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A Selection of Poems

By John H.L. Smith

written during WW2


Lessons to be Learnt?

The war has finished and passed into history

Like so many others undecided, and solved nothing

Waiting in the wings a new set of leaders

Anxiously, and impatiently, waiting their turn to put the world right

Ignoring past history, which has deluded everyone,

Since this will always be so

For the greed of money and power

Overshadows any good they have

In mind and lack of honesty and faith.



Jake Fulton and myself meeting


The day wis fine

Wi’ a sho'er or twa,

When I met anither local

Awa frae his maw


Nae doot ye ken

Whaur I fun' um,

Snoring an' blawing in bed

I wis share his end had come


I gave his tent a shake

“Wake up Jake, its me”

“My gowd!”, he says “I'm dreamin'”

As he opens up yin ee'


“Hi ya Jock!”, he says to me

“Hi ya Jake Yersel”

“Fine,” says he, “An how are ye?”

“As soun' as a bell.”


The 'our wis nearly noon

“Luck here Jake”, I said

“Dae ye ken its nearly dinner time?

Ye shouldnae be in bed.”


“I'm jist this meenit in it

I've bin own gerd aw nicht,

Dae ye wunner then how I'm luckin’

Sich a sleepy sicht.”


I've lucked fur ye alang time noo

Nae doot ye fur me,

I'm share gled to see ye Jake

Lets hae a cupie tea


My mooth feels like sawn paper

It share needs washing oot,

If ye dinnae bring me a cupie tea

Bring yer washin' clout


If thats aw ye want

I'll awa an' see the cook,

Jist mak yersel at hame

An' grab yersel a book


Tea we had together

A slice o' breed an cheese,

Wi a bun an' bit o' margerine

O'or gullets we did grease


At last we had to pert

Ganging different ways to meet,

We hope an' pray someday

At Forty Twa high street


Thoughts From The Front


A few lines of Wisdom

To the ones I love

I'm wandering mum and dad

In care of him above


If heaven be my second home

And in silken Raiment Clad,

Rather would I be back home

Beside you mum and dad


What is home I ask you?

Without Mum and Dad,

Bricks, Mortar, and a Flue,

Cold, dreary and sad.

Love Found & Left Behind


Away in Bonnie Scotland

My heart will always be

Take care of it sweetheart

As you wait there for me


As you fell those stately pines

Just listen to the breeze

It whispers that I Love You

There among the trees


Beside the stately pine trees

You will find my heart

In keeping of the one I Love

While we are apart


I'll come back come rain or shine

And there among the trees

I'll find the girl who keeps my Heart

With loving care for me.

A Mothers Prayer For Her Son


My son lies beneath war torn skies

God! Is this judgement wise,

Part of me while beneath the sun

He was my life, my Son!


Pain and sorrow on my head

God! I wish that I were dead,

A good son to me his mum

God bless him, my Son!


Give me courage in his place

For me to keep the pace,

Of the fleeing Hun

Who took away my life, my Son!


Let the day come soon o’ God!

When all evil lies beneath the sod,

On them be justice done

Who took away my life, my Son!

The River Calder


Up the glen I’d wander

Fishin’ rod in hand,

The beauty makes me ponder

Wealth of nature where I stand


Calder running low and clear

The wise old trout at me would peer,

A twinkle in his fishy eye

One thought what a fool am I


The water laughing sweet an’ low

With the boulders in her flow,

For who can deceive her children

Least of all us FISHERMEN.

The Buoy's Boax


Jist a wee bitie wid

Wi’ a pedigree quite a hoax,

Fouler chipet sides a botum an’ lid

Aye that’s the Buoy's Boax.


Wimen workin’ day an’ nicht

Daein’ their best tae coax,

Inspiration a guidein’ licht

Bawbees fur the Buoy's Boax.


Oor sailor sons may rule the sea

Noo an’ again dern their soocks,

Nae wuner then there’s room to be

Bawbees in the Buoy's Boax.


Oor airmen sons may rule the sky

Lads that hae great hopes,

O’ gettin’ a cupie tea if we try

Wi’ Bawbees frae the Buoy's Boax.


Oor sodjier sons may rule the land

Cunnin’ as ony ol’ foax,

A P.O. fur them we’ve planned

Wi’ Bawbees frae the Buoy's Boax.


We dae oor best wi’ these Bawbees

Its a herd joab believe us folks,

Wull ye help us aw’ ye please

Its aw’ fur the Buoy's Boax.

Quiet Thoughts From Afar


I am a lonely soldier

Far away from home

And a little older

Since I crossed the foam


Sometimes I’m gay

Then I be sad

Sometimes I pray

Then I be Glad


For deep in my heart

Something tells me

We are not apart

Though I crossed the sea


When I think of home

Do not blame me

Away across the foam

And the deep blue sea


Someday I will see

That lovely green shore

Together we will be

A lonely soldier no more

A Soldier’s Hope


Another year has passed us by,

And left us still apart,

With tears and cares, more grey hairs,

Maybe, a broken heart..


A year has gone, a year will come,

Still find her sitting there,

A mother waiting for her son,

Beside, my old armchair.


I’m thinking of you Mother dear,

Waiting there for me,

Maybe in the coming year,

Together, we will be.


Your hair has turned to silver,

Mine may be iron grey,

But, who can be happier,

When I come home to stay.

Poem’s of Lochwinnoch


Number 1


 Louchinyuch, how I love ye

Wi’ aw yer clanish wys,

There alang yer High Street

You’ll find ma mither styes.


I’ve ginelt troot in aw’ yer burns,

Ate tumshaes oot aw the fermers certs,

Spoolaid apples oof yer trees

An’ nigh broke aw the bobbies herts.


Played et fitba in yer streets

Broke miny a womins winday,

Bit it only heppened six days a week

Fur I went tae church oon Sunday.


When Jake Frost wis busy

I’d gie him a haun ta mak a slide,

Doon by ol’ babies

It wis aw the wimens pride.


When toddlin’ hame frae shoopin’

They wid gie a fiendish yell,

An gang beltin’ alang ma slide

Aye, it’s much safer doon in H---.


Et their age anaw tae

Slidin’ doon the High Street,

The things they did when sliding

Wis maist indiscreet.


Messages flyin’ aw aroon

Their guid men’s dinner in the guttur,

Troubles pilin’ oon their heids

So wis the butter.


Ma father wid hae me dig the gairden

A joab a yis tae hate,

I’d much raither gang fishin’

Wi’ the Cather there in spate.


I yis tae plant the tawties

Curets, beet an’ cabbage tae,

Aw mixed up in the wan wee bit

Till the gairden lucked like Irish stew.


Number 2


I want to be

Back at Loughinyugh ye see

It’s yin or twa miles frae the sea,

Whaur the valleys are green

An’ the burns are clean

As they gang singing their

Wye tae the sea.


I wa’nt tae be

By ma ain fireside

It’s a wee bittie doon frae the croos,

Whaur ma mither an’ faither abide

Wi’ ma brithers an’ sister

An’ naebudies a mister,

Jist Pat, Tam, Colin, Rab, Annie an’ me.


I wa’nt ttae be

Fishing the Ca’ther fur ma tea

Jist in the hert o’ the glen,

An’ mi’by ye ken

I’ll kull a’ the wee troot,

Though I’m share tae hate

Tae dae them oot o’ worms an’ loot

As the burn gangs by in spate.


I want tae be

Among a’ things

Back whaur it’s peaceful ye see,

Whaur the valleys are green

An’ the burns are clean

As they gang singing their

Wye tae the sea.



My Faithers Passing


A loving husband and father dear

A faithful friend when he was here;

He lived in hope and died in peace,

We trust his joys will never cease.


The grief was sore, the loss severe

To part with him we loved so dear,

But ‘tis God’s will it should be so,

By his command we must go


This was addressed to A McIntyre who features in the poem,  although our grandfather worked as a cobbler in the evenings I'm not sure this was penned by my dad.




The cobbler’s a man we can’t do without

He mends your shoes to keep water out

One of that trade I happen to know

He works for a living in our local Co.


He puts up the divy that’s what we require

Employed by the Co. is A. MacIntyre

He works overtime two nights a week

While pals roundabout his company seek


In the cobbler’s shop they gather there

No matter the weather they do’nt care

The fire’s bright, they sit and plan

John Fulton there with Jim Mc.Gran


John Fulton tells with head in air

How he’s been working with some chair

Or maybe something else to do

A nice wee drawer the sides to glue


Now Jim Mc.Gran must have his say

With income tax works day by day

The Government they keep him busy

Adding figures till he’s dizzy


Archie  has not much to say

For he’s been hammering there all day

But he can slip a word with ease

Which brings his pals right to his knees


Now they’ve been pals since boyhood days

They know each other and their ways

Although the world they’ve travelled wide

They stick like heroes side by side

These were not written by John Smith but they made him laugh




There is nothing the matter with me,

I’m as healthy as can be,

I have arthritis in both my knees,

And when I talk its with a wheeze,

My pulse is weak and my blood is thin

But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.


Arch supports I have for my feet,

Or I wouldn’t be able to be on the street

Sleep is denied  me night after night

But every morning I find I’m all right,

My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin

But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.


The moral is this, as my tab I unfold,

That for you an’ me who are growing old

It’s better to say “I’m fine” with a grin

Than to let folks know the state we’re in.


How do I know my youth is all spent?

Well, my get up and go has got up and went.

But I really don’t mind when I think with a grin

Of all the grand places my get up has bin.


But old age is golden I’ve heard it said

But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed

With my ears in the drawer, my teeth in a cup

My eyes on the table until I wake up.

E’re sleep overtakes me I say to myself

Is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?


When I was young my slippers were red

I could kick my heels over my head

When I was older my slippers were blue

But still I could dance the whole night through

Now I am older my slippers are black

I walk to the store and puff my way back.


I get up each morning and dust off my wits

And pick up the paper and read the obits.

If my name’s still missing I know I’m not dead

So I have a good breakfast and go back to bed.






(Sent to me by my brother, Colin).



There are two things to worry about:-

Either you are well or you are sick.

If you are well, then there is nothing to worry about

But if you are sick there are two things to worry about:-

Either you will get well or you will die.

If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,

If you die there are only two things to worry about:-

Either you will go to Heaven or to Hell.

If you go to Heaven there is nothing to worry about

But if you go to Hell you will be so damn busy

Shaking hands with friends

You won’t have time to worry.





Just a line to say I’m living

That I’m not among the dead

Though I,m getting more forgetful

And too mixed up in my head


I’m getting used to my arthritis

To my dentures about resigned

I’m coping with my bifocals

But Ye Gods I miss my mind


Sometimes I can’t remember

While I’m standing on the stair

If I should be going up for something

Or I’ve just come down from there


And before the fridge so often

My mind is full of doubt

Now, did I just put some food away

Or come to take some out


And if it is my turn to write, dear,

I hope you won’t get sore

I may think that I have written

And don’t want to be a bore


So remember I do love you

And wished that you lived near

And now it’s time to mail this

And to say “Goodbye”, my dear


At last I stand beside the mail box

And has my face gone red

Instead of posting this to you

I’ve opened it instead.






As the average Englishman gets out of bed, he enjoys a typical English breakfast - toast and marmalade - the marmalade having been invented ,of course, by Mrs. Keiller of Dundee.


As he slips into his national costume, a raincoat patented by one Charles MacIntosh of Glasgow, we follow him across the linoleum - invented in Kirkcaldy - to the back door.


Out he goes into the beautiful English lane - surfaced by John McAdam of Ayr - where he lights up an English cigarette, first manufactured by Robert Gloag of Perth.


He gets on a bus, which runs on tyres invented by John Dunlop of Dreghorn, and travels to the river to catch a ferry - driven by steam-engines adapted by James Watt of Greenock.


Arriving at his office he opens his mail, admiring the postage stamps invented by John Chalmers of Dundee, then reaches for the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell, yet another Scot!


At home in the evening he partakes of his national dish, Aberdeen-Angus roast beef! As you can imagine, all this tends to get his patriotic goat up and he unconsciously starts humming “Ye Mariners of England”, till his son reminds him it was written and composed by Thomas Campbell of Glasgow.


After dinner his son, Albert, sets off for the Boys’ Brigade founded by Sir William Smith of Glasgow, while little Ethel plays on her bike, invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Dumfries blacksmith.


Mother is in the kitchen bleaching her whites with the aid  of  bleach invented by James McGregor of Glasgow, while her father watches the news on T.V. invented by John Logie Baird of Helensburgh.


The news tells him how the farmers are protesting about the government’s agricultural policy, and have blocked the roads with their mechanical harvesters invented by the Rev. Patrick Bell of Arbroath.


He also hears about the movements of the giant U.S. navy, founded by John Paul Jones of Kirkbean, and he ponders idly on the three-minute warning system, mentally thanking Sir Robert Watson Watt of Brechin for inventing radar.


When the kids come in for the night Dad supervises the homework, helping Albert with his logarithms, invented by John Napier of Edinburgh, and Ethel with her English. Ethel is reading “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson from Edinburgh, and “Robinson Crusoe”, based on the life of Alex Selkirk from Largo.


By now, as you can imagine, Dad is getting desperate. He picks up the Bible, convinced that here is one place he will not be bothered by the Scots. He is wrong! The very first name he comes across is that of a Scot! James V1 of Scotland was the first to authorise its translation.


It’s hopeless. There is nowhere an ENGLISHMAN can turn to escape the deadly efficiency of the Scot. Even desperate measures are in vain. He could turn to drink, but we make the best in the world, or he could stick his head in the oven trying to ignore the fact that coal-gas was discovered by William Murdoch of Ayr.


Decency even denies he blows his brains out, since the breach-loading rifle was invented by a Scot. Anyway, if he happened to survive, they would stick him on an operating table, pump him full of penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming of Darvel, and operate using an anaesthetic discovered by Sir James Young Simpson of Bathgate. The first thing our hero would hear on awakening would be the voice of the Scottish surgeon telling him he was as safe as the Bank of England, founded by William Paterson of Dumfries.


If he was really lucky he might find they had given him a few pints of guid Scots blood,which would entitle him to say”HERE’S TAE US, WHA’S LIKE US, DAMN FEW & THEY’RE A’ DEID.”

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