The School Bag

The Life and Death of Habbie Simson,
the Piper of Kilbarchan

Robert Sempill of Beltrees

Kilbarchan now may say alas!
For she that lost her game and grace,
Both Trixie and The Maiden Trace
         But what remead?                                             help
For no man can supply his place:
         Hab Simson’s dead.

Now who shall play The Day it Dawis,
Or Hunt’s Up, when the cock he craws?
Or who can for our kirk-town cause
         Stand us in stead?
On bagpipes now nobody blaws
         Sen Habbie’s dead.                                           since

Or wha will cause our shearers shear?
Wha will bend up the brags of weir,                         play the war-tunes
Bring in the bells, or good play meir                         play more
         In time of need?
Hab Simson cou’d, what needs you speir?                ask
         But now he’s dead.

So kindly to his neighbors least                                nearest
At Beltan and St Barchan’s feast
He blew, and then held up his breast,
         As he were weid:                                              feverish
But now we need not him arrest,                               stop
         For Habbie’s dead.

At fairs he play’d before the spear-men
All gaily graithed in their gear men:                         kitted-out
Steel bonnets, jacks, and swords so clear then
         Like any bead:                                                  ring of folk
Now wha shall play before such weir-men               warriors
         Sen Habbie’s dead?

At clark-plays when he won't to come                      plays composed or acted
His Pipe play’d trimly to the drum;                          by clerics or school-men
Like bikes of bees he part it bum,                            hives/made it drone
         And tun’d his reed:
Now all our pipers may sing dumb,
         Sen Habbie’s dead.

And at horse races many a day. 
Before the black, the brown, the gray,
He gart hus pipe, when he did play,
         Baith skirl and skreed:                                      shriek and screech
Now all such pastime’s quite away
         Sen Habbie’s dead.

He counted was a weil’d wight-man,                        a chosen brave man
And fiercely at football he ran:
At every game the gree he wan                                  prize
         For pith and speed.
The like of Habbie was na than,
         But now he’s dead.

And than, besides his valiant acts,
At bridals he won many placks;                                coins
He bobbed ay behind fo’k's backs
         And shook his head.
Now we want many merry cracks                              jokes
         Sen Habbie’s dead.

He was convoyer of the bride,
With Kittock hinging at his side;                               Katie
About the kirk he thought a pride
         The ring to lead:
But now we may gae but a guide,                             without
         For Habbie’s dead.

So well’s he keeped his decorum
And all the stots of Whig-meg-morum;                     hops
He slew a man, and wae’s me for him,
         and bure the fead!                                             put up with the feud
But yet the man wan hame before him,                     got
         And was not dead.

And whan he play’d the lasses leugh  
To see him teethless, auld, and teugh,                       tough
He wan his pipes beside Barcleugh,                          earned
         Withouten dread!
Which after wan him gear eneugh;                           plenty wealth
         But now he’s dead.

Ay when he play’d the gaitlings gedder’d,               urchins gathered
And when he spake, the carl bledder’d,                    old man boasted
On Sabbath days his cap was fedder’d,
         A seemly weid,                                                 proper outfit
In the kirk-yeard his mare stood tedder’d
          Where he lies dead.

Alas! for him my heart is saur,
For of his spring I gat a skair,                                    dance tune/share
At every play, race, feast, and fair,
         But guile or greed;                                           without
We need not look for pyping mair,
         Sen Habbie’s dead.    
Scottish - early 17th century