Gateway to the Classics: In the Days of the Guild by Louise Lamprey
In the Days of the Guild by  Louise Lamprey

A Song of Birds and Beasts

I gaed awa' to Holyrood and there I build a kirk,

And a' the birds of a' the air they helpit me to work.

The whaup wi' her lang bill she dug up the stane,

The dove wi' her short bill she brought it hame,

The pyet was a wily bird and raised up the wa',

The corby was a silly bird and she gar'd it fa',

And bye cam' auld Tod Lowrie and skelpit them a'!

I gaed and I gaed and I cam' to London town,

And a' the beasts of a' the earth were met to pull it down.

The cock wi' his loud voice he raised a fearfu' din,

The dragon he was dumb, but he creepit slyly in,

The ramping tramping unicorn he clattered at the wa',

The bear he growled and grumbled and scrabbled wi' his claw,

Till bye cam' auld Tod Lowrie and dang them a'!

The leopard and the wolf they were fechtin' tooth and nail,

The bear wad be a lion but he couldna raise a tail,

The geese they heard the brattle and yammered loud and lang,

The corby flyin' owre them he made his ain sang.

The lion chased the unicorn by holt and by glen,

Tod Lowrie met the hounds and he bade them com ben—

But the auld red rascal had twa holes tae his den!

The wolf lap in the fold and made havoc wi' the flock,

The corby cleaned the banes in his howf on the rock,

The weasel sacked the warren but he couldna grow fat,

The cattie met a pullet and they never found that.

They made a wicker boothie and they tethered there a goose,

And owre the wee bit lintel they hung a braided noose,—

But auld Tod Lowrie he sat in his ain hoose!

Note: There is a pun in the third verse, as "tail" is an old word for a retinue or following. Albert the Bear was margrave of Brandenburg, the leopard was the emblem of Anjou, and the wolf in medieval fables stands for the feudal baron. The unicorn was the legendary beast of Scotland, and the dragon that of Wales. The cock stands for France. Henry II. is satirized as the bold and cunning fox, Tod Lowrie. The allusion to the trap in the last three lines is to the offer of the throne of the Holy Roman Empire to the English monarch, during a time of general international hostility and disorder.

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