A Scotch Night [poem by Will Ogilvie]

[Editor: This poem by Will Ogilvie was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]

A Scotch Night.

If you chance to strike a gathering of half-a-dozen friends
When the drink is Highland whusky or some chosen Border blends,
And the room is full of speirin’ and the gruppin’ of brown han’s,
And the talk is all of tartans and of plaidies and of clans, —
You can take things douce and easy, you can judge you ’re going right,
For you ’ve had the luck to stumble on a wee Scotch night!

When you ’re pitchforked in among them in a sweeping sort of way
As “anither mon an’ brither” from the Tweed or from the Tay ;
When you ’re taken by the oxter and you ’re couped into a chair
While someone slips a whusky in your tumbler unaware, —
Then the present seems less dismal and the future fair and bricht,
For you’ve struck Earth’s grandest treasure in a guid Scotch nicht !

When you hear a short name shouted and the same name shouted back
Till you think in the confusion that they’ve all been christened Mac ;
When you see a red beard flashing in the corner by the fire,
And a giant on the sofa who is six-foot three or higher, —
Before you’ve guessed the colour and before you’ve gauged the height
You ’ll have jumped at the conclusion it ’s a braw Scotch night !

When the red man in the corner puts his strong voice to the proof
As he gives “The Hundred Pipers,” and the chorus lifts the roof ;
When a chiel sings “Annie Laurie” with its tender, sweet refrain
Till the tears are on their eyelids and — the drinks come round again !
When they chant the stirring war-songs that would make the coward fight, —
Then you ’re fairly in the middle of a wee Scotch night !

When the plot begins to thicken and the band begins to play;
When every tin-pot chieftain has a word or two to say ;
When they’d sell a Queensland station for a sprig of native heath ;
When there’s one Mac on the table and a couple underneath ;
When half of them are sleeping and the whole of them are tight, —
You will know that you’re assisting at a (hic !) Scotch night !

When the last big bottle ’s empty and the dawn creeps grey and cold,
And the last clan-tartan ’s folded and the last d——d lie is told ;
When they totter down the footpath in a brave, unbroken line,
To the peril of the passers and the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” ;
You can tell the folk at breakfast as they watch the fearsome sicht,
“They have only been assisting at a braw Scots nicht !”

Will Ogilvie.

A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 232-234

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