The Herd And The Mavis

A poem by George MacDonald

"What gars ye sing," said the herd-laddie,
"What gars ye sing sae lood?"
"To tice them oot o' the yerd, laddie,
The worms for my daily food."

An' aye he sang, an' better he sang,
An' the worms creepit in an' oot;
An' ane he tuik, an' twa he loot gang,
An' still he carolled stoot.

"It's no for the worms, sir," said the herd;
"They comena for your sang!"
"Think ye sae, sir?" answered the bird,
"Maybe ye're no i' the wrang!"

But aye &c.

"Sing ye young Sorrow to beguile,
Or to gie auld Fear the flegs?"
"Na," quo' the mavis, "I sing to wile
My wee things oot o' her eggs."

An' aye &c.

"The mistress is plenty for that same gear
Though ye sangna air nor late!"
"I wud draw the deid frae the moul sae drear.
An' open the kirkyard-gate."

An' aye &c.

"Better ye sing nor a burn i' the mune,
Nor a wave ower san' that flows,
Nor a win' wi' the glintin stars abune,
An' aneth the roses in rows;

An' aye &c.

But a better sang it wud tak nor yer ain,
Though ye hae o' notes a feck,
To mak the auld Barebanes there sae fain
As to lift the muckle sneck!

An' aye &c.

An' ye wudna draw ae bairnie back
Frae the arms o' the bonny man
Though its minnie was greitin alas an' alack,
An' her cries to the bairnie wan!

An' aye &c.

An' I'll speir ye nae mair, sir," said the herd,
"I fear what ye micht say neist!"
"I doobt ye wud won'er, sir," said the bird,
"To see the thouchts i' my breist!"

An' aye he sang, an' better he sang,
An' the worms creepit in an' oot;
An' ane he tuik, an' twa he loot gang,
An' still he carolled stoot.

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