History of Literature









ROBERT BURNS





"POEMS & SONGS"


 


ROBERT BURNS


Robert Burns

Scottish poet

born Jan. 25, 1759, Alloway, Ayrshire, Scot.
died July 21, 1796, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire

Main
national poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in the Scottish dialect of English. He was also famous for his amours and his rebellion against orthodox religion and morality.

Life
Burns’s father had come to Ayrshire from Kincardineshire in an endeavour to improve his fortunes, but, though he worked immensely hard first on the farm of Mount Oliphant, which he leased in 1766, and then on that of Lochlea, which he took in 1777, ill luck dogged him, and he died in 1784, worn out and bankrupt. It was watching his father being thus beaten down that helped to make Robert both a rebel against the social order of his day and a bitter satirist of all forms of religious and political thought that condoned or perpetuated inhumanity. He received some formal schooling from a teacher as well as sporadically from other sources. He acquired a superficial reading knowledge of French and a bare smattering of Latin, and he read most of the important 18th-century English writers as well as Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden. His knowledge of Scottish literature was confined in his childhood to orally transmitted folk songs and folk tales together with a modernization of the late 15th-century poem “Wallace.” His religion throughout his adult life seems to have been a humanitarian deism.

Proud, restless, and full of a nameless ambition, the young Burns did his share of hard work on the farm. His father’s death made him tenant of the farm of Mossgiel to which the family moved and freed him to seek male and female companionship where he would. He took sides against the dominant extreme Calvinist wing of the church in Ayrshire and championed a local gentleman, Gavin Hamilton, who had got into trouble with the Kirk Session for sabbath breaking. He had an affair with a servant girl at the farm, Elizabeth Paton, who in 1785 bore his first illegitimate child, and on the child’s birth he welcomed it with a lively poem.

Burns developed rapidly throughout 1784 and 1785 as an “occasional” poet who more and more turned to verse to express his emotions of love, friendship, or amusement or his ironical contemplation of the social scene. But these were not spontaneous effusions by an almost-illiterate peasant. Burns was a conscious craftsman; his entries in the commonplace book that he had begun in 1783 reveal that from the beginning he was interested in the technical problems of versification.



 

Though he wrote poetry for his own amusement and that of his friends, Burns remained restless and dissatisfied. He won the reputation of being a dangerous rebel against orthodox religion, and, when in 1786 he fell in love with Jean Armour, her father refused to allow her to marry Burns even though a child was on the way and under Scots law mutual consent followed by consummation constituted a legal marriage. Jean was persuaded by her father to go back on her promise; Robert, hurt and enraged, took up with another girl, Mary Campbell, who died soon after; on September 3 Jean bore him twins out of wedlock. Meanwhile, the farm was not prospering, and Burns, harassed by insoluble problems, thought of emigrating. But he first wanted to show his country what he could do. In the midst of his troubles he went ahead with his plans for publishing a volume of his poems at the nearby town of Kilmarnock. It was entitled Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect and appeared on July 31, 1786. Its success was immediate and overwhelming. Simple country folk and sophisticated Edinburgh critics alike hailed it, and the upshot was that Burns set out for Edinburgh on Nov. 27, 1786, to be lionized, patronized, and showered with well-meant but dangerous advice.

The Kilmarnock volume was a remarkable mixture. It included a handful of first-rate Scots poems: “The Twa Dogs,” “Scotch Drink,” “The Holy Fair,” “An Address to the Deil,” “The Death and Dying Words of Poor Maillie,” “To a Mouse,” “To a Louse,” and some others, including a number of verse letters addressed to various friends. There were also a few Scots poems in which he was unable to sustain his inspiration or that are spoiled by a confused purpose. In addition, there were six gloomy and histrionic poems in English, four songs, of which only one, “It Was Upon a Lammas Night,” showed promise of his future greatness as a song writer, and what to contemporary reviewers seemed the stars of the volume, “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” and “To a Mountain Daisy.”

Burns selected his Kilmarnock poems with care: he was anxious to impress a genteel Edinburgh audience. In his preface he played up to contemporary sentimental views about the natural man and the noble peasant, exaggerated his lack of education, pretended to a lack of natural resources and in general acted a part. The trouble was that he was only half acting. He was uncertain enough about the genteel tradition to accept much of it at its face value, and though, to his ultimate glory, he kept returning to what his own instincts told him was the true path for him to follow, far too many of his poems are marred by a naïve and sentimental moralizing.

Edinburgh unsettled Burns, and, after a number of amorous and other adventures there and several trips to other parts of Scotland, he settled in the summer of 1788 at a farm in Ellisland, Dumfriesshire. At Edinburgh, too, he arranged for a new and enlarged edition (1787) of his Poems, but little of significance was added to the Kilmarnock selection. He found farming at Ellisland difficult, though he was helped by Jean Armour, with whom he had been reconciled and whom he finally married in 1788.

In Edinburgh Burns had met James Johnson, a keen collector of Scottish songs who was bringing out a series of volumes of songs with the music and who enlisted Burns’s help in finding, editing, improving, and rewriting items. Burns was enthusiastic and soon became virtual editor of Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum. Later, he became involved with a similar project for George Thomson, but Thomson was a more consciously genteel person than Johnson, and Burns had to fight with him to prevent him from “refining” words and music and so ruining their character. Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum (1787–1803) and the first five volumes of Thomson’s A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs for the Voice (1793–1818) contain the bulk of Burns’s songs. Burns spent the latter part of his life in assiduously collecting and writing songs to provide words for traditional Scottish airs. He regarded his work as service to Scotland and quixotically refused payment. The only poem he wrote after his Edinburgh visit that showed a hitherto unsuspected side of his poetic genius was Tam o’Shanter (1791), a spirited, narrative poem in brilliantly handled eight-syllable couplets based on a folk legend.

Meanwhile, Burns corresponded with and visited on terms of equality a great variety of literary and other people who were considerably “above” him socially. He was an admirable letter writer and a brilliant talker, and he could hold his own in any company. At the same time, he was still a struggling tenant farmer, and the attempt to keep himself going in two different social and intellectual capacities was wearing him down. After trying for a long time, he finally obtained a post in the excise service in 1789 and moved to Dumfries in 1791, where he lived until his death. His life at Dumfries was active. He wrote numerous “occasional” poems and did an immense amount of work for the two song collections, in addition to carrying out his duties as exciseman. The outbreak of the French Revolution excited him, and some indiscreet outbursts nearly lost him his job, but his reputation as a good exciseman and a politic but humiliating recantation saved him.



Assessment
Burns was a man of great intellectual energy and force of character who, in a class-ridden society, never found an environment in which he could fully exercise his personality. The fact is that Scottish culture in his day could provide no intellectual background that might replace the Calvinism that Burns rejected. The Edinburgh literati of Burns’s day were second raters, but the problem was more than one of personalities. The only substitute for the rejected Calvinism seemed to be a sentimental deism, a facile belief in the good heart as all, and this was not a creed rich or complex enough to nourish great poetry. That Burns in spite of this produced so much fine poetry shows the strength of his unique genius, and that he has become the Scottish national poet is a tribute to his hold on the popular imagination.

Burns perhaps exhibited his greatest poetic powers in his satires. There is also a remarkable craftsmanship in his verse letters, which display a most adroit counterpointing of the colloquial and the formal. But it is by his songs that Burns is best known, and it is his songs that have carried his reputation round the world. Burns is without doubt the greatest songwriter Great Britain has produced.

Burns wrote all his songs to known tunes, sometimes writing several sets of words to the same air in an endeavour to find the most apt poem for a given melody. Many songs which, it is clear from a variety of evidence, must have been substantially written by Burns he never claimed as his. He never claimed “Auld Lang Syne,” for example, which he described simply as an old fragment he had discovered, but the song we have is almost certainly his, though the chorus and probably the first stanza are old. (Burns wrote it for a simple and moving old air that is not the tune to which it is now sung, as Thomson set it to another tune.) The full extent of Burns’s work on Scottish song will probably never be known.

It is positively miraculous that Burns was able to enter into the spirit of older folk song and re-create, out of an old chorus, such songs as “I’m O’er Young to Marry Yet,” “Green Grow the Rashes, O,” and a host of others. It is this uncanny ability to speak with the great anonymous voice of the Scottish people that explains the special feeling that Burns arouses, feelings that manifest themselves in the “Burns cult.”

David Daiches

 

 

 
 

 

 
 



POEMS & SONGS
 

 
 

 

 
 


Song—Handsome Nell 1

     Tune—"I am a man unmarried."
     [Footnote 1: The first of my performances.—R. B.]

     Once I lov'd a bonie lass,
     Ay, and I love her still;
     And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
     I'll love my handsome Nell.

     As bonie lasses I hae seen,
     And mony full as braw;
     But, for a modest gracefu' mein,
     The like I never saw.

     A bonie lass, I will confess,
     Is pleasant to the e'e;
     But, without some better qualities,
     She's no a lass for me.

     But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
     And what is best of a',
     Her reputation is complete,
     And fair without a flaw.

     She dresses aye sae clean and neat,
     Both decent and genteel;
     And then there's something in her gait
     Gars ony dress look weel.

     A gaudy dress and gentle air
     May slightly touch the heart;
     But it's innocence and modesty
     That polishes the dart.

     'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
     'Tis this enchants my soul;
     For absolutely in my breast
     She reigns without control.




 

Song—O Tibbie, I Hae Seen The Day

     Tune—"Invercauld's Reel, or Strathspey."
     Choir.—O Tibbie, I hae seen the day,
     Ye wadna been sae shy;
     For laik o' gear ye lightly me,
     But, trowth, I care na by.

     Yestreen I met you on the moor,
     Ye spak na, but gaed by like stour;
     Ye geck at me because I'm poor,
     But fient a hair care I.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     When coming hame on Sunday last,
     Upon the road as I cam past,
     Ye snufft and ga'e your head a cast—
     But trowth I care't na by.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     I doubt na, lass, but ye may think,
     Because ye hae the name o' clink,
     That ye can please me at a wink,
     Whene'er ye like to try.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     But sorrow tak' him that's sae mean,
     Altho' his pouch o' coin were clean,
     Wha follows ony saucy quean,
     That looks sae proud and high.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     Altho' a lad were e'er sae smart,
     If that he want the yellow dirt,
     Ye'll cast your head anither airt,
     And answer him fu' dry.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     But, if he hae the name o' gear,
     Ye'll fasten to him like a brier,
     Tho' hardly he, for sense or lear,
     Be better than the kye.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     But, Tibbie, lass, tak' my advice:
     Your daddie's gear maks you sae nice;
     The deil a ane wad speir your price,
     Were ye as poor as I.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

     There lives a lass beside yon park,
     I'd rather hae her in her sark,
     Than you wi' a' your thousand mark;
     That gars you look sae high.
     O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.




 

Song—I Dream'd I Lay

     I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing
     Gaily in the sunny beam;
     List'ning to the wild birds singing,
     By a falling crystal stream:
     Straight the sky grew black and daring;
     Thro' the woods the whirlwinds rave;
     Tress with aged arms were warring,
     O'er the swelling drumlie wave.

     Such was my life's deceitful morning,
     Such the pleasures I enjoyed:
     But lang or noon, loud tempests storming
     A' my flowery bliss destroy'd.
     Tho' fickle fortune has deceiv'd me—
     She promis'd fair, and perform'd but ill,
     Of mony a joy and hope bereav'd me—
     I bear a heart shall support me still.




 

Song—In The Character Of A Ruined Farmer

     Tune—"Go from my window, Love, do."
     The sun he is sunk in the west,
     All creatures retired to rest,
     While here I sit, all sore beset,
     With sorrow, grief, and woe:
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     The prosperous man is asleep,
     Nor hears how the whirlwinds sweep;
     But Misery and I must watch
     The surly tempest blow:
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     There lies the dear partner of my breast;
     Her cares for a moment at rest:
     Must I see thee, my youthful pride,
     Thus brought so very low!
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     There lie my sweet babies in her arms;
     No anxious fear their little hearts alarms;
     But for their sake my heart does ache,
     With many a bitter throe:
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     I once was by Fortune carest:
     I once could relieve the distrest:
     Now life's poor support, hardly earn'd
     My fate will scarce bestow:
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     No comfort, no comfort I have!
     How welcome to me were the grave!
     But then my wife and children dear—
     O, wither would they go!
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!

     O whither, O whither shall I turn!
     All friendless, forsaken, forlorn!
     For, in this world, Rest or Peace
     I never more shall know!
     And it's O, fickle Fortune, O!




 

Tragic Fragment

     All devil as I am—a damned wretch,
     A hardened, stubborn, unrepenting villain,
     Still my heart melts at human wretchedness;
     And with sincere but unavailing sighs
     I view the helpless children of distress:
     With tears indignant I behold the oppressor
     Rejoicing in the honest man's destruction,
     Whose unsubmitting heart was all his crime.—
     Ev'n you, ye hapless crew! I pity you;
     Ye, whom the seeming good think sin to pity;
     Ye poor, despised, abandoned vagabonds,
     Whom Vice, as usual, has turn'd o'er to ruin.
     Oh! but for friends and interposing Heaven,
     I had been driven forth like you forlorn,
     The most detested, worthless wretch among you!
     O injured God! Thy goodness has endow'd me
     With talents passing most of my compeers,
     Which I in just proportion have abused—
     As far surpassing other common villains
     As Thou in natural parts has given me more.




 

The Tarbolton Lasses

     If ye gae up to yon hill-tap,
     Ye'll there see bonie Peggy;
     She kens her father is a laird,
     And she forsooth's a leddy.

     There Sophy tight, a lassie bright,
     Besides a handsome fortune:
     Wha canna win her in a night,
     Has little art in courtin'.

     Gae down by Faile, and taste the ale,
     And tak a look o' Mysie;
     She's dour and din, a deil within,
     But aiblins she may please ye.

     If she be shy, her sister try,
     Ye'll maybe fancy Jenny;
     If ye'll dispense wi' want o' sense—
     She kens hersel she's bonie.

     As ye gae up by yon hillside,
     Speir in for bonie Bessy;
     She'll gie ye a beck, and bid ye light,
     And handsomely address ye.

     There's few sae bonie, nane sae guid,
     In a' King George' dominion;
     If ye should doubt the truth o' this—
     It's Bessy's ain opinion!

     Ah, Woe Is Me, My Mother Dear

     Paraphrase of Jeremiah, 15th Chap., 10th verse.

     Ah, woe is me, my mother dear!
     A man of strife ye've born me:
     For sair contention I maun bear;
     They hate, revile, and scorn me.

     I ne'er could lend on bill or band,
     That five per cent. might blest me;
     And borrowing, on the tither hand,
     The deil a ane wad trust me.

     Yet I, a coin-denied wight,
     By Fortune quite discarded;
     Ye see how I am, day and night,
     By lad and lass blackguarded!




 

Montgomerie's Peggy

     Tune—"Galla Water."
     Altho' my bed were in yon muir,
     Amang the heather, in my plaidie;
     Yet happy, happy would I be,
     Had I my dear Montgomerie's Peggy.

     When o'er the hill beat surly storms,
     And winter nights were dark and rainy;
     I'd seek some dell, and in my arms
     I'd shelter dear Montgomerie's Peggy.

     Were I a baron proud and high,
     And horse and servants waiting ready;
     Then a' 'twad gie o' joy to me,—
     The sharin't with Montgomerie's Peggy.




 

The Ploughman's Life

     As I was a-wand'ring ae morning in spring,
     I heard a young ploughman sae sweetly to sing;
     And as he was singin', thir words he did say,—
     There's nae life like the ploughman's in the month o' sweet May.

     The lav'rock in the morning she'll rise frae her nest,
     And mount i' the air wi' the dew on her breast,
     And wi' the merry ploughman she'll whistle and sing,
     And at night she'll return to her nest back again.




 




 

The Ronalds Of The Bennals

     In Tarbolton, ye ken, there are proper young men,
     And proper young lasses and a', man;
     But ken ye the Ronalds that live in the Bennals,
     They carry the gree frae them a', man.

     Their father's laird, and weel he can spare't,
     Braid money to tocher them a', man;
     To proper young men, he'll clink in the hand
     Gowd guineas a hunder or twa, man.

     There's ane they ca' Jean, I'll warrant ye've seen
     As bonie a lass or as braw, man;
     But for sense and guid taste she'll vie wi' the best,
     And a conduct that beautifies a', man.

     The charms o' the min', the langer they shine,
     The mair admiration they draw, man;
     While peaches and cherries, and roses and lilies,
     They fade and they wither awa, man,

     If ye be for Miss Jean, tak this frae a frien',
     A hint o' a rival or twa, man;
     The Laird o' Blackbyre wad gang through the fire,
     If that wad entice her awa, man.

     The Laird o' Braehead has been on his speed,
     For mair than a towmond or twa, man;
     The Laird o' the Ford will straught on a board,
     If he canna get her at a', man.

     Then Anna comes in, the pride o' her kin,
     The boast of our bachelors a', man:
     Sae sonsy and sweet, sae fully complete,
     She steals our affections awa, man.

     If I should detail the pick and the wale
     O' lasses that live here awa, man,
     The fau't wad be mine if they didna shine
     The sweetest and best o' them a', man.

     I lo'e her mysel, but darena weel tell,
     My poverty keeps me in awe, man;
     For making o' rhymes, and working at times,
     Does little or naething at a', man.

     Yet I wadna choose to let her refuse,
     Nor hae't in her power to say na, man:
     For though I be poor, unnoticed, obscure,
     My stomach's as proud as them a', man.

     Though I canna ride in weel-booted pride,
     And flee o'er the hills like a craw, man,
     I can haud up my head wi' the best o' the breed,
     Though fluttering ever so braw, man.

     My coat and my vest, they are Scotch o' the best,
     O'pairs o' guid breeks I hae twa, man;
     And stockings and pumps to put on my stumps,
     And ne'er a wrang steek in them a', man.

     My sarks they are few, but five o' them new,
     Twal' hundred, as white as the snaw, man,
     A ten-shillings hat, a Holland cravat;
     There are no mony poets sae braw, man.

     I never had frien's weel stockit in means,
     To leave me a hundred or twa, man;
     Nae weel-tocher'd aunts, to wait on their drants,
     And wish them in hell for it a', man.

     I never was cannie for hoarding o' money,
     Or claughtin't together at a', man;
     I've little to spend, and naething to lend,
     But deevil a shilling I awe, man.




 

Song—Here's To Thy Health

     Tune—"Laggan Burn."
     Here's to thy health, my bonie lass,
     Gude nicht and joy be wi' thee;
     I'll come nae mair to thy bower-door,
     To tell thee that I lo'e thee.
     O dinna think, my pretty pink,
     But I can live without thee:
     I vow and swear I dinna care,
     How lang ye look about ye.

     Thou'rt aye sae free informing me,
     Thou hast nae mind to marry;
     I'll be as free informing thee,
     Nae time hae I to tarry:
     I ken thy frien's try ilka means
     Frae wedlock to delay thee;
     Depending on some higher chance,
     But fortune may betray thee.

     I ken they scorn my low estate,
     But that does never grieve me;
     For I'm as free as any he;
     Sma' siller will relieve me.
     I'll count my health my greatest wealth,
     Sae lang as I'll enjoy it;
     I'll fear nae scant, I'll bode nae want,
     As lang's I get employment.

     But far off fowls hae feathers fair,
     And, aye until ye try them,
     Tho' they seem fair, still have a care;
     They may prove waur than I am.
     But at twal' at night, when the moon shines bright,
     My dear, I'll come and see thee;
     For the man that loves his mistress weel,
     Nae travel makes him weary.




 

Lass Of Cessnock Banks

     [Footnote 1: The lass is identified as Ellison Begbie, a servant
      wench, daughter of a  "Farmer Lang".]

     A Song of Similes

     Tune—"If he be a Butcher neat and trim."
     On Cessnock banks a lassie dwells;
     Could I describe her shape and mein;
     Our lasses a' she far excels,
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     She's sweeter than the morning dawn,
     When rising Phoebus first is seen,
     And dew-drops twinkle o'er the lawn;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     She's stately like yon youthful ash,
     That grows the cowslip braes between,
     And drinks the stream with vigour fresh;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     She's spotless like the flow'ring thorn,
     With flow'rs so white and leaves so green,
     When purest in the dewy morn;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her looks are like the vernal May,
     When ev'ning Phoebus shines serene,
     While birds rejoice on every spray;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her hair is like the curling mist,
     That climbs the mountain-sides at e'en,
     When flow'r-reviving rains are past;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her forehead's like the show'ry bow,
     When gleaming sunbeams intervene
     And gild the distant mountain's brow;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her cheeks are like yon crimson gem,
     The pride of all the flowery scene,
     Just opening on its thorny stem;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her bosom's like the nightly snow,
     When pale the morning rises keen,
     While hid the murm'ring streamlets flow;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her lips are like yon cherries ripe,
     That sunny walls from Boreas screen;
     They tempt the taste and charm the sight;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her teeth are like a flock of sheep,
     With fleeces newly washen clean,
     That slowly mount the rising steep;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her breath is like the fragrant breeze,
     That gently stirs the blossom'd bean,
     When Phoebus sinks behind the seas;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     Her voice is like the ev'ning thrush,
     That sings on Cessnock banks unseen,
     While his mate sits nestling in the bush;
     An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.

     But it's not her air, her form, her face,
     Tho' matching beauty's fabled queen;
     'Tis the mind that shines in ev'ry grace,
     An' chiefly in her roguish een.




 

Song—Bonie Peggy Alison

     Tune—"The Braes o' Balquhidder."
     Chor.—And I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
     And I'll kiss thee o'er again:
     And I'll kiss thee yet, yet,
     My bonie Peggy Alison.

     Ilk care and fear, when thou art near
     I evermair defy them, O!
     Young kings upon their hansel throne
     Are no sae blest as I am, O!
     And I'll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.

     When in my arms, wi' a' thy charms,
     I clasp my countless treasure, O!
     I seek nae mair o' Heaven to share
     Than sic a moment's pleasure, O!
     And I'll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.

     And by thy een sae bonie blue,
     I swear I'm thine for ever, O!
     And on thy lips I seal my vow,
     And break it shall I never, O!
     And I'll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.




 

Song—Mary Morison

     Tune—"Bide ye yet."

     O Mary, at thy window be,
     It is the wish'd, the trysted hour!
     Those smiles and glances let me see,
     That make the miser's treasure poor:
     How blythely was I bide the stour,
     A weary slave frae sun to sun,
     Could I the rich reward secure,
     The lovely Mary Morison.

     Yestreen, when to the trembling string
     The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha',
     To thee my fancy took its wing,
     I sat, but neither heard nor saw:
     Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
     And yon the toast of a' the town,
     I sigh'd, and said among them a',
     "Ye are na Mary Morison."

     Oh, Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,
     Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?
     Or canst thou break that heart of his,
     Whase only faut is loving thee?
     If love for love thou wilt na gie,
     At least be pity to me shown;
     A thought ungentle canna be
     The thought o' Mary Morison.

 





 

Winter: A Dirge

     The wintry west extends his blast,
     And hail and rain does blaw;
     Or the stormy north sends driving forth
     The blinding sleet and snaw:
     While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
     And roars frae bank to brae;
     And bird and beast in covert rest,
     And pass the heartless day.

     "The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"
     The joyless winter day
     Let others fear, to me more dear
     Than all the pride of May:
     The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
     My griefs it seems to join;
     The leafless trees my fancy please,
     Their fate resembles mine!

     Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
     These woes of mine fulfil,
     Here firm I rest; they must be best,
     Because they are Thy will!
     Then all I want—O do Thou grant
     This one request of mine!—
     Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
     Assist me to resign.




 

Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish

     O Thou Great Being! what Thou art,
     Surpasses me to know;
     Yet sure I am, that known to Thee
     Are all Thy works below.

     Thy creature here before Thee stands,
     All wretched and distrest;
     Yet sure those ills that wring my soul
     Obey Thy high behest.

     Sure, Thou, Almighty, canst not act
     From cruelty or wrath!
     O, free my weary eyes from tears,
     Or close them fast in death!

     But, if I must afflicted be,
     To suit some wise design,
     Then man my soul with firm resolves,
     To bear and not repine!




 

Paraphrase Of The First Psalm

     The man, in life wherever plac'd,
     Hath happiness in store,
     Who walks not in the wicked's way,
     Nor learns their guilty lore!

     Nor from the seat of scornful pride
     Casts forth his eyes abroad,
     But with humility and awe
     Still walks before his God.

     That man shall flourish like the trees,
     Which by the streamlets grow;
     The fruitful top is spread on high,
     And firm the root below.

     But he whose blossom buds in guilt
     Shall to the ground be cast,
     And, like the rootless stubble, tost
     Before the sweeping blast.

     For why? that God the good adore,
     Hath giv'n them peace and rest,
     But hath decreed that wicked men
     Shall ne'er be truly blest.




 

First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm Versified

     O Thou, the first, the greatest friend
     Of all the human race!
     Whose strong right hand has ever been
     Their stay and dwelling place!

     Before the mountains heav'd their heads
     Beneath Thy forming hand,
     Before this ponderous globe itself
     Arose at Thy command;

     That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds
     This universal frame,
     From countless, unbeginning time
     Was ever still the same.

     Those mighty periods of years
     Which seem to us so vast,
     Appear no more before Thy sight
     Than yesterday that's past.

     Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man,
     Is to existence brought;
     Again Thou say'st, "Ye sons of men,
     Return ye into nought!"

     Thou layest them, with all their cares,
     In everlasting sleep;
     As with a flood Thou tak'st them off
     With overwhelming sweep.

     They flourish like the morning flow'r,
     In beauty's pride array'd;
     But long ere night cut down it lies
     All wither'd and decay'd.




 

Prayer, In The Prospect Of Death

     O Thou unknown, Almighty Cause
     Of all my hope and fear!
     In whose dread presence, ere an hour,
     Perhaps I must appear!

     If I have wander'd in those paths
     Of life I ought to shun,
     As something, loudly, in my breast,
     Remonstrates I have done;

     Thou know'st that Thou hast formed me
     With passions wild and strong;
     And list'ning to their witching voice
     Has often led me wrong.

     Where human weakness has come short,
     Or frailty stept aside,
     Do Thou, All-Good—for such Thou art—
     In shades of darkness hide.

     Where with intention I have err'd,
     No other plea I have,
     But, Thou art good; and Goodness still
     Delighteth to forgive.




 

Stanzas, On The Same Occasion

     Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene?
     Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?
     Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between—
     Some gleams of sunshine 'mid renewing storms,
     Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?
     Or death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode?
     For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms:
     I tremble to approach an angry God,
     And justly smart beneath His sin-avenging rod.

     Fain would I say, "Forgive my foul offence,"
     Fain promise never more to disobey;
     But, should my Author health again dispense,
     Again I might desert fair virtue's way;
     Again in folly's part might go astray;
     Again exalt the brute and sink the man;
     Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray
     Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan?
     Who sin so oft have mourn'd, yet to temptation ran?

     O Thou, great Governor of all below!
     If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee,
     Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,
     Or still the tumult of the raging sea:
     With that controlling pow'r assist ev'n me,
     Those headlong furious passions to confine,
     For all unfit I feel my pow'rs to be,
     To rule their torrent in th' allowed line;
     O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!




 





 

Fickle Fortune: A Fragment

     Though fickle Fortune has deceived me,
     She pormis'd fair and perform'd but ill;
     Of mistress, friends, and wealth bereav'd me,
     Yet I bear a heart shall support me still.

     I'll act with prudence as far 's I'm able,
     But if success I must never find,
     Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,
     I'll meet thee with an undaunted mind.




 

Raging Fortune—Fragment Of Song

     O raging Fortune's withering blast
     Has laid my leaf full low, O!
     O raging Fortune's withering blast
     Has laid my leaf full low, O!

     My stem was fair, my bud was green,
     My blossom sweet did blow, O!
     The dew fell fresh, the sun rose mild,
     And made my branches grow, O!

     But luckless Fortune's northern storms
     Laid a' my blossoms low, O!
     But luckless Fortune's northern storms
     Laid a' my blossoms low, O!




 

Impromptu—"I'll Go And Be A Sodger"

     O why the deuce should I repine,
     And be an ill foreboder?
     I'm twenty-three, and five feet nine,
     I'll go and be a sodger!

     I gat some gear wi' mickle care,
     I held it weel thegither;
     But now it's gane, and something mair—
     I'll go and be a sodger!




 

Song—"No Churchman Am I"

     Tune—"Prepare, my dear Brethren, to the tavern let's fly."
     No churchman am I for to rail and to write,
     No statesman nor soldier to plot or to fight,
     No sly man of business contriving a snare,
     For a big-belly'd bottle's the whole of my care.

     The peer I don't envy, I give him his bow;
     I scorn not the peasant, though ever so low;
     But a club of good fellows, like those that are here,
     And a bottle like this, are my glory and care.

     Here passes the squire on his brother—his horse;
     There centum per centum, the cit with his purse;
     But see you the Crown how it waves in the air?
     There a big-belly'd bottle still eases my care.

     The wife of my bosom, alas! she did die;
     for sweet consolation to church I did fly;
     I found that old Solomon proved it fair,
     That a big-belly'd bottle's a cure for all care.

     I once was persuaded a venture to make;
     A letter inform'd me that all was to wreck;
     But the pursy old landlord just waddl'd upstairs,
     With a glorious bottle that ended my cares.

     "Life's cares they are comforts"—a maxim laid down
     By the Bard, what d'ye call him, that wore the black gown;
     And faith I agree with th' old prig to a hair,
     For a big-belly'd bottle's a heav'n of a care.




 

A Stanza Added In A Mason Lodge

     Then fill up a bumper and make it o'erflow,
     And honours masonic prepare for to throw;
     May ev'ry true Brother of the Compass and Square
     Have a big-belly'd bottle when harass'd with care.




 

My Father Was A Farmer

     Tune—"The weaver and his shuttle, O."
     My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
     And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;
     He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne'er a farthing, O;
     For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.

     Then out into the world my course I did determine, O;
     Tho' to be rich was not my wish, yet to be great was charming, O;
     My talents they were not the worst, nor yet my education, O:
     Resolv'd was I at least to try to mend my situation, O.

     In many a way, and vain essay, I courted Fortune's favour, O;
     Some cause unseen still stept between, to frustrate each endeavour, O;
     Sometimes by foes I was o'erpower'd, sometimes by friends forsaken, O;
     And when my hope was at the top, I still was worst mistaken, O.

     Then sore harass'd and tir'd at last, with Fortune's vain delusion, O,
     I dropt my schemes, like idle dreams, and came to this conclusion, O;
     The past was bad, and the future hid, its good or ill untried, O;
     But the present hour was in my pow'r, and so I would enjoy it, O.

     No help, nor hope, nor view had I, nor person to befriend me, O;
     So I must toil, and sweat, and moil, and labour to sustain me, O;
     To plough and sow, to reap and mow, my father bred me early, O;
     For one, he said, to labour bred, was a match for Fortune fairly, O.

     Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor, thro' life I'm doom'd to wander, O,
     Till down my weary bones I lay in everlasting slumber, O:
     No view nor care, but shun whate'er might breed me pain or sorrow, O;
     I live to-day as well's I may, regardless of to-morrow, O.

     But cheerful still, I am as well as a monarch in his palace, O,
     Tho' Fortune's frown still hunts me down, with all her wonted malice, O:
     I make indeed my daily bread, but ne'er can make it farther, O:
     But as daily bread is all I need, I do not much regard her, O.

     When sometimes by my labour, I earn a little money, O,
     Some unforeseen misfortune comes gen'rally upon me, O;
     Mischance, mistake, or by neglect, or my goodnatur'd folly, O:
     But come what will, I've sworn it still, I'll ne'er be melancholy, O.

     All you who follow wealth and power with unremitting ardour, O,
     The more in this you look for bliss, you leave your view the farther, O:
     Had you the wealth Potosi boasts, or nations to adore you, O,
     A cheerful honest-hearted clown I will prefer before you, O.




 

John Barleycorn: A Ballad

     There was three kings into the east,
     Three kings both great and high,
     And they hae sworn a solemn oath
     John Barleycorn should die.

     They took a plough and plough'd him down,
     Put clods upon his head,
     And they hae sworn a solemn oath
     John Barleycorn was dead.

     But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
     And show'rs began to fall;
     John Barleycorn got up again,
     And sore surpris'd them all.

     The sultry suns of Summer came,
     And he grew thick and strong;
     His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
     That no one should him wrong.

     The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
     When he grew wan and pale;
     His bending joints and drooping head
     Show'd he began to fail.

     His colour sicken'd more and more,
     He faded into age;
     And then his enemies began
     To show their deadly rage.

     They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
     And cut him by the knee;
     Then tied him fast upon a cart,
     Like a rogue for forgerie.

     They laid him down upon his back,
     And cudgell'd him full sore;
     They hung him up before the storm,
     And turned him o'er and o'er.

     They filled up a darksome pit
     With water to the brim;
     They heaved in John Barleycorn,
     There let him sink or swim.

     They laid him out upon the floor,
     To work him farther woe;
     And still, as signs of life appear'd,
     They toss'd him to and fro.

     They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
     The marrow of his bones;
     But a miller us'd him worst of all,
     For he crush'd him between two stones.

     And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
     And drank it round and round;
     And still the more and more they drank,
     Their joy did more abound.

     John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
     Of noble enterprise;
     For if you do but taste his blood,
     'Twill make your courage rise.

     'Twill make a man forget his woe;
     'Twill heighten all his joy;
     'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
     Tho' the tear were in her eye.

     Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
     Each man a glass in hand;
     And may his great posterity
     Ne'er fail in old Scotland!




 





 

Death And Dying Words Of Poor Mailie, The Author's Only Pet Yowe.

An Unco Mournfu' Tale

     As Mailie, an' her lambs thegither,
     Was ae day nibbling on the tether,
     Upon her cloot she coost a hitch,
     An' owre she warsl'd in the ditch:
     There, groaning, dying, she did lie,
     When Hughoc he cam doytin by.

     Wi' glowrin een, and lifted han's
     Poor Hughoc like a statue stan's;
     He saw her days were near-hand ended,
     But, wae's my heart! he could na mend it!
     He gaped wide, but naething spak,
     At langth poor Mailie silence brak.

     "O thou, whase lamentable face
     Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
     My dying words attentive hear,
     An' bear them to my Master dear.

     "Tell him, if e'er again he keep
     As muckle gear as buy a sheep—
     O, bid him never tie them mair,
     Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!
     But ca' them out to park or hill,
     An' let them wander at their will:
     So may his flock increase, an' grow
     To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'!

     "Tell him, he was a Master kin',
     An' aye was guid to me an' mine;
     An' now my dying charge I gie him,
     My helpless lambs, I trust them wi' him.

     "O, bid him save their harmless lives,
     Frae dogs, an' tods, an' butcher's knives!
     But gie them guid cow-milk their fill,
     Till they be fit to fend themsel';
     An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn,
     Wi' taets o' hay an' ripps o' corn.

     "An' may they never learn the gaets,
     Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets—
     To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal
     At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!
     So may they, like their great forbears,
     For mony a year come thro the shears:
     So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
     An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.

     "My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,
     O, bid him breed him up wi' care!
     An' if he live to be a beast,
     To pit some havins in his breast!

     "An' warn him—what I winna name—
     To stay content wi' yowes at hame;
     An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,
     Like ither menseless, graceless brutes.

     "An' neist, my yowie, silly thing,
     Gude keep thee frae a tether string!
     O, may thou ne'er forgather up,
     Wi' ony blastit, moorland toop;
     But aye keep mind to moop an' mell,
     Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel'!

     "And now, my bairns, wi' my last breath,
     I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:
     An' when you think upo' your mither,
     Mind to be kind to ane anither.

     "Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail,
     To tell my master a' my tale;
     An' bid him burn this cursed tether,
     An' for thy pains thou'se get my blather."

     This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head,
     And clos'd her een amang the dead!




 

Poor Mailie's Elegy

     Lament in rhyme, lament in prose,
     Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose;
     Our bardie's fate is at a close,
     Past a' remead!
     The last, sad cape-stane o' his woes;
     Poor Mailie's dead!

     It's no the loss o' warl's gear,
     That could sae bitter draw the tear,
     Or mak our bardie, dowie, wear
     The mourning weed:
     He's lost a friend an' neebor dear
     In Mailie dead.

     Thro' a' the town she trotted by him;
     A lang half-mile she could descry him;
     Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him,
     She ran wi' speed:
     A friend mair faithfu' ne'er cam nigh him,
     Than Mailie dead.

     I wat she was a sheep o' sense,
     An' could behave hersel' wi' mense:
     I'll say't, she never brak a fence,
     Thro' thievish greed.
     Our bardie, lanely, keeps the spence
     Sin' Mailie's dead.

     Or, if he wanders up the howe,
     Her living image in her yowe
     Comes bleating till him, owre the knowe,
     For bits o' bread;
     An' down the briny pearls rowe
     For Mailie dead.

     She was nae get o' moorland tips,
     Wi' tauted ket, an' hairy hips;
     For her forbears were brought in ships,
     Frae 'yont the Tweed.
     A bonier fleesh ne'er cross'd the clips
     Than Mailie's dead.

     Wae worth the man wha first did shape
     That vile, wanchancie thing—a raip!
     It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,
     Wi' chokin dread;
     An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape
     For Mailie dead.

     O, a' ye bards on bonie Doon!
     An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune!
     Come, join the melancholious croon
     O' Robin's reed!
     His heart will never get aboon—
     His Mailie's dead!




 

Song—The Rigs O' Barley

     Tune—"Corn Rigs are bonie."
     It was upon a Lammas night,
     When corn rigs are bonie,
     Beneath the moon's unclouded light,
     I held awa to Annie;
     The time flew by, wi' tentless heed,
     Till, 'tween the late and early,
     Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed
     To see me thro' the barley.

     Corn rigs, an' barley rigs,
     An' corn rigs are bonie:
     I'll ne'er forget that happy night,
     Amang the rigs wi' Annie.

     The sky was blue, the wind was still,
     The moon was shining clearly;
     I set her down, wi' right good will,
     Amang the rigs o' barley:
     I ken't her heart was a' my ain;
     I lov'd her most sincerely;

     I kiss'd her owre and owre again,
     Amang the rigs o' barley.
     Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.

     I lock'd her in my fond embrace;
     Her heart was beating rarely:
     My blessings on that happy place,
     Amang the rigs o' barley!
     But by the moon and stars so bright,
     That shone that hour so clearly!
     She aye shall bless that happy night
     Amang the rigs o' barley.
     Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.

     I hae been blythe wi' comrades dear;
     I hae been merry drinking;
     I hae been joyfu' gath'rin gear;
     I hae been happy thinking:
     But a' the pleasures e'er I saw,
     Tho' three times doubl'd fairly,
     That happy night was worth them a',
     Amang the rigs o' barley.
     Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.




 

Song Composed In August

     Tune—"I had a horse, I had nae mair."
     Now westlin winds and slaught'ring guns
     Bring Autumn's pleasant weather;
     The moorcock springs on whirring wings
     Amang the blooming heather:
     Now waving grain, wide o'er the plain,
     Delights the weary farmer;
     And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night,
     To muse upon my charmer.

     The partridge loves the fruitful fells,
     The plover loves the mountains;
     The woodcock haunts the lonely dells,
     The soaring hern the fountains:
     Thro' lofty groves the cushat roves,
     The path of man to shun it;
     The hazel bush o'erhangs the thrush,
     The spreading thorn the linnet.

     Thus ev'ry kind their pleasure find,
     The savage and the tender;
     Some social join, and leagues combine,
     Some solitary wander:
     Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,
     Tyrannic man's dominion;
     The sportsman's joy, the murd'ring cry,
     The flutt'ring, gory pinion!

     But, Peggy dear, the ev'ning's clear,
     Thick flies the skimming swallow,
     The sky is blue, the fields in view,
     All fading-green and yellow:
     Come let us stray our gladsome way,
     And view the charms of Nature;
     The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,
     And ev'ry happy creature.

     We'll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
     Till the silent moon shine clearly;
     I'll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,
     Swear how I love thee dearly:
     Not vernal show'rs to budding flow'rs,
     Not Autumn to the farmer,
     So dear can be as thou to me,
     My fair, my lovely charmer!




 

Song

     Tune—"My Nanie, O."
     Behind yon hills where Lugar flows,
     'Mang moors an' mosses many, O,
     The wintry sun the day has clos'd,
     And I'll awa to Nanie, O.

     The westlin wind blaws loud an' shill;
     The night's baith mirk and rainy, O;
     But I'll get my plaid an' out I'll steal,
     An' owre the hill to Nanie, O.

     My Nanie's charming, sweet, an' young;
     Nae artfu' wiles to win ye, O:
     May ill befa' the flattering tongue
     That wad beguile my Nanie, O.

     Her face is fair, her heart is true;
     As spotless as she's bonie, O:
     The op'ning gowan, wat wi' dew,
     Nae purer is than Nanie, O.

     A country lad is my degree,
     An' few there be that ken me, O;
     But what care I how few they be,
     I'm welcome aye to Nanie, O.

     My riches a's my penny-fee,
     An' I maun guide it cannie, O;
     But warl's gear ne'er troubles me,
     My thoughts are a' my Nanie, O.

     Our auld guidman delights to view
     His sheep an' kye thrive bonie, O;
     But I'm as blythe that hands his pleugh,
     An' has nae care but Nanie, O.

     Come weel, come woe, I care na by;
     I'll tak what Heav'n will sen' me, O:
     Nae ither care in life have I,
     But live, an' love my Nanie, O.




 

Song—Green Grow The Rashes

     A Fragment

     Chor.—Green grow the rashes, O;
     Green grow the rashes, O;
     The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
     Are spent amang the lasses, O.

     There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
     In ev'ry hour that passes, O:
     What signifies the life o' man,
     An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.
     Green grow, &c.

     The war'ly race may riches chase,
     An' riches still may fly them, O;
     An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
     Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.
     Green grow, &c.

     But gie me a cannie hour at e'en,
     My arms about my dearie, O;
     An' war'ly cares, an' war'ly men,
     May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!
     Green grow, &c.

     For you sae douce, ye sneer at this;
     Ye're nought but senseless asses, O:
     The wisest man the warl' e'er saw,
     He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.
     Green grow, &c.

     Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
     Her noblest work she classes, O:
     Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
     An' then she made the lasses, O.
     Green grow, &c.




 

Song—Wha Is That At My Bower-Door

     Tune—"Lass, an I come near thee."
     "Wha is that at my bower-door?"
     "O wha is it but Findlay!"
     "Then gae your gate, ye'se nae be here:"
     "Indeed maun I," quo' Findlay;
     "What mak' ye, sae like a thief?"
     "O come and see," quo' Findlay;
     "Before the morn ye'll work mischief:"
     "Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.

     "Gif I rise and let you in"—
     "Let me in," quo' Findlay;
     "Ye'll keep me waukin wi' your din;"
     "Indeed will I," quo' Findlay;
     "In my bower if ye should stay"—
     "Let me stay," quo' Findlay;
     "I fear ye'll bide till break o' day;"
     "Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.

     "Here this night if ye remain"—
     "I'll remain," quo' Findlay;
     "I dread ye'll learn the gate again;"
     "Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.
     "What may pass within this bower"—
     "Let it pass," quo' Findlay;
     "Ye maun conceal till your last hour:"
     "Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.




 





 

Remorse: A Fragment

     Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,
     That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish
     Beyond comparison the worst are those
     By our own folly, or our guilt brought on:
     In ev'ry other circumstance, the mind
     Has this to say, "It was no deed of mine:"
     But, when to all the evil of misfortune
     This sting is added, "Blame thy foolish self!"
     Or worser far, the pangs of keen remorse,
     The torturing, gnawing consciousness of guilt—
     Of guilt, perhaps, when we've involved others,
     The young, the innocent, who fondly lov'd us;
     Nay more, that very love their cause of ruin!
     O burning hell! in all thy store of torments
     There's not a keener lash!
     Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart
     Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,
     Can reason down its agonizing throbs;
     And, after proper purpose of amendment,
     Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace?
     O happy, happy, enviable man!
     O glorious magnanimity of soul!




 

Epitaph On Wm. Hood, Senr.

     Here Souter Hood in death does sleep;
     To hell if he's gane thither,
     Satan, gie him thy gear to keep;
     He'll haud it weel thegither.




 

Epitaph On James Grieve, Laird Of Boghead, Tarbolton

     Here lies Boghead amang the dead
     In hopes to get salvation;
     But if such as he in Heav'n may be,
     Then welcome, hail! damnation.




 

Epitaph On My Own Friend And My Father's Friend, Wm. Muir In Tarbolton Mill

     An honest man here lies at rest
     As e'er God with his image blest;
     The friend of man, the friend of truth,
     The friend of age, and guide of youth:
     Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,
     Few heads with knowledge so informed:
     If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
     If there is none, he made the best of this.




 

Epitaph On My Ever Honoured Father

     O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
     Draw near with pious rev'rence, and attend!
     Here lie the loving husband's dear remains,
     The tender father, and the gen'rous friend;
     The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
     The dauntless heart that fear'd no human pride;
     The friend of man—to vice alone a foe;
     For "ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side."^1

     [Footnote 1: Goldsmith.—R.B.]




 

Ballad On The American War

     Tune—"Killiecrankie."
     When Guilford good our pilot stood
     An' did our hellim thraw, man,
     Ae night, at tea, began a plea,
     Within America, man:
     Then up they gat the maskin-pat,
     And in the sea did jaw, man;
     An' did nae less, in full congress,
     Than quite refuse our law, man.

     Then thro' the lakes Montgomery takes,
     I wat he was na slaw, man;
     Down Lowrie's Burn he took a turn,
     And Carleton did ca', man:
     But yet, whatreck, he, at Quebec,
     Montgomery-like did fa', man,
     Wi' sword in hand, before his band,
     Amang his en'mies a', man.

     Poor Tammy Gage within a cage
     Was kept at Boston—ha', man;
     Till Willie Howe took o'er the knowe
     For Philadelphia, man;
     Wi' sword an' gun he thought a sin
     Guid Christian bluid to draw, man;
     But at New York, wi' knife an' fork,
     Sir-Loin he hacked sma', man.

     Burgoyne gaed up, like spur an' whip,
     Till Fraser brave did fa', man;
     Then lost his way, ae misty day,
     In Saratoga shaw, man.
     Cornwallis fought as lang's he dought,
     An' did the Buckskins claw, man;
     But Clinton's glaive frae rust to save,
     He hung it to the wa', man.

     Then Montague, an' Guilford too,
     Began to fear, a fa', man;
     And Sackville dour, wha stood the stour,
     The German chief to thraw, man:
     For Paddy Burke, like ony Turk,
     Nae mercy had at a', man;
     An' Charlie Fox threw by the box,
     An' lows'd his tinkler jaw, man.

     Then Rockingham took up the game,
     Till death did on him ca', man;
     When Shelburne meek held up his cheek,
     Conform to gospel law, man:
     Saint Stephen's boys, wi' jarring noise,
     They did his measures thraw, man;
     For North an' Fox united stocks,
     An' bore him to the wa', man.

     Then clubs an' hearts were Charlie's cartes,
     He swept the stakes awa', man,
     Till the diamond's ace, of Indian race,
     Led him a sair faux pas, man:
     The Saxon lads, wi' loud placads,
     On Chatham's boy did ca', man;
     An' Scotland drew her pipe an' blew,
     "Up, Willie, waur them a', man!"

     Behind the throne then Granville's gone,
     A secret word or twa, man;
     While slee Dundas arous'd the class
     Be-north the Roman wa', man:
     An' Chatham's wraith, in heav'nly graith,
     (Inspired bardies saw, man),
     Wi' kindling eyes, cry'd, "Willie, rise!
     Would I hae fear'd them a', man?"

     But, word an' blow, North, Fox, and Co.
     Gowff'd Willie like a ba', man;
     Till Suthron raise, an' coost their claise
     Behind him in a raw, man:
     An' Caledon threw by the drone,
     An' did her whittle draw, man;
     An' swoor fu' rude, thro' dirt an' bluid,
     To mak it guid in law, man.




 

Reply To An Announcement By J. Rankine On His Writing To The Poet,

That A Girl In That Part Of The Country Was With A Child To Him.

     I am a keeper of the law
     In some sma' points, altho' not a';
     Some people tell me gin I fa',
     Ae way or ither,
     The breaking of ae point, tho' sma',
     Breaks a' thegither.

     I hae been in for't ance or twice,
     And winna say o'er far for thrice;
     Yet never met wi' that surprise
     That broke my rest;
     But now a rumour's like to rise—
     A whaup's i' the nest!




 

Epistle To John Rankine

     Enclosing Some Poems

     O Rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
     The wale o' cocks for fun an' drinkin!
     There's mony godly folks are thinkin,
     Your dreams and tricks
     Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin
     Straught to auld Nick's.

     Ye hae saw mony cracks an' cants,
     And in your wicked, drucken rants,
     Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
     An' fill them fou;
     And then their failings, flaws, an' wants,
     Are a' seen thro'.

     Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
     That holy robe, O dinna tear it!
     Spare't for their sakes, wha aften wear it—
     The lads in black;
     But your curst wit, when it comes near it,
     Rives't aff their back.

     Think, wicked Sinner, wha ye're skaithing:
     It's just the Blue-gown badge an' claithing
     O' saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
     To ken them by
     Frae ony unregenerate heathen,
     Like you or I.

     I've sent you here some rhyming ware,
     A' that I bargain'd for, an' mair;
     Sae, when ye hae an hour to spare,
     I will expect,
     Yon sang ye'll sen't, wi' cannie care,
     And no neglect.

     Tho' faith, sma' heart hae I to sing!
     My muse dow scarcely spread her wing;
     I've play'd mysel a bonie spring,
     An' danc'd my fill!
     I'd better gaen an' sair't the king,
     At Bunkjer's Hill.

     'Twas ae night lately, in my fun,
     I gaed a rovin' wi' the gun,
     An' brought a paitrick to the grun'—
     A bonie hen;
     And, as the twilight was begun,
     Thought nane wad ken.

     The poor, wee thing was little hurt;
     I straikit it a wee for sport,
     Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me for't;
     But, Deil-ma-care!
     Somebody tells the poacher-court
     The hale affair.

     Some auld, us'd hands had taen a note,
     That sic a hen had got a shot;
     I was suspected for the plot;
     I scorn'd to lie;
     So gat the whissle o' my groat,
     An' pay't the fee.

     But by my gun, o' guns the wale,
     An' by my pouther an' my hail,
     An' by my hen, an' by her tail,
     I vow an' swear!
     The game shall pay, o'er muir an' dale,
     For this, niest year.

     As soon's the clockin-time is by,
     An' the wee pouts begun to cry,
     Lord, I'se hae sporting by an' by
     For my gowd guinea,
     Tho' I should herd the buckskin kye
     For't in Virginia.

     Trowth, they had muckle for to blame!
     'Twas neither broken wing nor limb,
     But twa-three draps about the wame,
     Scarce thro' the feathers;
     An' baith a yellow George to claim,
     An' thole their blethers!

     It pits me aye as mad's a hare;
     So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;
     But pennyworths again is fair,
     When time's expedient:
     Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,
     Your most obedient.




 

A Poet's Welcome To His Love-Begotten Daughter

     [Footnote 1: Burns never published this poem.]

     The First Instance That Entitled Him To
     The Venerable Appellation Of Father
     Thou's welcome, wean; mishanter fa' me,
     If thoughts o' thee, or yet thy mamie,
     Shall ever daunton me or awe me,
     My bonie lady,
     Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me
     Tyta or daddie.

     Tho' now they ca' me fornicator,
     An' tease my name in kintry clatter,
     The mair they talk, I'm kent the better,
     E'en let them clash;
     An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter
     To gie ane fash.

     Welcome! my bonie, sweet, wee dochter,
     Tho' ye come here a wee unsought for,
     And tho' your comin' I hae fought for,
     Baith kirk and queir;
     Yet, by my faith, ye're no unwrought for,
     That I shall swear!

     Wee image o' my bonie Betty,
     As fatherly I kiss and daut thee,
     As dear, and near my heart I set thee
     Wi' as gude will
     As a' the priests had seen me get thee
     That's out o' hell.

     Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
     My funny toil is now a' tint,
     Sin' thou came to the warl' asklent,
     Which fools may scoff at;
     In my last plack thy part's be in't
     The better ha'f o't.

     Tho' I should be the waur bestead,
     Thou's be as braw and bienly clad,
     And thy young years as nicely bred
     Wi' education,
     As ony brat o' wedlock's bed,
     In a' thy station.

     Lord grant that thou may aye inherit
     Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit,
     An' thy poor, worthless daddy's spirit,
     Without his failins,
     'Twill please me mair to see thee heir it,
     Than stockit mailens.

     For if thou be what I wad hae thee,
     And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
     I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee,
     The cost nor shame o't,
     But be a loving father to thee,
     And brag the name o't.




 

Song—O Leave Novels

     [Footnote 1: Burns never published this poem.]

     O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,
     Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
     Such witching books are baited hooks
     For rakish rooks, like Rob Mossgiel;
     Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,
     They make your youthful fancies reel;
     They heat your brains, and fire your veins,
     And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.

     Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung,
     A heart that warmly seems to feel;
     That feeling heart but acts a part—
     'Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.
     The frank address, the soft caress,
     Are worse than poisoned darts of steel;
     The frank address, and politesse,
     Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.




 

Fragment—The Mauchline Lady

     Tune—"I had a horse, I had nae mair."
     When first I came to Stewart Kyle,
     My mind it was na steady;
     Where'er I gaed, where'er I rade,
     A mistress still I had aye.

     But when I came roun' by Mauchline toun,
     Not dreadin anybody,
     My heart was caught, before I thought,
     And by a Mauchline lady.




 

Fragment—My Girl She's Airy

     Tune—"Black Jock."
     My girl she's airy, she's buxom and gay;
     Her breath is as sweet as the blossoms in May;
     A touch of her lips it ravishes quite:
     She's always good natur'd, good humour'd, and free;
     She dances, she glances, she smiles upon me;
     I never am happy when out of her sight.




 

The Belles Of Mauchline

     In Mauchline there dwells six proper young belles,
     The pride of the place and its neighbourhood a';
     Their carriage and dress, a stranger would guess,
     In Lon'on or Paris, they'd gotten it a'.

     Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland's divine,
     Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw:
     There's beauty and fortune to get wi' Miss Morton,
     But Armour's the jewel for me o' them a'.




 

Epitaph On A Noisy Polemic

     Below thir stanes lie Jamie's banes;
     O Death, it's my opinion,
     Thou ne'er took such a bleth'rin bitch
     Into thy dark dominion!




 

Epitaph On A Henpecked Country Squire

     As father Adam first was fool'd,
     (A case that's still too common,)
     Here lies man a woman ruled,
     The devil ruled the woman.




 

Epigram On The Said Occasion

     O Death, had'st thou but spar'd his life,
     Whom we this day lament,
     We freely wad exchanged the wife,
     And a' been weel content.

     Ev'n as he is, cauld in his graff,
     The swap we yet will do't;
     Tak thou the carlin's carcase aff,
     Thou'se get the saul o'boot.




 

Another

     One Queen Artemisia, as old stories tell,
     When deprived of her husband she loved so well,
     In respect for the love and affection he show'd her,
     She reduc'd him to dust and she drank up the powder.
     But Queen Netherplace, of a diff'rent complexion,
     When called on to order the fun'ral direction,
     Would have eat her dead lord, on a slender pretence,
     Not to show her respect, but—to save the expense!




 

On Tam The Chapman

     As Tam the chapman on a day,
     Wi'Death forgather'd by the way,
     Weel pleas'd, he greets a wight so famous,
     And Death was nae less pleas'd wi' Thomas,
     Wha cheerfully lays down his pack,
     And there blaws up a hearty crack:
     His social, friendly, honest heart
     Sae tickled Death, they could na part;
     Sae, after viewing knives and garters,
     Death taks him hame to gie him quarters.




 

Epitaph On John Rankine

     Ae day, as Death, that gruesome carl,
     Was driving to the tither warl'
     A mixtie—maxtie motley squad,
     And mony a guilt-bespotted lad—
     Black gowns of each denomination,
     And thieves of every rank and station,
     From him that wears the star and garter,
     To him that wintles in a halter:
     Ashamed himself to see the wretches,
     He mutters, glowrin at the bitches,

     "By God I'll not be seen behint them,
     Nor 'mang the sp'ritual core present them,
     Without, at least, ae honest man,
     To grace this damn'd infernal clan!"
     By Adamhill a glance he threw,
     "Lord God!" quoth he, "I have it now;
     There's just the man I want, i' faith!"
     And quickly stoppit Rankine's breath.




 

Lines On The Author's Death

     Written With The Supposed View Of
     Being Handed To Rankine After The Poet's Interment
     He who of Rankine sang, lies stiff and dead,
     And a green grassy hillock hides his head;
     Alas! alas! a devilish change indeed.




 

Man Was Made To Mourn: A Dirge

     When chill November's surly blast
     Made fields and forests bare,
     One ev'ning, as I wander'd forth
     Along the banks of Ayr,
     I spied a man, whose aged step
     Seem'd weary, worn with care;
     His face furrow'd o'er with years,
     And hoary was his hair.

     "Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"
     Began the rev'rend sage;
     "Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
     Or youthful pleasure's rage?
     Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
     Too soon thou hast began
     To wander forth, with me to mourn
     The miseries of man.

     "The sun that overhangs yon moors,
     Out-spreading far and wide,
     Where hundreds labour to support
     A haughty lordling's pride;—
     I've seen yon weary winter-sun
     Twice forty times return;
     And ev'ry time has added proofs,
     That man was made to mourn.

     "O man! while in thy early years,
     How prodigal of time!
     Mis-spending all thy precious hours—
     Thy glorious, youthful prime!
     Alternate follies take the sway;
     Licentious passions burn;
     Which tenfold force gives Nature's law.
     That man was made to mourn.

     "Look not alone on youthful prime,
     Or manhood's active might;
     Man then is useful to his kind,
     Supported in his right:
     But see him on the edge of life,
     With cares and sorrows worn;
     Then Age and Want—oh! ill-match'd pair—
     Shew man was made to mourn.

     "A few seem favourites of fate,
     In pleasure's lap carest;
     Yet, think not all the rich and great
     Are likewise truly blest:
     But oh! what crowds in ev'ry land,
     All wretched and forlorn,
     Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
     That man was made to mourn.

     "Many and sharp the num'rous ills
     Inwoven with our frame!
     More pointed still we make ourselves,
     Regret, remorse, and shame!
     And man, whose heav'n-erected face
     The smiles of love adorn,—
     Man's inhumanity to man
     Makes countless thousands mourn!

     "See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
     So abject, mean, and vile,
     Who begs a brother of the earth
     To give him leave to toil;
     And see his lordly fellow-worm
     The poor petition spurn,
     Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife
     And helpless offspring mourn.

     "If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave,
     By Nature's law design'd,
     Why was an independent wish
     E'er planted in my mind?
     If not, why am I subject to
     His cruelty, or scorn?
     Or why has man the will and pow'r
     To make his fellow mourn?

     "Yet, let not this too much, my son,
     Disturb thy youthful breast:
     This partial view of human-kind
     Is surely not the last!
     The poor, oppressed, honest man
     Had never, sure, been born,
     Had there not been some recompense
     To comfort those that mourn!

     "O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
     The kindest and the best!
     Welcome the hour my aged limbs
     Are laid with thee at rest!
     The great, the wealthy fear thy blow
     From pomp and pleasure torn;
     But, oh! a blest relief for those
     That weary-laden mourn!"




 

The Twa Herds; Or, The Holy Tulyie

     An Unco Mournfu' Tale
     "Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,
     But fool with fool is barbarous civil war,"—Pope.

     O a' ye pious godly flocks,
     Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
     Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
     Or worrying tykes?
     Or wha will tent the waifs an' crocks,
     About the dykes?

     The twa best herds in a' the wast,
     The e'er ga'e gospel horn a blast
     These five an' twenty simmers past—
     Oh, dool to tell!
     Hae had a bitter black out-cast
     Atween themsel'.

     O, Moddie,^1 man, an' wordy Russell,^2
     How could you raise so vile a bustle;
     Ye'll see how New-Light herds will whistle,
     An' think it fine!
     The Lord's cause ne'er gat sic a twistle,
     Sin' I hae min'.

     O, sirs! whae'er wad hae expeckit
     Your duty ye wad sae negleckit,
     Ye wha were ne'er by lairds respeckit
     To wear the plaid;
     But by the brutes themselves eleckit,
     To be their guide.

     What flock wi' Moodie's flock could rank?—
     Sae hale and hearty every shank!
     Nae poison'd soor Arminian stank
     He let them taste;
     Frae Calvin's well, aye clear, drank,—
     O, sic a feast!

     [Footnote 1: Rev. Mr. Moodie of Riccarton.]

     [Footnote 2: Rev. John Russell of Kilmarnock.]

     The thummart, willcat, brock, an' tod,
     Weel kend his voice thro' a' the wood,
     He smell'd their ilka hole an' road,
     Baith out an in;
     An' weel he lik'd to shed their bluid,
     An' sell their skin.

     What herd like Russell tell'd his tale;
     His voice was heard thro' muir and dale,
     He kenn'd the Lord's sheep, ilka tail,
     Owre a' the height;
     An' saw gin they were sick or hale,
     At the first sight.

     He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
     Or nobly fling the gospel club,
     And New-Light herds could nicely drub
     Or pay their skin;
     Could shake them o'er the burning dub,
     Or heave them in.

     Sic twa—O! do I live to see't?—
     Sic famous twa should disagree't,
     And names, like "villain," "hypocrite,"
     Ilk ither gi'en,
     While New-Light herds, wi' laughin spite,
     Say neither's liein!

     A' ye wha tent the gospel fauld,
     There's Duncan^3 deep, an' Peebles^4 shaul,
     But chiefly thou, apostle Auld,^5
     We trust in thee,
     That thou wilt work them, het an' cauld,
     Till they agree.

     Consider, sirs, how we're beset;
     There's scarce a new herd that we get,
     But comes frae 'mang that cursed set,
     I winna name;
     I hope frae heav'n to see them yet
     In fiery flame.

     [Footnote 3: Dr. Robert Duncan of Dundonald.]

     [Footnote 4: Rev. Wm. Peebles of Newton-on-Ayr.]

     [Footnote 5: Rev. Wm. Auld of Mauchline.]

     Dalrymple^6 has been lang our fae,
     M'Gill^7 has wrought us meikle wae,
     An' that curs'd rascal ca'd M'Quhae,^8
     And baith the Shaws,^9
     That aft hae made us black an' blae,
     Wi' vengefu' paws.

     Auld Wodrow^10 lang has hatch'd mischief;
     We thought aye death wad bring relief;
     But he has gotten, to our grief,
     Ane to succeed him,^11
     A chield wha'll soundly buff our beef;
     I meikle dread him.

     And mony a ane that I could tell,
     Wha fain wad openly rebel,
     Forby turn-coats amang oursel',
     There's Smith^12 for ane;
     I doubt he's but a grey nick quill,
     An' that ye'll fin'.

     O! a' ye flocks o'er a, the hills,
     By mosses, meadows, moors, and fells,
     Come, join your counsel and your skills
     To cowe the lairds,
     An' get the brutes the power themsel's
     To choose their herds.

     Then Orthodoxy yet may prance,
     An' Learning in a woody dance,
     An' that fell cur ca'd Common Sense,
     That bites sae sair,
     Be banished o'er the sea to France:
     Let him bark there.

     Then Shaw's an' D'rymple's eloquence,
     M'Gill's close nervous excellence

     [Footnote 6: Rev. Dr. Dalrymple of Ayr.]

     [Footnote 7: Rev. Wm. M'Gill, colleague of Dr. Dalrymple.]

     [Footnote 8: Minister of St. Quivox.]

     [Footnote 9: Dr. Andrew Shaw of Craigie, and Dr. David Shaw of
      Coylton.]

     [Footnote 10: Dr. Peter Wodrow of Tarbolton.]

     [Footnote 11: Rev. John M'Math, a young assistant and successor
      to Wodrow.]

     [Footnote 12: Rev. George Smith of Galston.]

     M'Quhae's pathetic manly sense,
     An' guid M'Math,
     Wi' Smith, wha thro' the heart can glance,
     May a' pack aff.




 





 

Epistle To Davie, A Brother Poet

     January

     While winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw,
     An' bar the doors wi' driving snaw,
     An' hing us owre the ingle,
     I set me down to pass the time,
     An' spin a verse or twa o' rhyme,
     In hamely, westlin jingle.
     While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
     Ben to the chimla lug,
     I grudge a wee the great-folk's gift,
     That live sae bien an' snug:
     I tent less, and want less
     Their roomy fire-side;
     But hanker, and canker,
     To see their cursed pride.

     It's hardly in a body's pow'r
     To keep, at times, frae being sour,
     To see how things are shar'd;
     How best o' chiels are whiles in want,
     While coofs on countless thousands rant,
     And ken na how to wair't;
     But, Davie, lad, ne'er fash your head,
     Tho' we hae little gear;
     We're fit to win our daily bread,
     As lang's we're hale and fier:
     "Mair spier na, nor fear na,"^1
     Auld age ne'er mind a feg;
     The last o't, the warst o't
     Is only but to beg.

     To lie in kilns and barns at e'en,
     When banes are craz'd, and bluid is thin,
     Is doubtless, great distress!

     [Footnote 1: Ramsay.—R. B.]

     Yet then content could make us blest;
     Ev'n then, sometimes, we'd snatch a taste
     Of truest happiness.
     The honest heart that's free frae a'
     Intended fraud or guile,
     However Fortune kick the ba',
     Has aye some cause to smile;
     An' mind still, you'll find still,
     A comfort this nae sma';
     Nae mair then we'll care then,
     Nae farther can we fa'.

     What tho', like commoners of air,
     We wander out, we know not where,
     But either house or hal',
     Yet nature's charms, the hills and woods,
     The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
     Are free alike to all.
     In days when daisies deck the ground,
     And blackbirds whistle clear,
     With honest joy our hearts will bound,
     To see the coming year:
     On braes when we please, then,
     We'll sit an' sowth a tune;
     Syne rhyme till't we'll time till't,
     An' sing't when we hae done.

     It's no in titles nor in rank;
     It's no in wealth like Lon'on bank,
     To purchase peace and rest:
     It's no in makin' muckle, mair;
     It's no in books, it's no in lear,
     To make us truly blest:
     If happiness hae not her seat
     An' centre in the breast,
     We may be wise, or rich, or great,
     But never can be blest;
     Nae treasures, nor pleasures
     Could make us happy lang;
     The heart aye's the part aye
     That makes us right or wrang.

     Think ye, that sic as you and I,
     Wha drudge an' drive thro' wet and dry,
     Wi' never-ceasing toil;
     Think ye, are we less blest than they,
     Wha scarcely tent us in their way,
     As hardly worth their while?
     Alas! how aft in haughty mood,
     God's creatures they oppress!
     Or else, neglecting a' that's guid,
     They riot in excess!
     Baith careless and fearless
     Of either heaven or hell;
     Esteeming and deeming
     It's a' an idle tale!

     Then let us cheerfu' acquiesce,
     Nor make our scanty pleasures less,
     By pining at our state:
     And, even should misfortunes come,
     I, here wha sit, hae met wi' some—
     An's thankfu' for them yet.
     They gie the wit of age to youth;
     They let us ken oursel';
     They make us see the naked truth,
     The real guid and ill:
     Tho' losses an' crosses
     Be lessons right severe,
     There's wit there, ye'll get there,
     Ye'll find nae other where.

     But tent me, Davie, ace o' hearts!
     (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,
     And flatt'ry I detest)
     This life has joys for you and I;
     An' joys that riches ne'er could buy,
     An' joys the very best.
     There's a' the pleasures o' the heart,
     The lover an' the frien';
     Ye hae your Meg, your dearest part,
     And I my darling Jean!
     It warms me, it charms me,
     To mention but her name:
     It heats me, it beets me,
     An' sets me a' on flame!

     O all ye Pow'rs who rule above!
     O Thou whose very self art love!
     Thou know'st my words sincere!
     The life-blood streaming thro' my heart,
     Or my more dear immortal part,
     Is not more fondly dear!
     When heart-corroding care and grief
     Deprive my soul of rest,
     Her dear idea brings relief,
     And solace to my breast.
     Thou Being, All-seeing,
     O hear my fervent pray'r;
     Still take her, and make her
     Thy most peculiar care!

     All hail! ye tender feelings dear!
     The smile of love, the friendly tear,
     The sympathetic glow!
     Long since, this world's thorny ways
     Had number'd out my weary days,
     Had it not been for you!
     Fate still has blest me with a friend,
     In ev'ry care and ill;
     And oft a more endearing band—
     A tie more tender still.
     It lightens, it brightens
     The tenebrific scene,
     To meet with, and greet with
     My Davie, or my Jean!

     O, how that name inspires my style!
     The words come skelpin, rank an' file,
     Amaist before I ken!
     The ready measure rins as fine,
     As Phoebus an' the famous Nine
     Were glowrin owre my pen.
     My spaviet Pegasus will limp,
     Till ance he's fairly het;
     And then he'll hilch, and stilt, an' jimp,
     And rin an unco fit:
     But least then the beast then
     Should rue this hasty ride,
     I'll light now, and dight now
     His sweaty, wizen'd hide.




 

Holy Willie's Prayer

     "And send the godly in a pet to pray."—Pope.

Argument.

Holy Willie was a rather oldish bachelor elder, in the parish of Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that polemical chattering, which ends in tippling orthodoxy, and for that spiritualized bawdry which refines to liquorish devotion. In a sessional process with a gentleman in Mauchline—a Mr. Gavin Hamilton—Holy Willie and his priest, Father Auld, after full hearing in the presbytery of Ayr, came off but second best; owing partly to the oratorical powers of Mr. Robert Aiken, Mr. Hamilton's counsel; but chiefly to Mr. Hamilton's being one of the most irreproachable and truly respectable characters in the county. On losing the process, the muse overheard him [Holy Willie] at his devotions, as follows:—

     O Thou, who in the heavens does dwell,
     Who, as it pleases best Thysel',
     Sends ane to heaven an' ten to hell,
     A' for Thy glory,
     And no for ony gude or ill
     They've done afore Thee!

     I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
     When thousands Thou hast left in night,
     That I am here afore Thy sight,
     For gifts an' grace
     A burning and a shining light
     To a' this place.

     What was I, or my generation,
     That I should get sic exaltation,
     I wha deserve most just damnation
     For broken laws,
     Five thousand years ere my creation,
     Thro' Adam's cause?

     When frae my mither's womb I fell,
     Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
     To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
     In burnin lakes,
     Where damned devils roar and yell,
     Chain'd to their stakes.

     Yet I am here a chosen sample,
     To show thy grace is great and ample;
     I'm here a pillar o' Thy temple,
     Strong as a rock,
     A guide, a buckler, and example,
     To a' Thy flock.

     O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,
     When drinkers drink, an' swearers swear,
     An' singin there, an' dancin here,
     Wi' great and sma';
     For I am keepit by Thy fear
     Free frae them a'.

     But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
     At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust:
     An' sometimes, too, in wardly trust,
     Vile self gets in:
     But Thou remembers we are dust,
     Defil'd wi' sin.

     O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi' Meg—
     Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
     O! may't ne'er be a livin plague
     To my dishonour,
     An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
     Again upon her.

     Besides, I farther maun allow,
     Wi' Leezie's lass, three times I trow—
     But Lord, that Friday I was fou,
     When I cam near her;
     Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true
     Wad never steer her.

     Maybe Thou lets this fleshly thorn
     Buffet Thy servant e'en and morn,
     Lest he owre proud and high shou'd turn,
     That he's sae gifted:
     If sae, Thy han' maun e'en be borne,
     Until Thou lift it.

     Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
     For here Thou hast a chosen race:
     But God confound their stubborn face,
     An' blast their name,
     Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
     An' public shame.

     Lord, mind Gaw'n Hamilton's deserts;
     He drinks, an' swears, an' plays at cartes,
     Yet has sae mony takin arts,
     Wi' great and sma',
     Frae God's ain priest the people's hearts
     He steals awa.

     An' when we chasten'd him therefor,
     Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
     An' set the warld in a roar
     O' laughing at us;—
     Curse Thou his basket and his store,
     Kail an' potatoes.

     Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray'r,
     Against that Presbyt'ry o' Ayr;
     Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare
     Upo' their heads;
     Lord visit them, an' dinna spare,
     For their misdeeds.

     O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu'd Aiken,
     My vera heart and flesh are quakin,
     To think how we stood sweatin', shakin,
     An' p-'d wi' dread,
     While he, wi' hingin lip an' snakin,
     Held up his head.

     Lord, in Thy day o' vengeance try him,
     Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
     And pass not in Thy mercy by 'em,
     Nor hear their pray'r,
     But for Thy people's sake, destroy 'em,
     An' dinna spare.

     But, Lord, remember me an' mine
     Wi' mercies temp'ral an' divine,
     That I for grace an' gear may shine,
     Excell'd by nane,
     And a' the glory shall be thine,
     Amen, Amen!




 

Epitaph On Holy Willie

     Here Holy Willie's sair worn clay
     Taks up its last abode;
     His saul has ta'en some other way,
     I fear, the left-hand road.

     Stop! there he is, as sure's a gun,
     Poor, silly body, see him;
     Nae wonder he's as black's the grun,
     Observe wha's standing wi' him.

     Your brunstane devilship, I see,
     Has got him there before ye;
     But haud your nine-tail cat a wee,
     Till ance you've heard my story.

     Your pity I will not implore,
     For pity ye have nane;
     Justice, alas! has gi'en him o'er,
     And mercy's day is gane.

     But hear me, Sir, deil as ye are,
     Look something to your credit;
     A coof like him wad stain your name,
     If it were kent ye did it.




 

Death and Doctor Hornbook

     A True Story
     Some books are lies frae end to end,
     And some great lies were never penn'd:
     Ev'n ministers they hae been kenn'd,
     In holy rapture,
     A rousing whid at times to vend,
     And nail't wi' Scripture.

     But this that I am gaun to tell,
     Which lately on a night befell,
     Is just as true's the Deil's in hell
     Or Dublin city:
     That e'er he nearer comes oursel'
     'S a muckle pity.

     The clachan yill had made me canty,
     I was na fou, but just had plenty;
     I stacher'd whiles, but yet too tent aye
     To free the ditches;
     An' hillocks, stanes, an' bushes, kenn'd eye
     Frae ghaists an' witches.

     The rising moon began to glowre
     The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
     To count her horns, wi' a my pow'r,
     I set mysel';
     But whether she had three or four,
     I cou'd na tell.

     I was come round about the hill,
     An' todlin down on Willie's mill,
     Setting my staff wi' a' my skill,
     To keep me sicker;
     Tho' leeward whiles, against my will,
     I took a bicker.

     I there wi' Something did forgather,
     That pat me in an eerie swither;
     An' awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther,
     Clear-dangling, hang;
     A three-tae'd leister on the ither
     Lay, large an' lang.

     Its stature seem'd lang Scotch ells twa,
     The queerest shape that e'er I saw,
     For fient a wame it had ava;
     And then its shanks,
     They were as thin, as sharp an' sma'
     As cheeks o' branks.

     "Guid-een," quo' I; "Friend! hae ye been mawin,
     When ither folk are busy sawin!"^1
     I seem'd to make a kind o' stan'
     But naething spak;
     At length, says I, "Friend! whare ye gaun?
     Will ye go back?"

     It spak right howe,—"My name is Death,
     But be na fley'd."—Quoth I, "Guid faith,
     Ye're maybe come to stap my breath;
     But tent me, billie;
     I red ye weel, tak care o' skaith
     See, there's a gully!"

     "Gudeman," quo' he, "put up your whittle,
     I'm no designed to try its mettle;
     But if I did, I wad be kittle
     To be mislear'd;
     I wad na mind it, no that spittle
     Out-owre my beard."

     "Weel, weel!" says I, "a bargain be't;
     Come, gie's your hand, an' sae we're gree't;
     We'll ease our shanks an tak a seat—
     Come, gie's your news;
     This while ye hae been mony a gate,
     At mony a house."^2

     [Footnote 1: This recontre happened in seed-time, 1785.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 2: An epidemical fever was then raging in that
      country.—R.B.]

     "Ay, ay!" quo' he, an' shook his head,
     "It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed
     Sin' I began to nick the thread,
     An' choke the breath:
     Folk maun do something for their bread,
     An' sae maun Death.

     "Sax thousand years are near-hand fled
     Sin' I was to the butching bred,
     An' mony a scheme in vain's been laid,
     To stap or scar me;
     Till ane Hornbook's^3 ta'en up the trade,
     And faith! he'll waur me.

     "Ye ken Hornbook i' the clachan,
     Deil mak his king's-hood in spleuchan!
     He's grown sae weel acquaint wi' Buchan^4
     And ither chaps,
     The weans haud out their fingers laughin,
     An' pouk my hips.

     "See, here's a scythe, an' there's dart,
     They hae pierc'd mony a gallant heart;
     But Doctor Hornbook, wi' his art
     An' cursed skill,
     Has made them baith no worth a f-t,
     Damn'd haet they'll kill!

     "'Twas but yestreen, nae farther gane,
     I threw a noble throw at ane;
     Wi' less, I'm sure, I've hundreds slain;
     But deil-ma-care,
     It just play'd dirl on the bane,
     But did nae mair.

     "Hornbook was by, wi' ready art,
     An' had sae fortify'd the part,

     [Footnote 3: This gentleman, Dr. Hornbook, is professionally
     a brother of the sovereign Order of the Ferula; but, by
     intuition and inspiration, is at once an apothecary,
     surgeon, and physician.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 4: Burchan's Domestic Medicine.—R.B.]

     That when I looked to my dart,
     It was sae blunt,
     Fient haet o't wad hae pierc'd the heart
     Of a kail-runt.

     "I drew my scythe in sic a fury,
     I near-hand cowpit wi' my hurry,
     But yet the bauld Apothecary
     Withstood the shock;
     I might as weel hae tried a quarry
     O' hard whin rock.

     "Ev'n them he canna get attended,
     Altho' their face he ne'er had kend it,
     Just—in a kail-blade, an' sent it,
     As soon's he smells 't,
     Baith their disease, and what will mend it,
     At once he tells 't.

     "And then, a' doctor's saws an' whittles,
     Of a' dimensions, shapes, an' mettles,
     A' kind o' boxes, mugs, an' bottles,
     He's sure to hae;
     Their Latin names as fast he rattles
     as A B C.

     "Calces o' fossils, earths, and trees;
     True sal-marinum o' the seas;
     The farina of beans an' pease,
     He has't in plenty;
     Aqua-fontis, what you please,
     He can content ye.

     "Forbye some new, uncommon weapons,
     Urinus spiritus of capons;
     Or mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings,
     Distill'd per se;
     Sal-alkali o' midge-tail clippings,
     And mony mae."

     "Waes me for Johnie Ged's^5 Hole now,"
     Quoth I, "if that thae news be true!
     His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,
     Sae white and bonie,
     Nae doubt they'll rive it wi' the plew;
     They'll ruin Johnie!"

     The creature grain'd an eldritch laugh,
     And says "Ye needna yoke the pleugh,
     Kirkyards will soon be till'd eneugh,
     Tak ye nae fear:
     They'll be trench'd wi' mony a sheugh,
     In twa-three year.

     "Whare I kill'd ane, a fair strae-death,
     By loss o' blood or want of breath
     This night I'm free to tak my aith,
     That Hornbook's skill
     Has clad a score i' their last claith,
     By drap an' pill.

     "An honest wabster to his trade,
     Whase wife's twa nieves were scarce weel-bred
     Gat tippence-worth to mend her head,
     When it was sair;
     The wife slade cannie to her bed,
     But ne'er spak mair.

     "A country laird had ta'en the batts,
     Or some curmurring in his guts,
     His only son for Hornbook sets,
     An' pays him well:
     The lad, for twa guid gimmer-pets,
     Was laird himsel'.

     "A bonie lass—ye kend her name—
     Some ill-brewn drink had hov'd her wame;
     She trusts hersel', to hide the shame,
     In Hornbook's care;
     Horn sent her aff to her lang hame,
     To hide it there.

     [Footnote 5: The grave-digger.—R.B.]

     "That's just a swatch o' Hornbook's way;
     Thus goes he on from day to day,
     Thus does he poison, kill, an' slay,
     An's weel paid for't;
     Yet stops me o' my lawfu' prey,
     Wi' his damn'd dirt:

     "But, hark! I'll tell you of a plot,
     Tho' dinna ye be speakin o't;
     I'll nail the self-conceited sot,
     As dead's a herrin;
     Neist time we meet, I'll wad a groat,
     He gets his fairin!"

     But just as he began to tell,
     The auld kirk-hammer strak the bell
     Some wee short hour ayont the twal',
     Which rais'd us baith:
     I took the way that pleas'd mysel',
     And sae did Death.




 

Epistle To J. Lapraik, An Old Scottish Bard

     April 1, 1785

     While briers an' woodbines budding green,
     An' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en,
     An' morning poussie whiddin seen,
     Inspire my muse,
     This freedom, in an unknown frien',
     I pray excuse.

     On Fasten—e'en we had a rockin,
     To ca' the crack and weave our stockin;
     And there was muckle fun and jokin,
     Ye need na doubt;
     At length we had a hearty yokin
     At sang about.

     There was ae sang, amang the rest,
     Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
     That some kind husband had addrest
     To some sweet wife;
     It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
     A' to the life.

     I've scarce heard ought describ'd sae weel,
     What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel;
     Thought I "Can this be Pope, or Steele,
     Or Beattie's wark?"
     They tauld me 'twas an odd kind chiel
     About Muirkirk.

     It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't,
     An' sae about him there I speir't;
     Then a' that kent him round declar'd
     He had ingine;
     That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
     It was sae fine:

     That, set him to a pint of ale,
     An' either douce or merry tale,
     Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,
     Or witty catches—
     'Tween Inverness an' Teviotdale,
     He had few matches.

     Then up I gat, an' swoor an aith,
     Tho' I should pawn my pleugh an' graith,
     Or die a cadger pownie's death,
     At some dyke-back,
     A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith,
     To hear your crack.

     But, first an' foremost, I should tell,
     Amaist as soon as I could spell,
     I to the crambo-jingle fell;
     Tho' rude an' rough—
     Yet crooning to a body's sel'
     Does weel eneugh.

     I am nae poet, in a sense;
     But just a rhymer like by chance,
     An' hae to learning nae pretence;
     Yet, what the matter?
     Whene'er my muse does on me glance,
     I jingle at her.

     Your critic-folk may cock their nose,
     And say, "How can you e'er propose,
     You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
     To mak a sang?"
     But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
     Ye're maybe wrang.

     What's a' your jargon o' your schools—
     Your Latin names for horns an' stools?
     If honest Nature made you fools,
     What sairs your grammars?
     Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,
     Or knappin-hammers.

     A set o' dull, conceited hashes
     Confuse their brains in college classes!
     They gang in stirks, and come out asses,
     Plain truth to speak;
     An' syne they think to climb Parnassus
     By dint o' Greek!

     Gie me ae spark o' nature's fire,
     That's a' the learning I desire;
     Then tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire
     At pleugh or cart,
     My muse, tho' hamely in attire,
     May touch the heart.

     O for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
     Or Fergusson's the bauld an' slee,
     Or bright Lapraik's, my friend to be,
     If I can hit it!
     That would be lear eneugh for me,
     If I could get it.

     Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
     Tho' real friends, I b'lieve, are few;
     Yet, if your catalogue be fu',
     I'se no insist:
     But, gif ye want ae friend that's true,
     I'm on your list.

     I winna blaw about mysel,
     As ill I like my fauts to tell;
     But friends, an' folk that wish me well,
     They sometimes roose me;
     Tho' I maun own, as mony still
     As far abuse me.

     There's ae wee faut they whiles lay to me,
     I like the lasses—Gude forgie me!
     For mony a plack they wheedle frae me
     At dance or fair;
     Maybe some ither thing they gie me,
     They weel can spare.

     But Mauchline Race, or Mauchline Fair,
     I should be proud to meet you there;
     We'se gie ae night's discharge to care,
     If we forgather;
     An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware
     Wi' ane anither.

     The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
     An' kirsen him wi' reekin water;
     Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,
     To cheer our heart;
     An' faith, we'se be acquainted better
     Before we part.

     Awa ye selfish, war'ly race,
     Wha think that havins, sense, an' grace,
     Ev'n love an' friendship should give place
     To catch—the—plack!
     I dinna like to see your face,
     Nor hear your crack.

     But ye whom social pleasure charms
     Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms,
     Who hold your being on the terms,
     "Each aid the others,"
     Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
     My friends, my brothers!

     But, to conclude my lang epistle,
     As my auld pen's worn to the gristle,
     Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,
     Who am, most fervent,
     While I can either sing or whistle,
     Your friend and servant.




 

Second Epistle To J. Lapraik

     April 21, 1785

     While new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake
     An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik,
     This hour on e'enin's edge I take,
     To own I'm debtor
     To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,
     For his kind letter.

     Forjesket sair, with weary legs,
     Rattlin the corn out-owre the rigs,
     Or dealing thro' amang the naigs
     Their ten-hours' bite,
     My awkart Muse sair pleads and begs
     I would na write.

     The tapetless, ramfeezl'd hizzie,
     She's saft at best an' something lazy:
     Quo' she, "Ye ken we've been sae busy
     This month an' mair,
     That trowth, my head is grown right dizzie,
     An' something sair."

     Her dowff excuses pat me mad;
     "Conscience," says I, "ye thowless jade!
     I'll write, an' that a hearty blaud,
     This vera night;
     So dinna ye affront your trade,
     But rhyme it right.

     "Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o' hearts,
     Tho' mankind were a pack o' cartes,
     Roose you sae weel for your deserts,
     In terms sae friendly;
     Yet ye'll neglect to shaw your parts
     An' thank him kindly?"

     Sae I gat paper in a blink,
     An' down gaed stumpie in the ink:
     Quoth I, "Before I sleep a wink,
     I vow I'll close it;
     An' if ye winna mak it clink,
     By Jove, I'll prose it!"

     Sae I've begun to scrawl, but whether
     In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither;
     Or some hotch-potch that's rightly neither,
     Let time mak proof;
     But I shall scribble down some blether
     Just clean aff-loof.

     My worthy friend, ne'er grudge an' carp,
     Tho' fortune use you hard an' sharp;
     Come, kittle up your moorland harp
     Wi' gleesome touch!
     Ne'er mind how Fortune waft and warp;
     She's but a bitch.

     She 's gien me mony a jirt an' fleg,
     Sin' I could striddle owre a rig;
     But, by the Lord, tho' I should beg
     Wi' lyart pow,
     I'll laugh an' sing, an' shake my leg,
     As lang's I dow!

     Now comes the sax-an'-twentieth simmer
     I've seen the bud upon the timmer,
     Still persecuted by the limmer
     Frae year to year;
     But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,
     I, Rob, am here.

     Do ye envy the city gent,
     Behint a kist to lie an' sklent;
     Or pursue-proud, big wi' cent. per cent.
     An' muckle wame,
     In some bit brugh to represent
     A bailie's name?

     Or is't the paughty, feudal thane,
     Wi' ruffl'd sark an' glancing cane,
     Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
     But lordly stalks;
     While caps and bonnets aff are taen,
     As by he walks?

     "O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
     Gie me o' wit an' sense a lift,
     Then turn me, if thou please, adrift,
     Thro' Scotland wide;
     Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
     In a' their pride!"

     Were this the charter of our state,
     "On pain o' hell be rich an' great,"
     Damnation then would be our fate,
     Beyond remead;
     But, thanks to heaven, that's no the gate
     We learn our creed.

     For thus the royal mandate ran,
     When first the human race began;
     "The social, friendly, honest man,
     Whate'er he be—
     'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
     And none but he."

     O mandate glorious and divine!
     The ragged followers o' the Nine,
     Poor, thoughtless devils! yet may shine
     In glorious light,
     While sordid sons o' Mammon's line
     Are dark as night!

     Tho' here they scrape, an' squeeze, an' growl,
     Their worthless nievefu' of a soul
     May in some future carcase howl,
     The forest's fright;
     Or in some day-detesting owl
     May shun the light.

     Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,
     To reach their native, kindred skies,
     And sing their pleasures, hopes an' joys,
     In some mild sphere;
     Still closer knit in friendship's ties,
     Each passing year!




 

Epistle To William Simson

     Schoolmaster, Ochiltree.—May, 1785

     I gat your letter, winsome Willie;
     Wi' gratefu' heart I thank you brawlie;
     Tho' I maun say't, I wad be silly,
     And unco vain,
     Should I believe, my coaxin billie
     Your flatterin strain.

     But I'se believe ye kindly meant it:
     I sud be laith to think ye hinted
     Ironic satire, sidelins sklented
     On my poor Musie;
     Tho' in sic phraisin terms ye've penn'd it,
     I scarce excuse ye.

     My senses wad be in a creel,
     Should I but dare a hope to speel
     Wi' Allan, or wi' Gilbertfield,
     The braes o' fame;
     Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,
     A deathless name.

     (O Fergusson! thy glorious parts
     Ill suited law's dry, musty arts!
     My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
     Ye E'nbrugh gentry!
     The tithe o' what ye waste at cartes
     Wad stow'd his pantry!)

     Yet when a tale comes i' my head,
     Or lassies gie my heart a screed—
     As whiles they're like to be my dead,
     (O sad disease!)
     I kittle up my rustic reed;
     It gies me ease.

     Auld Coila now may fidge fu' fain,
     She's gotten poets o' her ain;
     Chiels wha their chanters winna hain,
     But tune their lays,
     Till echoes a' resound again
     Her weel-sung praise.

     Nae poet thought her worth his while,
     To set her name in measur'd style;
     She lay like some unkenn'd-of-isle
     Beside New Holland,
     Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
     Besouth Magellan.

     Ramsay an' famous Fergusson
     Gied Forth an' Tay a lift aboon;
     Yarrow an' Tweed, to monie a tune,
     Owre Scotland rings;
     While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an' Doon
     Naebody sings.

     Th' Illissus, Tiber, Thames, an' Seine,
     Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line:
     But Willie, set your fit to mine,
     An' cock your crest;
     We'll gar our streams an' burnies shine
     Up wi' the best!

     We'll sing auld Coila's plains an' fells,
     Her moors red-brown wi' heather bells,
     Her banks an' braes, her dens and dells,
     Whare glorious Wallace
     Aft bure the gree, as story tells,
     Frae Suthron billies.

     At Wallace' name, what Scottish blood
     But boils up in a spring-tide flood!
     Oft have our fearless fathers strode
     By Wallace' side,
     Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,
     Or glorious died!

     O, sweet are Coila's haughs an' woods,
     When lintwhites chant amang the buds,
     And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,
     Their loves enjoy;
     While thro' the braes the cushat croods
     With wailfu' cry!

     Ev'n winter bleak has charms to me,
     When winds rave thro' the naked tree;
     Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
     Are hoary gray;
     Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee,
     Dark'ning the day!

     O Nature! a' thy shews an' forms
     To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!
     Whether the summer kindly warms,
     Wi' life an light;
     Or winter howls, in gusty storms,
     The lang, dark night!

     The muse, nae poet ever fand her,
     Till by himsel he learn'd to wander,
     Adown some trottin burn's meander,
     An' no think lang:
     O sweet to stray, an' pensive ponder
     A heart-felt sang!

     The war'ly race may drudge an' drive,
     Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an' strive;
     Let me fair Nature's face descrive,
     And I, wi' pleasure,
     Shall let the busy, grumbling hive
     Bum owre their treasure.

     Fareweel, "my rhyme-composing" brither!
     We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither:
     Now let us lay our heads thegither,
     In love fraternal:
     May envy wallop in a tether,
     Black fiend, infernal!

     While Highlandmen hate tools an' taxes;
     While moorlan's herds like guid, fat braxies;
     While terra firma, on her axis,
     Diurnal turns;
     Count on a friend, in faith an' practice,
     In Robert Burns.




 

Postcript

     My memory's no worth a preen;
     I had amaist forgotten clean,
     Ye bade me write you what they mean
     By this "new-light,"
     'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
     Maist like to fight.

     In days when mankind were but callans
     At grammar, logic, an' sic talents,
     They took nae pains their speech to balance,
     Or rules to gie;
     But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
     Like you or me.

     In thae auld times, they thought the moon,
     Just like a sark, or pair o' shoon,
     Wore by degrees, till her last roon
     Gaed past their viewin;
     An' shortly after she was done
     They gat a new ane.

     This passed for certain, undisputed;
     It ne'er cam i' their heads to doubt it,
     Till chiels gat up an' wad confute it,
     An' ca'd it wrang;
     An' muckle din there was about it,
     Baith loud an' lang.

     Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk,
     Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk;
     For 'twas the auld moon turn'd a neuk
     An' out of' sight,
     An' backlins-comin to the leuk
     She grew mair bright.

     This was deny'd, it was affirm'd;
     The herds and hissels were alarm'd
     The rev'rend gray-beards rav'd an' storm'd,
     That beardless laddies
     Should think they better wer inform'd,
     Than their auld daddies.

     Frae less to mair, it gaed to sticks;
     Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks;
     An monie a fallow gat his licks,
     Wi' hearty crunt;
     An' some, to learn them for their tricks,
     Were hang'd an' brunt.

     This game was play'd in mony lands,
     An' auld-light caddies bure sic hands,
     That faith, the youngsters took the sands
     Wi' nimble shanks;
     Till lairds forbad, by strict commands,
     Sic bluidy pranks.

     But new-light herds gat sic a cowe,
     Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an-stowe;
     Till now, amaist on ev'ry knowe
     Ye'll find ane plac'd;
     An' some their new-light fair avow,
     Just quite barefac'd.

     Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin;
     Their zealous herds are vex'd an' sweatin;
     Mysel', I've even seen them greetin
     Wi' girnin spite,
     To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
     By word an' write.

     But shortly they will cowe the louns!
     Some auld-light herds in neebor touns
     Are mind't, in things they ca' balloons,
     To tak a flight;
     An' stay ae month amang the moons
     An' see them right.

     Guid observation they will gie them;
     An' when the auld moon's gaun to lea'e them,
     The hindmaist shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them
     Just i' their pouch;
     An' when the new-light billies see them,
     I think they'll crouch!

     Sae, ye observe that a' this clatter
     Is naething but a "moonshine matter";
     But tho' dull prose-folk Latin splatter
     In logic tulyie,
     I hope we bardies ken some better
     Than mind sic brulyie.




 

One Night As I Did Wander

     Tune—"John Anderson, my jo."
     One night as I did wander,
     When corn begins to shoot,
     I sat me down to ponder
     Upon an auld tree root;
     Auld Ayr ran by before me,
     And bicker'd to the seas;
     A cushat crooded o'er me,
     That echoed through the braes
     . . . . . . .




 

Tho' Cruel Fate Should Bid Us Part

     Tune—"The Northern Lass."
     Tho' cruel fate should bid us part,
     Far as the pole and line,
     Her dear idea round my heart,
     Should tenderly entwine.
     Tho' mountains, rise, and deserts howl,
     And oceans roar between;
     Yet, dearer than my deathless soul,
     I still would love my Jean.
     . . . . . . .




 

Song—Rantin', Rovin' Robin

     [Footnote 1: Not published by Burns.]

     Tune—"Daintie Davie."
     There was a lad was born in Kyle,
     But whatna day o' whatna style,
     I doubt it's hardly worth the while
     To be sae nice wi' Robin.

     Chor.—Robin was a rovin' boy,
     Rantin', rovin', rantin', rovin',
     Robin was a rovin' boy,
     Rantin', rovin', Robin!

     Our monarch's hindmost year but ane
     Was five-and-twenty days begun^2,
     'Twas then a blast o' Janwar' win'
     Blew hansel in on Robin.
     Robin was, &c.

     [Footnote 2: January 25, 1759, the date of my
      bardship's vital existence.—R.B.]

     The gossip keekit in his loof,
     Quo' scho, "Wha lives will see the proof,
     This waly boy will be nae coof:
     I think we'll ca' him Robin."
     Robin was, &c.

     "He'll hae misfortunes great an' sma',
     But aye a heart aboon them a',
     He'll be a credit till us a'—
     We'll a' be proud o' Robin."
     Robin was, &c.

     "But sure as three times three mak nine,
     I see by ilka score and line,
     This chap will dearly like our kin',
     So leeze me on thee! Robin."
     Robin was, &c.

     "Guid faith," quo', scho, "I doubt you gar
     The bonie lasses lie aspar;
     But twenty fauts ye may hae waur
     So blessins on thee! Robin."
     Robin was, &c.




 

Elegy On The Death Of Robert Ruisseaux

     Now Robin lies in his last lair,
     He'll gabble rhyme, nor sing nae mair;
     Cauld poverty, wi' hungry stare,
     Nae mair shall fear him;
     Nor anxious fear, nor cankert care,
     E'er mair come near him.

     To tell the truth, they seldom fash'd him,
     Except the moment that they crush'd him;
     For sune as chance or fate had hush'd 'em
     Tho' e'er sae short.
     Then wi' a rhyme or sang he lash'd 'em,
     And thought it sport.

     [Footnote 1: Ruisseaux is French for rivulets
      or "burns," a translation of his name.]

     Tho'he was bred to kintra-wark,
     And counted was baith wight and stark,
     Yet that was never Robin's mark
     To mak a man;
     But tell him, he was learn'd and clark,
     Ye roos'd him then!




 

Epistle To John Goldie, In Kilmarnock

     Author Of The Gospel Recovered.—August, 1785

     O Gowdie, terror o' the whigs,
     Dread o' blackcoats and rev'rend wigs!
     Sour Bigotry, on her last legs,
     Girns an' looks back,
     Wishing the ten Egyptian plagues
     May seize you quick.

     Poor gapin', glowrin' Superstition!
     Wae's me, she's in a sad condition:
     Fye: bring Black Jock,^1 her state physician,
     To see her water;
     Alas, there's ground for great suspicion
     She'll ne'er get better.

     Enthusiasm's past redemption,
     Gane in a gallopin' consumption:
     Not a' her quacks, wi' a' their gumption,
     Can ever mend her;
     Her feeble pulse gies strong presumption,
     She'll soon surrender.

     Auld Orthodoxy lang did grapple,
     For every hole to get a stapple;
     But now she fetches at the thrapple,
     An' fights for breath;
     Haste, gie her name up in the chapel,^2
     Near unto death.

     It's you an' Taylor^3 are the chief
     To blame for a' this black mischief;

     [Footnote 1: The Rev. J. Russell, Kilmarnock.—R. B.]

     [Footnote 2: Mr. Russell's Kirk.—R. B.]

     [Footnote 3: Dr. Taylor of Norwich.—R. B.]

     But, could the Lord's ain folk get leave,
     A toom tar barrel
     An' twa red peats wad bring relief,
     And end the quarrel.

     For me, my skill's but very sma',
     An' skill in prose I've nane ava';
     But quietlins-wise, between us twa,
     Weel may you speed!
     And tho' they sud your sair misca',
     Ne'er fash your head.

     E'en swinge the dogs, and thresh them sicker!
     The mair they squeel aye chap the thicker;
     And still 'mang hands a hearty bicker
     O' something stout;
     It gars an owthor's pulse beat quicker,
     And helps his wit.

     There's naething like the honest nappy;
     Whare'll ye e'er see men sae happy,
     Or women sonsie, saft an' sappy,
     'Tween morn and morn,
     As them wha like to taste the drappie,
     In glass or horn?

     I've seen me dazed upon a time,
     I scarce could wink or see a styme;
     Just ae half-mutchkin does me prime,—
     Ought less is little—
     Then back I rattle on the rhyme,
     As gleg's a whittle.




 

The Holy Fair

     A robe of seeming truth and trust
     Hid crafty Observation;
     And secret hung, with poison'd crust,
     The dirk of Defamation:

     [Footnote 1: "Holy Fair" is a common phrase in the west of Scotland
      for a sacramental occasion.—R. B.]

     A mask that like the gorget show'd,
     Dye-varying on the pigeon;
     And for a mantle large and broad,
     He wrapt him in Religion.
     Hypocrisy A-La-Mode

     Upon a simmer Sunday morn
     When Nature's face is fair,
     I walked forth to view the corn,
     An' snuff the caller air.
     The rising sun owre Galston muirs
     Wi' glorious light was glintin;
     The hares were hirplin down the furrs,
     The lav'rocks they were chantin
     Fu' sweet that day.

     As lightsomely I glowr'd abroad,
     To see a scene sae gay,
     Three hizzies, early at the road,
     Cam skelpin up the way.
     Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black,
     But ane wi' lyart lining;
     The third, that gaed a wee a-back,
     Was in the fashion shining
     Fu' gay that day.

     The twa appear'd like sisters twin,
     In feature, form, an' claes;
     Their visage wither'd, lang an' thin,
     An' sour as only slaes:
     The third cam up, hap-stap-an'-lowp,
     As light as ony lambie,
     An' wi'a curchie low did stoop,
     As soon as e'er she saw me,
     Fu' kind that day.

     Wi' bonnet aff, quoth I, "Sweet lass,
     I think ye seem to ken me;
     I'm sure I've seen that bonie face
     But yet I canna name ye."
     Quo' she, an' laughin as she spak,
     An' taks me by the han's,
     "Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck
     Of a' the ten comman's
     A screed some day."

     "My name is Fun—your cronie dear,
     The nearest friend ye hae;
     An' this is Superstitution here,
     An' that's Hypocrisy.
     I'm gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,
     To spend an hour in daffin:
     Gin ye'll go there, yon runkl'd pair,
     We will get famous laughin
     At them this day."

     Quoth I, "Wi' a' my heart, I'll do't;
     I'll get my Sunday's sark on,
     An' meet you on the holy spot;
     Faith, we'se hae fine remarkin!"
     Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time,
     An' soon I made me ready;
     For roads were clad, frae side to side,
     Wi' mony a weary body
     In droves that day.

     Here farmers gash, in ridin graith,
     Gaed hoddin by their cotters;
     There swankies young, in braw braid-claith,
     Are springing owre the gutters.
     The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,
     In silks an' scarlets glitter;
     Wi' sweet-milk cheese, in mony a whang,
     An' farls, bak'd wi' butter,
     Fu' crump that day.

     When by the plate we set our nose,
     Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence,
     A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws,
     An' we maun draw our tippence.
     Then in we go to see the show:
     On ev'ry side they're gath'rin;
     Some carrying dails, some chairs an' stools,
     An' some are busy bleth'rin
     Right loud that day.

     Here stands a shed to fend the show'rs,
     An' screen our countra gentry;
     There Racer Jess,^2 an' twa-three whores,
     Are blinkin at the entry.
     Here sits a raw o' tittlin jads,
     Wi' heaving breast an' bare neck;
     An' there a batch o' wabster lads,
     Blackguarding frae Kilmarnock,
     For fun this day.

     Here, some are thinkin on their sins,
     An' some upo' their claes;
     Ane curses feet that fyl'd his shins,
     Anither sighs an' prays:
     On this hand sits a chosen swatch,
     Wi' screwed-up, grace-proud faces;
     On that a set o' chaps, at watch,
     Thrang winkin on the lasses
     To chairs that day.

     O happy is that man, an' blest!
     Nae wonder that it pride him!
     Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best,
     Comes clinkin down beside him!
     Wi' arms repos'd on the chair back,
     He sweetly does compose him;
     Which, by degrees, slips round her neck,
     An's loof upon her bosom,
     Unkend that day.

     Now a' the congregation o'er
     Is silent expectation;
     For Moodie^3 speels the holy door,
     Wi' tidings o' damnation:

     [Footnote 2: Racer Jess (d. 1813) was a half-witted daughter of
      Possie Nansie. She was a great pedestrian.]

     [Footnote 3: Rev. Alexander Moodie of Riccarton.]

     Should Hornie, as in ancient days,
     'Mang sons o' God present him,
     The vera sight o' Moodie's face,
     To 's ain het hame had sent him
     Wi' fright that day.

     Hear how he clears the point o' faith
     Wi' rattlin and wi' thumpin!
     Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,
     He's stampin, an' he's jumpin!
     His lengthen'd chin, his turned-up snout,
     His eldritch squeel an' gestures,
     O how they fire the heart devout,
     Like cantharidian plaisters
     On sic a day!

     But hark! the tent has chang'd its voice,
     There's peace an' rest nae langer;
     For a' the real judges rise,
     They canna sit for anger,
     Smith^4 opens out his cauld harangues,
     On practice and on morals;
     An' aff the godly pour in thrangs,
     To gie the jars an' barrels
     A lift that day.

     What signifies his barren shine,
     Of moral powers an' reason?
     His English style, an' gesture fine
     Are a' clean out o' season.
     Like Socrates or Antonine,
     Or some auld pagan heathen,
     The moral man he does define,
     But ne'er a word o' faith in
     That's right that day.

     In guid time comes an antidote
     Against sic poison'd nostrum;
     For Peebles,^5 frae the water-fit,
     Ascends the holy rostrum:

     [Footnote 4: Rev. George Smith of Galston.]

     [Footnote 5: Rev. Wm. Peebles of Newton-upon-Ayr.]

     See, up he's got, the word o' God,
     An' meek an' mim has view'd it,
     While Common-sense has taen the road,
     An' aff, an' up the Cowgate^6
     Fast, fast that day.

     Wee Miller^7 neist the guard relieves,
     An' Orthodoxy raibles,
     Tho' in his heart he weel believes,
     An' thinks it auld wives' fables:
     But faith! the birkie wants a manse,
     So, cannilie he hums them;
     Altho' his carnal wit an' sense
     Like hafflins-wise o'ercomes him
     At times that day.

     Now, butt an' ben, the change-house fills,
     Wi' yill-caup commentators;
     Here 's cryin out for bakes and gills,
     An' there the pint-stowp clatters;
     While thick an' thrang, an' loud an' lang,
     Wi' logic an' wi' scripture,
     They raise a din, that in the end
     Is like to breed a rupture
     O' wrath that day.

     Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair
     Than either school or college;
     It kindles wit, it waukens lear,
     It pangs us fou o' knowledge:
     Be't whisky-gill or penny wheep,
     Or ony stronger potion,
     It never fails, or drinkin deep,
     To kittle up our notion,
     By night or day.

     The lads an' lasses, blythely bent
     To mind baith saul an' body,
     Sit round the table, weel content,
     An' steer about the toddy:

     [Footnote 6: A street so called which faces the tent in
      Mauchline.—R. B.]

     [Footnote 7: Rev. Alex. Miller, afterward of Kilmaurs.]

     On this ane's dress, an' that ane's leuk,
     They're makin observations;
     While some are cozie i' the neuk,
     An' forming assignations
     To meet some day.

     But now the Lord's ain trumpet touts,
     Till a' the hills are rairin,
     And echoes back return the shouts;
     Black Russell is na sparin:
     His piercin words, like Highlan' swords,
     Divide the joints an' marrow;
     His talk o' Hell, whare devils dwell,
     Our vera "sauls does harrow"
     Wi' fright that day!

     A vast, unbottom'd, boundless pit,
     Fill'd fou o' lowin brunstane,
     Whase raging flame, an' scorching heat,
     Wad melt the hardest whun-stane!
     The half-asleep start up wi' fear,
     An' think they hear it roarin;
     When presently it does appear,
     'Twas but some neibor snorin
     Asleep that day.

     'Twad be owre lang a tale to tell,
     How mony stories past;
     An' how they crouded to the yill,
     When they were a' dismist;
     How drink gaed round, in cogs an' caups,
     Amang the furms an' benches;
     An' cheese an' bread, frae women's laps,
     Was dealt about in lunches
     An' dawds that day.

     In comes a gawsie, gash guidwife,
     An' sits down by the fire,
     Syne draws her kebbuck an' her knife;
     The lasses they are shyer:
     The auld guidmen, about the grace
     Frae side to side they bother;
     Till some ane by his bonnet lays,
     An' gies them't like a tether,
     Fu' lang that day.

     Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,
     Or lasses that hae naething!
     Sma' need has he to say a grace,
     Or melvie his braw claithing!
     O wives, be mindfu' ance yoursel'
     How bonie lads ye wanted;
     An' dinna for a kebbuck-heel
     Let lasses be affronted
     On sic a day!

     Now Clinkumbell, wi' rattlin tow,
     Begins to jow an' croon;
     Some swagger hame the best they dow,
     Some wait the afternoon.
     At slaps the billies halt a blink,
     Till lasses strip their shoon:
     Wi' faith an' hope, an' love an' drink,
     They're a' in famous tune
     For crack that day.

     How mony hearts this day converts
     O' sinners and o' lasses!
     Their hearts o' stane, gin night, are gane
     As saft as ony flesh is:
     There's some are fou o' love divine;
     There's some are fou o' brandy;
     An' mony jobs that day begin,
     May end in houghmagandie
     Some ither day.




 

Third Epistle To J. Lapraik

     Guid speed and furder to you, Johnie,
     Guid health, hale han's, an' weather bonie;
     Now, when ye're nickin down fu' cannie
     The staff o' bread,
     May ye ne'er want a stoup o' bran'y
     To clear your head.

     May Boreas never thresh your rigs,
     Nor kick your rickles aff their legs,
     Sendin the stuff o'er muirs an' haggs
     Like drivin wrack;
     But may the tapmost grain that wags
     Come to the sack.

     I'm bizzie, too, an' skelpin at it,
     But bitter, daudin showers hae wat it;
     Sae my auld stumpie pen I gat it
     Wi' muckle wark,
     An' took my jocteleg an whatt it,
     Like ony clark.

     It's now twa month that I'm your debtor,
     For your braw, nameless, dateless letter,
     Abusin me for harsh ill-nature
     On holy men,
     While deil a hair yoursel' ye're better,
     But mair profane.

     But let the kirk-folk ring their bells,
     Let's sing about our noble sel's:
     We'll cry nae jads frae heathen hills
     To help, or roose us;
     But browster wives an' whisky stills,
     They are the muses.

     Your friendship, Sir, I winna quat it,
     An' if ye mak' objections at it,
     Then hand in neive some day we'll knot it,
     An' witness take,
     An' when wi' usquabae we've wat it
     It winna break.

     But if the beast an' branks be spar'd
     Till kye be gaun without the herd,
     And a' the vittel in the yard,
     An' theekit right,
     I mean your ingle-side to guard
     Ae winter night.

     Then muse-inspirin' aqua-vitae
     Shall make us baith sae blythe and witty,
     Till ye forget ye're auld an' gatty,
     An' be as canty
     As ye were nine years less than thretty—
     Sweet ane an' twenty!

     But stooks are cowpit wi' the blast,
     And now the sinn keeks in the west,
     Then I maun rin amang the rest,
     An' quat my chanter;
     Sae I subscribe myself' in haste,
     Yours, Rab the Ranter.




 

Epistle To The Rev. John M'math

     Sept. 13, 1785.

     Inclosing A Copy Of "Holy Willie's Prayer,"
     Which He Had Requested, Sept. 17, 1785

     While at the stook the shearers cow'r
     To shun the bitter blaudin' show'r,
     Or in gulravage rinnin scowr
     To pass the time,
     To you I dedicate the hour
     In idle rhyme.

     My musie, tir'd wi' mony a sonnet
     On gown, an' ban', an' douse black bonnet,
     Is grown right eerie now she's done it,
     Lest they should blame her,
     An' rouse their holy thunder on it
     An anathem her.

     I own 'twas rash, an' rather hardy,
     That I, a simple, country bardie,
     Should meddle wi' a pack sae sturdy,
     Wha, if they ken me,
     Can easy, wi' a single wordie,
     Lowse hell upon me.

     But I gae mad at their grimaces,
     Their sighin, cantin, grace-proud faces,
     Their three-mile prayers, an' half-mile graces,
     Their raxin conscience,
     Whase greed, revenge, an' pride disgraces
     Waur nor their nonsense.

     There's Gaw'n, misca'd waur than a beast,
     Wha has mair honour in his breast
     Than mony scores as guid's the priest
     Wha sae abus'd him:
     And may a bard no crack his jest
     What way they've us'd him?

     See him, the poor man's friend in need,
     The gentleman in word an' deed—
     An' shall his fame an' honour bleed
     By worthless, skellums,
     An' not a muse erect her head
     To cowe the blellums?

     O Pope, had I thy satire's darts
     To gie the rascals their deserts,
     I'd rip their rotten, hollow hearts,
     An' tell aloud
     Their jugglin hocus-pocus arts
     To cheat the crowd.

     God knows, I'm no the thing I should be,
     Nor am I even the thing I could be,
     But twenty times I rather would be
     An atheist clean,
     Than under gospel colours hid be
     Just for a screen.

     An honest man may like a glass,
     An honest man may like a lass,
     But mean revenge, an' malice fause
     He'll still disdain,
     An' then cry zeal for gospel laws,
     Like some we ken.

     They take religion in their mouth;
     They talk o' mercy, grace, an' truth,
     For what?—to gie their malice skouth
     On some puir wight,
     An' hunt him down, owre right and ruth,
     To ruin straight.

     All hail, Religion! maid divine!
     Pardon a muse sae mean as mine,
     Who in her rough imperfect line
     Thus daurs to name thee;
     To stigmatise false friends of thine
     Can ne'er defame thee.

     Tho' blotch't and foul wi' mony a stain,
     An' far unworthy of thy train,
     With trembling voice I tune my strain,
     To join with those
     Who boldly dare thy cause maintain
     In spite of foes:

     In spite o' crowds, in spite o' mobs,
     In spite o' undermining jobs,
     In spite o' dark banditti stabs
     At worth an' merit,
     By scoundrels, even wi' holy robes,
     But hellish spirit.

     O Ayr! my dear, my native ground,
     Within thy presbyterial bound
     A candid liberal band is found
     Of public teachers,
     As men, as Christians too, renown'd,
     An' manly preachers.

     Sir, in that circle you are nam'd;
     Sir, in that circle you are fam'd;
     An' some, by whom your doctrine's blam'd
     (Which gies you honour)
     Even, sir, by them your heart's esteem'd,
     An' winning manner.

     Pardon this freedom I have ta'en,
     An' if impertinent I've been,
     Impute it not, good Sir, in ane
     Whase heart ne'er wrang'd ye,
     But to his utmost would befriend
     Ought that belang'd ye.




 

Second Epistle to Davie

     A Brother Poet

     Auld Neibour,
     I'm three times doubly o'er your debtor,
     For your auld-farrant, frien'ly letter;
     Tho' I maun say't I doubt ye flatter,
     Ye speak sae fair;
     For my puir, silly, rhymin clatter
     Some less maun sair.

     Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle,
     Lang may your elbuck jink diddle,
     To cheer you thro' the weary widdle
     O' war'ly cares;
     Till barins' barins kindly cuddle
     Your auld grey hairs.

     But Davie, lad, I'm red ye're glaikit;
     I'm tauld the muse ye hae negleckit;
     An, gif it's sae, ye sud by lickit
     Until ye fyke;
     Sic haun's as you sud ne'er be faikit,
     Be hain't wha like.

     For me, I'm on Parnassus' brink,
     Rivin the words to gar them clink;
     Whiles dazed wi' love, whiles dazed wi' drink,
     Wi' jads or masons;
     An' whiles, but aye owre late, I think
     Braw sober lessons.

     Of a' the thoughtless sons o' man,
     Commen' to me the bardie clan;
     Except it be some idle plan
     O' rhymin clink,
     The devil haet,—that I sud ban—
     They ever think.

     Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o' livin,
     Nae cares to gie us joy or grievin,
     But just the pouchie put the neive in,
     An' while ought's there,
     Then, hiltie, skiltie, we gae scrievin',
     An' fash nae mair.

     Leeze me on rhyme! it's aye a treasure,
     My chief, amaist my only pleasure;
     At hame, a-fiel', at wark, or leisure,
     The Muse, poor hizzie!
     Tho' rough an' raploch be her measure,
     She's seldom lazy.

     Haud to the Muse, my daintie Davie:
     The warl' may play you mony a shavie;
     But for the Muse, she'll never leave ye,
     Tho' e'er sae puir,
     Na, even tho' limpin wi' the spavie
     Frae door tae door.




 

Song—Young Peggy Blooms

     Tune—"Loch Eroch-side."
     Young Peggy blooms our boniest lass,
     Her blush is like the morning,
     The rosy dawn, the springing grass,
     With early gems adorning.
     Her eyes outshine the radiant beams
     That gild the passing shower,
     And glitter o'er the crystal streams,
     And cheer each fresh'ning flower.

     Her lips, more than the cherries bright,
     A richer dye has graced them;
     They charm th' admiring gazer's sight,
     And sweetly tempt to taste them;
     Her smile is as the evening mild,
     When feather'd pairs are courting,
     And little lambkins wanton wild,
     In playful bands disporting.

     Were Fortune lovely Peggy's foe,
     Such sweetness would relent her;
     As blooming spring unbends the brow
     Of surly, savage Winter.
     Detraction's eye no aim can gain,
     Her winning pow'rs to lessen;
     And fretful Envy grins in vain
     The poison'd tooth to fasten.

     Ye Pow'rs of Honour, Love, and Truth,
     From ev'ry ill defend her!
     Inspire the highly-favour'd youth
     The destinies intend her:
     Still fan the sweet connubial flame
     Responsive in each bosom;
     And bless the dear parental name
     With many a filial blossom.




 

Song—Farewell To Ballochmyle

     Tune—"Miss Forbe's farewell to Banff."
     The Catrine woods were yellow seen,
     The flowers decay'd on Catrine lee,
     Nae lav'rock sang on hillock green,
     But nature sicken'd on the e'e.
     Thro' faded groves Maria sang,
     Hersel' in beauty's bloom the while;
     And aye the wild-wood ehoes rang,
     Fareweel the braes o' Ballochmyle!

     Low in your wintry beds, ye flowers,
     Again ye'll flourish fresh and fair;
     Ye birdies dumb, in with'ring bowers,
     Again ye'll charm the vocal air.
     But here, alas! for me nae mair
     Shall birdie charm, or floweret smile;
     Fareweel the bonie banks of Ayr,
     Fareweel, fareweel! sweet Ballochmyle!




 

Fragment—Her Flowing Locks

     Her flowing locks, the raven's wing,
     Adown her neck and bosom hing;
     How sweet unto that breast to cling,
     And round that neck entwine her!

     Her lips are roses wat wi' dew,
     O' what a feast her bonie mou'!
     Her cheeks a mair celestial hue,
     A crimson still diviner!




 

Halloween

     [Footnote 1: Is thought to be a night when witches, devils,
     and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful
     midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the
     fairies, are said on that night to hold a grand
     anniversary,.—R.B.]

The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood; but for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added to give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such honour the author with a perusal, to see the remains of it among the more unenlightened in our own.—R.B.

     Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
     The simple pleasure of the lowly train;
     To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
     One native charm, than all the gloss of art.—Goldsmith.

     Upon that night, when fairies light
     On Cassilis Downans^2 dance,
     Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
     On sprightly coursers prance;
     Or for Colean the rout is ta'en,
     Beneath the moon's pale beams;
     There, up the Cove,^3 to stray an' rove,
     Amang the rocks and streams
     To sport that night;

     

     [Footnote 3: A noted cavern near Colean house, called the
     Cove of Colean; which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is
     famed, in country story, for being a favorite haunt of
     fairies.—R.B.]

     Amang the bonie winding banks,
     Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear;
     Where Bruce^4 ance rul'd the martial ranks,
     An' shook his Carrick spear;
     Some merry, friendly, countra-folks
     Together did convene,
     To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
     An' haud their Halloween
     Fu' blythe that night.

     
     The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat,
     Mair braw than when they're fine;
     Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe,
     Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin':
     The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs
     Weel-knotted on their garten;
     Some unco blate, an' some wi' gabs
     Gar lasses' hearts gang startin
     Whiles fast at night.

     Then, first an' foremost, thro' the kail,
     Their stocks^5 maun a' be sought ance;

    
     They steek their een, and grape an' wale
     For muckle anes, an' straught anes.
     Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
     An' wandered thro' the bow-kail,
     An' pou't for want o' better shift
     A runt was like a sow-tail
     Sae bow't that night.

     Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
     They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
     The vera wee-things, toddlin, rin,
     Wi' stocks out owre their shouther:
     An' gif the custock's sweet or sour,
     Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
     Syne coziely, aboon the door,
     Wi' cannie care, they've plac'd them
     To lie that night.

     The lassies staw frae 'mang them a',
     To pou their stalks o' corn;^6
     But Rab slips out, an' jinks about,
     Behint the muckle thorn:
     He grippit Nelly hard and fast:
     Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
     But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
     Whan kiutlin in the fause-house^7
     Wi' him that night.

     [Footnote 6: They go to the barnyard, and pull each, at
     three different times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk
     wants the "top-pickle," that is, the grain at the top of the
     stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed
     anything but a maid.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 7: When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being
     too green or wet, the stack-builder, by means of old timber,
     etc., makes a large apartment in his stack, with an opening
     in the side which is fairest exposed to the wind: this he
     calls a "fause-house."—R.B.]

     The auld guid-wife's weel-hoordit nits^8
     Are round an' round dividend,
     An' mony lads an' lasses' fates
     Are there that night decided:
     Some kindle couthie side by side,
     And burn thegither trimly;
     Some start awa wi' saucy pride,
     An' jump out owre the chimlie
     Fu' high that night.

     [Footnote 8: Burning the nuts is a favorite charm. They name
     the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in
     the fire; and according as they burn quietly together, or
     start from beside one another, the course and issue of the
     courtship will be.—R.B.]

     Jean slips in twa, wi' tentie e'e;
     Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
     But this is Jock, an' this is me,
     She says in to hersel':
     He bleez'd owre her, an' she owre him,
     As they wad never mair part:
     Till fuff! he started up the lum,
     An' Jean had e'en a sair heart
     To see't that night.

     Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
     Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
     An' Mary, nae doubt, took the drunt,
     To be compar'd to Willie:
     Mall's nit lap out, wi' pridefu' fling,
     An' her ain fit, it brunt it;
     While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
     'Twas just the way he wanted
     To be that night.

     Nell had the fause-house in her min',
     She pits hersel an' Rob in;
     In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
     Till white in ase they're sobbin:
     Nell's heart was dancin at the view;
     She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
     Rob, stownlins, prie'd her bonie mou',
     Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
     Unseen that night.

     But Merran sat behint their backs,
     Her thoughts on Andrew Bell:
     She lea'es them gashin at their cracks,
     An' slips out—by hersel';
     She thro' the yard the nearest taks,
     An' for the kiln she goes then,
     An' darklins grapit for the bauks,
     And in the blue-clue^9 throws then,
     Right fear't that night.

     [Footnote 9: Whoever would, with success, try this spell,
     must strictly observe these directions: Steal out, all
     alone, to the kiln, and darkling, throw into the "pot" a
     clue of blue yarn; wind it in a new clue off the old one;
     and, toward the latter end, something will hold the thread:
     demand, "Wha hauds?" i.e., who holds? and answer will be
     returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and
     surname of your future spouse.—R.B.]

     An' ay she win't, an' ay she swat—
     I wat she made nae jaukin;
     Till something held within the pat,
     Good Lord! but she was quaukin!
     But whether 'twas the deil himsel,
     Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
     Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
     She did na wait on talkin
     To spier that night.

     Wee Jenny to her graunie says,
     "Will ye go wi' me, graunie?
     I'll eat the apple at the glass,^10
     I gat frae uncle Johnie:"
     She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
     In wrath she was sae vap'rin,
     She notic't na an aizle brunt
     Her braw, new, worset apron
     Out thro' that night.

     [Footnote 10: Take a candle and go alone to a looking-glass;
     eat an apple before it, and some traditions say you should
     comb your hair all the time; the face of your conjungal
     companion, to be, will be seen in the glass, as if peeping
     over your shoulder.—R.B.]

     "Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
     I daur you try sic sportin,
     As seek the foul thief ony place,
     For him to spae your fortune:
     Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
     Great cause ye hae to fear it;
     For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
     An' liv'd an' died deleerit,
     On sic a night.

     "Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,
     I mind't as weel's yestreen—
     I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
     I was na past fyfteen:
     The simmer had been cauld an' wat,
     An' stuff was unco green;
     An' eye a rantin kirn we gat,
     An' just on Halloween
     It fell that night.

     "Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
     A clever, sturdy fallow;
     His sin gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
     That lived in Achmacalla:
     He gat hemp-seed,^11 I mind it weel,
     An'he made unco light o't;
     But mony a day was by himsel',
     He was sae sairly frighted
     That vera night."

     [Footnote 11: Steal out, unperceived, and sow a handful of
     hemp-seed, harrowing it with anything you can conveniently
     draw after you. Repeat now and then: "Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
     hemp-seed, I saw thee; and him (or her) that is to be my
     true love, come after me and pou thee." Look over your left
     shoulder, and you will see the appearance of the person
     invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Some traditions
     say, "Come after me and shaw thee," that is, show thyself;
     in which case, it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing,
     and say: "Come after me and harrow thee."—R.B.]

     Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,
     An' he swoor by his conscience,
     That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
     For it was a' but nonsense:
     The auld guidman raught down the pock,
     An' out a handfu' gied him;
     Syne bad him slip frae' mang the folk,
     Sometime when nae ane see'd him,
     An' try't that night.

     He marches thro' amang the stacks,
     Tho' he was something sturtin;
     The graip he for a harrow taks,
     An' haurls at his curpin:
     And ev'ry now an' then, he says,
     "Hemp-seed I saw thee,
     An' her that is to be my lass
     Come after me, an' draw thee
     As fast this night."

     He wistl'd up Lord Lennox' March
     To keep his courage cherry;
     Altho' his hair began to arch,
     He was sae fley'd an' eerie:
     Till presently he hears a squeak,
     An' then a grane an' gruntle;
     He by his shouther gae a keek,
     An' tumbled wi' a wintle
     Out-owre that night.

     He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
     In dreadfu' desperation!
     An' young an' auld come rinnin out,
     An' hear the sad narration:
     He swoor 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
     Or crouchie Merran Humphie—
     Till stop! she trotted thro' them a';
     And wha was it but grumphie
     Asteer that night!

     Meg fain wad to the barn gaen,
     To winn three wechts o' naething;^12
     But for to meet the deil her lane,
     She pat but little faith in:

     [Footnote 12: This charm must likewise be performed
     unperceived and alone. You go to the barn, and open both
     doors, taking them off the hinges, if possible; for there is
     danger that the being about to appear may shut the doors,
     and do you some mischief. Then take that instrument used in
     winnowing the corn, which in our country dialect we call a
     "wecht," and go through all the attitudes of letting down
     corn against the wind. Repeat it three times, and the third
     time an apparition will pass through the barn, in at the
     windy door and out at the other, having both the figure in
     question, and the appearance or retinue, marking the
     employment or station in life.—R.B.]

     She gies the herd a pickle nits,
     An' twa red cheekit apples,
     To watch, while for the barn she sets,
     In hopes to see Tam Kipples
     That vera night.

     She turns the key wi' cannie thraw,
     An'owre the threshold ventures;
     But first on Sawnie gies a ca',
     Syne baudly in she enters:
     A ratton rattl'd up the wa',
     An' she cry'd Lord preserve her!
     An' ran thro' midden-hole an' a',
     An' pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
     Fu' fast that night.

     They hoy't out Will, wi' sair advice;
     They hecht him some fine braw ane;
     It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice^13
     Was timmer-propt for thrawin:
     He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak
     For some black, grousome carlin;
     An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
     Till skin in blypes cam haurlin
     Aff's nieves that night.

     [Footnote 13: Take an opportunity of going unnoticed to a
     "bear-stack," and fathom it three times round. The last
     fathom of the last time you will catch in your arms the
     appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow.—R.B.]

     A wanton widow Leezie was,
     As cantie as a kittlen;
     But och! that night, amang the shaws,
     She gat a fearfu' settlin!
     She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
     An' owre the hill gaed scrievin;
     Whare three lairds' lan's met at a burn,^14
     To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
     Was bent that night.

     [Footnote 14: You go out, one or more (for this is a social
     spell), to a south running spring, or rivulet, where "three
     lairds' lands meet," and dip your left shirt sleeve. Go to
     bed in sight of a fire, and hang your wet sleeve before it
     to dry. Lie awake, and, some time near midnight, an
     apparition, having the exact figure of the grand object in
     question, will come and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the
     other side of it.—R.B.]

     Whiles owre a linn the burnie plays,
     As thro' the glen it wimpl't;
     Whiles round a rocky scar it strays,
     Whiles in a wiel it dimpl't;
     Whiles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
     Wi' bickerin', dancin' dazzle;
     Whiles cookit undeneath the braes,
     Below the spreading hazel
     Unseen that night.

     Amang the brachens, on the brae,
     Between her an' the moon,
     The deil, or else an outler quey,
     Gat up an' ga'e a croon:
     Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool;
     Near lav'rock-height she jumpit,
     But mist a fit, an' in the pool
     Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
     Wi' a plunge that night.

     In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
     The luggies^15 three are ranged;
     An' ev'ry time great care is ta'en
     To see them duly changed:
     Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
     Sin' Mar's-year did desire,
     Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
     He heav'd them on the fire
     In wrath that night.

     [Footnote 15: Take three dishes, put clean water in one,
     foul water in another, and leave the third empty; blindfold
     a person and lead him to the hearth where the dishes are
     ranged; he (or she) dips the left hand; if by chance in the
     clean water, the future (husband or) wife will come to the
     bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the
     empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage
     at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the
     arrangement of the dishes is altered.—R.B.]

     Wi' merry sangs, an' friendly cracks,
     I wat they did na weary;
     And unco tales, an' funnie jokes—
     Their sports were cheap an' cheery:
     Till butter'd sowens,^16 wi' fragrant lunt,

     [Footnote 16: Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them,
     is always the Halloween Supper.—R.B.]

     Set a' their gabs a-steerin;
     Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
     They parted aff careerin
     Fu' blythe that night.




 

To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough, November, 1785

     Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
     O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
     Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
     Wi' bickering brattle!
     I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
     Wi' murd'ring pattle!

     I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
     Has broken nature's social union,
     An' justifies that ill opinion,
     Which makes thee startle
     At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
     An' fellow-mortal!

     I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
     What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
     A daimen icker in a thrave
     'S a sma' request;
     I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
     An' never miss't!

     Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
     It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
     An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
     O' foggage green!
     An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
     Baith snell an' keen!

     Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
     An' weary winter comin fast,
     An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
     Thou thought to dwell—
     Till crash! the cruel coulter past
     Out thro' thy cell.

     That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
     Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
     Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
     But house or hald,
     To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
     An' cranreuch cauld!

     But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
     In proving foresight may be vain;
     The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
     Gang aft agley,
     An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
     For promis'd joy!

     Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
     The present only toucheth thee:
     But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
     On prospects drear!
     An' forward, tho' I canna see,
     I guess an' fear!




 

Epitaph On John Dove, Innkeeper

     Here lies Johnie Pigeon;
     What was his religion?
     Whae'er desires to ken,
     To some other warl'
     Maun follow the carl,
     For here Johnie Pigeon had nane!

     Strong ale was ablution,
     Small beer persecution,
     A dram was memento mori;
     But a full-flowing bowl
     Was the saving his soul,
     And port was celestial glory.




 

Epitaph For James Smith

     Lament him, Mauchline husbands a',
     He aften did assist ye;
     For had ye staid hale weeks awa,
     Your wives they ne'er had miss'd ye.

     Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press
     To school in bands thegither,
     O tread ye lightly on his grass,—
     Perhaps he was your father!




 

Adam Armour's Prayer

     Gude pity me, because I'm little!
     For though I am an elf o' mettle,
     An' can, like ony wabster's shuttle,
     Jink there or here,
     Yet, scarce as lang's a gude kail-whittle,
     I'm unco queer.

     An' now Thou kens our waefu' case;
     For Geordie's jurr we're in disgrace,
     Because we stang'd her through the place,
     An' hurt her spleuchan;
     For whilk we daurna show our face
     Within the clachan.

     An' now we're dern'd in dens and hollows,
     And hunted, as was William Wallace,
     Wi' constables-thae blackguard fallows,
     An' sodgers baith;
     But Gude preserve us frae the gallows,
     That shamefu' death!

     Auld grim black-bearded Geordie's sel'—
     O shake him owre the mouth o' hell!
     There let him hing, an' roar, an' yell
     Wi' hideous din,
     And if he offers to rebel,
     Then heave him in.

     When Death comes in wi' glimmerin blink,
     An' tips auld drucken Nanse the wink,
     May Sautan gie her doup a clink
     Within his yett,
     An' fill her up wi' brimstone drink,
     Red-reekin het.

     Though Jock an' hav'rel Jean are merry—
     Some devil seize them in a hurry,
     An' waft them in th' infernal wherry
     Straught through the lake,
     An' gie their hides a noble curry
     Wi' oil of aik!

     As for the jurr-puir worthless body!
     She's got mischief enough already;
     Wi' stanged hips, and buttocks bluidy
     She's suffer'd sair;
     But, may she wintle in a woody,
     If she wh-e mair!




 

The Jolly Beggars: A Cantata

     [Footnote 1: Not published by Burns.]

     Recitativo

     When lyart leaves bestrow the yird,
     Or wavering like the bauckie-bird,
     Bedim cauld Boreas' blast;
     When hailstanes drive wi' bitter skyte,
     And infant frosts begin to bite,
     In hoary cranreuch drest;
     Ae night at e'en a merry core
     O' randie, gangrel bodies,
     In Poosie-Nansie's held the splore,
     To drink their orra duddies;
     Wi' quaffing an' laughing,
     They ranted an' they sang,
     Wi' jumping an' thumping,
     The vera girdle rang,

     First, neist the fire, in auld red rags,
     Ane sat, weel brac'd wi' mealy bags,

     And knapsack a' in order;
     His doxy lay within his arm;
     Wi' usquebae an' blankets warm
     She blinkit on her sodger;
     An' aye he gies the tozie drab
     The tither skelpin' kiss,
     While she held up her greedy gab,
     Just like an aumous dish;
     Ilk smack still, did crack still,
     Just like a cadger's whip;
     Then staggering an' swaggering
     He roar'd this ditty up—
     Air

     Tune—"Soldier's Joy."
     I am a son of Mars who have been in many wars,
     And show my cuts and scars wherever I come;
     This here was for a wench, and that other in a trench,
     When welcoming the French at the sound of the drum.
     Lal de daudle, &c.

     My 'prenticeship I past where my leader breath'd his last,
     When the bloody die was cast on the heights of Abram:
     and I served out my trade when the gallant game was play'd,
     And the Morro low was laid at the sound of the drum.

     I lastly was with Curtis among the floating batt'ries,
     And there I left for witness an arm and a limb;
     Yet let my country need me, with Elliot to head me,
     I'd clatter on my stumps at the sound of a drum.

     And now tho' I must beg, with a wooden arm and leg,
     And many a tatter'd rag hanging over my bum,
     I'm as happy with my wallet, my bottle, and my callet,
     As when I used in scarlet to follow a drum.

     What tho' with hoary locks, I must stand the winter shocks,
     Beneath the woods and rocks oftentimes for a home,
     When the t'other bag I sell, and the t'other bottle tell,
     I could meet a troop of hell, at the sound of a drum.
     Recitativo

     He ended; and the kebars sheuk,
     Aboon the chorus roar;
     While frighted rattons backward leuk,
     An' seek the benmost bore:
     A fairy fiddler frae the neuk,
     He skirl'd out, encore!
     But up arose the martial chuck,
     An' laid the loud uproar.
     Air

     Tune—"Sodger Laddie."
     I once was a maid, tho' I cannot tell when,
     And still my delight is in proper young men;
     Some one of a troop of dragoons was my daddie,
     No wonder I'm fond of a sodger laddie,
     Sing, lal de lal, &c.

     The first of my loves was a swaggering blade,
     To rattle the thundering drum was his trade;
     His leg was so tight, and his cheek was so ruddy,
     Transported I was with my sodger laddie.

     But the godly old chaplain left him in the lurch;
     The sword I forsook for the sake of the church:
     He ventur'd the soul, and I risked the body,
     'Twas then I proved false to my sodger laddie.

     Full soon I grew sick of my sanctified sot,
     The regiment at large for a husband I got;
     From the gilded spontoon to the fife I was ready,
     I asked no more but a sodger laddie.

     But the peace it reduc'd me to beg in despair,
     Till I met old boy in a Cunningham fair,
     His rags regimental, they flutter'd so gaudy,
     My heart it rejoic'd at a sodger laddie.

     And now I have liv'd—I know not how long,
     And still I can join in a cup and a song;
     But whilst with both hands I can hold the glass steady,
     Here's to thee, my hero, my sodger laddie.
     Recitativo

     Poor Merry-Andrew, in the neuk,
     Sat guzzling wi' a tinkler-hizzie;
     They mind't na wha the chorus teuk,
     Between themselves they were sae busy:
     At length, wi' drink an' courting dizzy,
     He stoiter'd up an' made a face;
     Then turn'd an' laid a smack on Grizzie,
     Syne tun'd his pipes wi' grave grimace.
     Air

     Tune—"Auld Sir Symon."
     Sir Wisdom's a fool when he's fou;
     Sir Knave is a fool in a session;
     He's there but a 'prentice I trow,
     But I am a fool by profession.

     My grannie she bought me a beuk,
     An' I held awa to the school;
     I fear I my talent misteuk,
     But what will ye hae of a fool?

     For drink I would venture my neck;
     A hizzie's the half of my craft;
     But what could ye other expect
     Of ane that's avowedly daft?

     I ance was tied up like a stirk,
     For civilly swearing and quaffin;
     I ance was abus'd i' the kirk,
     For towsing a lass i' my daffin.

     Poor Andrew that tumbles for sport,
     Let naebody name wi' a jeer;
     There's even, I'm tauld, i' the Court
     A tumbler ca'd the Premier.

     Observ'd ye yon reverend lad
     Mak faces to tickle the mob;
     He rails at our mountebank squad,—
     It's rivalship just i' the job.

     And now my conclusion I'll tell,
     For faith I'm confoundedly dry;
     The chiel that's a fool for himsel',
     Guid Lord! he's far dafter than I.
     Recitativo

     Then niest outspak a raucle carlin,
     Wha kent fu' weel to cleek the sterlin;
     For mony a pursie she had hooked,
     An' had in mony a well been douked;
     Her love had been a Highland laddie,
     But weary fa' the waefu' woodie!
     Wi' sighs an' sobs she thus began
     To wail her braw John Highlandman.
     Air

     Tune—"O, an ye were dead, Guidman."
     A Highland lad my love was born,
     The Lalland laws he held in scorn;
     But he still was faithfu' to his clan,
     My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
     Chorus

     Sing hey my braw John Highlandman!
     Sing ho my braw John Highlandman!
     There's not a lad in a' the lan'
     Was match for my John Highlandman.

     With his philibeg an' tartan plaid,
     An' guid claymore down by his side,
     The ladies' hearts he did trepan,
     My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
     Sing hey, &c.

     We ranged a' from Tweed to Spey,
     An' liv'd like lords an' ladies gay;
     For a Lalland face he feared none,—
     My gallant, braw John Highlandman.
     Sing hey, &c.

     They banish'd him beyond the sea.
     But ere the bud was on the tree,
     Adown my cheeks the pearls ran,
     Embracing my John Highlandman.
     Sing hey, &c.

     But, och! they catch'd him at the last,
     And bound him in a dungeon fast:
     My curse upon them every one,
     They've hang'd my braw John Highlandman!
     Sing hey, &c.

     And now a widow, I must mourn
     The pleasures that will ne'er return:
     The comfort but a hearty can,
     When I think on John Highlandman.
     Sing hey, &c.
     Recitativo

     A pigmy scraper wi' his fiddle,
     Wha us'd at trystes an' fairs to driddle.
     Her strappin limb and gausy middle
     (He reach'd nae higher)
     Had hol'd his heartie like a riddle,
     An' blawn't on fire.

     Wi' hand on hainch, and upward e'e,
     He croon'd his gamut, one, two, three,
     Then in an arioso key,
     The wee Apoll
     Set off wi' allegretto glee
     His giga solo.
     Air

     Tune—"Whistle owre the lave o't."
     Let me ryke up to dight that tear,
     An' go wi' me an' be my dear;
     An' then your every care an' fear
     May whistle owre the lave o't.
     Chorus

     I am a fiddler to my trade,
     An' a' the tunes that e'er I played,
     The sweetest still to wife or maid,
     Was whistle owre the lave o't.

     At kirns an' weddins we'se be there,
     An' O sae nicely's we will fare!
     We'll bowse about till Daddie Care
     Sing whistle owre the lave o't.
     I am, &c.

     Sae merrily's the banes we'll pyke,
     An' sun oursel's about the dyke;
     An' at our leisure, when ye like,
     We'll whistle owre the lave o't.
     I am, &c.

     But bless me wi' your heav'n o' charms,
     An' while I kittle hair on thairms,
     Hunger, cauld, an' a' sic harms,
     May whistle owre the lave o't.
     I am, &c.
     Recitativo

     Her charms had struck a sturdy caird,
     As weel as poor gut-scraper;
     He taks the fiddler by the beard,
     An' draws a roosty rapier—
     He swoor, by a' was swearing worth,
     To speet him like a pliver,
     Unless he would from that time forth
     Relinquish her for ever.

     Wi' ghastly e'e poor tweedle-dee
     Upon his hunkers bended,
     An' pray'd for grace wi' ruefu' face,
     An' so the quarrel ended.
     But tho' his little heart did grieve
     When round the tinkler prest her,
     He feign'd to snirtle in his sleeve,
     When thus the caird address'd her:
     Air

     Tune—"Clout the Cauldron."
     My bonie lass, I work in brass,
     A tinkler is my station:
     I've travell'd round all Christian ground
     In this my occupation;
     I've taen the gold, an' been enrolled
     In many a noble squadron;
     But vain they search'd when off I march'd
     To go an' clout the cauldron.
     I've taen the gold, &c.

     Despise that shrimp, that wither'd imp,
     With a' his noise an' cap'rin;
     An' take a share with those that bear
     The budget and the apron!
     And by that stowp! my faith an' houp,
     And by that dear Kilbaigie,^1
     If e'er ye want, or meet wi' scant,
     May I ne'er weet my craigie.
     And by that stowp, &c.

     [Footnote 1: A peculiar sort of whisky so called,
      a great favorite with Poosie Nansie's clubs.—R.B.]
     Recitativo

     The caird prevail'd—th' unblushing fair
     In his embraces sunk;
     Partly wi' love o'ercome sae sair,
     An' partly she was drunk:
     Sir Violino, with an air
     That show'd a man o' spunk,
     Wish'd unison between the pair,
     An' made the bottle clunk
     To their health that night.

     But hurchin Cupid shot a shaft,
     That play'd a dame a shavie—
     The fiddler rak'd her, fore and aft,
     Behint the chicken cavie.
     Her lord, a wight of Homer's craft,^2
     Tho' limpin wi' the spavie,
     He hirpl'd up, an' lap like daft,
     An' shor'd them Dainty Davie.
     O' boot that night.

     He was a care-defying blade
     As ever Bacchus listed!
     Tho' Fortune sair upon him laid,
     His heart, she ever miss'd it.
     He had no wish but—to be glad,
     Nor want but—when he thirsted;
     He hated nought but—to be sad,
     An' thus the muse suggested
     His sang that night.
     Air

     Tune—"For a' that, an' a' that."
     I am a Bard of no regard,
     Wi' gentle folks an' a' that;
     But Homer-like, the glowrin byke,
     Frae town to town I draw that.
     Chorus

     For a' that, an' a' that,
     An' twice as muckle's a' that;
     I've lost but ane, I've twa behin',
     I've wife eneugh for a' that.

     [Footnote 2: Homer is allowed to be the
      oldest ballad-singer on record.—R.B.]

     I never drank the Muses' stank,
     Castalia's burn, an' a' that;
     But there it streams an' richly reams,
     My Helicon I ca' that.
     For a' that, &c.

     Great love Idbear to a' the fair,
     Their humble slave an' a' that;
     But lordly will, I hold it still
     A mortal sin to thraw that.
     For a' that, &c.

     In raptures sweet, this hour we meet,
     Wi' mutual love an' a' that;
     But for how lang the flie may stang,
     Let inclination law that.
     For a' that, &c.

     Their tricks an' craft hae put me daft,
     They've taen me in, an' a' that;
     But clear your decks, and here's—"The Sex!"
     I like the jads for a' that.
     Chorus

     For a' that, an' a' that,
     An' twice as muckle's a' that;
     My dearest bluid, to do them guid,
     They're welcome till't for a' that.
     Recitativo

     So sang the bard—and Nansie's wa's
     Shook with a thunder of applause,
     Re-echo'd from each mouth!
     They toom'd their pocks, they pawn'd their duds,
     They scarcely left to co'er their fuds,
     To quench their lowin drouth:
     Then owre again, the jovial thrang
     The poet did request
     To lowse his pack an' wale a sang,
     A ballad o' the best;
     He rising, rejoicing,
     Between his twa Deborahs,
     Looks round him, an' found them
     Impatient for the chorus.
     Air

     Tune—"Jolly Mortals, fill your Glasses."
     See the smoking bowl before us,
     Mark our jovial ragged ring!
     Round and round take up the chorus,
     And in raptures let us sing—
     Chorus

     A fig for those by law protected!
     Liberty's a glorious feast!
     Courts for cowards were erected,
     Churches built to please the priest.

     What is title, what is treasure,
     What is reputation's care?
     If we lead a life of pleasure,
     'Tis no matter how or where!
     A fig for, &c.

     With the ready trick and fable,
     Round we wander all the day;
     And at night in barn or stable,
     Hug our doxies on the hay.
     A fig for, &c.

     Does the train-attended carriage
     Thro' the country lighter rove?
     Does the sober bed of marriage
     Witness brighter scenes of love?
     A fig for, &c.

     Life is al a variorum,
     We regard not how it goes;
     Let them cant about decorum,
     Who have character to lose.
     A fig for, &c.

     Here's to budgets, bags and wallets!
     Here's to all the wandering train.
     Here's our ragged brats and callets,
     One and all cry out, Amen!
     Chorus

     A fig for those by law protected!
     Liberty's a glorious feast!
     Courts for cowards were erected,
     Churches built to please the priest.




 

Song—For A' That

     Tune—"For a' that."
     Tho' women's minds, like winter winds,
     May shift, and turn, an' a' that,
     The noblest breast adores them maist—
     A consequence I draw that.
     Chorus

     For a' that, an' a' that,
     And twice as meikle's a' that;
     The bonie lass that I loe best
     She'll be my ain for a' that.

     Great love I bear to a' the fair,
     Their humble slave, an' a' that;
     But lordly will, I hold it still
     A mortal sin to thraw that.
     For a' that, &c.

     But there is ane aboon the lave,
     Has wit, and sense, an' a' that;
     A bonie lass, I like her best,
     And wha a crime dare ca' that?
     For a' that, &c.

     In rapture sweet this hour we meet,
     Wi' mutual love an' a' that,

     [Footnote 1: A later version of "I am a bard
      of no regard" in "The Jolly Beggars."]

     But for how lang the flie may stang,
     Let inclination law that.
     For a' that, &c.

     Their tricks an' craft hae put me daft.
     They've taen me in, an' a' that;
     But clear your decks, and here's—"The Sex!"
     I like the jads for a' that.
     For a' that, &c.




 

Song—Merry Hae I Been Teethin A Heckle

     Tune—"The bob O' Dumblane."
     O Merry hae I been teethin' a heckle,
     An' merry hae I been shapin' a spoon;
     O merry hae I been cloutin' a kettle,
     An' kissin' my Katie when a' was done.
     O a' the lang day I ca' at my hammer,
     An' a' the lang day I whistle and sing;
     O a' the lang night I cuddle my kimmer,
     An' a' the lang night as happy's a king.

     Bitter in idol I lickit my winnins
     O' marrying Bess, to gie her a slave:
     Blest be the hour she cool'd in her linnens,
     And blythe be the bird that sings on her grave!
     Come to my arms, my Katie, my Katie;
     O come to my arms and kiss me again!
     Drucken or sober, here's to thee, Katie!
     An' blest be the day I did it again.




 

The Cotter's Saturday Night

     Inscribed to R. Aiken, Esq., of Ayr.

     Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
     Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
     Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
     The short and simple annals of the Poor.
     Gray.

     My lov'd, my honour'd, much respected friend!
     No mercenary bard his homage pays;
     With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end,
     My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise:
     To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
     The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene,
     The native feelings strong, the guileless ways,
     What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
     Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there I ween!

     November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
     The short'ning winter-day is near a close;
     The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;
     The black'ning trains o' craws to their repose:
     The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,—
     This night his weekly moil is at an end,
     Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
     Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
     And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.

     At length his lonely cot appears in view,
     Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
     Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through
     To meet their dead, wi' flichterin noise and glee.
     His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
     His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile,
     The lisping infant, prattling on his knee,
     Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
     And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.

     Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
     At service out, amang the farmers roun';
     Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
     A cannie errand to a neibor town:
     Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
     In youthfu' bloom-love sparkling in her e'e—
     Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown,
     Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,
     To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.

     With joy unfeign'd, brothers and sisters meet,
     And each for other's weelfare kindly speirs:
     The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnotic'd fleet:
     Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.
     The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
     Anticipation forward points the view;
     The mother, wi' her needle and her shears,
     Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;
     The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.

     Their master's and their mistress' command,
     The younkers a' are warned to obey;
     And mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
     And ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play;
     "And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
     And mind your duty, duly, morn and night;
     Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
     Implore His counsel and assisting might:
     They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright."

     But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
     Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
     Tells how a neibor lad came o'er the moor,
     To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
     The wily mother sees the conscious flame
     Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek;
     With heart-struck anxious care, enquires his name,
     While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
     Weel-pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild, worthless rake.

     Wi' kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;
     A strappin youth, he takes the mother's eye;
     Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;
     The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
     The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,
     But blate an' laithfu', scarce can weel behave;
     The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy
     What makes the youth sae bashfu' and sae grave,
     Weel-pleas'd to think her bairn's respected like the lave.

     O happy love! where love like this is found:
     O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
     I've paced much this weary, mortal round,
     And sage experience bids me this declare,—
     "If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare—
     One cordial in this melancholy vale,
     'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
     In other'sarms, breathe out the tender tale,
     Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale."

     Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,
     A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
     That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
     Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
     Curse on his perjur'd arts! dissembling smooth!
     Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil'd?
     Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
     Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
     Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction wild?

     But now the supper crowns their simple board,
     The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food;
     The sowp their only hawkie does afford,
     That, 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood:
     The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
     To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd kebbuck, fell;
     And aft he's prest, and aft he ca's it guid:
     The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell
     How t'was a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell.

     The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
     They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
     The sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace,
     The big ha'bible, ance his father's pride:
     His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
     His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
     Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
     He wales a portion with judicious care;
     And "Let us worship God!" he says with solemn air.

     They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
     They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
     Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise;
     Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
     Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;
     The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
     Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
     The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
     Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.

     The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
     How Abram was the friend of God on high;
     Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
     With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
     Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
     Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
     Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
     Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
     Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

     Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
     How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
     How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
     Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
     How His first followers and servants sped;
     The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
     How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
     Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
     And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's command.

     Then, kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
     The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
     Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"^1
     That thus they all shall meet in future days,
     There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
     No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
     Together hymning their Creator's praise,
     In such society, yet still more dear;
     While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere

     Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride,
     In all the pomp of method, and of art;
     When men display to congregations wide

     [Footnote 1: Pope's "Windsor Forest."—R.B.]

     Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!
     The Power, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
     The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
     But haply, in some cottage far apart,
     May hear, well-pleas'd, the language of the soul;
     And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.

     Then homeward all take off their sev'ral way;
     The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
     The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
     And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,
     That he who stills the raven's clam'rous nest,
     And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride,
     Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
     For them and for their little ones provide;
     But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.

     From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs,
     That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
     Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
     "An honest man's the noblest work of God;"
     And certes, in fair virtue's heavenly road,
     The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
     What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load,
     Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
     Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin'd!

     O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
     For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
     Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
     Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
     And O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
     From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
     Then howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
     A virtuous populace may rise the while,
     And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov'd isle.

     O Thou! who pour'd the patriotic tide,
     That stream'd thro' Wallace's undaunted heart,
     Who dar'd to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
     Or nobly die, the second glorious part:
     (The patriot's God peculiarly thou art,
     His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
     O never, never Scotia's realm desert;
     But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard
     In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!




 

Address To The Deil

     O Prince! O chief of many throned Pow'rs
     That led th' embattl'd Seraphim to war—
     Milton.

     O Thou! whatever title suit thee—
     Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie,
     Wha in yon cavern grim an' sootie,
     Clos'd under hatches,
     Spairges about the brunstane cootie,
     To scaud poor wretches!

     Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,
     An' let poor damned bodies be;
     I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
     Ev'n to a deil,
     To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me,
     An' hear us squeel!

     Great is thy pow'r an' great thy fame;
     Far ken'd an' noted is thy name;
     An' tho' yon lowin' heuch's thy hame,
     Thou travels far;
     An' faith! thou's neither lag nor lame,
     Nor blate, nor scaur.

     Whiles, ranging like a roarin lion,
     For prey, a' holes and corners tryin;
     Whiles, on the strong-wind'd tempest flyin,
     Tirlin the kirks;
     Whiles, in the human bosom pryin,
     Unseen thou lurks.

     I've heard my rev'rend graunie say,
     In lanely glens ye like to stray;
     Or where auld ruin'd castles grey
     Nod to the moon,
     Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way,
     Wi' eldritch croon.

     When twilight did my graunie summon,
     To say her pray'rs, douse, honest woman!
     Aft'yont the dyke she's heard you bummin,
     Wi' eerie drone;
     Or, rustlin, thro' the boortrees comin,
     Wi' heavy groan.

     Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
     The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
     Wi' you, mysel' I gat a fright,
     Ayont the lough;
     Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,
     Wi' wavin' sough.

     The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
     Each brist'ld hair stood like a stake,
     When wi' an eldritch, stoor "quaick, quaick,"
     Amang the springs,
     Awa ye squatter'd like a drake,
     On whistlin' wings.

     Let warlocks grim, an' wither'd hags,
     Tell how wi' you, on ragweed nags,
     They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags,
     Wi' wicked speed;
     And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
     Owre howkit dead.

     Thence countra wives, wi' toil and pain,
     May plunge an' plunge the kirn in vain;
     For oh! the yellow treasure's ta'en
     By witchin' skill;
     An' dawtit, twal-pint hawkie's gane
     As yell's the bill.

     Thence mystic knots mak great abuse
     On young guidmen, fond, keen an' crouse,
     When the best wark-lume i' the house,
     By cantrip wit,
     Is instant made no worth a louse,
     Just at the bit.

     When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
     An' float the jinglin' icy boord,
     Then water-kelpies haunt the foord,
     By your direction,
     And 'nighted trav'llers are allur'd
     To their destruction.

     And aft your moss-traversin Spunkies
     Decoy the wight that late an' drunk is:
     The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies
     Delude his eyes,
     Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
     Ne'er mair to rise.

     When masons' mystic word an' grip
     In storms an' tempests raise you up,
     Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
     Or, strange to tell!
     The youngest brither ye wad whip
     Aff straught to hell.

     Lang syne in Eden's bonie yard,
     When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
     An' all the soul of love they shar'd,
     The raptur'd hour,
     Sweet on the fragrant flow'ry swaird,
     In shady bower;^1

     Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
     Ye cam to Paradise incog,

     [Footnote 1: The verse originally ran: "Lang syne, in Eden's
     happy scene When strappin Adam's days were green, And Eve
     was like my bonie Jean, My dearest part, A dancin, sweet,
     young handsome quean, O' guileless heart."]

     An' play'd on man a cursed brogue,
     (Black be your fa'!)
     An' gied the infant warld a shog,
     'Maist rui'd a'.

     D'ye mind that day when in a bizz
     Wi' reekit duds, an' reestit gizz,
     Ye did present your smoutie phiz
     'Mang better folk,
     An' sklented on the man of Uzz
     Your spitefu' joke?

     An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
     An' brak him out o' house an hal',
     While scabs and botches did him gall,
     Wi' bitter claw;
     An' lows'd his ill-tongu'd wicked scaul',
     Was warst ava?

     But a' your doings to rehearse,
     Your wily snares an' fechtin fierce,
     Sin' that day Michael^2 did you pierce,
     Down to this time,
     Wad ding a Lallan tounge, or Erse,
     In prose or rhyme.

     An' now, auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
     A certain bardie's rantin, drinkin,
     Some luckless hour will send him linkin
     To your black pit;
     But faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
     An' cheat you yet.

     But fare-you-weel, auld Nickie-ben!
     O wad ye tak a thought an' men'!
     Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken—
     Stil hae a stake:
     I'm wae to think up' yon den,
     Ev'n for your sake!

     [Footnote 2: Vide Milton, Book vi.—R. B.]




 

Scotch Drink

     Gie him strong drink until he wink,
     That's sinking in despair;
     An' liquor guid to fire his bluid,
     That's prest wi' grief and care:
     There let him bouse, an' deep carouse,
     Wi' bumpers flowing o'er,
     Till he forgets his loves or debts,
     An' minds his griefs no more.

     (Solomon's Proverbs, xxxi. 6, 7.)

     Let other poets raise a fracas
     'Bout vines, an' wines, an' drucken Bacchus,
     An' crabbit names an'stories wrack us,
     An' grate our lug:
     I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
     In glass or jug.

     O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
     Whether thro' wimplin worms thou jink,
     Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
     In glorious faem,
     Inspire me, till I lisp an' wink,
     To sing thy name!

     Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
     An' aits set up their awnie horn,
     An' pease and beans, at e'en or morn,
     Perfume the plain:
     Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
     Thou king o' grain!

     On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
     In souple scones, the wale o'food!
     Or tumblin in the boiling flood
     Wi' kail an' beef;
     But when thou pours thy strong heart's blood,
     There thou shines chief.

     Food fills the wame, an' keeps us leevin;
     Tho' life's a gift no worth receivin,
     When heavy-dragg'd wi' pine an' grievin;
     But, oil'd by thee,
     The wheels o' life gae down-hill, scrievin,
     Wi' rattlin glee.

     Thou clears the head o'doited Lear;
     Thou cheers ahe heart o' drooping Care;
     Thou strings the nerves o' Labour sair,
     At's weary toil;
     Though even brightens dark Despair
     Wi' gloomy smile.

     Aft, clad in massy siller weed,
     Wi' gentles thou erects thy head;
     Yet, humbly kind in time o' need,
     The poor man's wine;
     His weep drap parritch, or his bread,
     Thou kitchens fine.

     Thou art the life o' public haunts;
     But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
     Ev'n godly meetings o' the saunts,
     By thee inspired,
     When gaping they besiege the tents,
     Are doubly fir'd.

     That merry night we get the corn in,
     O sweetly, then, thou reams the horn in!
     Or reekin on a New-year mornin
     In cog or bicker,
     An' just a wee drap sp'ritual burn in,
     An' gusty sucker!

     When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
     An' ploughmen gather wi' their graith,
     O rare! to see thee fizz an freath
     I' th' luggit caup!
     Then Burnewin comes on like death
     At every chap.

     Nae mercy then, for airn or steel;
     The brawnie, banie, ploughman chiel,
     Brings hard owrehip, wi' sturdy wheel,
     The strong forehammer,
     Till block an' studdie ring an reel,
     Wi' dinsome clamour.

     When skirling weanies see the light,
     Though maks the gossips clatter bright,
     How fumblin' cuiffs their dearies slight;
     Wae worth the name!
     Nae howdie gets a social night,
     Or plack frae them.

     When neibors anger at a plea,
     An' just as wud as wud can be,
     How easy can the barley brie
     Cement the quarrel!
     It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
     To taste the barrel.

     Alake! that e'er my muse has reason,
     To wyte her countrymen wi' treason!
     But mony daily weet their weason
     Wi' liquors nice,
     An' hardly, in a winter season,
     E'er Spier her price.

     Wae worth that brandy, burnin trash!
     Fell source o' mony a pain an' brash!
     Twins mony a poor, doylt, drucken hash,
     O' half his days;
     An' sends, beside, auld Scotland's cash
     To her warst faes.

     Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well!
     Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
     Poor, plackless devils like mysel'!
     It sets you ill,
     Wi' bitter, dearthfu' wines to mell,
     Or foreign gill.

     May gravels round his blather wrench,
     An' gouts torment him, inch by inch,
     What twists his gruntle wi' a glunch
     O' sour disdain,
     Out owre a glass o' whisky-punch
     Wi' honest men!

     O Whisky! soul o' plays and pranks!
     Accept a bardie's gratfu' thanks!
     When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
     Are my poor verses!
     Thou comes—they rattle in their ranks,
     At ither's a-s!

     Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
     Scotland lament frae coast to coast!
     Now colic grips, an' barkin hoast
     May kill us a';
     For loyal Forbes' charter'd boast
     Is ta'en awa?

     Thae curst horse-leeches o' the' Excise,
     Wha mak the whisky stells their prize!
     Haud up thy han', Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
     There, seize the blinkers!
     An' bake them up in brunstane pies
     For poor damn'd drinkers.

     Fortune! if thou'll but gie me still
     Hale breeks, a scone, an' whisky gill,
     An' rowth o' rhyme to rave at will,
     Tak a' the rest,
     An' deal't about as thy blind skill
     Directs thee best.



 





 

The Auld Farmer's New-Year-Morning Salutation To His Auld Mare, Maggie

     On giving her the accustomed ripp of corn to hansel in the New Year.

     A Guid New-year I wish thee, Maggie!
     Hae, there's a ripp to thy auld baggie:
     Tho' thou's howe-backit now, an' knaggie,
     I've seen the day
     Thou could hae gaen like ony staggie,
     Out-owre the lay.

     Tho' now thou's dowie, stiff, an' crazy,
     An' thy auld hide as white's a daisie,
     I've seen thee dappl't, sleek an' glaizie,
     A bonie gray:
     He should been tight that daur't to raize thee,
     Ance in a day.

     Thou ance was i' the foremost rank,
     A filly buirdly, steeve, an' swank;
     An' set weel down a shapely shank,
     As e'er tread yird;
     An' could hae flown out-owre a stank,
     Like ony bird.

     It's now some nine-an'-twenty year,
     Sin' thou was my guid-father's mear;
     He gied me thee, o' tocher clear,
     An' fifty mark;
     Tho' it was sma', 'twas weel-won gear,
     An' thou was stark.

     When first I gaed to woo my Jenny,
     Ye then was trotting wi' your minnie:
     Tho' ye was trickie, slee, an' funnie,
     Ye ne'er was donsie;
     But hamely, tawie, quiet, an' cannie,
     An' unco sonsie.

     That day, ye pranc'd wi' muckle pride,
     When ye bure hame my bonie bride:
     An' sweet an' gracefu' she did ride,
     Wi' maiden air!
     Kyle-Stewart I could bragged wide
     For sic a pair.

     Tho' now ye dow but hoyte and hobble,
     An' wintle like a saumont coble,
     That day, ye was a jinker noble,
     For heels an' win'!
     An' ran them till they a' did wauble,
     Far, far, behin'!

     When thou an' I were young an' skeigh,
     An' stable-meals at fairs were dreigh,
     How thou wad prance, and snore, an' skreigh
     An' tak the road!
     Town's-bodies ran, an' stood abeigh,
     An' ca't thee mad.

     When thou was corn't, an' I was mellow,
     We took the road aye like a swallow:
     At brooses thou had ne'er a fellow,
     For pith an' speed;
     But ev'ry tail thou pay't them hollowm
     Whare'er thou gaed.

     The sma', droop-rumpl't, hunter cattle
     Might aiblins waur't thee for a brattle;
     But sax Scotch mile, thou try't their mettle,
     An' gar't them whaizle:
     Nae whip nor spur, but just a wattle
     O' saugh or hazel.

     Thou was a noble fittie-lan',
     As e'er in tug or tow was drawn!
     Aft thee an' I, in aught hours' gaun,
     In guid March-weather,
     Hae turn'd sax rood beside our han',
     For days thegither.

     Thou never braing't, an' fetch't, an' fliskit;
     But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit,
     An' spread abreed thy weel-fill'd brisket,
     Wi' pith an' power;
     Till sprittie knowes wad rair't an' riskit
     An' slypet owre.

     When frosts lay lang, an' snaws were deep,
     An' threaten'd labour back to keep,
     I gied thy cog a wee bit heap
     Aboon the timmer:
     I ken'd my Maggie wad na sleep,
     For that, or simmer.

     In cart or car thou never reestit;
     The steyest brae thou wad hae fac't it;
     Thou never lap, an' sten't, and breastit,
     Then stood to blaw;
     But just thy step a wee thing hastit,
     Thou snoov't awa.

     My pleugh is now thy bairn-time a',
     Four gallant brutes as e'er did draw;
     Forbye sax mae I've sell't awa,
     That thou hast nurst:
     They drew me thretteen pund an' twa,
     The vera warst.

     Mony a sair daurk we twa hae wrought,
     An' wi' the weary warl' fought!
     An' mony an anxious day, I thought
     We wad be beat!
     Yet here to crazy age we're brought,
     Wi' something yet.

     An' think na', my auld trusty servan',
     That now perhaps thou's less deservin,
     An' thy auld days may end in starvin;
     For my last fow,
     A heapit stimpart, I'll reserve ane
     Laid by for you.

     We've worn to crazy years thegither;
     We'll toyte about wi' ane anither;
     Wi' tentie care I'll flit thy tether
     To some hain'd rig,
     Whare ye may nobly rax your leather,
     Wi' sma' fatigue.




 

The Twa Dogs

     A Tale

     'Twas in that place o' Scotland's isle,
     That bears the name o' auld King Coil,
     Upon a bonie day in June,
     When wearin' thro' the afternoon,
     Twa dogs, that were na thrang at hame,
     Forgather'd ance upon a time.

     The first I'll name, they ca'd him Caesar,
     Was keepit for His Honor's pleasure:
     His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,
     Shew'd he was nane o' Scotland's dogs;
     But whalpit some place far abroad,
     Whare sailors gang to fish for cod.

     His locked, letter'd, braw brass collar
     Shew'd him the gentleman an' scholar;
     But though he was o' high degree,
     The fient a pride, nae pride had he;
     But wad hae spent an hour caressin,
     Ev'n wi' al tinkler-gipsy's messin:
     At kirk or market, mill or smiddie,
     Nae tawted tyke, tho' e'er sae duddie,
     But he wad stan't, as glad to see him,
     An' stroan't on stanes an' hillocks wi' him.

     The tither was a ploughman's collie—
     A rhyming, ranting, raving billie,
     Wha for his friend an' comrade had him,
     And in freak had Luath ca'd him,
     After some dog in Highland Sang,^2
     Was made lang syne,—Lord knows how lang.

     He was a gash an' faithfu' tyke,
     As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
     His honest, sonsie, baws'nt face
     Aye gat him friends in ilka place;
     His breast was white, his touzie back
     Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black;
     His gawsie tail, wi' upward curl,
     Hung owre his hurdie's wi' a swirl.

     [Footnote 1: Luath was Burns' own dog.]

     [Footnote 2: Luath, Cuchullin's dog in Ossian's "Fingal."—R. B.]

     Nae doubt but they were fain o' ither,
     And unco pack an' thick thegither;
     Wi' social nose whiles snuff'd an' snowkit;
     Whiles mice an' moudieworts they howkit;
     Whiles scour'd awa' in lang excursion,
     An' worry'd ither in diversion;
     Until wi' daffin' weary grown
     Upon a knowe they set them down.
     An' there began a lang digression.
     About the "lords o' the creation."
     Caesar

     I've aften wonder'd, honest Luath,
     What sort o' life poor dogs like you have;
     An' when the gentry's life I saw,
     What way poor bodies liv'd ava.

     Our laird gets in his racked rents,
     His coals, his kane, an' a' his stents:
     He rises when he likes himsel';
     His flunkies answer at the bell;
     He ca's his coach; he ca's his horse;
     He draws a bonie silken purse,
     As lang's my tail, where, thro' the steeks,
     The yellow letter'd Geordie keeks.

     Frae morn to e'en, it's nought but toiling
     At baking, roasting, frying, boiling;
     An' tho' the gentry first are stechin,
     Yet ev'n the ha' folk fill their pechan
     Wi' sauce, ragouts, an' sic like trashtrie,
     That's little short o' downright wastrie.
     Our whipper-in, wee, blasted wonner,
     Poor, worthless elf, it eats a dinner,
     Better than ony tenant-man
     His Honour has in a' the lan':
     An' what poor cot-folk pit their painch in,
     I own it's past my comprehension.
     Luath

     Trowth, Caesar, whiles they're fash't eneugh:
     A cottar howkin in a sheugh,
     Wi' dirty stanes biggin a dyke,
     Baring a quarry, an' sic like;
     Himsel', a wife, he thus sustains,
     A smytrie o' wee duddie weans,
     An' nought but his han'-daurk, to keep
     Them right an' tight in thack an' rape.

     An' when they meet wi' sair disasters,
     Like loss o' health or want o' masters,
     Ye maist wad think, a wee touch langer,
     An' they maun starve o' cauld an' hunger:
     But how it comes, I never kent yet,
     They're maistly wonderfu' contented;
     An' buirdly chiels, an' clever hizzies,
     Are bred in sic a way as this is.
     Caesar

     But then to see how ye're negleckit,
     How huff'd, an' cuff'd, an' disrespeckit!
     Lord man, our gentry care as little
     For delvers, ditchers, an' sic cattle;
     They gang as saucy by poor folk,
     As I wad by a stinkin brock.

     I've notic'd, on our laird's court-day,—
     An' mony a time my heart's been wae,—
     Poor tenant bodies, scant o'cash,
     How they maun thole a factor's snash;
     He'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear
     He'll apprehend them, poind their gear;
     While they maun stan', wi' aspect humble,
     An' hear it a', an' fear an' tremble!

     I see how folk live that hae riches;
     But surely poor-folk maun be wretches!
     Luath

     They're no sae wretched's ane wad think.
     Tho' constantly on poortith's brink,
     They're sae accustom'd wi' the sight,
     The view o't gives them little fright.

     Then chance and fortune are sae guided,
     They're aye in less or mair provided:
     An' tho' fatigued wi' close employment,
     A blink o' rest's a sweet enjoyment.

     The dearest comfort o' their lives,
     Their grushie weans an' faithfu' wives;
     The prattling things are just their pride,
     That sweetens a' their fire-side.

     An' whiles twalpennie worth o' nappy
     Can mak the bodies unco happy:
     They lay aside their private cares,
     To mind the Kirk and State affairs;
     They'll talk o' patronage an' priests,
     Wi' kindling fury i' their breasts,
     Or tell what new taxation's comin,
     An' ferlie at the folk in Lon'on.

     As bleak-fac'd Hallowmass returns,
     They get the jovial, rantin kirns,
     When rural life, of ev'ry station,
     Unite in common recreation;
     Love blinks, Wit slaps, an' social Mirth
     Forgets there's Care upo' the earth.

     That merry day the year begins,
     They bar the door on frosty win's;
     The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,
     An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
     The luntin pipe, an' sneeshin mill,
     Are handed round wi' right guid will;
     The cantie auld folks crackin crouse,
     The young anes rantin thro' the house—
     My heart has been sae fain to see them,
     That I for joy hae barkit wi' them.

     Still it's owre true that ye hae said,
     Sic game is now owre aften play'd;
     There's mony a creditable stock
     O' decent, honest, fawsont folk,
     Are riven out baith root an' branch,
     Some rascal's pridefu' greed to quench,
     Wha thinks to knit himsel the faster
     In favour wi' some gentle master,
     Wha, aiblins, thrang a parliamentin,
     For Britain's guid his saul indentin—
     Caesar

     Haith, lad, ye little ken about it:
     For Britain's guid! guid faith! I doubt it.
     Say rather, gaun as Premiers lead him:
     An' saying ay or no's they bid him:
     At operas an' plays parading,
     Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading:
     Or maybe, in a frolic daft,
     To Hague or Calais takes a waft,
     To mak a tour an' tak a whirl,
     To learn bon ton, an' see the worl'.

     There, at Vienna, or Versailles,
     He rives his father's auld entails;
     Or by Madrid he takes the rout,
     To thrum guitars an' fecht wi' nowt;
     Or down Italian vista startles,

     Whore-hunting amang groves o' myrtles:
     Then bowses drumlie German-water,
     To mak himsel look fair an' fatter,
     An' clear the consequential sorrows,
     Love-gifts of Carnival signoras.

     For Britain's guid! for her destruction!
     Wi' dissipation, feud, an' faction.
     Luath

     Hech, man! dear sirs! is that the gate
     They waste sae mony a braw estate!
     Are we sae foughten an' harass'd
     For gear to gang that gate at last?

     O would they stay aback frae courts,
     An' please themsels wi' country sports,
     It wad for ev'ry ane be better,
     The laird, the tenant, an' the cotter!
     For thae frank, rantin, ramblin billies,
     Feint haet o' them's ill-hearted fellows;
     Except for breakin o' their timmer,
     Or speakin lightly o' their limmer,
     Or shootin of a hare or moor-cock,
     The ne'er-a-bit they're ill to poor folk,

     But will ye tell me, Master Caesar,
     Sure great folk's life's a life o' pleasure?
     Nae cauld nor hunger e'er can steer them,
     The very thought o't need na fear them.
     Caesar

     Lord, man, were ye but whiles whare I am,
     The gentles, ye wad ne'er envy them!

     It's true, they need na starve or sweat,
     Thro' winter's cauld, or simmer's heat:
     They've nae sair wark to craze their banes,
     An' fill auld age wi' grips an' granes:
     But human bodies are sic fools,
     For a' their colleges an' schools,
     That when nae real ills perplex them,
     They mak enow themsel's to vex them;
     An' aye the less they hae to sturt them,
     In like proportion, less will hurt them.

     A country fellow at the pleugh,
     His acre's till'd, he's right eneugh;
     A country girl at her wheel,
     Her dizzen's dune, she's unco weel;
     But gentlemen, an' ladies warst,
     Wi' ev'n-down want o' wark are curst.
     They loiter, lounging, lank an' lazy;
     Tho' deil-haet ails them, yet uneasy;
     Their days insipid, dull, an' tasteless;
     Their nights unquiet, lang, an' restless.

     An'ev'n their sports, their balls an' races,
     Their galloping through public places,
     There's sic parade, sic pomp, an' art,
     The joy can scarcely reach the heart.

     The men cast out in party-matches,
     Then sowther a' in deep debauches.
     Ae night they're mad wi' drink an' whoring,
     Niest day their life is past enduring.

     The ladies arm-in-arm in clusters,
     As great an' gracious a' as sisters;
     But hear their absent thoughts o' ither,
     They're a' run-deils an' jads thegither.
     Whiles, owre the wee bit cup an' platie,
     They sip the scandal-potion pretty;
     Or lee-lang nights, wi' crabbit leuks
     Pore owre the devil's pictur'd beuks;
     Stake on a chance a farmer's stackyard,
     An' cheat like ony unhanged blackguard.

     There's some exceptions, man an' woman;
     But this is gentry's life in common.

     By this, the sun was out of sight,
     An' darker gloamin brought the night;
     The bum-clock humm'd wi' lazy drone;
     The kye stood rowtin i' the loan;
     When up they gat an' shook their lugs,
     Rejoic'd they werena men but dogs;
     An' each took aff his several way,
     Resolv'd to meet some ither day.




 

The Author's Earnest Cry And Prayer

     To the Right Honourable and Honourable Scotch
     Representatives in the House of Commons.^1

     Dearest of distillation! last and best—

     —How art thou lost!—
     Parody on Milton.

     Ye Irish lords, ye knights an' squires,
     Wha represent our brughs an' shires,
     An' doucely manage our affairs
     In parliament,
     To you a simple poet's pray'rs
     Are humbly sent.

     Alas! my roupit Muse is hearse!
     Your Honours' hearts wi' grief 'twad pierce,
     To see her sittin on her arse
     Low i' the dust,
     And scriechinhout prosaic verse,
     An like to brust!

     [Footnote 1: This was written before the Act anent the
     Scotch distilleries, of session 1786, for which Scotland and
     the author return their most grateful thanks.—R.B.]

     Tell them wha hae the chief direction,
     Scotland an' me's in great affliction,
     E'er sin' they laid that curst restriction
     On aqua-vitae;
     An' rouse them up to strong conviction,
     An' move their pity.

     Stand forth an' tell yon Premier youth
     The honest, open, naked truth:
     Tell him o' mine an' Scotland's drouth,
     His servants humble:
     The muckle deevil blaw you south
     If ye dissemble!

     Does ony great man glunch an' gloom?
     Speak out, an' never fash your thumb!
     Let posts an' pensions sink or soom
     Wi' them wha grant them;
     If honestly they canna come,
     Far better want them.

     In gath'rin votes you were na slack;
     Now stand as tightly by your tack:
     Ne'er claw your lug, an' fidge your back,
     An' hum an' haw;
     But raise your arm, an' tell your crack
     Before them a'.

     Paint Scotland greetin owre her thrissle;
     Her mutchkin stowp as toom's a whissle;
     An' damn'd excisemen in a bussle,
     Seizin a stell,
     Triumphant crushin't like a mussel,
     Or limpet shell!

     Then, on the tither hand present her—
     A blackguard smuggler right behint her,
     An' cheek-for-chow, a chuffie vintner
     Colleaguing join,
     Picking her pouch as bare as winter
     Of a' kind coin.

     Is there, that bears the name o' Scot,
     But feels his heart's bluid rising hot,
     To see his poor auld mither's pot
     Thus dung in staves,
     An' plunder'd o' her hindmost groat
     By gallows knaves?

     Alas! I'm but a nameless wight,
     Trode i' the mire out o' sight?
     But could I like Montgomeries fight,
     Or gab like Boswell,^2
     There's some sark-necks I wad draw tight,
     An' tie some hose well.

     God bless your Honours! can ye see't—
     The kind, auld cantie carlin greet,
     An' no get warmly to your feet,
     An' gar them hear it,
     An' tell them wi'a patriot-heat
     Ye winna bear it?

     Some o' you nicely ken the laws,
     To round the period an' pause,
     An' with rhetoric clause on clause
     To mak harangues;
     Then echo thro' Saint Stephen's wa's
     Auld Scotland's wrangs.

     Dempster,^3 a true blue Scot I'se warran';
     Thee, aith-detesting, chaste Kilkerran;^4
     An' that glib-gabbit Highland baron,
     The Laird o' Graham;^5
     An' ane, a chap that's damn'd aulfarran',
     Dundas his name:^6

     Erskine, a spunkie Norland billie;^7
     True Campbells, Frederick and Ilay;^8

     [Footnote 2: James Boswell of Auchinleck, the biographer of Johnson.]

     [Footnote 3: George Dempster of Dunnichen.]

     [Footnote 4: Sir Adam Ferguson of Kilkerran, Bart.]

     [Footnote 5: The Marquis of Graham, eldest son of the Duke of
      Montrose.]

     [Footnote 6: Right Hon. Henry Dundas, M. P.]

     [Footnote 7: Probably Thomas, afterward Lord Erskine.]

     [Footnote 8: Lord Frederick Campbell, second brother of the Duke
     of Argyll, and Ilay Campbell, Lord Advocate for Scotland,
     afterward President of the Court of Session.]

     An' Livistone, the bauld Sir Willie;^9
     An' mony ithers,
     Whom auld Demosthenes or Tully
     Might own for brithers.

     See sodger Hugh,^10 my watchman stented,
     If poets e'er are represented;
     I ken if that your sword were wanted,
     Ye'd lend a hand;
     But when there's ought to say anent it,
     Ye're at a stand.

     Arouse, my boys! exert your mettle,
     To get auld Scotland back her kettle;
     Or faith! I'll wad my new pleugh-pettle,
     Ye'll see't or lang,
     She'll teach you, wi' a reekin whittle,
     Anither sang.

     This while she's been in crankous mood,
     Her lost Militia fir'd her bluid;
     (Deil na they never mair do guid,
     Play'd her that pliskie!)
     An' now she's like to rin red-wud
     About her whisky.

     An' Lord! if ance they pit her till't,
     Her tartan petticoat she'll kilt,
     An'durk an' pistol at her belt,
     She'll tak the streets,
     An' rin her whittle to the hilt,
     I' the first she meets!

     For God sake, sirs! then speak her fair,
     An' straik her cannie wi' the hair,
     An' to the muckle house repair,
     Wi' instant speed,
     An' strive, wi' a' your wit an' lear,
     To get remead.

     [Footnote 9: Sir Wm. Augustus Cunningham, Baronet, of Livingstone.]

     [Footnote 10: Col. Hugh Montgomery, afterward Earl of Eglinton.]

     Yon ill-tongu'd tinkler, Charlie Fox,
     May taunt you wi' his jeers and mocks;
     But gie him't het, my hearty cocks!
     E'en cowe the cadie!
     An' send him to his dicing box
     An' sportin' lady.

     Tell you guid bluid o' auld Boconnock's, ^11
     I'll be his debt twa mashlum bonnocks,
     An' drink his health in auld Nance Tinnock's ^12
     Nine times a-week,
     If he some scheme, like tea an' winnocks,
     Was kindly seek.

     Could he some commutation broach,
     I'll pledge my aith in guid braid Scotch,
     He needna fear their foul reproach
     Nor erudition,
     Yon mixtie-maxtie, queer hotch-potch,
     The Coalition.

     Auld Scotland has a raucle tongue;
     She's just a devil wi' a rung;
     An' if she promise auld or young
     To tak their part,
     Tho' by the neck she should be strung,
     She'll no desert.

     And now, ye chosen Five-and-Forty,
     May still you mither's heart support ye;
     Then, tho'a minister grow dorty,
     An' kick your place,
     Ye'll snap your gingers, poor an' hearty,
     Before his face.

     God bless your Honours, a' your days,
     Wi' sowps o' kail and brats o' claise,

     [Footnote 11: Pitt, whose grandfather was of Boconnock in Cornwall.]

     [Footnote 12: A worthy old hostess of the author's in Mauchline,
     where he sometimes studies politics over a glass of gude auld
     Scotch Drink.—R.B.]

     In spite o' a' the thievish kaes,
     That haunt St. Jamie's!
     Your humble poet sings an' prays,
     While Rab his name is.
     Postscript

     Let half-starv'd slaves in warmer skies
     See future wines, rich-clust'ring, rise;
     Their lot auld Scotland ne're envies,
     But, blythe and frisky,
     She eyes her freeborn, martial boys
     Tak aff their whisky.

     What tho' their Phoebus kinder warms,
     While fragrance blooms and beauty charms,
     When wretches range, in famish'd swarms,
     The scented groves;
     Or, hounded forth, dishonour arms
     In hungry droves!

     Their gun's a burden on their shouther;
     They downa bide the stink o' powther;
     Their bauldest thought's a hank'ring swither
     To stan' or rin,
     Till skelp—a shot—they're aff, a'throw'ther,
     To save their skin.

     But bring a Scotchman frae his hill,
     Clap in his cheek a Highland gill,
     Say, such is royal George's will,
     An' there's the foe!
     He has nae thought but how to kill
     Twa at a blow.

     Nae cauld, faint-hearted doubtings tease him;
     Death comes, wi' fearless eye he sees him;
     Wi'bluidy hand a welcome gies him;
     An' when he fa's,
     His latest draught o' breathin lea'es him
     In faint huzzas.

     Sages their solemn een may steek,
     An' raise a philosophic reek,
     An' physically causes seek,
     In clime an' season;
     But tell me whisky's name in Greek
     I'll tell the reason.

     Scotland, my auld, respected mither!
     Tho' whiles ye moistify your leather,
     Till, whare ye sit on craps o' heather,
     Ye tine your dam;
     Freedom an' whisky gang thegither!
     Take aff your dram!




 

The Ordination

     For sense they little owe to frugal Heav'n—
     To please the mob, they hide the little giv'n.

     Kilmarnock wabsters, fidge an' claw,
     An' pour your creeshie nations;
     An' ye wha leather rax an' draw,
     Of a' denominations;
     Swith to the Ligh Kirk, ane an' a'
     An' there tak up your stations;
     Then aff to Begbie's in a raw,
     An' pour divine libations
     For joy this day.

     Curst Common-sense, that imp o' hell,
     Cam in wi' Maggie Lauder;^1
     But Oliphant^2 aft made her yell,
     An' Russell^3 sair misca'd her:
     This day Mackinlay^4 taks the flail,
     An' he's the boy will blaud her!
     He'll clap a shangan on her tail,
     An' set the bairns to daud her
     Wi' dirt this day.

     [Footnote 1: Alluding to a scoffing ballad which was made on the
     admission of the late reverend and worthy Mr. Lihdsay to the
     "Laigh Kirk."—R.B.]

     [Footnote 2: Rev. James Oliphant, minister of Chapel of Ease,
     Kilmarnock.]

     [Footnote 3: Rev. John Russell of Kilmarnock.]

     [Footnote 4: Rev. James Mackinlay.]

     Mak haste an' turn King David owre,
     And lilt wi' holy clangor;
     O' double verse come gie us four,
     An' skirl up the Bangor:
     This day the kirk kicks up a stoure;
     Nae mair the knaves shall wrang her,
     For Heresy is in her pow'r,
     And gloriously she'll whang her
     Wi' pith this day.

     Come, let a proper text be read,
     An' touch it aff wi' vigour,
     How graceless Ham^5 leugh at his dad,
     Which made Canaan a nigger;
     Or Phineas^6 drove the murdering blade,
     Wi' whore-abhorring rigour;
     Or Zipporah,^7 the scauldin jad,
     Was like a bluidy tiger
     I' th' inn that day.

     There, try his mettle on the creed,
     An' bind him down wi' caution,
     That stipend is a carnal weed
     He taks by for the fashion;
     And gie him o'er the flock, to feed,
     And punish each transgression;
     Especial, rams that cross the breed,
     Gie them sufficient threshin;
     Spare them nae day.

     Now, auld Kilmarnock, cock thy tail,
     An' toss thy horns fu' canty;
     Nae mair thou'lt rowt out-owre the dale,
     Because thy pasture's scanty;
     For lapfu's large o' gospel kail
     Shall fill thy crib in plenty,
     An' runts o' grace the pick an' wale,
     No gi'en by way o' dainty,
     But ilka day.

     [Footnote 5: Genesis ix. 22.—R. B.]

     [Footnote : Numbers xxv. 8.—R. B.]

     [Footnote 7: Exodus iv. 52.—R. B]

     Nae mair by Babel's streams we'll weep,
     To think upon our Zion;
     And hing our fiddles up to sleep,
     Like baby-clouts a-dryin!
     Come, screw the pegs wi' tunefu' cheep,
     And o'er the thairms be tryin;
     Oh, rare to see our elbucks wheep,
     And a' like lamb-tails flyin
     Fu' fast this day.

     Lang, Patronage, with rod o' airn,
     Has shor'd the Kirk's undoin;
     As lately Fenwick, sair forfairn,
     Has proven to its ruin:^8
     Our patron, honest man! Glencairn,
     He saw mischief was brewin;
     An' like a godly, elect bairn,
     He's waled us out a true ane,
     And sound, this day.

     Now Robertson^9 harangue nae mair,
     But steek your gab for ever;
     Or try the wicked town of Ayr,
     For there they'll think you clever;
     Or, nae reflection on your lear,
     Ye may commence a shaver;
     Or to the Netherton^10 repair,
     An' turn a carpet weaver
     Aff-hand this day.

     Mu'trie^11 and you were just a match,
     We never had sic twa drones;
     Auld Hornie did the Laigh Kirk watch,
     Just like a winkin baudrons,
     And aye he catch'd the tither wretch,
     To fry them in his caudrons;
     But now his Honour maun detach,
     Wi' a' his brimstone squadrons,
     Fast, fast this day.

     [Footnote 8: Rev. Wm. Boyd, pastor of Fenwick.]

     [Footnote 9: Rev. John Robertson.]

     [Footnote 10: A district of Kilmarnock.]

     [Footnote 11: The Rev. John Multrie, a "Moderate," whom Mackinlay
     succeeded.]

     See, see auld Orthodoxy's faes
     She's swingein thro' the city!
     Hark, how the nine-tail'd cat she plays!
     I vow it's unco pretty:
     There, Learning, with his Greekish face,
     Grunts out some Latin ditty;
     And Common-sense is gaun, she says,
     To mak to Jamie Beattie
     Her plaint this day.

     But there's Morality himsel',
     Embracing all opinions;
     Hear, how he gies the tither yell,
     Between his twa companions!
     See, how she peels the skin an' fell,
     As ane were peelin onions!
     Now there, they're packed aff to hell,
     An' banish'd our dominions,
     Henceforth this day.

     O happy day! rejoice, rejoice!
     Come bouse about the porter!
     Morality's demure decoys
     Shall here nae mair find quarter:
     Mackinlay, Russell, are the boys
     That heresy can torture;
     They'll gie her on a rape a hoyse,
     And cowe her measure shorter
     By th' head some day.

     Come, bring the tither mutchkin in,
     And here's—for a conclusion—
     To ev'ry New Light^12 mother's son,
     From this time forth, Confusion!
     If mair they deave us wi' their din,
     Or Patronage intrusion,
     We'll light a spunk, and ev'ry skin,
     We'll rin them aff in fusion
     Like oil, some day.

     [Footnote 12: "New Light" is a cant phrase in the west of
     Scotland for those religious opinions which Dr. Taylor of
     Norwich has so strenuously defended.—R. B.]




 

Epistle To James Smith

     Friendship, mysterious cement of the soul!
     Sweet'ner of Life, and solder of Society!
     I owe thee much—Blair.

     Dear Smith, the slee'st, pawkie thief,
     That e'er attempted stealth or rief!
     Ye surely hae some warlock-brief
     Owre human hearts;
     For ne'er a bosom yet was prief
     Against your arts.

     For me, I swear by sun an' moon,
     An' ev'ry star that blinks aboon,
     Ye've cost me twenty pair o' shoon,
     Just gaun to see you;
     An' ev'ry ither pair that's done,
     Mair taen I'm wi' you.

     That auld, capricious carlin, Nature,
     To mak amends for scrimpit stature,
     She's turn'd you off, a human creature
     On her first plan,
     And in her freaks, on ev'ry feature
     She's wrote the Man.

     Just now I've ta'en the fit o' rhyme,
     My barmie noddle's working prime.
     My fancy yerkit up sublime,
     Wi' hasty summon;
     Hae ye a leisure-moment's time
     To hear what's comin?

     Some rhyme a neibor's name to lash;
     Some rhyme (vain thought!) for needfu' cash;
     Some rhyme to court the countra clash,
     An' raise a din;
     For me, an aim I never fash;
     I rhyme for fun.

     The star that rules my luckless lot,
     Has fated me the russet coat,
     An' damn'd my fortune to the groat;
     But, in requit,
     Has blest me with a random-shot
     O'countra wit.

     This while my notion's taen a sklent,
     To try my fate in guid, black prent;
     But still the mair I'm that way bent,
     Something cries "Hooklie!"
     I red you, honest man, tak tent?
     Ye'll shaw your folly;

     "There's ither poets, much your betters,
     Far seen in Greek, deep men o' letters,
     Hae thought they had ensur'd their debtors,
     A' future ages;
     Now moths deform, in shapeless tatters,
     Their unknown pages."

     Then farewell hopes of laurel-boughs,
     To garland my poetic brows!
     Henceforth I'll rove where busy ploughs
     Are whistlin' thrang,
     An' teach the lanely heights an' howes
     My rustic sang.

     I'll wander on, wi' tentless heed
     How never-halting moments speed,
     Till fate shall snap the brittle thread;
     Then, all unknown,
     I'll lay me with th' inglorious dead
     Forgot and gone!

     But why o' death being a tale?
     Just now we're living sound and hale;
     Then top and maintop crowd the sail,
     Heave Care o'er-side!
     And large, before Enjoyment's gale,
     Let's tak the tide.

     This life, sae far's I understand,
     Is a' enchanted fairy-land,
     Where Pleasure is the magic-wand,
     That, wielded right,
     Maks hours like minutes, hand in hand,
     Dance by fu' light.

     The magic-wand then let us wield;
     For ance that five-an'-forty's speel'd,
     See, crazy, weary, joyless eild,
     Wi' wrinkl'd face,
     Comes hostin, hirplin owre the field,
     We' creepin pace.

     When ance life's day draws near the gloamin,
     Then fareweel vacant, careless roamin;
     An' fareweel cheerfu' tankards foamin,
     An' social noise:
     An' fareweel dear, deluding woman,
     The Joy of joys!

     O Life! how pleasant, in thy morning,
     Young Fancy's rays the hills adorning!
     Cold-pausing Caution's lesson scorning,
     We frisk away,
     Like school-boys, at th' expected warning,
     To joy an' play.

     We wander there, we wander here,
     We eye the rose upon the brier,
     Unmindful that the thorn is near,
     Among the leaves;
     And tho' the puny wound appear,
     Short while it grieves.

     Some, lucky, find a flow'ry spot,
     For which they never toil'd nor swat;
     They drink the sweet and eat the fat,
     But care or pain;
     And haply eye the barren hut
     With high disdain.

     With steady aim, some Fortune chase;
     Keen hope does ev'ry sinew brace;
     Thro' fair, thro' foul, they urge the race,
     An' seize the prey:
     Then cannie, in some cozie place,
     They close the day.

     And others, like your humble servan',
     Poor wights! nae rules nor roads observin,
     To right or left eternal swervin,
     They zig-zag on;
     Till, curst with age, obscure an' starvin,
     They aften groan.

     Alas! what bitter toil an' straining—
     But truce with peevish, poor complaining!
     Is fortune's fickle Luna waning?
     E'n let her gang!
     Beneath what light she has remaining,
     Let's sing our sang.

     My pen I here fling to the door,
     And kneel, ye Pow'rs! and warm implore,
     "Tho' I should wander Terra o'er,
     In all her climes,
     Grant me but this, I ask no more,
     Aye rowth o' rhymes.

     "Gie dreepin roasts to countra lairds,
     Till icicles hing frae their beards;
     Gie fine braw claes to fine life-guards,
     And maids of honour;
     An' yill an' whisky gie to cairds,
     Until they sconner.

     "A title, Dempster^1 merits it;
     A garter gie to Willie Pitt;
     Gie wealth to some be-ledger'd cit,
     In cent. per cent.;
     But give me real, sterling wit,
     And I'm content.

     [Footnote 1: George Dempster of Dunnichen, M.P.]

     "While ye are pleas'd to keep me hale,
     I'll sit down o'er my scanty meal,
     Be't water-brose or muslin-kail,
     Wi' cheerfu' face,
     As lang's the Muses dinna fail
     To say the grace."

     An anxious e'e I never throws
     Behint my lug, or by my nose;
     I jouk beneath Misfortune's blows
     As weel's I may;
     Sworn foe to sorrow, care, and prose,
     I rhyme away.

     O ye douce folk that live by rule,
     Grave, tideless-blooded, calm an'cool,
     Compar'd wi' you—O fool! fool! fool!
     How much unlike!
     Your hearts are just a standing pool,
     Your lives, a dyke!

     Nae hair-brain'd, sentimental traces
     In your unletter'd, nameless faces!
     In arioso trills and graces
     Ye never stray;
     But gravissimo, solemn basses
     Ye hum away.

     Ye are sae grave, nae doubt ye're wise;
     Nae ferly tho' ye do despise
     The hairum-scairum, ram-stam boys,
     The rattling squad:
     I see ye upward cast your eyes—
     Ye ken the road!

     Whilst I—but I shall haud me there,
     Wi' you I'll scarce gang ony where—
     Then, Jamie, I shall say nae mair,
     But quat my sang,
     Content wi' you to mak a pair.
     Whare'er I gang.




 

The Vision

     Duan First

     The sun had clos'd the winter day,
     The curless quat their roarin play,
     And hunger'd maukin taen her way,
     To kail-yards green,
     While faithless snaws ilk step betray
     Whare she has been.

     The thresher's weary flingin-tree,
     The lee-lang day had tired me;
     And when the day had clos'd his e'e,
     Far i' the west,
     Ben i' the spence, right pensivelie,
     I gaed to rest.

     There, lanely by the ingle-cheek,
     I sat and ey'd the spewing reek,
     That fill'd, wi' hoast-provoking smeek,
     The auld clay biggin;
     An' heard the restless rattons squeak
     About the riggin.

     All in this mottie, misty clime,
     I backward mus'd on wasted time,
     How I had spent my youthfu' prime,
     An' done nae thing,
     But stringing blethers up in rhyme,
     For fools to sing.

     Had I to guid advice but harkit,
     I might, by this, hae led a market,
     Or strutted in a bank and clarkit
     My cash-account;
     While here, half-mad, half-fed, half-sarkit.
     Is a' th' amount.

     [Footnote 1: Duan, a term of Ossian's for the different
     divisions of a digressive poem. See his Cath-Loda, vol. 2 of
     M'Pherson's translation.—R. B.]

     I started, mutt'ring, "blockhead! coof!"
     And heav'd on high my waukit loof,
     To swear by a' yon starry roof,
     Or some rash aith,
     That I henceforth wad be rhyme-proof
     Till my last breath—

     When click! the string the snick did draw;
     An' jee! the door gaed to the wa';
     An' by my ingle-lowe I saw,
     Now bleezin bright,
     A tight, outlandish hizzie, braw,
     Come full in sight.

     Ye need na doubt, I held my whisht;
     The infant aith, half-form'd, was crusht
     I glowr'd as eerie's I'd been dusht
     In some wild glen;
     When sweet, like honest Worth, she blusht,
     An' stepped ben.

     Green, slender, leaf-clad holly-boughs
     Were twisted, gracefu', round her brows;
     I took her for some Scottish Muse,
     By that same token;
     And come to stop those reckless vows,
     Would soon been broken.

     A "hair-brain'd, sentimental trace"
     Was strongly marked in her face;
     A wildly-witty, rustic grace
     Shone full upon her;
     Her eye, ev'n turn'd on empty space,
     Beam'd keen with honour.

     Down flow'd her robe, a tartan sheen,
     Till half a leg was scrimply seen;
     An' such a leg! my bonie Jean
     Could only peer it;
     Sae straught, sae taper, tight an' clean—
     Nane else came near it.

     Her mantle large, of greenish hue,
     My gazing wonder chiefly drew:
     Deep lights and shades, bold-mingling, threw
     A lustre grand;
     And seem'd, to my astonish'd view,
     A well-known land.

     Here, rivers in the sea were lost;
     There, mountains to the skies were toss't:
     Here, tumbling billows mark'd the coast,
     With surging foam;
     There, distant shone Art's lofty boast,
     The lordly dome.

     Here, Doon pour'd down his far-fetch'd floods;
     There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds:
     Auld hermit Ayr staw thro' his woods,
     On to the shore;
     And many a lesser torrent scuds,
     With seeming roar.

     Low, in a sandy valley spread,
     An ancient borough rear'd her head;
     Still, as in Scottish story read,
     She boasts a race
     To ev'ry nobler virtue bred,
     And polish'd grace.^2

     By stately tow'r, or palace fair,
     Or ruins pendent in the air,
     Bold stems of heroes, here and there,
     I could discern;
     Some seem'd to muse, some seem'd to dare,
     With feature stern.

     My heart did glowing transport feel,
     To see a race heroic^3 wheel,

     [Footnote 2: The seven stanzas following this were first
     printed in the Edinburgh edition, 1787. Other stanzas, never
     published by Burns himself, are given on p. 180.]

     [Footnote 3: The Wallaces.—R. B.]

     And brandish round the deep-dyed steel,
     In sturdy blows;
     While, back-recoiling, seem'd to reel
     Their Suthron foes.

     His Country's Saviour,^4 mark him well!
     Bold Richardton's heroic swell;^5
     The chief, on Sark who glorious fell,^6
     In high command;
     And he whom ruthless fates expel
     His native land.

     There, where a sceptr'd Pictish shade
     Stalk'd round his ashes lowly laid,^7
     I mark'd a martial race, pourtray'd
     In colours strong:
     Bold, soldier-featur'd, undismay'd,
     They strode along.

     Thro' many a wild, romantic grove,^8
     Near many a hermit-fancied cove
     (Fit haunts for friendship or for love,
     In musing mood),
     An aged Judge, I saw him rove,
     Dispensing good.

     With deep-struck, reverential awe,
     The learned Sire and Son I saw:^9
     To Nature's God, and Nature's law,
     They gave their lore;
     This, all its source and end to draw,
     That, to adore.

     [Footnote 4: William Wallace.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 5: Adam Wallace of Richardton, cousin to the
     immortal preserver of Scottish independence.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 6: Wallace, laird of Craigie, who was second in
     command under Douglas, Earl of Ormond, at the famous battle
     on the banks of Sark, fought anno 1448. That glorious
     victory was principally owing to the judicious conduct and
     intrepid valour of the gallant laird of Craigie, who died of
     his wounds after the action.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 7: Coilus, King of the Picts, from whom the
     district of Kyle is said to take its name, lies buried, as
     tradition says, near the family seat of the Montgomeries of
     Coilsfield, where his burial—place is still shown.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 8: Barskimming, the seat of the Lord Justice—
     Clerk.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 9: Catrine, the seat of the late Doctor and
     present Professor Stewart.—R.B.]

     Brydon's brave ward^10 I well could spy,
     Beneath old Scotia's smiling eye:
     Who call'd on Fame, low standing by,
     To hand him on,
     Where many a patriot-name on high,
     And hero shone.
     Duan Second

     With musing-deep, astonish'd stare,
     I view'd the heavenly-seeming Fair;
     A whispering throb did witness bear
     Of kindred sweet,
     When with an elder sister's air
     She did me greet.

     "All hail! my own inspired bard!
     In me thy native Muse regard;
     Nor longer mourn thy fate is hard,
     Thus poorly low;
     I come to give thee such reward,
     As we bestow!

     "Know, the great genius of this land
     Has many a light aerial band,
     Who, all beneath his high command,
     Harmoniously,
     As arts or arms they understand,
     Their labours ply.

     "They Scotia's race among them share:
     Some fire the soldier on to dare;
     Some rouse the patriot up to bare
     Corruption's heart:
     Some teach the bard—a darling care—
     The tuneful art.

     "'Mong swelling floods of reeking gore,
     They, ardent, kindling spirits pour;

     [Footnote 10: Colonel Fullarton.—R.B. This gentleman had
     travelled under the care of Patrick Brydone, author of a
     well-known "Tour Through Sicily and Malta."]

     Or, 'mid the venal senate's roar,
     They, sightless, stand,
     To mend the honest patriot-lore,
     And grace the hand.

     "And when the bard, or hoary sage,
     Charm or instruct the future age,
     They bind the wild poetric rage
     In energy,
     Or point the inconclusive page
     Full on the eye.

     "Hence, Fullarton, the brave and young;
     Hence, Dempster's zeal-inspired tongue;
     Hence, sweet, harmonious Beattie sung
     His 'Minstrel lays';
     Or tore, with noble ardour stung,
     The sceptic's bays.

     "To lower orders are assign'd
     The humbler ranks of human-kind,
     The rustic bard, the lab'ring hind,
     The artisan;
     All choose, as various they're inclin'd,
     The various man.

     "When yellow waves the heavy grain,
     The threat'ning storm some strongly rein;
     Some teach to meliorate the plain
     With tillage-skill;
     And some instruct the shepherd-train,
     Blythe o'er the hill.

     "Some hint the lover's harmless wile;
     Some grace the maiden's artless smile;
     Some soothe the lab'rer's weary toil
     For humble gains,
     And make his cottage-scenes beguile
     His cares and pains.

     "Some, bounded to a district-space
     Explore at large man's infant race,
     To mark the embryotic trace
     Of rustic bard;
     And careful note each opening grace,
     A guide and guard.

     "Of these am I—Coila my name:
     And this district as mine I claim,
     Where once the Campbells, chiefs of fame,
     Held ruling power:
     I mark'd thy embryo-tuneful flame,
     Thy natal hour.

     "With future hope I oft would gaze
     Fond, on thy little early ways,
     Thy rudely, caroll'd, chiming phrase,
     In uncouth rhymes;
     Fir'd at the simple, artless lays
     Of other times.

     "I saw thee seek the sounding shore,
     Delighted with the dashing roar;
     Or when the North his fleecy store
     Drove thro' the sky,
     I saw grim Nature's visage hoar
     Struck thy young eye.

     "Or when the deep green-mantled earth
     Warm cherish'd ev'ry floweret's birth,
     And joy and music pouring forth
     In ev'ry grove;
     I saw thee eye the general mirth
     With boundless love.

     "When ripen'd fields and azure skies
     Call'd forth the reapers' rustling noise,
     I saw thee leave their ev'ning joys,
     And lonely stalk,
     To vent thy bosom's swelling rise,
     In pensive walk.

     "When youthful love, warm-blushing, strong,
     Keen-shivering, shot thy nerves along,
     Those accents grateful to thy tongue,
     Th' adored Name,
     I taught thee how to pour in song,
     To soothe thy flame.

     "I saw thy pulse's maddening play,
     Wild send thee Pleasure's devious way,
     Misled by Fancy's meteor-ray,
     By passion driven;
     But yet the light that led astray
     Was light from Heaven.

     "I taught thy manners-painting strains,
     The loves, the ways of simple swains,
     Till now, o'er all my wide domains
     Thy fame extends;
     And some, the pride of Coila's plains,
     Become thy friends.

     "Thou canst not learn, nor I can show,
     To paint with Thomson's landscape glow;
     Or wake the bosom-melting throe,
     With Shenstone's art;
     Or pour, with Gray, the moving flow
     Warm on the heart.

     "Yet, all beneath th' unrivall'd rose,
     T e lowly daisy sweetly blows;
     Tho' large the forest's monarch throws
     His army shade,
     Yet green the juicy hawthorn grows,
     Adown the glade.

     "Then never murmur nor repine;
     Strive in thy humble sphere to shine;
     And trust me, not Potosi's mine,
     Nor king's regard,
     Can give a bliss o'ermatching thine,
     A rustic bard.

     "To give my counsels all in one,
     Thy tuneful flame still careful fan:
     Preserve the dignity of Man,
     With soul erect;
     And trust the Universal Plan
     Will all protect.

     "And wear thou this"—she solemn said,
     And bound the holly round my head:
     The polish'd leaves and berries red
     Did rustling play;
     And, like a passing thought, she fled
     In light away.

     [To Mrs. Stewart of Stair, Burns presented a manuscript copy of
     the Vision. That copy embraces about twenty stanzas at the end of
     Duan First, which he cancelled when he came to print the price in
     his Kilmarnock volume. Seven of these he restored in printing his
     second edition, as noted on p. 174. The following are the verses
     which he left unpublished.]




 

Suppressed Stanza's Of "The Vision"

     After 18th stanza of the text (at "His native land"):—

     With secret throes I marked that earth,
     That cottage, witness of my birth;
     And near I saw, bold issuing forth
     In youthful pride,
     A Lindsay race of noble worth,
     Famed far and wide.

     Where, hid behind a spreading wood,
     An ancient Pict-built mansion stood,
     I spied, among an angel brood,
     A female pair;
     Sweet shone their high maternal blood,
     And father's air.^1

     An ancient tower^2 to memory brought
     How Dettingen's bold hero fought;
     Still, far from sinking into nought,
     It owns a lord
     Who far in western climates fought,
     With trusty sword.

     [Footnote 1: Sundrum.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 2: Stair.—R.B.]

     Among the rest I well could spy
     One gallant, graceful, martial boy,
     The soldier sparkled in his eye,
     A diamond water.
     I blest that noble badge with joy,
     That owned me frater.^3
     After 20th stanza of the text (at "Dispensing good"):—

     Near by arose a mansion fine^4
     The seat of many a muse divine;
     Not rustic muses such as mine,
     With holly crown'd,
     But th' ancient, tuneful, laurell'd Nine,
     From classic ground.

     I mourn'd the card that Fortune dealt,
     To see where bonie Whitefoords dwelt;^5
     But other prospects made me melt,
     That village near;^6
     There Nature, Friendship, Love, I felt,
     Fond-mingling, dear!

     Hail! Nature's pang, more strong than death!
     Warm Friendship's glow, like kindling wrath!
     Love, dearer than the parting breath
     Of dying friend!
     Not ev'n with life's wild devious path,
     Your force shall end!

     The Power that gave the soft alarms
     In blooming Whitefoord's rosy charms,
     Still threats the tiny, feather'd arms,
     The barbed dart,
     While lovely Wilhelmina warms
     The coldest heart.^7
     After 21st stanza of the text (at "That, to adore"):—

     Where Lugar leaves his moorland plaid,^8
     Where lately Want was idly laid,

     [Footnote 3: Captain James Montgomerie, Master of St. James'
     Lodge, Tarbolton, to which the author has the honour to
     belong.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 4: Auchinleck.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 5: Ballochmyle.]

     [Footnote 6: Mauchline.]

     [Footnote 7: Miss Wilhelmina Alexander.]

     [Footnote 8: Cumnock.—R.B.]

     I marked busy, bustling Trade,
     In fervid flame,
     Beneath a Patroness' aid,
     of noble name.

     Wild, countless hills I could survey,
     And countless flocks as wild as they;
     But other scenes did charms display,
     That better please,
     Where polish'd manners dwell with Gray,
     In rural ease.^9

     Where Cessnock pours with gurgling sound;^10
     And Irwine, marking out the bound,
     Enamour'd of the scenes around,
     Slow runs his race,
     A name I doubly honour'd found,^11
     With knightly grace.

     Brydon's brave ward,^12 I saw him stand,
     Fame humbly offering her hand,
     And near, his kinsman's rustic band,^13
     With one accord,
     Lamenting their late blessed land
     Must change its lord.

     The owner of a pleasant spot,
     Near and sandy wilds, I last did note;^14
     A heart too warm, a pulse too hot
     At times, o'erran:
     But large in ev'ry feature wrote,
     Appear'd the Man.
     The Rantin' Dog, The Daddie O't

     Tune—"Whare'll our guidman lie."
     O wha my babie-clouts will buy?
     O wha will tent me when I cry?
     Wha will kiss me where I lie?
     The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.

     [Footnote 9: Mr. Farquhar Gray.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 10: Auchinskieth.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 11: Caprington.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 12: Colonel Fullerton.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 13: Dr. Fullerton.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 14: Orangefield.—R.B.]

     O wha will own he did the faut?
     O wha will buy the groanin maut?
     O wha will tell me how to ca't?
     The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.

     When I mount the creepie-chair,
     Wha will sit beside me there?
     Gie me Rob, I'll seek nae mair,
     The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.

     Wha will crack to me my lane?
     Wha will mak me fidgin' fain?
     Wha will kiss me o'er again?
     The rantin' dog, the daddie o't.
     Here's His Health In Water

     Tune—"The Job of Journey-work."
     Altho' my back be at the wa',
     And tho' he be the fautor;
     Altho' my back be at the wa',
     Yet, here's his health in water.
     O wae gae by his wanton sides,
     Sae brawlie's he could flatter;
     Till for his sake I'm slighted sair,
     And dree the kintra clatter:
     But tho' my back be at the wa',
     And tho' he be the fautor;
     But tho' my back be at the wa',
     Yet here's his health in water!




 

Address To The Unco Guid, Or The Rigidly Righteous

     My Son, these maxims make a rule,
     An' lump them aye thegither;
     The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
     The Rigid Wise anither:
     The cleanest corn that ere was dight
     May hae some pyles o' caff in;
     So ne'er a fellow-creature slight
     For random fits o' daffin.

     (Solomon.—Eccles. ch. vii. verse 16.)

     O ye wha are sae guid yoursel',
     Sae pious and sae holy,
     Ye've nought to do but mark and tell
     Your neibours' fauts and folly!
     Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
     Supplied wi' store o' water;
     The heaped happer's ebbing still,
     An' still the clap plays clatter.

     Hear me, ye venerable core,
     As counsel for poor mortals
     That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door
     For glaikit Folly's portals:
     I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
     Would here propone defences—
     Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
     Their failings and mischances.

     Ye see your state wi' theirs compared,
     And shudder at the niffer;
     But cast a moment's fair regard,
     What maks the mighty differ;
     Discount what scant occasion gave,
     That purity ye pride in;
     And (what's aft mair than a' the lave),
     Your better art o' hidin.

     Think, when your castigated pulse
     Gies now and then a wallop!
     What ragings must his veins convulse,
     That still eternal gallop!
     Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail,
     Right on ye scud your sea-way;
     But in the teeth o' baith to sail,
     It maks a unco lee-way.

     See Social Life and Glee sit down,
     All joyous and unthinking,
     Till, quite transmugrified, they're grown
     Debauchery and Drinking:
     O would they stay to calculate
     Th' eternal consequences;
     Or your more dreaded hell to state,
     Damnation of expenses!

     Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
     Tied up in godly laces,
     Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
     Suppose a change o' cases;
     A dear-lov'd lad, convenience snug,
     A treach'rous inclination—
     But let me whisper i' your lug,
     Ye're aiblins nae temptation.

     Then gently scan your brother man,
     Still gentler sister woman;
     Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
     To step aside is human:
     One point must still be greatly dark,—
     The moving Why they do it;
     And just as lamely can ye mark,
     How far perhaps they rue it.

     Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
     Decidedly can try us;
     He knows each chord, its various tone,
     Each spring, its various bias:
     Then at the balance let's be mute,
     We never can adjust it;
     What's done we partly may compute,
     But know not what's resisted.




 

The Inventory

     In answer to a mandate by the Surveyor of the Taxes

     Sir, as your mandate did request,
     I send you here a faithfu' list,
     O' gudes an' gear, an' a' my graith,
     To which I'm clear to gi'e my aith.

     Imprimis, then, for carriage cattle,
     I hae four brutes o' gallant mettle,
     As ever drew afore a pettle.
     My hand-afore 's a guid auld has-been,
     An' wight an' wilfu' a' his days been:
     My hand-ahin 's a weel gaun fillie,
     That aft has borne me hame frae Killie.^2
     An' your auld borough mony a time
     In days when riding was nae crime.
     But ance, when in my wooing pride
     I, like a blockhead, boost to ride,
     The wilfu' creature sae I pat to,
     (Lord pardon a' my sins, an' that too!)
     I play'd my fillie sic a shavie,
     She's a' bedevil'd wi' the spavie.
     My furr-ahin 's a wordy beast,
     As e'er in tug or tow was traced.
     The fourth's a Highland Donald hastle,
     A damn'd red-wud Kilburnie blastie!
     Foreby a cowt, o' cowts the wale,
     As ever ran afore a tail:
     Gin he be spar'd to be a beast,
     He'll draw me fifteen pund at least.
     Wheel-carriages I ha'e but few,
     Three carts, an' twa are feckly new;
     An auld wheelbarrow, mair for token,
     Ae leg an' baith the trams are broken;
     I made a poker o' the spin'le,
     An' my auld mither brunt the trin'le.

     [Footnote 1: The "Inventory" was addressed to
      Mr. Aitken of Ayr, surveyor of taxes for the district.]

     [Footnote 2: Kilmarnock.—R. B.]

     For men, I've three mischievous boys,
     Run-deils for ranting an' for noise;
     A gaudsman ane, a thrasher t' other:
     Wee Davock hauds the nowt in fother.
     I rule them as I ought, discreetly,
     An' aften labour them completely;
     An' aye on Sundays duly, nightly,
     I on the Questions targe them tightly;
     Till, faith! wee Davock's grown sae gleg,
     Tho' scarcely langer than your leg,
     He'll screed you aff Effectual Calling,
     As fast as ony in the dwalling.

     I've nane in female servant station,
     (Lord keep me aye frae a' temptation!)
     I hae nae wife—and thay my bliss is,
     An' ye have laid nae tax on misses;
     An' then, if kirk folks dinna clutch me,
     I ken the deevils darena touch me.
     Wi' weans I'm mair than weel contented,
     Heav'n sent me ane mae than I wanted!
     My sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess,
     She stares the daddy in her face,
     Enough of ought ye like but grace;
     But her, my bonie, sweet wee lady,
     I've paid enough for her already;
     An' gin ye tax her or her mither,
     By the Lord, ye'se get them a' thegither!

     And now, remember, Mr. Aiken,
     Nae kind of licence out I'm takin:
     Frae this time forth, I do declare
     I'se ne'er ride horse nor hizzie mair;
     Thro' dirt and dub for life I'll paidle,
     Ere I sae dear pay for a saddle;
     My travel a' on foot I'll shank it,
     I've sturdy bearers, Gude the thankit!
     The kirk and you may tak you that,
     It puts but little in your pat;
     Sae dinna put me in your beuk,
     Nor for my ten white shillings leuk.

     This list, wi' my ain hand I wrote it,
     The day and date as under noted;
     Then know all ye whom it concerns,
     Subscripsi huic,

     Robert Burns.
     Mossgiel, February 22, 1786.




 

To John Kennedy, Dumfries House

     Now, Kennedy, if foot or horse
     E'er bring you in by Mauchlin corse,
     (Lord, man, there's lasses there wad force
     A hermit's fancy;
     An' down the gate in faith they're worse,
     An' mair unchancy).

     But as I'm sayin, please step to Dow's,
     An' taste sic gear as Johnie brews,
     Till some bit callan bring me news
     That ye are there;
     An' if we dinna hae a bouze,
     I'se ne'er drink mair.

     It's no I like to sit an' swallow,
     Then like a swine to puke an' wallow;
     But gie me just a true good fallow,
     Wi' right ingine,
     And spunkie ance to mak us mellow,
     An' then we'll shine.

     Now if ye're ane o' warl's folk,
     Wha rate the wearer by the cloak,
     An' sklent on poverty their joke,
     Wi' bitter sneer,
     Wi' you nae friendship I will troke,
     Nor cheap nor dear.

     But if, as I'm informed weel,
     Ye hate as ill's the very deil
     The flinty heart that canna feel—
     Come, sir, here's to you!
     Hae, there's my haun', I wiss you weel,
     An' gude be wi' you.

     Robt. Burness.
     Mossgiel, 3rd March, 1786.




 

To Mr. M'Adam, Of Craigen-Gillan

     In answer to an obliging Letter he sent
     in the commencement of my poetic career.

     Sir, o'er a gill I gat your card,
     I trow it made me proud;
     "See wha taks notice o' the bard!"
     I lap and cried fu' loud.

     Now deil-ma-care about their jaw,
     The senseless, gawky million;
     I'll cock my nose abune them a',
     I'm roos'd by Craigen-Gillan!

     'Twas noble, sir; 'twas like yourself',
     To grant your high protection:
     A great man's smile ye ken fu' well
     Is aye a blest infection.

     Tho', by his banes wha in a tub
     Match'd Macedonian Sandy!
     On my ain legs thro' dirt and dub,
     I independent stand aye,—

     And when those legs to gude, warm kail,
     Wi' welcome canna bear me,
     A lee dyke-side, a sybow-tail,
     An' barley-scone shall cheer me.

     Heaven spare you lang to kiss the breath
     O' mony flow'ry simmers!
     An' bless your bonie lasses baith,
     I'm tauld they're loosome kimmers!

     An' God bless young Dunaskin's laird,
     The blossom of our gentry!
     An' may he wear and auld man's beard,
     A credit to his country.




 

To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church

     Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
     Your impudence protects you sairly;
     I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
     Owre gauze and lace;
     Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
     On sic a place.

     Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
     Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
     How daur ye set your fit upon her—
     Sae fine a lady?
     Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
     On some poor body.

     Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;
     There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
     Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
     In shoals and nations;
     Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
     Your thick plantations.

     Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
     Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;
     Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
     Till ye've got on it—
     The verra tapmost, tow'rin height
     O' Miss' bonnet.

     My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
     As plump an' grey as ony groset:
     O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
     Or fell, red smeddum,
     I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
     Wad dress your droddum.

     I wad na been surpris'd to spy
     You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
     Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
     On's wyliecoat;
     But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!
     How daur ye do't?

     O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
     An' set your beauties a' abread!
     Ye little ken what cursed speed
     The blastie's makin:
     Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
     Are notice takin.

     O wad some Power the giftie gie us
     To see oursels as ithers see us!
     It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
     An' foolish notion:
     What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
     An' ev'n devotion!




 

Inscribed On A Work Of Hannah More's

     Presented to the Author by a Lady.

     Thou flatt'ring mark of friendship kind,
     Still may thy pages call to mind
     The dear, the beauteous donor;
     Tho' sweetly female ev'ry part,
     Yet such a head, and more the heart
     Does both the sexes honour:
     She show'd her taste refin'd and just,
     When she selected thee;
     Yet deviating, own I must,
     For sae approving me:
     But kind still I'll mind still
     The giver in the gift;
     I'll bless her, an' wiss her
     A Friend aboon the lift.




 

Song, Composed In Spring

     Tune—"Jockey's Grey Breeks."
     Again rejoicing Nature sees
     Her robe assume its vernal hues:
     Her leafy locks wave in the breeze,
     All freshly steep'd in morning dews.

     Chorus.—And maun I still on Menie doat,
     And bear the scorn that's in her e'e?
     For it's jet, jet black, an' it's like a hawk,
     An' it winna let a body be.

     In vain to me the cowslips blaw,
     In vain to me the vi'lets spring;
     In vain to me in glen or shaw,
     The mavis and the lintwhite sing.
     And maun I still, &c.

     The merry ploughboy cheers his team,
     Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks;
     But life to me's a weary dream,
     A dream of ane that never wauks.
     And maun I still, &c.

     The wanton coot the water skims,
     Amang the reeds the ducklings cry,
     The stately swan majestic swims,
     And ev'ry thing is blest but I.
     And maun I still, &c.

     The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap,
     And o'er the moorlands whistles shill:
     Wi' wild, unequal, wand'ring step,
     I meet him on the dewy hill.
     And maun I still, &c.

     And when the lark, 'tween light and dark,
     Blythe waukens by the daisy's side,
     And mounts and sings on flittering wings,
     A woe-worn ghaist I hameward glide.
     And maun I still, &c.

     Come winter, with thine angry howl,
     And raging, bend the naked tree;
     Thy gloom will soothe my cheerless soul,
     When nature all is sad like me!
     And maun I still, &c.




 

To A Mountain Daisy,

     On turning down with the Plough, in April, 1786.

     Wee, modest crimson-tipped flow'r,
     Thou's met me in an evil hour;
     For I maun crush amang the stoure
     Thy slender stem:
     To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
     Thou bonie gem.

     Alas! it's no thy neibor sweet,
     The bonie lark, companion meet,
     Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
     Wi' spreckl'd breast!
     When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
     The purpling east.

     Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
     Upon thy early, humble birth;
     Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
     Amid the storm,
     Scarce rear'd above the parent-earth
     Thy tender form.

     The flaunting flow'rs our gardens yield,
     High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield;
     But thou, beneath the random bield
     O' clod or stane,
     Adorns the histie stibble field,
     Unseen, alane.

     There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
     Thy snawie bosom sun-ward spread,
     Thou lifts thy unassuming head
     In humble guise;
     But now the share uptears thy bed,
     And low thou lies!

     Such is the fate of artless maid,
     Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
     By love's simplicity betray'd,
     And guileless trust;
     Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
     Low i' the dust.

     Such is the fate of simple bard,
     On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
     Unskilful he to note the card
     Of prudent lore,
     Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
     And whelm him o'er!

     Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
     Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
     By human pride or cunning driv'n
     To mis'ry's brink;
     Till wrench'd of ev'ry stay but Heav'n,
     He, ruin'd, sink!

     Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
     That fate is thine—no distant date;
     Stern Ruin's plough-share drives elate,
     Full on thy bloom,
     Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight,
     Shall be thy doom!




 

To Ruin

     All hail! inexorable lord!
     At whose destruction-breathing word,
     The mightiest empires fall!
     Thy cruel, woe-delighted train,
     The ministers of grief and pain,
     A sullen welcome, all!

     With stern-resolv'd, despairing eye,
     I see each aimed dart;
     For one has cut my dearest tie,
     And quivers in my heart.
     Then low'ring, and pouring,
     The storm no more I dread;
     Tho' thick'ning, and black'ning,
     Round my devoted head.

     And thou grim Pow'r by life abhorr'd,
     While life a pleasure can afford,
     Oh! hear a wretch's pray'r!
     Nor more I shrink appall'd, afraid;
     I court, I beg thy friendly aid,
     To close this scene of care!
     When shall my soul, in silent peace,
     Resign life's joyless day—
     My weary heart is throbbing cease,
     Cold mould'ring in the clay?
     No fear more, no tear more,
     To stain my lifeless face,
     Enclasped, and grasped,
     Within thy cold embrace!




 

The Lament

     Occasioned by the unfortunate issue of a Friend's Amour.

     Alas! how oft does goodness would itself,
     And sweet affection prove the spring of woe!

     Home.

     O thou pale orb that silent shines
     While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
     Thou seest a wretch who inly pines.
     And wanders here to wail and weep!
     With woe I nightly vigils keep,
     Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam;
     And mourn, in lamentation deep,
     How life and love are all a dream!

     I joyless view thy rays adorn
     The faintly-marked, distant hill;
     I joyless view thy trembling horn,
     Reflected in the gurgling rill:
     My fondly-fluttering heart, be still!
     Thou busy pow'r, remembrance, cease!
     Ah! must the agonizing thrill
     For ever bar returning peace!

     No idly-feign'd, poetic pains,
     My sad, love-lorn lamentings claim:
     No shepherd's pipe-Arcadian strains;
     No fabled tortures, quaint and tame.
     The plighted faith, the mutual flame,
     The oft-attested pow'rs above,
     The promis'd father's tender name;
     These were the pledges of my love!

     Encircled in her clasping arms,
     How have the raptur'd moments flown!
     How have I wish'd for fortune's charms,
     For her dear sake, and her's alone!
     And, must I think it! is she gone,
     My secret heart's exulting boast?
     And does she heedless hear my groan?
     And is she ever, ever lost?

     Oh! can she bear so base a heart,
     So lost to honour, lost to truth,
     As from the fondest lover part,
     The plighted husband of her youth?
     Alas! life's path may be unsmooth!
     Her way may lie thro' rough distress!
     Then, who her pangs and pains will soothe
     Her sorrows share, and make them less?

     Ye winged hours that o'er us pass'd,
     Enraptur'd more, the more enjoy'd,
     Your dear remembrance in my breast
     My fondly-treasur'd thoughts employ'd:
     That breast, how dreary now, and void,
     For her too scanty once of room!
     Ev'n ev'ry ray of hope destroy'd,
     And not a wish to gild the gloom!

     The morn, that warns th' approaching day,
     Awakes me up to toil and woe;
     I see the hours in long array,
     That I must suffer, lingering, slow:
     Full many a pang, and many a throe,
     Keen recollection's direful train,
     Must wring my soul, were Phoebus, low,
     Shall kiss the distant western main.

     And when my nightly couch I try,
     Sore harass'd out with care and grief,
     My toil-beat nerves, and tear-worn eye,
     Keep watchings with the nightly thief:
     Or if I slumber, fancy, chief,
     Reigns, haggard—wild, in sore affright:
     Ev'n day, all-bitter, brings relief
     From such a horror-breathing night.

     O thou bright queen, who o'er th' expanse
     Now highest reign'st, with boundless sway
     Oft has thy silent-marking glance
     Observ'd us, fondly-wand'ring, stray!
     The time, unheeded, sped away,
     While love's luxurious pulse beat high,
     Beneath thy silver-gleaming ray,
     To mark the mutual-kindling eye.

     Oh! scenes in strong remembrance set!
     Scenes, never, never to return!
     Scenes, if in stupor I forget,
     Again I feel, again I burn!
     From ev'ry joy and pleasure torn,
     Life's weary vale I'll wander thro';
     And hopeless, comfortless, I'll mourn
     A faithless woman's broken vow!




 

Despondency: An Ode

     Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
     A burden more than I can bear,
     I set me down and sigh;
     O life! thou art a galling load,
     Along a rough, a weary road,
     To wretches such as I!
     Dim backward as I cast my view,
     What sick'ning scenes appear!
     What sorrows yet may pierce me through,
     Too justly I may fear!
     Still caring, despairing,
     Must be my bitter doom;
     My woes here shall close ne'er
     But with the closing tomb!

     Happy! ye sons of busy life,
     Who, equal to the bustling strife,
     No other view regard!
     Ev'n when the wished end's denied,
     Yet while the busy means are plied,
     They bring their own reward:
     Whilst I, a hope-abandon'd wight,
     Unfitted with an aim,
     Meet ev'ry sad returning night,
     And joyless morn the same!
     You, bustling, and justling,
     Forget each grief and pain;
     I, listless, yet restless,
     Find ev'ry prospect vain.

     How blest the solitary's lot,
     Who, all-forgetting, all forgot,
     Within his humble cell,
     The cavern, wild with tangling roots,
     Sits o'er his newly gather'd fruits,
     Beside his crystal well!
     Or haply, to his ev'ning thought,
     By unfrequented stream,
     The ways of men are distant brought,
     A faint, collected dream;
     While praising, and raising
     His thoughts to heav'n on high,
     As wand'ring, meand'ring,
     He views the solemn sky.

     Than I, no lonely hermit plac'd
     Where never human footstep trac'd,
     Less fit to play the part,
     The lucky moment to improve,
     And just to stop, and just to move,
     With self-respecting art:
     But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
     Which I too keenly taste,
     The solitary can despise,
     Can want, and yet be blest!
     He needs not, he heeds not,
     Or human love or hate;
     Whilst I here must cry here
     At perfidy ingrate!

     O, enviable, early days,
     When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
     To care, to guilt unknown!
     How ill exchang'd for riper times,
     To feel the follies, or the crimes,
     Of others, or my own!
     Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
     Like linnets in the bush,
     Ye little know the ills ye court,
     When manhood is your wish!
     The losses, the crosses,
     That active man engage;
     The fears all, the tears all,
     Of dim declining age!




 

To Gavin Hamilton, Esq., Mauchline,

     Recommending a Boy.

     Mossgaville, May 3, 1786.

     I hold it, sir, my bounden duty
     To warn you how that Master Tootie,
     Alias, Laird M'Gaun,
     Was here to hire yon lad away
     'Bout whom ye spak the tither day,
     An' wad hae don't aff han';

     But lest he learn the callan tricks—
     An' faith I muckle doubt him—
     Like scrapin out auld Crummie's nicks,
     An' tellin lies about them;
     As lieve then, I'd have then
     Your clerkship he should sair,
     If sae be ye may be
     Not fitted otherwhere.

     Altho' I say't, he's gleg enough,
     An' 'bout a house that's rude an' rough,
     The boy might learn to swear;
     But then, wi' you, he'll be sae taught,
     An' get sic fair example straught,
     I hae na ony fear.
     Ye'll catechise him, every quirk,
     An' shore him weel wi' hell;
     An' gar him follow to the kirk—
     Aye when ye gang yoursel.
     If ye then maun be then
     Frae hame this comin' Friday,
     Then please, sir, to lea'e, sir,
     The orders wi' your lady.

     My word of honour I hae gi'en,
     In Paisley John's, that night at e'en,
     To meet the warld's worm;
     To try to get the twa to gree,
     An' name the airles an' the fee,
     In legal mode an' form:
     I ken he weel a snick can draw,
     When simple bodies let him:
     An' if a Devil be at a',
     In faith he's sure to get him.
     To phrase you and praise you,
     Ye ken your Laureat scorns:
     The pray'r still you share still
     Of grateful Minstrel Burns.




 

Versified Reply To An Invitation

     Sir,

     Yours this moment I unseal,
     And faith I'm gay and hearty!
     To tell the truth and shame the deil,
     I am as fou as Bartie:
     But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,
     Expect me o' your partie,
     If on a beastie I can speel,
     Or hurl in a cartie.

     Yours,

     Robert Burns.
     Mauchlin, Monday night, 10 o'clock.




 

Song—Will Ye Go To The Indies, My Mary?

     Tune—"Will ye go to the Ewe-Bughts, Marion."
     Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
     And leave auld Scotia's shore?
     Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
     Across th' Atlantic roar?

     O sweet grows the lime and the orange,
     And the apple on the pine;
     But a' the charms o' the Indies
     Can never equal thine.

     I hae sworn by the Heavens to my Mary,
     I hae sworn by the Heavens to be true;
     And sae may the Heavens forget me,
     When I forget my vow!

     O plight me your faith, my Mary,
     And plight me your lily-white hand;
     O plight me your faith, my Mary,
     Before I leave Scotia's strand.

     We hae plighted our troth, my Mary,
     In mutual affection to join;
     And curst be the cause that shall part us!
     The hour and the moment o' time!




 

Song—My Highland Lassie, O

     Tune—"The deuks dang o'er my daddy."
     Nae gentle dames, tho' e'er sae fair,
     Shall ever be my muse's care:
     Their titles a' arc empty show;
     Gie me my Highland lassie, O.

     Chorus.—Within the glen sae bushy, O,
     Aboon the plain sae rashy, O,
     I set me down wi' right guid will,
     To sing my Highland lassie, O.

     O were yon hills and vallies mine,
     Yon palace and yon gardens fine!
     The world then the love should know
     I bear my Highland Lassie, O.

     But fickle fortune frowns on me,
     And I maun cross the raging sea!
     But while my crimson currents flow,
     I'll love my Highland lassie, O.

     Altho' thro' foreign climes I range,
     I know her heart will never change,
     For her bosom burns with honour's glow,
     My faithful Highland lassie, O.

     For her I'll dare the billow's roar,
     For her I'll trace a distant shore,
     That Indian wealth may lustre throw
     Around my Highland lassie, O.

     She has my heart, she has my hand,
     By secret troth and honour's band!
     Till the mortal stroke shall lay me low,
     I'm thine, my Highland lassie, O.

     Farewell the glen sae bushy, O!
     Farewell the plain sae rashy, O!
     To other lands I now must go,
     To sing my Highland lassie, O.




 

Epistle To A Young Friend

     May __, 1786.

     I Lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend,
     A something to have sent you,
     Tho' it should serve nae ither end
     Than just a kind memento:
     But how the subject-theme may gang,
     Let time and chance determine;
     Perhaps it may turn out a sang:
     Perhaps turn out a sermon.

     Ye'll try the world soon, my lad;
     And, Andrew dear, believe me,
     Ye'll find mankind an unco squad,
     And muckle they may grieve ye:
     For care and trouble set your thought,
     Ev'n when your end's attained;
     And a' your views may come to nought,
     Where ev'ry nerve is strained.

     I'll no say, men are villains a';
     The real, harden'd wicked,
     Wha hae nae check but human law,
     Are to a few restricked;
     But, Och! mankind are unco weak,
     An' little to be trusted;
     If self the wavering balance shake,
     It's rarely right adjusted!

     Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife,
     Their fate we shouldna censure;
     For still, th' important end of life
     They equally may answer;
     A man may hae an honest heart,
     Tho' poortith hourly stare him;
     A man may tak a neibor's part,
     Yet hae nae cash to spare him.

     Aye free, aff-han', your story tell,
     When wi' a bosom crony;
     But still keep something to yoursel',
     Ye scarcely tell to ony:
     Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can
     Frae critical dissection;
     But keek thro' ev'ry other man,
     Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.

     The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,
     Luxuriantly indulge it;
     But never tempt th' illicit rove,
     Tho' naething should divulge it:
     I waive the quantum o' the sin,
     The hazard of concealing;
     But, Och! it hardens a' within,
     And petrifies the feeling!

     To catch dame Fortune's golden smile,
     Assiduous wait upon her;
     And gather gear by ev'ry wile
     That's justified by honour;
     Not for to hide it in a hedge,
     Nor for a train attendant;
     But for the glorious privilege
     Of being independent.

     The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip,
     To haud the wretch in order;
     But where ye feel your honour grip,
     Let that aye be your border;
     Its slightest touches, instant pause—
     Debar a' side-pretences;
     And resolutely keep its laws,
     Uncaring consequences.

     The great Creator to revere,
     Must sure become the creature;
     But still the preaching cant forbear,
     And ev'n the rigid feature:
     Yet ne'er with wits profane to range,
     Be complaisance extended;
     An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange
     For Deity offended!

     When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
     Religion may be blinded;
     Or if she gie a random sting,
     It may be little minded;
     But when on life we're tempest driv'n—
     A conscience but a canker—
     A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n,
     Is sure a noble anchor!

     Adieu, dear, amiable youth!
     Your heart can ne'er be wanting!
     May prudence, fortitude, and truth,
     Erect your brow undaunting!
     In ploughman phrase, "God send you speed,"
     Still daily to grow wiser;
     And may ye better reck the rede,
     Then ever did th' adviser!




 

Address Of Beelzebub

To the Right Honourable the Earl of Breadalbane, President of the Right Honourable and Honourable the Highland Society, which met on the 23rd of May last at the Shakespeare, Covent Garden, to concert ways and means to frustrate the designs of five hundred Highlanders, who, as the Society were informed by Mr. M'Kenzie of Applecross, were so audacious as to attempt an escape from their lawful lords and masters whose property they were, by emigrating from the lands of Mr. Macdonald of Glengary to the wilds of Canada, in search of that fantastic thing—Liberty.

     Long life, my Lord, an' health be yours,
     Unskaithed by hunger'd Highland boors;
     Lord grant me nae duddie, desperate beggar,
     Wi' dirk, claymore, and rusty trigger,
     May twin auld Scotland o' a life
     She likes—as butchers like a knife.

     Faith you and Applecross were right
     To keep the Highland hounds in sight:
     I doubt na! they wad bid nae better,
     Than let them ance out owre the water,
     Then up among thae lakes and seas,
     They'll mak what rules and laws they please:
     Some daring Hancocke, or a Franklin,
     May set their Highland bluid a-ranklin;
     Some Washington again may head them,
     Or some Montgomery, fearless, lead them,
     Till God knows what may be effected
     When by such heads and hearts directed,
     Poor dunghill sons of dirt and mire
     May to Patrician rights aspire!
     Nae sage North now, nor sager Sackville,
     To watch and premier o'er the pack vile,—
     An' whare will ye get Howes and Clintons
     To bring them to a right repentance—
     To cowe the rebel generation,
     An' save the honour o' the nation?
     They, an' be d-d! what right hae they
     To meat, or sleep, or light o' day?
     Far less—to riches, pow'r, or freedom,
     But what your lordship likes to gie them?

     But hear, my lord! Glengarry, hear!
     Your hand's owre light to them, I fear;
     Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies,
     I canna say but they do gaylies;
     They lay aside a' tender mercies,
     An' tirl the hallions to the birses;
     Yet while they're only poind't and herriet,
     They'll keep their stubborn Highland spirit:
     But smash them! crash them a' to spails,
     An' rot the dyvors i' the jails!
     The young dogs, swinge them to the labour;
     Let wark an' hunger mak them sober!
     The hizzies, if they're aughtlins fawsont,
     Let them in Drury-lane be lesson'd!
     An' if the wives an' dirty brats
     Come thiggin at your doors an' yetts,
     Flaffin wi' duds, an' grey wi' beas',
     Frightin away your ducks an' geese;
     Get out a horsewhip or a jowler,
     The langest thong, the fiercest growler,
     An' gar the tatter'd gypsies pack
     Wi' a' their bastards on their back!
     Go on, my Lord! I lang to meet you,
     An' in my house at hame to greet you;
     Wi' common lords ye shanna mingle,
     The benmost neuk beside the ingle,
     At my right han' assigned your seat,
     'Tween Herod's hip an' Polycrate:
     Or if you on your station tarrow,
     Between Almagro and Pizarro,
     A seat, I'm sure ye're well deservin't;
     An' till ye come—your humble servant,

     Beelzebub.
     June 1st, Anno Mundi, 5790.




 

A Dream

     Thoughts, words, and deeds, the Statute blames with reason;
     But surely Dreams were ne'er indicted Treason.

On reading, in the public papers, the Laureate's Ode, with the other parade of June 4th, 1786, the Author was no sooner dropt asleep, than he imagined himself transported to the Birth-day Levee: and, in his dreaming fancy, made the following Address:

     Guid-Mornin' to our Majesty!
     May Heaven augment your blisses
     On ev'ry new birth-day ye see,
     A humble poet wishes.
     My bardship here, at your Levee
     On sic a day as this is,
     Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
     Amang thae birth-day dresses
     Sae fine this day.

     I see ye're complimented thrang,
     By mony a lord an' lady;
     "God save the King" 's a cuckoo sang
     That's unco easy said aye:
     The poets, too, a venal gang,
     Wi' rhymes weel-turn'd an' ready,
     Wad gar you trow ye ne'er do wrang,
     But aye unerring steady,
     On sic a day.

     For me! before a monarch's face
     Ev'n there I winna flatter;
     For neither pension, post, nor place,
     Am I your humble debtor:
     So, nae reflection on your Grace,
     Your Kingship to bespatter;
     There's mony waur been o' the race,
     And aiblins ane been better
     Than you this day.

     'Tis very true, my sovereign King,
     My skill may weel be doubted;
     But facts are chiels that winna ding,
     An' downa be disputed:
     Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
     Is e'en right reft and clouted,
     And now the third part o' the string,
     An' less, will gang aboot it
     Than did ae day.^1

     Far be't frae me that I aspire
     To blame your legislation,
     Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire,
     To rule this mighty nation:
     But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
     Ye've trusted ministration
     To chaps wha in barn or byre
     Wad better fill'd their station
     Than courts yon day.

     And now ye've gien auld Britain peace,
     Her broken shins to plaister,
     Your sair taxation does her fleece,
     Till she has scarce a tester:
     For me, thank God, my life's a lease,
     Nae bargain wearin' faster,
     Or, faith! I fear, that, wi' the geese,
     I shortly boost to pasture
     I' the craft some day.

     [Footnote 1: The American colonies had recently been lost.]

     I'm no mistrusting Willie Pitt,
     When taxes he enlarges,
     (An' Will's a true guid fallow's get,
     A name not envy spairges),
     That he intends to pay your debt,
     An' lessen a' your charges;
     But, God-sake! let nae saving fit
     Abridge your bonie barges
     An'boats this day.

     Adieu, my Liege; may freedom geck
     Beneath your high protection;
     An' may ye rax Corruption's neck,
     And gie her for dissection!
     But since I'm here, I'll no neglect,
     In loyal, true affection,
     To pay your Queen, wi' due respect,
     May fealty an' subjection
     This great birth-day.

     Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
     While nobles strive to please ye,
     Will ye accept a compliment,
     A simple poet gies ye?
     Thae bonie bairntime, Heav'n has lent,
     Still higher may they heeze ye
     In bliss, till fate some day is sent
     For ever to release ye
     Frae care that day.

     For you, young Potentate o'Wales,
     I tell your highness fairly,
     Down Pleasure's stream, wi' swelling sails,
     I'm tauld ye're driving rarely;
     But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
     An' curse your folly sairly,
     That e'er ye brak Diana's pales,
     Or rattl'd dice wi' Charlie
     By night or day.

     Yet aft a ragged cowt's been known,
     To mak a noble aiver;
     So, ye may doucely fill the throne,
     For a'their clish-ma-claver:
     There, him^2 at Agincourt wha shone,
     Few better were or braver:
     And yet, wi' funny, queer Sir John,^3
     He was an unco shaver
     For mony a day.

     For you, right rev'rend Osnaburg,
     Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
     Altho' a ribbon at your lug
     Wad been a dress completer:
     As ye disown yon paughty dog,
     That bears the keys of Peter,
     Then swith! an' get a wife to hug,
     Or trowth, ye'll stain the mitre
     Some luckless day!

     Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn,
     Ye've lately come athwart her—
     A glorious galley,^4 stem and stern,
     Weel rigg'd for Venus' barter;
     But first hang out, that she'll discern,
     Your hymeneal charter;
     Then heave aboard your grapple airn,
     An' large upon her quarter,
     Come full that day.

     Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a',
     Ye royal lasses dainty,
     Heav'n mak you guid as well as braw,
     An' gie you lads a-plenty!
     But sneer na British boys awa!
     For kings are unco scant aye,
     An' German gentles are but sma',
     They're better just than want aye
     On ony day.

     [Footnote 2: King Henry V.—R.B.]

     [Footnote 3: Sir John Falstaff, vid. Shakespeare.—R. B.]

     [Footnote 4: Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain
     Royal sailor's amour.—R. B. This was Prince William Henry,
     third son of George III, afterward King William IV.]

     Gad bless you a'! consider now,
     Ye're unco muckle dautit;
     But ere the course o' life be through,
     It may be bitter sautit:
     An' I hae seen their coggie fou,
     That yet hae tarrow't at it.
     But or the day was done, I trow,
     The laggen they hae clautit
     Fu' clean that day.




 

A Dedication

     To Gavin Hamilton, Esq.

     Expect na, sir, in this narration,
     A fleechin, fleth'rin Dedication,
     To roose you up, an' ca' you guid,
     An' sprung o' great an' noble bluid,
     Because ye're surnam'd like His Grace—
     Perhaps related to the race:
     Then, when I'm tir'd—and sae are ye,
     Wi' mony a fulsome, sinfu' lie,
     Set up a face how I stop short,
     For fear your modesty be hurt.

     This may do—maun do, sir, wi' them wha
     Maun please the great folk for a wamefou;
     For me! sae laigh I need na bow,
     For, Lord be thankit, I can plough;
     And when I downa yoke a naig,
     Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg;
     Sae I shall say—an' that's nae flatt'rin—
     It's just sic Poet an' sic Patron.

     The Poet, some guid angel help him,
     Or else, I fear, some ill ane skelp him!
     He may do weel for a' he's done yet,
     But only—he's no just begun yet.

     The Patron (sir, ye maun forgie me;
     I winna lie, come what will o' me),
     On ev'ry hand it will allow'd be,
     He's just—nae better than he should be.

     I readily and freely grant,
     He downa see a poor man want;
     What's no his ain, he winna tak it;
     What ance he says, he winna break it;
     Ought he can lend he'll no refus't,
     Till aft his guidness is abus'd;
     And rascals whiles that do him wrang,
     Ev'n that, he does na mind it lang;
     As master, landlord, husband, father,
     He does na fail his part in either.

     But then, nae thanks to him for a'that;
     Nae godly symptom ye can ca' that;
     It's naething but a milder feature
     Of our poor, sinfu' corrupt nature:
     Ye'll get the best o' moral works,
     'Mang black Gentoos, and pagan Turks,
     Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
     Wha never heard of orthodoxy.
     That he's the poor man's friend in need,
     The gentleman in word and deed,
     It's no thro' terror of damnation;
     It's just a carnal inclination.

     Morality, thou deadly bane,
     Thy tens o' thousands thou hast slain!
     Vain is his hope, whase stay an' trust is
     In moral mercy, truth, and justice!

     No—stretch a point to catch a plack:
     Abuse a brother to his back;
     Steal through the winnock frae a whore,
     But point the rake that taks the door;
     Be to the poor like ony whunstane,
     And haud their noses to the grunstane;
     Ply ev'ry art o' legal thieving;
     No matter—stick to sound believing.

     Learn three-mile pray'rs, an' half-mile graces,
     Wi' weel-spread looves, an' lang, wry faces;
     Grunt up a solemn, lengthen'd groan,
     And damn a' parties but your own;
     I'll warrant they ye're nae deceiver,
     A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.

     O ye wha leave the springs o' Calvin,
     For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin!
     Ye sons of Heresy and Error,
     Ye'll some day squeel in quaking terror,
     When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath.
     And in the fire throws the sheath;
     When Ruin, with his sweeping besom,
     Just frets till Heav'n commission gies him;
     While o'er the harp pale Misery moans,
     And strikes the ever-deep'ning tones,
     Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans!

     Your pardon, sir, for this digression:
     I maist forgat my Dedication;
     But when divinity comes 'cross me,
     My readers still are sure to lose me.

     So, sir, you see 'twas nae daft vapour;
     But I maturely thought it proper,
     When a' my works I did review,
     To dedicate them, sir, to you:
     Because (ye need na tak it ill),
     I thought them something like yoursel'.

     Then patronize them wi' your favor,
     And your petitioner shall ever—
     I had amaist said, ever pray,
     But that's a word I need na say;
     For prayin, I hae little skill o't,
     I'm baith dead-sweer, an' wretched ill o't;
     But I'se repeat each poor man's pray'r,
     That kens or hears about you, sir—

     "May ne'er Misfortune's gowling bark,
     Howl thro' the dwelling o' the clerk!
     May ne'er his genrous, honest heart,
     For that same gen'rous spirit smart!
     May Kennedy's far-honour'd name
     Lang beet his hymeneal flame,
     Till Hamiltons, at least a dizzen,
     Are frae their nuptial labours risen:
     Five bonie lasses round their table,
     And sev'n braw fellows, stout an' able,
     To serve their king an' country weel,
     By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
     May health and peace, with mutual rays,
     Shine on the ev'ning o' his days;
     Till his wee, curlie John's ier-oe,
     When ebbing life nae mair shall flow,
     The last, sad, mournful rites bestow!"

     I will not wind a lang conclusion,
     With complimentary effusion;
     But, whilst your wishes and endeavours
     Are blest with Fortune's smiles and favours,
     I am, dear sir, with zeal most fervent,
     Your much indebted, humble servant.

     But if (which Pow'rs above prevent)
     That iron-hearted carl, Want,
     Attended, in his grim advances,
     By sad mistakes, and black mischances,
     While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
     Make you as poor a dog as I am,
     Your humble servant then no more;
     For who would humbly serve the poor?
     But, by a poor man's hopes in Heav'n!
     While recollection's pow'r is giv'n—
     If, in the vale of humble life,
     The victim sad of fortune's strife,
     I, thro' the tender-gushing tear,
     Should recognise my master dear;
     If friendless, low, we meet together,
     Then, sir, your hand—my Friend and Brother!




 

Versified Note To Dr. Mackenzie, Mauchline

     Friday first's the day appointed
     By the Right Worshipful anointed,

     To hold our grand procession;
     To get a blad o' Johnie's morals,
     And taste a swatch o' Manson's barrels

     I' the way of our profession.
     The Master and the Brotherhood
     Would a' be glad to see you;
     For me I would be mair than proud

     To share the mercies wi' you.
     If Death, then, wi' skaith, then,
     Some mortal heart is hechtin,
     Inform him, and storm him,
     That Saturday you'll fecht him.

     Robert Burns.
     Mossgiel, An. M. 5790.




 

The Farewell To the Brethren of St. James' Lodge, Tarbolton.

     Tune—"Guidnight, and joy be wi' you a'."
     Adieu! a heart-warm fond adieu;
     Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
     Ye favoured, enlighten'd few,
     Companions of my social joy;
     Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
     Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba';
     With melting heart, and brimful eye,
     I'll mind you still, tho' far awa.

     Oft have I met your social band,
     And spent the cheerful, festive night;
     Oft, honour'd with supreme command,
     Presided o'er the sons of light:
     And by that hieroglyphic bright,
     Which none but Craftsmen ever saw
     Strong Mem'ry on my heart shall write
     Those happy scenes, when far awa.

     May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
     Unite you in the grand Design,
     Beneath th' Omniscient Eye above,
     The glorious Architect Divine,
     That you may keep th' unerring line,
     Still rising by the plummet's law,
     Till Order bright completely shine,
     Shall be my pray'r when far awa.

     And you, farewell! whose merits claim
     Justly that highest badge to wear:
     Heav'n bless your honour'd noble name,
     To Masonry and Scotia dear!
     A last request permit me here,—
     When yearly ye assemble a',
     One round, I ask it with a tear,
     To him, the Bard that's far awa.




 

On A Scotch Bard, Gone To The West Indies

     A' ye wha live by sowps o' drink,
     A' ye wha live by crambo-clink,
     A' ye wha live and never think,
     Come, mourn wi' me!
     Our billie 's gien us a' a jink,
     An' owre the sea!

     Lament him a' ye rantin core,
     Wha dearly like a random splore;
     Nae mair he'll join the merry roar;
     In social key;
     For now he's taen anither shore.
     An' owre the sea!

     The bonie lasses weel may wiss him,
     And in their dear petitions place him:
     The widows, wives, an' a' may bless him
     Wi' tearfu' e'e;
     For weel I wat they'll sairly miss him
     That's owre the sea!

     O Fortune, they hae room to grumble!
     Hadst thou taen aff some drowsy bummle,
     Wha can do nought but fyke an' fumble,
     'Twad been nae plea;
     But he was gleg as ony wumble,
     That's owre the sea!

     Auld, cantie Kyle may weepers wear,
     An' stain them wi' the saut, saut tear;
     'Twill mak her poor auld heart, I fear,
     In flinders flee:
     He was her Laureat mony a year,
     That's owre the sea!

     He saw Misfortune's cauld nor-west
     Lang mustering up a bitter blast;
     A jillet brak his heart at last,
     Ill may she be!
     So, took a berth afore the mast,
     An' owre the sea.

     To tremble under Fortune's cummock,
     On a scarce a bellyfu' o' drummock,
     Wi' his proud, independent stomach,
     Could ill agree;
     So, row't his hurdies in a hammock,
     An' owre the sea.

     He ne'er was gien to great misguidin,
     Yet coin his pouches wad na bide in;
     Wi' him it ne'er was under hiding;
     He dealt it free:
     The Muse was a' that he took pride in,
     That's owre the sea.

     Jamaica bodies, use him weel,
     An' hap him in cozie biel:
     Ye'll find him aye a dainty chiel,
     An' fou o' glee:
     He wad na wrang'd the vera deil,
     That's owre the sea.

     Farewell, my rhyme-composing billie!
     Your native soil was right ill-willie;
     But may ye flourish like a lily,
     Now bonilie!
     I'll toast you in my hindmost gillie,
     Tho' owre the sea!




 

Song—Farewell To Eliza

     Tune—"Gilderoy."
     From thee, Eliza, I must go,
     And from my native shore;
     The cruel fates between us throw
     A boundless ocean's roar:
     But boundless oceans, roaring wide,
     Between my love and me,
     They never, never can divide
     My heart and soul from thee.

     Farewell, farewell, Eliza dear,
     The maid that I adore!
     A boding voice is in mine ear,
     We part to meet no more!
     But the latest throb that leaves my heart,
     While Death stands victor by,—
     That throb, Eliza, is thy part,
     And thine that latest sigh!




 

A Bard's Epitaph

     Is there a whim-inspired fool,
     Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
     Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool,
     Let him draw near;
     And owre this grassy heap sing dool,
     And drap a tear.

     Is there a bard of rustic song,
     Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
     That weekly this area throng,
     O, pass not by!
     But, with a frater-feeling strong,
     Here, heave a sigh.

     Is there a man, whose judgment clear
     Can others teach the course to steer,
     Yet runs, himself, life's mad career,
     Wild as the wave,
     Here pause—and, thro' the starting tear,
     Survey this grave.

     The poor inhabitant below
     Was quick to learn the wise to know,
     And keenly felt the friendly glow,
     And softer flame;
     But thoughtless follies laid him low,
     And stain'd his name!

     Reader, attend! whether thy soul
     Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
     Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
     In low pursuit:
     Know, prudent, cautious, self-control
     Is wisdom's root.

     Epitaph For Robert Aiken, Esq.

     Know thou, O stranger to the fame
     Of this much lov'd, much honoured name!
     (For none that knew him need be told)
     A warmer heart death ne'er made cold.

     Epitaph For Gavin Hamilton, Esq.

     The poor man weeps—here Gavin sleeps,
     Whom canting wretches blam'd;
     But with such as he, where'er he be,
     May I be sav'd or damn'd!




 

Epitaph On "Wee Johnie"

     Hic Jacet wee Johnie.

     Whoe'er thou art, O reader, know
     That Death has murder'd Johnie;
     An' here his body lies fu' low;
     For saul he ne'er had ony.




 

The Lass O' Ballochmyle

     Tune—"Ettrick Banks."
     'Twas even—the dewy fields were green,
     On every blade the pearls hang;
     The zephyr wanton'd round the bean,
     And bore its fragrant sweets alang:
     In ev'ry glen the mavis sang,
     All nature list'ning seem'd the while,
     Except where greenwood echoes rang,
     Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle.

     With careless step I onward stray'd,
     My heart rejoic'd in nature's joy,
     When, musing in a lonely glade,
     A maiden fair I chanc'd to spy:
     Her look was like the morning's eye,
     Her air like nature's vernal smile:
     Perfection whisper'd, passing by,
     "Behold the lass o' Ballochmyle!"

     Fair is the morn in flowery May,
     And sweet is night in autumn mild;
     When roving thro' the garden gay,
     Or wand'ring in the lonely wild:
     But woman, nature's darling child!
     There all her charms she does compile;
     Even there her other works are foil'd
     By the bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.

     O, had she been a country maid,
     And I the happy country swain,
     Tho' shelter'd in the lowest shed
     That ever rose on Scotland's plain!
     Thro' weary winter's wind and rain,
     With joy, with rapture, I would toil;
     And nightly to my bosom strain
     The bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.

     Then pride might climb the slipp'ry steep,
     Where frame and honours lofty shine;
     And thirst of gold might tempt the deep,
     Or downward seek the Indian mine:
     Give me the cot below the pine,
     To tend the flocks or till the soil;
     And ev'ry day have joys divine
     With the bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.




 

Lines To An Old Sweetheart

     Once fondly lov'd, and still remember'd dear,
     Sweet early object of my youthful vows,
     Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere,
     Friendship! 'tis all cold duty now allows.
     And when you read the simple artless rhymes,
     One friendly sigh for him—he asks no more,
     Who, distant, burns in flaming torrid climes,
     Or haply lies beneath th' Atlantic roar.




 

Motto Prefixed To The Author's First Publication

     The simple Bard, unbroke by rules of art,
     He pours the wild effusions of the heart;
     And if inspir'd 'tis Nature's pow'rs inspire;
     Her's all the melting thrill, and her's the kindling fire.




 

Lines To Mr. John Kennedy

     Farewell, dear friend! may guid luck hit you,
     And 'mang her favourites admit you:
     If e'er Detraction shore to smit you,
     May nane believe him,
     And ony deil that thinks to get you,
     Good Lord, deceive him!




 

Lines Written On A Banknote

     Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
     Fell source o' a' my woe and grief!
     For lack o' thee I've lost my lass!
     For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass!
     I see the children of affliction
     Unaided, through thy curst restriction:
     I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile
     Amid his hapless victim's spoil;
     And for thy potence vainly wished,
     To crush the villain in the dust:
     For lack o' thee, I leave this much-lov'd shore,
     Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.

     R.B.




 

Stanzas On Naething

     Extempore Epistle to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.

     To you, sir, this summons I've sent,
     Pray, whip till the pownie is freathing;
     But if you demand what I want,
     I honestly answer you—naething.

     Ne'er scorn a poor Poet like me,
     For idly just living and breathing,
     While people of every degree
     Are busy employed about—naething.

     Poor Centum-per-centum may fast,
     And grumble his hurdies their claithing,
     He'll find, when the balance is cast,
     He's gane to the devil for-naething.

     The courtier cringes and bows,
     Ambition has likewise its plaything;
     A coronet beams on his brows;
     And what is a coronet-naething.

     Some quarrel the Presbyter gown,
     Some quarrel Episcopal graithing;
     But every good fellow will own
     Their quarrel is a' about—naething.

     The lover may sparkle and glow,
     Approaching his bonie bit gay thing:
     But marriage will soon let him know
     He's gotten—a buskit up naething.

     The Poet may jingle and rhyme,
     In hopes of a laureate wreathing,
     And when he has wasted his time,
     He's kindly rewarded wi'—naething.

     The thundering bully may rage,
     And swagger and swear like a heathen;
     But collar him fast, I'll engage,
     You'll find that his courage is—naething.

     Last night wi' a feminine whig—
     A Poet she couldna put faith in;
     But soon we grew lovingly big,
     I taught her, her terrors were naething.

     Her whigship was wonderful pleased,
     But charmingly tickled wi' ae thing,
     Her fingers I lovingly squeezed,
     And kissed her, and promised her—naething.

     The priest anathemas may threat—
     Predicament, sir, that we're baith in;
     But when honour's reveille is beat,
     The holy artillery's naething.

     And now I must mount on the wave—
     My voyage perhaps there is death in;
     But what is a watery grave?
     The drowning a Poet is naething.

     And now, as grim death's in my thought,
     To you, sir, I make this bequeathing;
     My service as long as ye've ought,
     And my friendship, by God, when ye've naething.




 

The Farewell

     The valiant, in himself, what can he suffer?
     Or what does he regard his single woes?
     But when, alas! he multiplies himself,
     To dearer serves, to the lov'd tender fair,
     To those whose bliss, whose beings hang upon him,
     To helpless children,—then, Oh then, he feels
     The point of misery festering in his heart,
     And weakly weeps his fortunes like a coward:
     Such, such am I!—undone!




 

Thomson's Edward and Eleanora.

     Farewell, old Scotia's bleak domains,
     Far dearer than the torrid plains,
     Where rich ananas blow!
     Farewell, a mother's blessing dear!
     A borther's sigh! a sister's tear!
     My Jean's heart-rending throe!
     Farewell, my Bess! tho' thou'rt bereft
     Of my paternal care.
     A faithful brother I have left,
     My part in him thou'lt share!
     Adieu, too, to you too,
     My Smith, my bosom frien';
     When kindly you mind me,
     O then befriend my Jean!

     What bursting anguish tears my heart;
     From thee, my Jeany, must I part!
     Thou, weeping, answ'rest—"No!"
     Alas! misfortune stares my face,
     And points to ruin and disgrace,
     I for thy sake must go!
     Thee, Hamilton, and Aiken dear,
     A grateful, warm adieu:
     I, with a much-indebted tear,
     Shall still remember you!
     All hail then, the gale then,
     Wafts me from thee, dear shore!
     It rustles, and whistles
     I'll never see thee more!




 

The Calf

To the Rev. James Steven, on his text, Malachi, ch. iv. vers. 2. "And ye shall go forth, and grow up, as Calves of the stall."

     Right, sir! your text I'll prove it true,
     Tho' heretics may laugh;
     For instance, there's yourself just now,
     God knows, an unco calf.

     And should some patron be so kind,
     As bless you wi' a kirk,
     I doubt na, sir but then we'll find,
     Ye're still as great a stirk.

     But, if the lover's raptur'd hour,
     Shall ever be your lot,
     Forbid it, ev'ry heavenly Power,
     You e'er should be a stot!

     Tho' when some kind connubial dear
     Your but—and—ben adorns,
     The like has been that you may wear
     A noble head of horns.

     And, in your lug, most reverend James,
     To hear you roar and rowt,
     Few men o' sense will doubt your claims
     To rank amang the nowt.

     And when ye're number'd wi' the dead,
     Below a grassy hillock,
     With justice they may mark your head—
     "Here lies a famous bullock!"




 

Nature's Law—A Poem

          Humbly inscribed to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.

          Great Nature spoke: observant man obey'd—Pope.
     Let other heroes boast their scars,
     The marks of sturt and strife:
     And other poets sing of wars,
     The plagues of human life:

     Shame fa' the fun, wi' sword and gun
     To slap mankind like lumber!
     I sing his name, and nobler fame,
     Wha multiplies our number.

     Great Nature spoke, with air benign,
     "Go on, ye human race;
     This lower world I you resign;
     Be fruitful and increase.
     The liquid fire of strong desire
     I've pour'd it in each bosom;
     Here, on this had, does Mankind stand,
     And there is Beauty's blossom."

     The Hero of these artless strains,
     A lowly bard was he,
     Who sung his rhymes in Coila's plains,
     With meikle mirth an'glee;
     Kind Nature's care had given his share
     Large, of the flaming current;
     And, all devout, he never sought
     To stem the sacred torrent.

     He felt the powerful, high behest
     Thrill, vital, thro' and thro';
     And sought a correspondent breast,
     To give obedience due:
     Propitious Powers screen'd the young flow'rs,
     From mildews of abortion;
     And low! the bard—a great reward—
     Has got a double portion!

     Auld cantie Coil may count the day,
     As annual it returns,
     The third of Libra's equal sway,
     That gave another Burns,
     With future rhymes, an' other times,
     To emulate his sire:
     To sing auld Coil in nobler style
     With more poetic fire.

     Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,
     Look down with gracious eyes;
     And bless auld Coila, large and long,
     With multiplying joys;
     Lang may she stand to prop the land,
     The flow'r of ancient nations;
     And Burnses spring, her fame to sing,
     To endless generations!




 

Song—Willie Chalmers

Mr. Chalmers, a gentleman in Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked me to write a poetic epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her, but was scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows:—

     Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride,
     And eke a braw new brechan,
     My Pegasus I'm got astride,
     And up Parnassus pechin;
     Whiles owre a bush wi' donwward crush,
     The doited beastie stammers;
     Then up he gets, and off he sets,
     For sake o' Willie Chalmers.

     I doubt na, lass, that weel ken'd name
     May cost a pair o' blushes;
     I am nae stranger to your fame,
     Nor his warm urged wishes.
     Your bonie face sae mild and sweet,
     His honest heart enamours,
     And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
     Tho' wair'd on Willie Chalmers.

     Auld Truth hersel' might swear yer'e fair,
     And Honour safely back her;
     And Modesty assume your air,
     And ne'er a ane mistak her:
     And sic twa love-inspiring een
     Might fire even holy palmers;
     Nae wonder then they've fatal been
     To honest Willie Chalmers.

     I doubt na fortune may you shore
     Some mim-mou'd pouther'd priestie,
     Fu' lifted up wi' Hebrew lore,
     And band upon his breastie:
     But oh! what signifies to you
     His lexicons and grammars;
     The feeling heart's the royal blue,
     And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.

     Some gapin', glowrin' countra laird
     May warsle for your favour;
     May claw his lug, and straik his beard,
     And hoast up some palaver:
     My bonie maid, before ye wed
     Sic clumsy-witted hammers,
     Seek Heaven for help, and barefit skelp
     Awa wi' Willie Chalmers.

     Forgive the Bard! my fond regard
     For ane that shares my bosom,
     Inspires my Muse to gie 'm his dues
     For deil a hair I roose him.
     May powers aboon unite you soon,
     And fructify your amours,—
     And every year come in mair dear
     To you and Willie Chalmers.




 

Reply To A Trimming Epistle Received From A Tailor

     What ails ye now, ye lousie bitch
     To thresh my back at sic a pitch?
     Losh, man! hae mercy wi' your natch,
     Your bodkin's bauld;
     I didna suffer half sae much
     Frae Daddie Auld.

     What tho' at times, when I grow crouse,
     I gie their wames a random pouse,
     Is that enough for you to souse
     Your servant sae?
     Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse,
     An' jag-the-flea!

     King David, o' poetic brief,
     Wrocht 'mang the lasses sic mischief
     As filled his after-life wi' grief,
     An' bluidy rants,
     An' yet he's rank'd amang the chief
     O' lang-syne saunts.

     And maybe, Tam, for a' my cants,
     My wicked rhymes, an' drucken rants,
     I'll gie auld cloven's Clootie's haunts
     An unco slip yet,
     An' snugly sit amang the saunts,
     At Davie's hip yet!

     But, fegs! the session says I maun
     Gae fa' upo' anither plan
     Than garrin lasses coup the cran,
     Clean heels ower body,
     An' sairly thole their mother's ban
     Afore the howdy.

     This leads me on to tell for sport,
     How I did wi' the Session sort;
     Auld Clinkum, at the inner port,
     Cried three times, "Robin!
     Come hither lad, and answer for't,
     Ye're blam'd for jobbin!"

     Wi' pinch I put a Sunday's face on,
     An' snoov'd awa before the Session:
     I made an open, fair confession—
     I scorn't to lee,
     An' syne Mess John, beyond expression,
     Fell foul o' me.

     A fornicator-loun he call'd me,
     An' said my faut frae bliss expell'd me;
     I own'd the tale was true he tell'd me,
     "But, what the matter?
     (Quo' I) I fear unless ye geld me,
     I'll ne'er be better!"

     "Geld you! (quo' he) an' what for no?
     If that your right hand, leg or toe
     Should ever prove your sp'ritual foe,
     You should remember
     To cut it aff—an' what for no
     Your dearest member?"

     "Na, na, (quo' I,) I'm no for that,
     Gelding's nae better than 'tis ca't;
     I'd rather suffer for my faut
     A hearty flewit,
     As sair owre hip as ye can draw't,
     Tho' I should rue it.

     "Or, gin ye like to end the bother,
     To please us a'—I've just ae ither—
     When next wi' yon lass I forgather,
     Whate'er betide it,
     I'll frankly gie her 't a' thegither,
     An' let her guide it."

     But, sir, this pleas'd them warst of a',
     An' therefore, Tam, when that I saw,
     I said "Gude night," an' cam' awa',
     An' left the Session;
     I saw they were resolved a'
     On my oppression.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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