The clackity boots hit the cobbildy stanes
an thir faces wir mawkit wae greeze;
wae thir laughin an jokin an wavin tae wains
they were giants in blue dungarees.
An staunin ootside wae her aperon on
wis the wee nebby frame o ma mither
an she nodded tae Joe an she nodded tae John
bit her eyes keepin skint fur anither.
Fur last night wis poor an we huid tae make dae
wae breid an a bit o a bridie
bit we’ll aw hiv fish an some totties the day
fur Da’s comin hame an it’s Friday.
So Maw’s staunin ther, is we play bae the drains,
an we’re waitin an waitin fur ages,
bit the clackity boots on the cobbildy stanes
tell us Da’s comin hame wae the wages.
A thrupenny bit wis the usual Ah got
bit wan time when Ah got a tanner
Ah ran roon tae Woolies’ an ther whit Ah bought
wis some toty wee bolts and a SPANNER!
Fur the fitters, the jiners, the men fae the cranes,
the labourirs, clerks, engineers,
an the clack o thir boots on the cobbildy stanes
wance rang like a song in ma ears.
Whit bitter feelins gnaw an freeze us
is in these wids noo on ma tod
Ah groan like pain-wrackt, faithliss Jesus
up tae a faur an frozen God.
Fur jist this day we buried Ann,
struck doon an taken bae TB
an the priest said his “Remember, man...’
ower a deid wain o only three.
Bit whit’s TB? It’s jist a name
fur waas thit breathe oot damp, an hum
wae mould, an turn a wid-be hame
intae a dank and stinkin slum.
It’s jist the name fur poverty
thit breks the will o decent mothers
an makes sae flyly, gradjilly,
auld drunkirds oot o wid-be fethirs.
TB’s the word thit doctors gie
tae factirs fur tae hide behin,
tae aw the world so no tae see
the breadth an depth o their ain sin.
Bit, Ann, lass, you wir aye sae thin,
yer lips sae pale, yer skin sae drawn,
it seemt aroon ye fae within
a powerfu, daithly beauty shone.
God curse ye, daith, then, thit ye sher
wae love an health the power tae gie
the human face a comely er
an light it up, like tenderly!
An God tae, aye, God, whit o you
tae act is if yer hauns ir tied
an staun back watchin is anew
an innacint is crucified...
Bit look here noo, afore ma feet
wan tiny snowdrap grows apert
an glows sae lonely an sae sweet
Ah fear it tae will brek ma hert.
Aw Man, God says, ye ir bit grass
thit lives an dies inside an hoor;
bit Ann, Ah says, wee breathliss lass
ye ir this toty snowdrap-flooer
thit lives oot in the winds an snows
an smiles up it the winter’s sting
an dies afore it ever knows
the waarmin sun an smir o Spring.
Bit, lass, ye’ve sown two seed fur sure,
two seeds tae grauw an bide in me -
the sadniss o the snowdrap-flooer,
an the blasphemy o poverty.
Now standing on this driftwood-line,
here time itself feels in suspension;
here only memories are mine,
big, broken things it hurts to mention.
For politics that hymn a war
eight thousand shameless miles away
are well content with dirges for
this river that once served their day.
An arc-light flashing down the Clyde
recalls again my town of old;
yet just this day too Greenock’s pride
was bought and sold for English gold.
But wheesht! There! did you hear the river,
this tide that turns in us as deep,
shake off the moment with a shiver
and turn, a giant in its sleep...