Robert Burns: Poems

1786 (a)

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^1

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."


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.


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.


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!


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—


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.


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.


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


[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.


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,


[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


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^1

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—


[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,


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


[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^1

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!


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


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.


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,


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.