young women, early at the road,
Came spanking up the way,
Two had mantles of doleful black,
But one with grey lining;
The third, that walked a bit behind,
Was in the fashion shining
Full sweet that day.

The two appeared like twin sisters,
In feature, form, and clothes;
Their visage withered, long and thin,
And sour as any sloes:
The third came up, hop step and leap,
As light as any lamb,
And with a curtsey low did bow,
As soon as ever she saw me,
Full kind that day.

With bonnet off, quote I, 'Sweet lass,
I think you seem to know me;
I am sure I have seen that lovely face,
But yet I can not name you.
Quoth she, and laughing as she spoke,
And takes me by the hands,
You, for my sake, have given the bulk
Of all the Ten Commandments
Repeated rapidly some day.

'My name is Fun - your intimate friend dear,
The dearest friend you have;
And this is Superstition here,
And that is Hypocrisy.
I'm going to Mauchline Holy Fair,
To spend an hour in larking:
Before you will go there, those wrinkled pair,
We will get much laughing
At them this day.'

Quoth I, 'With all my heart, I will do it;
I will get my Sunday's shirt on,
And meet you on the holy spot;
Faith, we will have fine remarking!'
Then I went home at porridge time (breakfast),
And soon I made me ready;
For roads were clad, from side to side,
With many a weary body,
In droves that day.

Here farmers self complacent, in riding gear,
Went jogging by their cotters;
There strapping youngsters in lovely broad cloth,
Are springing over the ditches.
The lasses, padding barefoot, throng,
In silks and scarlets glitter;
With sweet-milk cheese, in many a large slice,
And oat-bread cakes, baked with butter,
Full crisp that day.

When by the plate we set our nose,
Well heaped up with halfpence (half penny coin),
A greedy glare the church elder throws,
And we must draw our two-penny ale.
Then in we go to see the show:
On every side they are gathering;
Some carrying planks, some chairs and stools,
And some are busy talking idly
Right loud that day.

Here stands a shed to keep off the showers,
And screen our country gentry,
There Racer Jess, and two or three whores,
Are leering at the entrance.
Here sits a row of whispering wild young women,
With heaving breasts and bare neck;
And there a batch of weaver lads,
Roistering from Kilmarnock (a near by town),
For fun this day.

Here some are thinking on their sins,
And some upon their clothes;
One curses feet that soiled his shoes,
Another sighs and prays:
On his hand sits a chosen sample,
With screwed-up, grace-proud faces;
On that a set of chaps, at watch,
Busy winking on the lasses
To chairs that day.

O happy is that man and blessed!
No wonder that it prides him!
Whose own dear lass, that he likes best,
Comes abruptly down beside him!
With arm reposed on the chair back,
He sweetly does compose him;
Which by degrees, slips round her neck,
And his palm upon her bosom,
Unknown that day.

Now all the congregation over
In silent expectation;
For Moodie climbs the holy door,(Moodie is a preacher)
With tidings of damnation:
Should the Devil, as in ancient days,
Among sons of God present himself;
The very sight of Moodie's face
To his own hot home had sent him
With fright that day.

Hear how he clears the points of Faith
With rattling and thumping!
Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
He is stamping, and he is jumping!
His lengthened chin, his turned-up nose,
His unearthly squeal and gestures,
O how they fire the heart devout-
Like cantharidian plasters
On such a day.

But hark! the tent has changed its voice;
There is peace and rest no longer;
For all the real judges rise,
They can not sit for anger:
Smith opens out his cold harangues, (Smith is a preacher)
On practice and on morals;
And off the godly pour in throngs,
To give the jars and barrels (of ale)
A lift that day

What signifies his barren shine,
Of moral powers and reason?
His English style, and gesture fine
Are all clean out of season.
Like Socrates or Antonine,
Or some old pagen heathen,
The moral man he does define,
But never a word of faith in
That is right that day

In good times comes an antidote
Against such poisoned nostrum;
For Peebles, from the river's mouth, (Peebles is a preacher)
Ascends the holy rostrum:
See, up he has got the word of God,
And meek and mild has viewed it,
While Common sense has taken the road,
And off, and up the Cowgate
Fast, fast that day

Little Miller next, the guard relieves, (Miller is a preacher)
And orthodoxy recites by rote,
Though in his heart he well believes,
And thinks in old wives' tales:
But faith! the fellow wants a manse:
So carefully he humbugs them;
Although his carnal wit and sense
Nearly half-wise overcomes him
At times that day.

 

2004 WBC. Under no circumstances can any  of the contents of this site be copied, reproduced,  or represented without prior written consent.