Robert Burns: Poems


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!