The Water-Hen

A poem by Violet Jacob

As I gae'd doon by the twa mill dams i' the mornin'
The water-hen cam' oot like a passin' wraith
And her voice cam' through the reeds wi' a sound of warnin',
"Faith - keep faith!"
"Aye, bird, tho' ye see but ane ye may cry on baith!"

As I gae'd doon the field when the dew was lyin',
My ain love stood whaur the road an' the mill-lade met,
An it seemed to me that the rowin' wheel was cryin',
"Forgi'e - forget,
An turn, man, turn, for ye ken that ye lo'e her yet!"

As I gae'd doon the road 'twas a weary meetin',
For the ill words said yest're'en they were aye the same,
And my het he'rt drouned the wheel wi' its heavy beatin'.
"Lass, think shame,
It's no for me to speak, for it's you to blame!"

As I gae'd doon by the toon when the day was springin'
The Baltic brigs lay thick by the soundin' quay
And the riggin' hummed wi' the sang that the wind was singin',
"Free - gang free,
For there's mony a load on shore may be skailed at sea!"

* * * * * *

When I cam' hame wi' the thrang o' the years 'ahint me
There was naucht to see for the weeds and the lade in spate,
But the water-hen by the dams she seemed aye to mind me,
Cryin' "Hope - wait!"
"Aye, bird, but my een grow dim, an' it's late - late!"

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