For everyone with an interest in the town, people and parish of Shotts

Tam Baird

Tam Baird was a rake and a lecherous chiel
Weel faured and guid lookin’ – a drunkard as weel.
The lassies A’ lo’ed him in spite o’ his fame,
And mony had cause tae repent in their shame.

 Each nicht he wad straddle his faithfu’ grey mare
And ride tae the inn tae droon sorrow and care.
He’d drink wi’ his cronies til in the sma hoors
He mounted again tae ride hame o’er the moors.

 He cared na for bogle or hoolet or wraith,
Tho’ kennin hoo travellers they lured tae their daith.
He boasted the deil aye looked efter his ain,
And sae wasna feart tae ride hame a’ alane.

 Ae cauld winters nicht Tam was headin for hame,
His heed reelin licht and a pain in his wame,
The mare kent the way so he gave her her heid
But she shied on the brae ga;in up tae Muirheid.

She seemed to be fey for she nickered as weel,
And backed doon the hillside in spite o’ Tams heel.
Whits wrang wi’ ye Bess – stop your prancin’ about,
The diels gotten in ye, O’ that I’ve nae doot.

 So he turned her richt roon on the road past Kates Well,
Where the ghost o’ the giant is reputed tae dwell.
He reeled in the saddle, his senses the swam,
And e’er reachin’ the Quarry was deep in a dwam.

 He dreamt o’ his youth, o’ the lang bygone days,
Which he spent mang the howes and the flooery green braes.
By the week wimplin’ burn whauer he paiddled wi’ glee,
And the steep roarin’ linn near the auld rowan tree.

 He saw the auld school with its girls and its boys,
The games that they played and their harmless ploys.
The lang simer days and the deep winter snaws,
And the wee hoose was hame in the bield o’ the shaws.

 The Kirk on the Sabbath – the Hymns that he sang,
The catechism teachin’ whits right and whits wrang.
(But Satan the tempter o’ Gods human race,
Caused Tam tae first stumble, then fa’ in disgrace).

 He saw himself wastrel, a richt neer do well.
A freckless, carnapcious, cantankerous chiel,
And Tam in his anguish and shame groaned aloud
As he saw his auld Mither sae withered and bowed.

 And heard her last words as he hurried away,
O Tam dinnae leave me or whit will I dae”.
He strood oot the gateway unmoved by her tears,
And the last thing he heard was her scream in his ears.

 Tam woke wi’ a start – he had sobered up fast, –
He wis tremblin’ wi shame, and regrettin’ his past.
His grey mare had stopped, and she nickered wi’ fright,
As they baith saw a figure surrounded wi’ light.

 It beckoned tae Tam, and the voice sounded sweet,
Come nearer Tam Baird, _ its by chance that we meet, –
And see your bit bairnie, that never drew braith,
And stroke its cauld pow, – noo Tam dinna be laith!

 The Devil for lang had thocht Tam was his man
But lately had doots so he harboured a plan
In case Tam repented before his last braith,
He’d pay him a a visit and hasten his daith.

 And so he conjured on the steep Quarry’s side,
To image the lass Tam refused for his bride.
Held close tae her briest the wee unchristened waen
That Tam had disowned and denied was his ain.

Tam wanted to rin so he turned his mare fast
But the biest shied awa’ and puir Tam stared aghast
At the horned appparation there blockin’ his way
And Bess reared in fricht with an earpiercing neigh.

 Puir Tam was unsaddled and tossed in the air
Out over the cliff and he cried in dispair,
“I repent o’ ma sins, a’ the ill I hae done,
Forgie me – ” was a ‘eer his heid struck the grun

 Tis true, it is said, when man faces death,
In the moment before he expires his last breath
His sins ever mounting thro’ a the years bye
Are mirrored distinctly in each victims eye

 And pictured as clear as the sunniest day
As his memory’s film all his misdeeds portray.
The wild wilfull wrongs, on the steep downward path,
That merits damnation and heavenly wrath.

 Yet always there’s time, ev’n at this latest hour,
To demonstrate Heavens omnipotent power,
To liberate souls who do honestly rue,
And cheat the puir deil o’ his evident due.

 The devil was watchin’ and waitin’ below,
When he heard Tam cry out to his immortal Foe.
He cursed that his plan had been thwarted that day,
But he’d ithers tae tempt, so he hurried away.

 This tale it is true for where Tam’s corpse was found,
In letters of gold printed deep in the ground.
These words had been written by Angels from Heaven,
“E’er Tam reached the ground, all his sins were forgiven”

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