Address to the Devil

Original Text: 
Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Kilmarnock, 1786). PR 4300 1786a K5a SMR. Edinburgh, 1797. B-10 0051 Fisher Library.
        O Prince, O chief of many throned pow'rs!
        That led th' embattled seraphim to war!
                      (Milton, Paradise Lost)
1O thou! whatever title suit thee,--
3Wha in yon cavern, grim an' sootie,
4     Clos'd under hatches,
8An' let poor damned bodies be;
9I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
10     E'en to a deil,
12     An' hear us squeel!
13Great is thy pow'r, an' great thy fame;
14Far ken'd an' noted is thy name;
16     Thou travels far;
19Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
20For prey a' holes an' corners tryin;
21Whyles, on the strong-wing'd tempest flyin,
23Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,
24     Unseen thou lurks.
25I've heard my rev'rend graunie say,
26In lanely glens ye like to stray;
27Or whare auld ruin'd castles gray
28     Nod to the moon,
29Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way
31When twilight did my graunie summon
34     Wi' eerie drone;
36     Wi' heavy groan.
37Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
39Wi' you mysel I gat a fright,
44Each bristl'd hair stood like a stake,
46     Amang the springs,
47Awa ye squatter'd like a drake,
48     On whistling wings.
52     Wi' wicked speed;
53And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
55Thence, countra wives wi' toil an' pain
57For oh! the yellow treasure's taen
58     By witchin skill;
61Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse,
65Is instant made no worth a louse,
70     By your direction,
71An' nighted trav'lers are allur'd
72     To their destruction.
74Decoy the wight that late an drunk is:
76     Delude his eyes,
77Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
78     Ne'er mair to rise.
79When Masons' mystic word an grip
80In storms an' tempests raise you up,
82     Or, strange to tell!
83The youngest brither ye wad whip
84     Aff straught to hell!
85Lang syne, in Eden'd bonie yard,
86When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
87An all the soul of love they shar'd,
88     The raptur'd hour,
90     In shady bow'r;
92Ye cam to Paradise incog,
94     (Black be your fa'!)
96     Maist ruin'd a'.
100     Mang better folk,
102     Your spitefu' joke?
103An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
105While scabs and blotches did him gall,
106     Wi' bitter claw,
109But a' your doings to rehearse,
112     Down to this time,
114     In prose or rhyme.
115An' now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
118     To your black pit;
120     An' cheat you yet.
126     Ev'n for your sake!

Notes

2] Clootie: hoofie, from cloot, a hoof. Back to Line
5] spairges: splashes.
brunstane cootie: pail of brimstone. Back to Line
6] scaud: scald. Back to Line
7] Hangie: hangman. Back to Line
11] skelp: spank. Back to Line
15] lowing heugh: flaming hollow. Back to Line
17] lag: slow. Back to Line
18] blate: bashful.
scaur: timid. Back to Line
22] Tirlin: stripping, unroofing. Back to Line
30] eldritch: hideous, terrible. Back to Line
32] douce: sedate, respectable. Back to Line
33] yont the dyke: beyond the wall.
bummin: booming. Back to Line
35] boortrees: alders. Back to Line
38] sklentin: slanting squinting. Back to Line
40] ayont the lough: beyond the lake or pond. Back to Line
41] rashbuss: tuft of rushes. Back to Line
42] sugh: moan, hum. Back to Line
43] nieve: fist. Back to Line
45] stoor: hoarse. Back to Line
49] warlocks: wizards. Back to Line
50] Ragweed nags: broomsticks. Back to Line
51] muirs: moors. Back to Line
54] howkit: dug up. Back to Line
56] kirn: churn. Back to Line
59] dawtet, twal-pint hawkie: the petted cow that gives twelve pints of milk. Back to Line
60] as yell's the bill: as dry as the bull. Back to Line
62] croose: bold. Back to Line
63] wark-lume: work-loome. Back to Line
64] cantraip: magic. Back to Line
66] bit: crisis. Back to Line
67] thowes: thaws.
snawy hoord: snowy hoard. Back to Line
68] float: flood.
boord: border, shore (of the brook). Back to Line
69] water-kelpies: water-spirits. Back to Line
73] aft: oft.
spunkies: will-o'-the-wisps. Back to Line
75] bleezin: blazing. Back to Line
81] maun: must. Back to Line
89] swaird: sward. Back to Line
91] sneck-drawin: latch-lifting. Back to Line
93] brogue: trick. Back to Line
95] shog: shake. Back to Line
97] bizz: flurry. Back to Line
98] reekit duds: smoked clothes.
reested gizz: smoke-dried face. Back to Line
99] smoutie: smutty. Back to Line
101] sklented: squinted; cf. sklentin, line 38.
man of Uz: Job. Back to Line
104] hal': hold, dwelling. Back to Line
107] lows'd: loosed.
scaul: scolding wife. Back to Line
108] warst ava': worst of all. Back to Line
110] fechtin: fighting. Back to Line
111] sin' that day Michael did you pierce: as related by Milton, in Paradise Lost, VI, 325. Back to Line
113] ding: defy.
Lallan: Lowland Scotch.
Erse: Gaelic, Highland Scotch. Back to Line
116] rantin: making merry. Back to Line
117] linkin: tripping. Back to Line
119] jinkin: dodging. Back to Line
121] auld Nickie-ben: a variant of "Old Nick." Back to Line
122] men's mend. Back to Line
123] aiblins: perhaps. Back to Line
124] hae a stake: Have an opportunity (of salvation). The phrase comes from gambling, where "to have a stake," i.e., to have money to stake, would be to have a chance of winning. Back to Line
125] wae: sad. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1786
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.300.
Rhyme: