For Halloween: Robert Burns’ classic story of witches and warlocks . . . and a mare’s tail.
Note: While this poem is technically in English, a short summary with a few “translations” may be in order. (A quick Google search should supply further details.)
Here goes . . .
One dark and stormy night, following an evening’s revelry with his pal “Souter (cobbler) Johnie” by the fireside (“ingle”) of the Lord’s House Inn at Ayr, and fortified by the landlady (“Kirkton Jean”) with many draughts of ale (“nappy” or “reaming swats”), our hero Tam, with his faithful mare Maggie, ventures forth on his long road home (“hame”).
As he nears the end of his journey, and approaches the bridge over the River Doon (“brig o’ Doon”), his path takes him by the ruins of the old haunted church (“kirk”) at Alloway, where Tom observes a gathering of warlocks and witches (“carlins”) dancing about in their nightshirts (“sarks”) to the tune of the piper - none other than “Auld Nick” himself, in the shape of a large shaggy dog (“towzie tyke”) at the window seat (“winnock bunker”).
Tam’s attention is riveted by the dancing and capering - and rather short nightshirt (“cutty sark”) - of Nannie, a particularly “winsome wench”. As the festivities reach their peak, Tam can no longer contain his admiration as he roars out his approval: “Weel done, cutty-sark!”
Mayhem ensues. Nannie and the “hellish legion” give chase, while Tam and Maggie make a mad dash for the keystone (“key-stain”) of the bridge, hoping to reach the safety of the other side. (“A running stream they dare na cross.”)
. . . and thereby hangs a tail.
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