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Splores of a Halloween, Twenty Years Ago   By:

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The following verses were sent to compete for the prize offered in October last, by the Montreal Caledonian Society, for the "best poem on Halloween." They were not successful; and some may be ready to ask, "Why then publish them?" It may be sufficient to reply, "I choose to do so;" "I choose to appeal from the award of the Judges to the decision of the public." A single sentence will explain why I make such an appeal. The gentlemen appointed to act as judges based their decision, according to their published statement, as much upon "suitability for recitation at a public festival," as upon "literary merit." Had this been stated in the advertisement inviting competition it would have been all right. But it is very evident that all poems which might be judged unsuitable for such recitation, would necessarily be excluded from competition, whatever might be their "literary merits," and the successful production could only be that which among the "suitable" was regarded as possessing the greatest literary excellence. It is on this ground and not because I could be so vain as to think that my production ought to have received the prize, while I was altogether unacquainted with not a few others which may have been rejected on the same principle that I complain of the award of the Judges, and that I now appeal from that award by this publication.

A poem may be very well suited for recitation at a public festival, and possess very slight claims to any literary merit, while another indefinitely superior might not in such circumstances be suitable for recitation at all.

With the public I now leave the decision, and shall cheerfully acquiesce in its award whether favourable or the reverse.

A. D.

Woodstock, C. W., Jan., 1867.


This night we meet o' a' the nights, For fun the very wale, When melancholy taks its flight, And graning pains grow hale; When young anes, wi' sic antic tricks, And wi' their laughin' music, Gar auld anes tae forget their cares, And feel't the best o' physic.

And though wi' some we used to meet We canna haud this night, Yet we are here to show we ne'er Forget tho' out o' sight: And o' a HALLOWEEN langsyne, I will to you rehearse, And as a canter ye may like, I'll gied to ye in verse.

Ae night gane bye, at gloamin' time, When there was muckle steer, Mang witch mid warlock gathered far To ride in high career, Some callants met, a merry crew, Yet each a decent chiel Though on that night a' seem'd possessed O' something o' the deil.

Their runts clean through and through were bored And stuffed with raivelins fou, And like a chimley when on fire Each could the reek out spue: And thus convened they council held, Wi' handsel whar they'd gang; A' being settled and now dark, They set off in a bang.

It was resolved that they should try, On Kate, their Jenny reeker, And see if 'twad hae ony guid Upon a witch to smeek her: Jock through the key hole sent a cloud That reached across the house, While in below the door reek rushed Like water through a sluice.

Kate maistly chock't, wi' hostin' seized, Ran to the door for air, Wi' open mouth and gaspin' much O' reek she caught the mair, Nor could she speak but gasp for breath When they took to their heel, But black wi' rage she shook her neive And wished them wi' the deil... Continue reading book >>

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