Jeemsie Miller

A poem by Violet Jacob

There's some that mak' themsels a name
Wi' preachin', business, or a game,
There's some wi' drink hae gotten fame
And some wi' siller:
I kent a man got glory cheap,
For nane frae him their een could keep,
Losh! he was shapit like a neep,
Was Jeemsie Miller!

When he gaed drivin' doon the street
Wi' cairt an' sheltie, a' complete,
The plankie whaur he had his seat
Was bent near double;
And gin yon wood had na been strang
It hadna held oor Jeemsie lang,
He had been landit wi' a bang,
And there'd been trouble.

Ye could but mind, to see his face,
The reid mune glowerin' on the place,
Nae man had e'er sic muckle space
To haud his bonnet:
An owre yon bonnet on his brow,
Set cockit up owre Jeemsie's pow,
There waggit, reid as lichtit tow,
The toorie on it.

And Jeemsie's poke was brawly lined,
There wasna mony couldna' find
His cantie hoosie i' the wynd,
"The Salutation":
For there ye'd get, wi' sang and clink,
What some ca'd comfort, wi' a wink,
And some that didna care for drink
Wad ca' damnation!

But dinna think, altho' he made
Sae grand a profit o' his trade,
An' muckle i' the bank had laid,
He wadna spare o't,
For, happit whaur it wasna seen,
He'd aye a dram in his machine,
An' never did he meet a freen'
But got a share o't.

Ae day he let the sheltie fa'
(Whisht, sirs! he wasna' fou - na, na!
A wee thing pleasant - that was a',
An' drivin' canny)
Fegs! he cam' hurlin' owre the front
An' struck the road wi' sic a dunt,
Ye'd thocht the causey got the brunt
And no the mannie!

Aweel, it was his hin'most drive,
Aifter yon clour he couldna thrive,
For twa pairts deid, an' ane alive,
His billies foond him:
And, bedded then, puir Jeemsie lay,
And a' the nicht and a' the day
Relations cam' to greet an' pray
An' gaither roond him.

Said Jeemsie, "Cousins, gie's a pen,
Awa' an' bring the writer ben,
What I hae spent wi' sinfu' men
I weel regret it;
In daith I'm sweir to be disgrac't,
I've plenty left forby my waste,
An them that I've negleckit maist
It's them'll get it."

It was a sicht to see them rin
To save him frae the sense o' sin,
Fu' sune they got the writer in
His mind to settle;
And O their loss! sae sair they felt it
To a' the toon wi' tears they tell't it,
Their dule for Jeemsie wad hae meltit
A he'rt o' metal!

Puir Jeemsie dee'd. In a' their braws
The faim'ly cam' as black as craws,
Men, wifes, an' weans wi' their mamas
That scarce could toddle!
They grat - an' they had cause to greet;
The wull was read that garred them meet -
The U. P. Kirk, just up the street,
Got ilka bodle!

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