Part 2 out of 13
"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., In Tarbolton
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;
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^1
[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
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^1
[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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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,
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;
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
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,
Count on a friend, in faith an' practice,
In Robert Burns.
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^1
[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.
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^1
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
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^1
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.