Robert Burns: Poems


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

An Unco Mournfu' Tale

As Mailie, an' her lambs thegither,

Was ae day nibbling on the tether,

Upon her cloot she coost a hitch,

An' owre she warsl'd in the ditch:

There, groaning, dying, she did lie,

When Hughoc he cam doytin by.

Wi' glowrin een, and lifted han's

Poor Hughoc like a statue stan's;

He saw her days were near-hand ended,

But, wae's my heart! he could na mend it!

He gaped wide, but naething spak,

At langth poor Mailie silence brak.

"O thou, whase lamentable face

Appears to mourn my woefu' case!

My dying words attentive hear,

An' bear them to my Master dear.

"Tell him, if e'er again he keep

As muckle gear as buy a sheep—

O, bid him never tie them mair,

Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!

But ca' them out to park or hill,

An' let them wander at their will:

So may his flock increase, an' grow

To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'!

"Tell him, he was a Master kin',

An' aye was guid to me an' mine;

An' now my dying charge I gie him,

My helpless lambs, I trust them wi' him.

"O, bid him save their harmless lives,

Frae dogs, an' tods, an' butcher's knives!

But gie them guid cow-milk their fill,

Till they be fit to fend themsel';

An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn,

Wi' taets o' hay an' ripps o' corn.

"An' may they never learn the gaets,

Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets—

To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal

At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!

So may they, like their great forbears,

For mony a year come thro the shears:

So wives will gie them bits o' bread,

An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.

"My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,

O, bid him breed him up wi' care!

An' if he live to be a beast,

To pit some havins in his breast!

"An' warn him—what I winna name—

To stay content wi' yowes at hame;

An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,

Like ither menseless, graceless brutes.

"An' neist, my yowie, silly thing,

Gude keep thee frae a tether string!

O, may thou ne'er forgather up,

Wi' ony blastit, moorland toop;

But aye keep mind to moop an' mell,

Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel'!

"And now, my bairns, wi' my last breath,

I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:

An' when you think upo' your mither,

Mind to be kind to ane anither.

"Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail,

To tell my master a' my tale;

An' bid him burn this cursed tether,

An' for thy pains thou'se get my blather."

This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head,

And clos'd her een amang the dead!

Poor Mailie's Elegy

Lament in rhyme, lament in prose,

Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose;

Our bardie's fate is at a close,

Past a' remead!

The last, sad cape-stane o' his woes;

Poor Mailie's dead!

It's no the loss o' warl's gear,

That could sae bitter draw the tear,

Or mak our bardie, dowie, wear

The mourning weed:

He's lost a friend an' neebor dear

In Mailie dead.

Thro' a' the town she trotted by him;

A lang half-mile she could descry him;

Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him,

She ran wi' speed:

A friend mair faithfu' ne'er cam nigh him,

Than Mailie dead.

I wat she was a sheep o' sense,

An' could behave hersel' wi' mense:

I'll say't, she never brak a fence,

Thro' thievish greed.

Our bardie, lanely, keeps the spence

Sin' Mailie's dead.

Or, if he wanders up the howe,

Her living image in her yowe

Comes bleating till him, owre the knowe,

For bits o' bread;

An' down the briny pearls rowe

For Mailie dead.

She was nae get o' moorland tips,

Wi' tauted ket, an' hairy hips;

For her forbears were brought in ships,

Frae 'yont the Tweed.

A bonier fleesh ne'er cross'd the clips

Than Mailie's dead.

Wae worth the man wha first did shape

That vile, wanchancie thing—a raip!

It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,

Wi' chokin dread;

An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape

For Mailie dead.

O, a' ye bards on bonie Doon!

An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune!

Come, join the melancholious croon

O' Robin's reed!

His heart will never get aboon—

His Mailie's dead!

Song—The Rigs O' Barley

Tune—"Corn Rigs are bonie."

It was upon a Lammas night,

When corn rigs are bonie,

Beneath the moon's unclouded light,

I held awa to Annie;

The time flew by, wi' tentless heed,

Till, 'tween the late and early,

Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed

To see me thro' the barley.

Corn rigs, an' barley rigs,

An' corn rigs are bonie:

I'll ne'er forget that happy night,

Amang the rigs wi' Annie.

The sky was blue, the wind was still,

The moon was shining clearly;

I set her down, wi' right good will,

Amang the rigs o' barley:

I ken't her heart was a' my ain;

I lov'd her most sincerely;

I kiss'd her owre and owre again,

Amang the rigs o' barley.

Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.

I lock'd her in my fond embrace;

Her heart was beating rarely:

My blessings on that happy place,

Amang the rigs o' barley!

But by the moon and stars so bright,

That shone that hour so clearly!

She aye shall bless that happy night

Amang the rigs o' barley.

Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.

I hae been blythe wi' comrades dear;

I hae been merry drinking;

I hae been joyfu' gath'rin gear;

I hae been happy thinking:

But a' the pleasures e'er I saw,

Tho' three times doubl'd fairly,

That happy night was worth them a',

Amang the rigs o' barley.

Corn rigs, an' barley rigs, &c.

Song Composed In August

Tune—"I had a horse, I had nae mair."

Now westlin winds and slaught'ring guns

Bring Autumn's pleasant weather;

The moorcock springs on whirring wings

Amang the blooming heather:

Now waving grain, wide o'er the plain,

Delights the weary farmer;

And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night,

To muse upon my charmer.

The partridge loves the fruitful fells,

The plover loves the mountains;

The woodcock haunts the lonely dells,

The soaring hern the fountains:

Thro' lofty groves the cushat roves,

The path of man to shun it;

The hazel bush o'erhangs the thrush,

The spreading thorn the linnet.

Thus ev'ry kind their pleasure find,

The savage and the tender;

Some social join, and leagues combine,

Some solitary wander:

Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,

Tyrannic man's dominion;

The sportsman's joy, the murd'ring cry,

The flutt'ring, gory pinion!

But, Peggy dear, the ev'ning's clear,

Thick flies the skimming swallow,

The sky is blue, the fields in view,

All fading-green and yellow:

Come let us stray our gladsome way,

And view the charms of Nature;

The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,

And ev'ry happy creature.

We'll gently walk, and sweetly talk,

Till the silent moon shine clearly;

I'll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,

Swear how I love thee dearly:

Not vernal show'rs to budding flow'rs,

Not Autumn to the farmer,

So dear can be as thou to me,

My fair, my lovely charmer!


Tune—"My Nanie, O."

Behind yon hills where Lugar flows,

'Mang moors an' mosses many, O,

The wintry sun the day has clos'd,

And I'll awa to Nanie, O.

The westlin wind blaws loud an' shill;

The night's baith mirk and rainy, O;

But I'll get my plaid an' out I'll steal,

An' owre the hill to Nanie, O.

My Nanie's charming, sweet, an' young;

Nae artfu' wiles to win ye, O:

May ill befa' the flattering tongue

That wad beguile my Nanie, O.

Her face is fair, her heart is true;

As spotless as she's bonie, O:

The op'ning gowan, wat wi' dew,

Nae purer is than Nanie, O.

A country lad is my degree,

An' few there be that ken me, O;

But what care I how few they be,

I'm welcome aye to Nanie, O.

My riches a's my penny-fee,

An' I maun guide it cannie, O;

But warl's gear ne'er troubles me,

My thoughts are a' my Nanie, O.

Our auld guidman delights to view

His sheep an' kye thrive bonie, O;

But I'm as blythe that hands his pleugh,

An' has nae care but Nanie, O.

Come weel, come woe, I care na by;

I'll tak what Heav'n will sen' me, O:

Nae ither care in life have I,

But live, an' love my Nanie, O.

Song—Green Grow The Rashes

A Fragment

Chor.—Green grow the rashes, O;

Green grow the rashes, O;

The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,

Are spent amang the lasses, O.

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',

In ev'ry hour that passes, O:

What signifies the life o' man,

An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

The war'ly race may riches chase,

An' riches still may fly them, O;

An' tho' at last they catch them fast,

Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.

Green grow, &c.

But gie me a cannie hour at e'en,

My arms about my dearie, O;

An' war'ly cares, an' war'ly men,

May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!

Green grow, &c.

For you sae douce, ye sneer at this;

Ye're nought but senseless asses, O:

The wisest man the warl' e'er saw,

He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears

Her noblest work she classes, O:

Her prentice han' she try'd on man,

An' then she made the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

Song—Wha Is That At My Bower-Door

Tune—"Lass, an I come near thee."

"Wha is that at my bower-door?"

"O wha is it but Findlay!"

"Then gae your gate, ye'se nae be here:"

"Indeed maun I," quo' Findlay;

"What mak' ye, sae like a thief?"

"O come and see," quo' Findlay;

"Before the morn ye'll work mischief:"

"Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.

"Gif I rise and let you in"—

"Let me in," quo' Findlay;

"Ye'll keep me waukin wi' your din;"

"Indeed will I," quo' Findlay;

"In my bower if ye should stay"—

"Let me stay," quo' Findlay;

"I fear ye'll bide till break o' day;"

"Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.

"Here this night if ye remain"—

"I'll remain," quo' Findlay;

"I dread ye'll learn the gate again;"

"Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.

"What may pass within this bower"—

"Let it pass," quo' Findlay;

"Ye maun conceal till your last hour:"

"Indeed will I," quo' Findlay.