The Making Of The Poems

Murray grew up in a community with rich traditions of speech, story, music and song. His father, Peter, was a local versifier, evidently of a satirical turn ('The old man has done a bit of rhyming in his time too pointed to be printed' was Murray's own comment on his father's verses)

From an early age, Murray was aware of the close relationship between the local culture he grew up in and the great achievements of the Scots literary tradition, recalling in 1912 that 'I was raised upon Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns, and the old Scots, and all my life as a boy I was taught to look out for quaint phrases, out of the way expressions, and to study and delight in the old, original characters of the countryside'.

The Antiquary

A little mannie, nae ower five feet three,

Sae bent wi' eild he lookit less than that,

His cleadin' fashioned wi' his tastes to 'gree,

Fae hose an' cuitikins to plaid an' hat.

His cot stob-thackit, wi' twa timmer lums,

A box-bed closet 'tween the but an' ben,

A low peat fire, where bauldrins span her thrums,

Wat dried his beets, an' smoked, an' read his lane.

He kent auld spells, could trail the rape an' spae,

He'd wallets fu' o' queer oonchancie leems,

Could dress a mart, prob hoven nowt, an' flay;

Fell spavined horse, an' deftly use the fleams.

He lived till ninety, an' this deein' wiss

He whispered, jist afore his spirit flew -

"Gweed grant that even in the land o'bliss

I'll get a bield whaur some things arena new."