A Scotch Night


If you chance to strike a gathering of half-a-dozen friends

When the drink is Highland whusky or some chosen Border blends,

And the room is full of speirin and the gruppin’ of brown han’s,

And the talk is all of tartans and of plaidies and of clans,-

You can take things douce and easy, you can judge you’re going right,

For you’ve had the luck to stumble on a wee Scotch night!


When you’re pitch forked in among them in a sweeping sort of way

As “anither mon an’ brither” from the Tweed or from the Tay;

When you’re taken by the oxter and you’re couped into a chair

While someone slips a whusky in your tumbler unaware,-

Then the present seems less dismal and the future fair and bricht,

For you’ve struck Earth’s grandest treasure in a guid Scots nicht!


When you hear a short name shouted and the same name shouted back

Till you think in the confusion that they’ve all been christened Mac;

When you see a red beard flashing in the corner by the fire,

And a giant on the sofa who is six-foot three or higher,-

Before you’ve guessed the colour and before you’ve gauged the height

You’ll have jumped at the conclusion it’s a braw Scotch night!


When the red man in the corner puts his strong voice to the proof

As he gives The Hundred Pipers, and the chorus lifts the roof;

When a chiel sings Annie Laurie with its tender, sweet refrain

Till the tears are on their eyelids and – the drinks come round again;

When they chant the stirring war-songs that would make the coward fight,-

Then you’re fairly in the middle of a wee Scotch night!


When the plot begins to thicken and the band begins to play;

When every tin-pot chieftain has a word or two to say;

When they’d sell a Queensland station for a sprig of native heath;

When there’s one Mac on the table and a couple underneath;

When half of them are sleeping and the whole of them are tight,-

You will know that you’re assisting at a (hic!) Scotch night!


When the last big bottle’s empty and the dawn creeps grey and cold,

And the last clan-tartan’s folded and the last dammed lie is told;

When they totter down the footpath in a brave, unbroken line,

To the peril of the passers and the tune of Auld Lang Syne;

You can tell the folk at breakfast as they watch the fearsome sicht,

“They have only been assisting at a braw Scots nicht!”


Extract from letter dated 1st January 1995 from George Ogilvie (Son of the poet) to Ann Holt (Secretary of the WHO Memorial Trust) 

“The other day, You said someone had asked you about W.H.O.s’ work (The Scotsman) and asked which were his best poems. That has given me some thought.  The merit of his work, I think, is the way he can describe so accurately a situation or a place.  Ask an Australian bushman, which is the best thing he wrote – ask a horseman, ask a nature lover, ask a humorist – each one will be different.  “The Comfort of the Hills” has a big public.  Now for “The Wee Scotch Night” people used to say; “Will Ogilvie! Oh the man who wrote “The Wee Scotch Night!”  This made dad wild.  He used to say, “I wish I’d never written the thing!”  It is, of course, very funny and beautifully written as so many of his “comic” verses are.  But his ambition was to write poetry and to be remembered for something good.  He was afraid that he might be slotted in with the traditional music hall Scott with a bottle of whisky in his hand!  Kipling may be remembered as “the man who wrote” “The Road to Mandalay”, But dad didn’t want to be remembered for “The Wee Scotch Night”. 

What perhaps is required now, is a book giving the best of his many subjects in groups. Horses, nature, solitude, humour, war poems, children.”


In 2009 the WHOMT published “The Hill Road to Roberton” in the hope of addressing the wishes of George’s request and the concerns of the poet himself.