Curling In Local Literature

Although curling was at its most popular during his lifetime, it appears unlikely that Robert Burns was a curler. The sport is not mentioned in his correspondence, where he recounts his activities and it occurs only twice in his work. In "The Vision", he uses curling to set the scene,
The sun had clos’d the winter day,
The curlers quat their roaring play

and more famously in "Tam Samson’s Elegy",
When Winter muffles up his cloak,
And binds the mire like a rock;
When to the loughs the curlers flock,
Wi’ gleesome speed,
Wha will they station at the cock,
Tam Samson’s dead?

He was the king of a’ the Core,
To guard, or draw, or wick a bore,
Or up the rink like Jehu roar
In time o’ need;
But now he lags on Death’s hog score,
Tam Samson’s dead!

Curling stone which belonged to Tam Samson, immortalised by Robert Burns in 'Tam Samsonís Elegy'

In 1789, David Davidson, the Kirkcudbright poet, gives a description of curling in his "Thoughts on the Seasons" and includes a passage in the style of an old Scots ballad describing a legendary game on Carlingwark Loch, at Castle Douglas,
God prosper long the hearty friends
Of honest pleasure all;
A mighty curling match once did
At Carlingwark befal.

To hurl the channelstane wi’ skill,
Lanfloddan took his way;
The child that’s yet unborn will sing,
The curling of that day.

Another local poet, James Kennedy, of Sanquhar published an extended poem on curling in his "Poems and Songs" in 1823,
AN EPISTLE TO MR. M ---
Relating a Curling Match betwixt the parish of Crawfordjohn and the parish of Sanquhar.

Sanquhar curlers, c. 1900, It concludes with,
While circling seasons onward roll,
And boisterous billows barks control;
While loadstone points unto the pole
Or norland star,
May Sanquhar’s sons attain the goal
At icy war.

"The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia", published in 1824 by John MacTaggart, contains definitions of many local words and phrases relating to curling,

BOWEROCK - An huddled lump of anything. Big on to the bowercock, a term at curling, and means, to direct the stone to where a number are already laid.

CLOOTER - the noise a bad delivered channle-stone makes on ice.

SLAGGIE - the land, or ice after a thaw, is said to be slaggie. A slag-day with curlers, is a day on which the ice is thawing.

WHUNCE - A heavy blow, or the noise of such a blow, as when two channle-stones strike one another.

The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, 1824 By John MacTaggart, it contains definitions of many local words and phrases relating to curling.

The fact that the game had its own vocabulary indicates how widely it was practised in Dumfries and Galloway at this time.

The dinner which traditionally followed a curling match often included the singing of curling songs, some general, others composed especially for the occasion. In this way curling has been the inspiration for more poems and songs than any other sport.

Curling Songs of Tynron, c. 1910 A local example of this is "Curling Songs of Tynron" published around 1910 and dedicated to the curlers of Tynron by John Laurie, the local school master.

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