Elegy on Habbie Simpson.


The Life And Death

of the

Famous Pyper Of Kilbarchan

The Epitaph of Habbie Simpson

Quha on his Drone bore bony Flags:

He maid his cheiks as reid as crimson,

And bobbit quhan he blew his Bags.

Kilbarchan now may say alace!

For scho hes lost hir game and grace

Bayth Trixie and the Maidin-trace,

Bot quhat remeid!

For na man can supply his place;

Hab Simpson's deid.


Now quha shall play The day it dawis

Or Hunt up, quhen the cock he crawis;

Or quha can, for owr kirk-townis caus

Stand us in steid?

On bag-pypis now na body blawis

Sen Habbie's deid.

Or, quha will caus our sheirers sheir;

Quha will bang up the bragis of weir,

Bring in the bellis, or gude play meir,

In time of need?

Hab Simpson could. Quhat neid ye speir?

Bot now he's deid.

Sae kyndly to his nichtbouris neist

At Beltane and Sanct Barchan's feast,

He blew, and then held up his briest

As he were weid;

Bot now we neid na him arreist,

For Habbie's deid.

At fairis he playit befoir the speir-men,

And gaillie graithit in their geir, quhen

Steill bonetis, jakis and swordis sa cleir then,

Lyke ony beid;

Now quha shall play befoir sic weir-men

Sen Habbie's deid?

At Clark-playis quhen he wont to cum,

His pype playit trimlie to the drum

Lyke bykes of beis he gart it bum

And tuneit his reid;

Bot now our pypes may a' sing dum

Sen Habbie's deid.

And at hors racis mony a day,

Befoir the blak, the brown, and gray,

He gart his pypis quhan he did play,

Bayth skirl and screid;

Now al sic pastymis quyte away,

Sen Habbie's deid.

He countit was ane weild wicht man,

And ferslie at fute-ball he ran;

At everie game the gre he wan

For pith and speid

The lyke of Habbie was na then;

Bot now he's deid.

And then, besyde his valyiant actis,

At bridalis he wan many plackis;

He bobbit aye behind fowks bakis,

And shuke his heid;

Now we want mony merrie crackis

Sen Habbie's deid.

Hee was convoyor o' the bryde,

With bittock hingand at his syde;

About the kirk he thocht a pryde

The ring to leid;

Bot now we maun gae bot ony guyde,

For Habbie's deid.

Sa weill's he keipit his decorum

And all the stotis of Quhip Meg Morum,

He slew a man, and waes me for him

And bare the feid;

And yet the man wan hame befoir him,

And wasna deid.

Aye quhen he playit, the lassis leuch

To sie him teethless, auld and teuch;

He wan his pypis beside Bar-cleuch,

Withoutein dreid;

Quhilk efter wan hym gear eneuch,

Bot now he's deid

Aye quhan he playit, the gaithlings gedderit

And quhan he spak, the carll bladderit;

On Sabboth-dayis his cape was fedderit,

A seimlie weid;

In the Kirk-yeird his meir stude tedderit,

Quhar he lyis deid.

Alace! for him my heart is sair,

For of his spryngis I got a skair,

At everie play, race, feist and fair

But gyle or greid;

We need not luke for pyping mair

Sen Habbie's deid.

Robert Semphill [circa 1599-1661]


It's now these pipes are a' forfairn,

That Habbie left to Jock the bairn

Tho' they were sew'd wi' Hollan yairn

And silken thread

It maks na' they were fill'd wi' shairn

Sen Habbie's deid.


Habbie Simpson was probably born in the early part of the 16th Century, and lived till he was 'teethless, auld and teuch'.

BOBBIT - Danced.

GAME AND GRACE – an outdoor dance game of 'Tripping in Rings'.

TRIXIE – a melody, the song chorus said 'Hay trix, go trix, under the greenwood tree.

MAIDEN-TRACE – tune played whern the new bride was led round the church.

THE DAY IT DAWIS – an ancient Scottish air. Some people suggest it is Hey Tutti Taitie, but piper Pete Stewart has identified another tune.

HUNT'S UP – another very old tune, known in Scotland and England.

KIRKTOWN – the original village around the Church.

QUHA WILL CAUS OUR SCHEIRERS SCHEIR – who will encourage the reapers in the field?

BRAGIS OF WEIR – Boasts of war.

BELTANE AND SANCT BARCHAN'S FEAST – The two most important feast days in the village.

He played before the armed men, with spears, steel helmets, jackets and bright swords.

He played at religious plays, his pipes sounding like beehives, and he tuned his reeds.

He played at the horse races.

NOW AL SIC PASTYMIS QUYTE AWAY – now all such pastimes have gone.

AN WEILD WICHT MAN – A select and sturdy fellow.

He ran fiercely when playing football, and was considered the best player.

AT BRIDALIS HE WAN MONY PLACKIS – He earned many coins at weddings, danced behind people's backs and made fun of the wedding couple.

BITTOCK – Dagger. He led the bride.



BOT ONY GUYDE - We must go without any guidance.

STOTIS OF QUILP MEG MORUM – The swing of a bagpipe tune said to be composed by him.

AND YET THE MAN WAN HAME BEFOIR HIM – Habbie thought he had stabbed a man who poked as hole in his windbag, but his rusty bittock had stayed in his sheath, he had only hit the man with a detached handle.

When he played the girls laughed. 

HE WAN HIS PYPIS BESIDE BAR-CLEUCH – He got his pipes at a coal pit [heugh] at a place called Barr.

When he played the children danced, when he spoke the old men chatted with him, on Sundays he wore a feather in his cap, his horse was tethered in the Kirk Yard where he is now buried.

Alas, I am sad , for his tunes cheered me, he was not deceitful or greedy.

We may not look any more for piping now.