Robert Burns: Poems


Love In The Guise Of Friendship

Your friendship much can make me blest,

O why that bliss destroy!

Why urge the only, one request

You know I will deny!

Your thought, if Love must harbour there,

Conceal it in that thought;

Nor cause me from my bosom tear

The very friend I sought.

Go On, Sweet Bird, And Sooth My Care

For thee is laughing Nature gay,

For thee she pours the vernal day;

For me in vain is Nature drest,

While Joy's a stranger to my breast.

Clarinda, Mistress Of My Soul

Clarinda, mistres of my soul,

The measur'd time is run!

The wretch beneath the dreary pole

So marks his latest sun.

To what dark cave of frozen night

Shall poor Sylvander hie;

Depriv'd of thee, his life and light,

The sun of all his joy?

We part—but by these precious drops,

That fill thy lovely eyes,

No other light shall guide my steps,

Till thy bright beams arise!

She, the fair sun of all her sex,

Has blest my glorious day;

And shall a glimmering planet fix

My worship to its ray?

I'm O'er Young To Marry Yet

Chorus.—I'm o'er young, I'm o'er young,

I'm o'er young to marry yet;

I'm o'er young, 'twad be a sin

To tak me frae my mammy yet.

I am my mammny's ae bairn,

Wi' unco folk I weary, sir;

And lying in a man's bed,

I'm fley'd it mak me eerie, sir.

I'm o'er young, &c.

My mammie coft me a new gown,

The kirk maun hae the gracing o't;

Were I to lie wi' you, kind Sir,

I'm feared ye'd spoil the lacing o't.

I'm o'er young, &c.

Hallowmass is come and gane,

The nights are lang in winter, sir,

And you an' I in ae bed,

In trowth, I dare na venture, sir.

I'm o'er young, &c.

Fu' loud an' shill the frosty wind

Blaws thro' the leafless timmer, sir;

But if ye come this gate again;

I'll aulder be gin simmer, sir.

I'm o'er young, &c.

To The Weavers Gin Ye Go

My heart was ance as blithe and free

As simmer days were lang;

But a bonie, westlin weaver lad

Has gart me change my sang.

Chorus.—To the weaver's gin ye go, fair maids,

To the weaver's gin ye go;

I rede you right, gang ne'er at night,

To the weaver's gin ye go.

My mither sent me to the town,

To warp a plaiden wab;

But the weary, weary warpin o't

Has gart me sigh and sab.

To the weaver's, &c.

A bonie, westlin weaver lad

Sat working at his loom;

He took my heart as wi' a net,

In every knot and thrum.

To the weaver's, &c.

I sat beside my warpin-wheel,

And aye I ca'd it roun';

But every shot and evey knock,

My heart it gae a stoun.

To the weaver's, &c.

The moon was sinking in the west,

Wi' visage pale and wan,

As my bonie, westlin weaver lad

Convoy'd me thro' the glen.

To the weaver's, &c.

But what was said, or what was done,

Shame fa' me gin I tell;

But Oh! I fear the kintra soon

Will ken as weel's myself!

To the weaver's, &c.

M'Pherson's Farewell

Tune—"M'Pherson's Rant."

Farewell, ye dungeons dark and strong,

The wretch's destinie!

M'Pherson's time will not be long

On yonder gallows-tree.

Chorus.—Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,

Sae dauntingly gaed he;

He play'd a spring, and danc'd it round,

Below the gallows-tree.

O, what is death but parting breath?

On many a bloody plain

I've dared his face, and in this place

I scorn him yet again!

Sae rantingly, &c.

Untie these bands from off my hands,

And bring me to my sword;

And there's no a man in all Scotland

But I'll brave him at a word.

Sae rantingly, &c.

I've liv'd a life of sturt and strife;

I die by treacherie:

It burns my heart I must depart,

And not avenged be.

Sae rantingly, &c.

Now farewell light, thou sunshine bright,

And all beneath the sky!

May coward shame distain his name,

The wretch that dares not die!

Sae rantingly, &c.

Stay My Charmer

Tune—"An gille dubh ciar-dhubh."

Stay my charmer, can you leave me?

Cruel, cruel to deceive me;

Well you know how much you grieve me;

Cruel charmer, can you go!

Cruel charmer, can you go!

By my love so ill-requited,

By the faith you fondly plighted,

By the pangs of lovers slighted,

Do not, do not liave me so!

Do not, do not leave me so!

Song—My Hoggie

What will I do gin my Hoggie die?

My joy, my pride, my Hoggie!

My only beast, I had nae mae,

And vow but I was vogie!

The lee-lang night we watch'd the fauld,

Me and my faithfu' doggie;

We heard nocht but the roaring linn,

Amang the braes sae scroggie.

But the houlet cry'd frau the castle wa',

The blitter frae the boggie;

The tod reply'd upon the hill,

I trembled for my Hoggie.

When day did daw, and cocks did craw,

The morning it was foggie;

An unco tyke, lap o'er the dyke,

And maist has kill'd my Hoggie!

Raving Winds Around Her Blowing

Tune—"M'Grigor of Roro's Lament."

I composed these verses on Miss Isabella M'Leod of Raza, alluding to her feelings on the death of her sister, and the still more melancholy death of her sister's husband, the late Earl of Loudoun, who shot himself out of sheer heart-break at some mortifications he suffered, owing to the deranged state of his finances.—R.B., 1971.

Raving winds around her blowing,

Yellow leaves the woodlands strowing,

By a river hoarsely roaring,

Isabella stray'd deploring—

"Farewell, hours that late did measure

Sunshine days of joy and pleasure;

Hail, thou gloomy night of sorrow,

Cheerless night that knows no morrow!

"O'er the past too fondly wandering,

On the hopeless future pondering;

Chilly grief my life-blood freezes,

Fell despair my fancy seizes.

"Life, thou soul of every blessing,

Load to misery most distressing,

Gladly how would I resign thee,

And to dark oblivion join thee!"

Up In The Morning Early

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,

The drift is driving sairly;

Sae loud and shill's I hear the blast—

I'm sure it's winter fairly.

Chorus.—Up in the morning's no for me,

Up in the morning early;

When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,

I'm sure it's winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,

A' day they fare but sparely;

And lang's the night frae e'en to morn—

I'm sure it's winter fairly.

Up in the morning's, &c.

How Long And Dreary Is The Night

How long and dreary is the night,

When I am frae my dearie!

I sleepless lie frae e'en to morn,

Tho' I were ne'er so weary:

I sleepless lie frae e'en to morn,

Tho' I were ne'er sae weary!

When I think on the happy days

I spent wi' you my dearie:

And now what lands between us lie,

How can I be but eerie!

And now what lands between us lie,

How can I be but eerie!

How slow ye move, ye heavy hours,

As ye were wae and weary!

It wasna sae ye glinted by,

When I was wi' my dearie!

It wasna sae ye glinted by,

When I was wi' my dearie!

Hey, The Dusty Miller

Hey, the dusty Miller,

And his dusty coat,

He will win a shilling,

Or he spend a groat:

Dusty was the coat,

Dusty was the colour,

Dusty was the kiss

That I gat frae the Miller.

Hey, the dusty Miller,

And his dusty sack;

Leeze me on the calling

Fills the dusty peck:

Fills the dusty peck,

Brings the dusty siller;

I wad gie my coatie

For the dusty Miller.

Duncan Davison

There was a lass, they ca'd her Meg,

And she held o'er the moors to spin;

There was a lad that follow'd her,

They ca'd him Duncan Davison.

The moor was dreigh, and Meg was skeigh,

Her favour Duncan could na win;

For wi' the rock she wad him knock,

And aye she shook the temper-pin.

As o'er the moor they lightly foor,

A burn was clear, a glen was green,

Upon the banks they eas'd their shanks,

And aye she set the wheel between:

But Duncan swoor a haly aith,

That Meg should be a bride the morn;

Then Meg took up her spinning-graith,

And flang them a' out o'er the burn.

We will big a wee, wee house,

And we will live like king and queen;

Sae blythe and merry's we will be,

When ye set by the wheel at e'en.

A man may drink, and no be drunk;

A man may fight, and no be slain;

A man may kiss a bonie lass,

And aye be welcome back again!

The Lad They Ca'Jumpin John

Her daddie forbad, her minnie forbad

Forbidden she wadna be:

She wadna trow't the browst she brew'd,

Wad taste sae bitterlie.

Chorus.—The lang lad they ca'Jumpin John

Beguil'd the bonie lassie,

The lang lad they ca'Jumpin John

Beguil'd the bonie lassie.

A cow and a cauf, a yowe and a hauf,

And thretty gude shillin's and three;

A vera gude tocher, a cotter-man's dochter,

The lass wi' the bonie black e'e.

The lang lad, &c.

Talk Of Him That's Far Awa

Musing on the roaring ocean,

Which divides my love and me;

Wearying heav'n in warm devotion,

For his weal where'er he be.

Hope and Fear's alternate billow

Yielding late to Nature's law,

Whispering spirits round my pillow,

Talk of him that's far awa.

Ye whom sorrow never wounded,

Ye who never shed a tear,

Care—untroubled, joy—surrounded,

Gaudy day to you is dear.

Gentle night, do thou befriend me,

Downy sleep, the curtain draw;

Spirits kind, again attend me,

Talk of him that's far awa!

To Daunton Me

The blude-red rose at Yule may blaw,

The simmer lilies bloom in snaw,

The frost may freeze the deepest sea;

But an auld man shall never daunton me.

Refrain.—To daunton me, to daunton me,

And auld man shall never daunton me.

To daunton me, and me sae young,

Wi' his fause heart and flatt'ring tongue,

That is the thing you shall never see,

For an auld man shall never daunton me.

To daunton me, &c.

For a' his meal and a' his maut,

For a' his fresh beef and his saut,

For a' his gold and white monie,

And auld men shall never daunton me.

To daunton me, &c.

His gear may buy him kye and yowes,

His gear may buy him glens and knowes;

But me he shall not buy nor fee,

For an auld man shall never daunton me.

To daunton me, &c.

He hirples twa fauld as he dow,

Wi' his teethless gab and his auld beld pow,

And the rain rains down frae his red blear'd e'e;

That auld man shall never daunton me.

To daunton me, &c.

The Winter It Is Past

The winter it is past, and the summer comes at last

And the small birds, they sing on ev'ry tree;

Now ev'ry thing is glad, while I am very sad,

Since my true love is parted from me.

The rose upon the breer, by the waters running clear,

May have charms for the linnet or the bee;

Their little loves are blest, and their little hearts at rest,

But my true love is parted from me.

The Bonie Lad That's Far Awa

O how can I be blythe and glad,

Or how can I gang brisk and braw,

When the bonie lad that I lo'e best

Is o'er the hills and far awa!

It's no the frosty winter wind,

It's no the driving drift and snaw;

But aye the tear comes in my e'e,

To think on him that's far awa.

My father pat me frae his door,

My friends they hae disown'd me a';

But I hae ane will tak my part,

The bonie lad that's far awa.

A pair o' glooves he bought to me,

And silken snoods he gae me twa;

And I will wear them for his sake,

The bonie lad that's far awa.

O weary Winter soon will pass,

And Spring will cleed the birken shaw;

And my young babie will be born,

And he'll be hame that's far awa.

Verses To Clarinda

Sent with a Pair of Wine-Glasses.

Fair Empress of the Poet's soul,

And Queen of Poetesses;

Clarinda, take this little boon,

This humble pair of glasses:

And fill them up with generous juice,

As generous as your mind;

And pledge them to the generous toast,

"The whole of human kind!"

"To those who love us!" second fill;

But not to those whom we love;

Lest we love those who love not us—

A third—"To thee and me, Love!"

The Chevalier's Lament

Air—"Captain O'Kean."

The small birds rejoice in the green leaves returning,

The murmuring streamlet winds clear thro' the vale;

The primroses blow in the dews of the morning,

And wild scatter'd cowslips bedeck the green dale:

But what can give pleasure, or what can seem fair,

When the lingering moments are numbered by care?

No birds sweetly singing, nor flow'rs gaily springing,

Can soothe the sad bosom of joyless despair.

The deed that I dared, could it merit their malice?

A king and a father to place on his throne!

His right are these hills, and his right are these valleys,

Where the wild beasts find shelter, tho' I can find none!

But 'tis not my suff'rings, thus wretched, forlorn,

My brave gallant friends, 'tis your ruin I mourn;

Your faith proved so loyal in hot bloody trial,—

Alas! I can make it no better return!

Epistle To Hugh Parker

In this strange land, this uncouth clime,

A land unknown to prose or rhyme;

Where words ne'er cross't the Muse's heckles,

Nor limpit in poetic shackles:

A land that Prose did never view it,

Except when drunk he stacher't thro' it;

Here, ambush'd by the chimla cheek,

Hid in an atmosphere of reek,

I hear a wheel thrum i' the neuk,

I hear it—for in vain I leuk.

The red peat gleams, a fiery kernel,

Enhusked by a fog infernal:

Here, for my wonted rhyming raptures,

I sit and count my sins by chapters;

For life and spunk like ither Christians,

I'm dwindled down to mere existence,

Wi' nae converse but Gallowa' bodies,

Wi' nae kenn'd face but Jenny Geddes,

Jenny, my Pegasean pride!

Dowie she saunters down Nithside,

And aye a westlin leuk she throws,

While tears hap o'er her auld brown nose!

Was it for this, wi' cannie care,

Thou bure the Bard through many a shire?

At howes, or hillocks never stumbled,

And late or early never grumbled?—

O had I power like inclination,

I'd heeze thee up a constellation,

To canter with the Sagitarre,

Or loup the ecliptic like a bar;

Or turn the pole like any arrow;

Or, when auld Phoebus bids good-morrow,

Down the zodiac urge the race,

And cast dirt on his godship's face;

For I could lay my bread and kail

He'd ne'er cast saut upo' thy tail.—

Wi' a' this care and a' this grief,

And sma', sma' prospect of relief,

And nought but peat reek i' my head,

How can I write what ye can read?—

Tarbolton, twenty-fourth o' June,

Ye'll find me in a better tune;

But till we meet and weet our whistle,

Tak this excuse for nae epistle.

Robert Burns.

Of A' The Airts The Wind Can Blaw^1

Tune—"Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey."

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw,

I dearly like the west,

For there the bonie lassie lives,

The lassie I lo'e best:

[Footnote 1: Written during a separation from Mrs. Burns in their

honeymoon. Burns was preparing a home at Ellisland; Mrs. Burns

was at Mossgiel.—Lang.]

There's wild-woods grow, and rivers row,

And mony a hill between:

But day and night my fancys' flight

Is ever wi' my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers,

I see her sweet and fair:

I hear her in the tunefu' birds,

I hear her charm the air:

There's not a bonie flower that springs,

By fountain, shaw, or green;

There's not a bonie bird that sings,

But minds me o' my Jean.

Song—I Hae a Wife O' My Ain

I Hae a wife of my ain,

I'll partake wi' naebody;

I'll take Cuckold frae nane,

I'll gie Cuckold to naebody.

I hae a penny to spend,

There—thanks to naebody!

I hae naething to lend,

I'll borrow frae naebody.

I am naebody's lord,

I'll be slave to naebody;

I hae a gude braid sword,

I'll tak dunts frae naebody.

I'll be merry and free,

I'll be sad for naebody;

Naebody cares for me,

I care for naebody.

Lines Written In Friars'-Carse Hermitage

Glenriddel Hermitage, June 28th, 1788.

Thou whom chance may hither lead,

Be thou clad in russet weed,

Be thou deckt in silken stole,

Grave these maxims on thy soul.

Life is but a day at most,

Sprung from night, in darkness lost:

Hope not sunshine every hour,

Fear not clouds will always lour.

Happiness is but a name,

Make content and ease thy aim,

Ambition is a meteor-gleam;

Fame, an idle restless dream;

Peace, the tend'rest flow'r of spring;

Pleasures, insects on the wing;

Those that sip the dew alone—

Make the butterflies thy own;

Those that would the bloom devour—

Crush the locusts, save the flower.

For the future be prepar'd,

Guard wherever thou can'st guard;

But thy utmost duly done,

Welcome what thou can'st not shun.

Follies past, give thou to air,

Make their consequence thy care:

Keep the name of Man in mind,

And dishonour not thy kind.

Reverence with lowly heart

Him, whose wondrous work thou art;

Keep His Goodness still in view,

Thy trust, and thy example, too.

Stranger, go! Heaven be thy guide!

Quod the Beadsman of Nidside.

To Alex. Cunningham, ESQ., Writer

Ellisland, Nithsdale, July 27th, 1788.

My godlike friend—nay, do not stare,

You think the phrase is odd-like;

But God is love, the saints declare,

Then surely thou art god-like.

And is thy ardour still the same?

And kindled still at Anna?

Others may boast a partial flame,

But thou art a volcano!

Ev'n Wedlock asks not love beyond

Death's tie-dissolving portal;

But thou, omnipotently fond,

May'st promise love immortal!

Thy wounds such healing powers defy,

Such symptoms dire attend them,

That last great antihectic try—

Marriage perhaps may mend them.

Sweet Anna has an air—a grace,

Divine, magnetic, touching:

She talks, she charms—but who can trace

The process of bewitching?

Song.—Anna, Thy Charms

Anna, thy charms my bosom fire,

And waste my soul with care;

But ah! how bootless to admire,

When fated to despair!

Yet in thy presence, lovely Fair,

To hope may be forgiven;

For sure 'twere impious to despair

So much in sight of heaven.

The Fete Champetre


O Wha will to Saint Stephen's House,

To do our errands there, man?

O wha will to Saint Stephen's House

O' th' merry lads of Ayr, man?

Or will we send a man o' law?

Or will we send a sodger?

Or him wha led o'er Scotland a'

The meikle Ursa-Major?^1

Come, will ye court a noble lord,

Or buy a score o'lairds, man?

For worth and honour pawn their word,

Their vote shall be Glencaird's,^2 man.

Ane gies them coin, ane gies them wine,

Anither gies them clatter:

Annbank,^3 wha guessed the ladies' taste,

He gies a Fete Champetre.

When Love and Beauty heard the news,

The gay green woods amang, man;

Where, gathering flowers, and busking bowers,

They heard the blackbird's sang, man:

A vow, they sealed it with a kiss,

Sir Politics to fetter;

As their's alone, the patent bliss,

To hold a Fete Champetre.

Then mounted Mirth, on gleesome wing

O'er hill and dale she flew, man;

Ilk wimpling burn, ilk crystal spring,

Ilk glen and shaw she knew, man:

She summon'd every social sprite,

That sports by wood or water,

On th' bonie banks of Ayr to meet,

And keep this Fete Champetre.

Cauld Boreas, wi' his boisterous crew,

Were bound to stakes like kye, man,

And Cynthia's car, o' silver fu',

Clamb up the starry sky, man:

Reflected beams dwell in the streams,

Or down the current shatter;

The western breeze steals thro'the trees,

To view this Fete Champetre.

[Footnote 1: James Boswell, the biographer of Dr. Johnson.]

[Footnote 2: Sir John Whitefoord, then residing at Cloncaird

or "Glencaird."]

[Footnote 3: William Cunninghame, Esq., of Annbank and Enterkin.]

How many a robe sae gaily floats!

What sparkling jewels glance, man!

To Harmony's enchanting notes,

As moves the mazy dance, man.

The echoing wood, the winding flood,

Like Paradise did glitter,

When angels met, at Adam's yett,

To hold their Fete Champetre.

When Politics came there, to mix

And make his ether-stane, man!

He circled round the magic ground,

But entrance found he nane, man:

He blush'd for shame, he quat his name,

Forswore it, every letter,

Wi' humble prayer to join and share

This festive Fete Champetre.

Epistle To Robert Graham, Esq., Of Fintry

Requesting a Favour

When Nature her great master-piece design'd,

And fram'd her last, best work, the human mind,

Her eye intent on all the mazy plan,

She form'd of various parts the various Man.

Then first she calls the useful many forth;

Plain plodding Industry, and sober Worth:

Thence peasants, farmers, native sons of earth,

And merchandise' whole genus take their birth:

Each prudent cit a warm existence finds,

And all mechanics' many-apron'd kinds.

Some other rarer sorts are wanted yet,

The lead and buoy are needful to the net:

The caput mortuum of grnss desires

Makes a material for mere knights and squires;

The martial phosphorus is taught to flow,

She kneads the lumpish philosophic dough,

Then marks th' unyielding mass with grave designs,

Law, physic, politics, and deep divines;

Last, she sublimes th' Aurora of the poles,

The flashing elements of female souls.

The order'd system fair before her stood,

Nature, well pleas'd, pronounc'd it very good;

But ere she gave creating labour o'er,

Half-jest, she tried one curious labour more.

Some spumy, fiery, ignis fatuus matter,

Such as the slightest breath of air might scatter;

With arch-alacrity and conscious glee,

(Nature may have her whim as well as we,

Her Hogarth-art perhaps she meant to show it),

She forms the thing and christens it—a Poet:

Creature, tho' oft the prey of care and sorrow,

When blest to-day, unmindful of to-morrow;

A being form'd t' amuse his graver friends,

Admir'd and prais'd—and there the homage ends;

A mortal quite unfit for Fortune's strife,

Yet oft the sport of all the ills of life;

Prone to enjoy each pleasure riches give,

Yet haply wanting wherewithal to live;

Longing to wipe each tear, to heal each groan,

Yet frequent all unheeded in his own.

But honest Nature is not quite a Turk,

She laugh'd at first, then felt for her poor work:

Pitying the propless climber of mankind,

She cast about a standard tree to find;

And, to support his helpless woodbine state,

Attach'd him to the generous, truly great:

A title, and the only one I claim,

To lay strong hold for help on bounteous Graham.

Pity the tuneful Muses' hapless train,

Weak, timid landsmen on life's stormy main!

Their hearts no selfish stern absorbent stuff,

That never gives—tho' humbly takes enough;

The little fate allows, they share as soon,

Unlike sage proverb'd Wisdom's hard-wrung boon:

The world were blest did bliss on them depend,

Ah, that "the friendly e'er should want a friend!"

Let Prudence number o'er each sturdy son,

Who life and wisdom at one race begun,

Who feel by reason and who give by rule,

(Instinct's a brute, and sentiment a fool!)

Who make poor "will do" wait upon "I should"—

We own they're prudent, but who feels they're good?

Ye wise ones hence! ye hurt the social eye!

God's image rudely etch'd on base alloy!

But come ye who the godlike pleasure know,

Heaven's attribute distinguished—to bestow!

Whose arms of love would grasp the human race:

Come thou who giv'st with all a courtier's grace;

Friend of my life, true patron of my rhymes!

Prop of my dearest hopes for future times.

Why shrinks my soul half blushing, half afraid,

Backward, abash'd to ask thy friendly aid?

I know my need, I know thy giving hand,

I crave thy friendship at thy kind command;

But there are such who court the tuneful Nine—

Heavens! should the branded character be mine!

Whose verse in manhood's pride sublimely flows,

Yet vilest reptiles in their begging prose.

Mark, how their lofty independent spirit

Soars on the spurning wing of injured merit!

Seek not the proofs in private life to find

Pity the best of words should be but wind!

So, to heaven's gates the lark's shrill song ascends,

But grovelling on the earth the carol ends.

In all the clam'rous cry of starving want,

They dun Benevolence with shameless front;

Oblige them, patronise their tinsel lays—

They persecute you all your future days!

Ere my poor soul such deep damnation stain,

My horny fist assume the plough again,

The pie-bald jacket let me patch once more,

On eighteenpence a week I've liv'd before.

Tho', thanks to Heaven, I dare even that last shift,

I trust, meantime, my boon is in thy gift:

That, plac'd by thee upon the wish'd-for height,

Where, man and nature fairer in her sight,

My Muse may imp her wing for some sublimer flight.

Song.—The Day Returns

Tune—"Seventh of November."

The day returns, my bosom burns,

The blissful day we twa did meet:

Tho' winter wild in tempest toil'd,

Ne'er summer-sun was half sae sweet.

Than a' the pride that loads the tide,

And crosses o'er the sultry line;

Than kingly robes, than crowns and globes,

Heav'n gave me more—it made thee mine!

While day and night can bring delight,

Or Nature aught of pleasure give;

While joys above my mind can move,

For thee, and thee alone, I live.

When that grim foe of life below

Comes in between to make us part,

The iron hand that breaks our band,

It breaks my bliss—it breaks my heart!

Song.—O, Were I On Parnassus Hill

Tune—"My love is lost to me."

O, were I on Parnassus hill,

Or had o' Helicon my fill,

That I might catch poetic skill,

To sing how dear I love thee!

But Nith maun be my Muse's well,

My Muse maun be thy bonie sel',

On Corsincon I'll glowr and spell,

And write how dear I love thee.

Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my lay!

For a' the lee-lang simmer's day

I couldna sing, I couldna say,

How much, how dear, I love thee,

I see thee dancing o'er the green,

Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean,

Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een—

By Heaven and Earth I love thee!

By night, by day, a-field, at hame,

The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame:

And aye I muse and sing thy name—

I only live to love thee.

Tho' I were doom'd to wander on,

Beyond the sea, beyond the sun,

Till my last weary sand was run;

Till then—and then I love thee!

A Mother's Lament

For the Death of Her Son.

Fate gave the word, the arrow sped,

And pierc'd my darling's heart;

And with him all the joys are fled

Life can to me impart.

By cruel hands the sapling drops,

In dust dishonour'd laid;

So fell the pride of all my hopes,

My age's future shade.

The mother-linnet in the brake

Bewails her ravish'd young;

So I, for my lost darling's sake,

Lament the live-day long.

Death, oft I've feared thy fatal blow.

Now, fond, I bare my breast;

O, do thou kindly lay me low

With him I love, at rest!

The Fall Of The Leaf

The lazy mist hangs from the brow of the hill,

Concealing the course of the dark-winding rill;

How languid the scenes, late so sprightly, appear!

As Autumn to Winter resigns the pale year.

The forests are leafless, the meadows are brown,

And all the gay foppery of summer is flown:

Apart let me wander, apart let me muse,

How quick Time is flying, how keen Fate pursues!

How long I have liv'd—but how much liv'd in vain,

How little of life's scanty span may remain,

What aspects old Time in his progress has worn,

What ties cruel Fate, in my bosom has torn.

How foolish, or worse, till our summit is gain'd!

And downward, how weaken'd, how darken'd, how pain'd!

Life is not worth having with all it can give—

For something beyond it poor man sure must live.

I Reign In Jeanie's Bosom

Louis, what reck I by thee,

Or Geordie on his ocean?

Dyvor, beggar louns to me,

I reign in Jeanie's bosom!

Let her crown my love her law,

And in her breast enthrone me,

Kings and nations—swith awa'!

Reif randies, I disown ye!

It Is Na, Jean, Thy Bonie Face

It is na, Jean, thy bonie face,

Nor shape that I admire;

Altho' thy beauty and thy grace

Might weel awauk desire.

Something, in ilka part o' thee,

To praise, to love, I find,

But dear as is thy form to me,

Still dearer is thy mind.

Nae mair ungenerous wish I hae,

Nor stronger in my breast,

Than, if I canna make thee sae,

At least to see thee blest.

Content am I, if heaven shall give

But happiness, to thee;

And as wi' thee I'd wish to live,

For thee I'd bear to die.

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne!

Chorus.—For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne.

We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!

And surely I'll be mine!

And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pou'd the gowans fine;

But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,

Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,

Frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar'd

Sin' auld lang syne.

For auld, &c.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!

And gie's a hand o' thine!

And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,

For auld lang syne.

For auld, &c.

My Bonie Mary

Go, fetch to me a pint o' wine,

And fill it in a silver tassie;

That I may drink before I go,

A service to my bonie lassie.

The boat rocks at the pier o' Leith;

Fu' loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry;

The ship rides by the Berwick-law,

And I maun leave my bonie Mary.

The trumpets sound, the banners fly,

The glittering spears are ranked ready:

The shouts o' war are heard afar,

The battle closes deep and bloody;

It's not the roar o' sea or shore,

Wad mak me langer wish to tarry!

Nor shouts o' war that's heard afar—

It's leaving thee, my bonie Mary!

The Parting Kiss

Humid seal of soft affections,

Tenderest pledge of future bliss,

Dearest tie of young connections,

Love's first snowdrop, virgin kiss!

Speaking silence, dumb confession,

Passion's birth, and infant's play,

Dove-like fondness, chaste concession,

Glowing dawn of future day!

Sorrowing joy, Adieu's last action,

(Lingering lips must now disjoin),

What words can ever speak affection

So thrilling and sincere as thine!

Written In Friar's-Carse Hermitage

On Nithside

Thou whom chance may hither lead,

Be thou clad in russet weed,

Be thou deckt in silken stole,

Grave these counsels on thy soul.

Life is but a day at most,

Sprung from night,—in darkness lost;

Hope not sunshine ev'ry hour,

Fear not clouds will always lour.

As Youth and Love with sprightly dance,

Beneath thy morning star advance,

Pleasure with her siren air

May delude the thoughtless pair;

Let Prudence bless Enjoyment's cup,

Then raptur'd sip, and sip it up.

As thy day grows warm and high,

Life's meridian flaming nigh,

Dost thou spurn the humble vale?

Life's proud summits wouldst thou scale?

Check thy climbing step, elate,

Evils lurk in felon wait:

Dangers, eagle-pinioned, bold,

Soar around each cliffy hold!

While cheerful Peace, with linnet song,

Chants the lowly dells among.

As the shades of ev'ning close,

Beck'ning thee to long repose;

As life itself becomes disease,

Seek the chimney-nook of ease;

There ruminate with sober thought,

On all thou'st seen, and heard, and wrought,

And teach the sportive younkers round,

Saws of experience, sage and sound:

Say, man's true, genuine estimate,

The grand criterion of his fate,

Is not,—Arth thou high or low?

Did thy fortune ebb or flow?

Did many talents gild thy span?

Or frugal Nature grudge thee one?

Tell them, and press it on their mind,

As thou thyself must shortly find,

The smile or frown of awful Heav'n,

To virtue or to Vice is giv'n,

Say, to be just, and kind, and wise—

There solid self-enjoyment lies;

That foolish, selfish, faithless ways

Lead to be wretched, vile, and base.

Thus resign'd and quiet, creep

To the bed of lasting sleep,—

Sleep, whence thou shalt ne'er awake,

Night, where dawn shall never break,

Till future life, future no more,

To light and joy the good restore,

To light and joy unknown before.

Stranger, go! Heav'n be thy guide!

Quod the Beadsman of Nithside.

The Poet's Progress

A Poem In Embryo

Thou, Nature, partial Nature, I arraign;

Of thy caprice maternal I complain.

The peopled fold thy kindly care have found,

The horned bull, tremendous, spurns the ground;

The lordly lion has enough and more,

The forest trembles at his very roar;

Thou giv'st the ass his hide, the snail his shell,

The puny wasp, victorious, guards his cell.

Thy minions, kings defend, controul devour,

In all th' omnipotence of rule and power:

Foxes and statesmen subtle wiles ensure;

The cit and polecat stink, and are secure:

Toads with their poison, doctors with their drug,

The priest and hedgehog, in their robes, are snug:

E'en silly women have defensive arts,

Their eyes, their tongues—and nameless other parts.

But O thou cruel stepmother and hard,

To thy poor fenceless, naked child, the Bard!

A thing unteachable in worldly skill,

And half an idiot too, more helpless still:

No heels to bear him from the op'ning dun,

No claws to dig, his hated sight to shun:

No horns, but those by luckless Hymen worn,

And those, alas! not Amalthea's horn:

No nerves olfact'ry, true to Mammon's foot,

Or grunting, grub sagacious, evil's root:

The silly sheep that wanders wild astray,

Is not more friendless, is not more a prey;

Vampyre—booksellers drain him to the heart,

And viper—critics cureless venom dart.

Critics! appll'd I venture on the name,

Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame,

Bloody dissectors, worse than ten Monroes,

He hacks to teach, they mangle to expose:

By blockhead's daring into madness stung,

His heart by wanton, causeless malice wrung,

His well-won ways—than life itself more dear—

By miscreants torn who ne'er one sprig must wear;

Foil'd, bleeding, tortur'd in th' unequal strife,

The hapless Poet flounces on through life,

Till, fled each hope that once his bosom fired,

And fled each Muse that glorious once inspir'd,

Low-sunk in squalid, unprotected age,

Dead even resentment for his injur'd page,

He heeds no more the ruthless critics' rage.

So by some hedge the generous steed deceas'd,

For half-starv'd, snarling curs a dainty feast;

By toil and famine worn to skin and bone,

Lies, senseless of each tugging bitch's son.

A little upright, pert, tart, tripping wight,

And still his precious self his dear delight;

Who loves his own smart shadow in the streets,

Better than e'er the fairest she he meets;

Much specious lore, but little understood,

(Veneering oft outshines the solid wood),

His solid sense, by inches you must tell,

But mete his cunning by the Scottish ell!

A man of fashion too, he made his tour,

Learn'd "vive la bagatelle et vive l'amour;"

So travell'd monkeys their grimace improve,

Polish their grin—nay, sigh for ladies' love!

His meddling vanity, a busy fiend,

Still making work his selfish craft must mend.

* * * Crochallan came,

The old cock'd hat, the brown surtout—the same;

His grisly beard just bristling in its might—

'Twas four long nights and days from shaving-night;

His uncomb'd, hoary locks, wild-staring, thatch'd

A head, for thought profound and clear, unmatch'd;

Yet, tho' his caustic wit was biting-rude,

His heart was warm, benevolent and good.

O Dulness, portion of the truly blest!

Calm, shelter'd haven of eternal rest!

Thy sons ne'er madden in the fierce extremes

Of Fortune's polar frost, or torrid beams;

If mantling high she fills the golden cup,

With sober, selfish ease they sip it up;

Conscious the bounteous meed they well deserve,

They only wonder "some folks" do not starve!

The grave, sage hern thus easy picks his frog,

And thinks the mallard a sad worthless dog.

When disappointment snaps the thread of Hope,

When, thro' disastrous night, they darkling grope,

With deaf endurance sluggishly they bear,

And just conclude that "fools are Fortune's care:"

So, heavy, passive to the tempest's shocks,

Strong on the sign-post stands the stupid ox.

Not so the idle Muses' mad-cap train,

Not such the workings of their moon-struck brain;

In equanimity they never dwell,

By turns in soaring heaven, or vaulted hell!

Elegy On The Year 1788

For lords or kings I dinna mourn,

E'en let them die—for that they're born:

But oh! prodigious to reflec'!

A Towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck!

O Eighty-eight, in thy sma' space,

What dire events hae taken place!

Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!

In what a pickle thou has left us!

The Spanish empire's tint a head,

And my auld teethless, Bawtie's dead:

The tulyie's teugh 'tween Pitt and Fox,

And 'tween our Maggie's twa wee cocks;

The tane is game, a bluidy devil,

But to the hen-birds unco civil;

The tither's something dour o' treadin,

But better stuff ne'er claw'd a middin.

Ye ministers, come mount the poupit,

An' cry till ye be hearse an' roupit,

For Eighty-eight, he wished you weel,

An' gied ye a' baith gear an' meal;

E'en monc a plack, and mony a peck,

Ye ken yoursels, for little feck!

Ye bonie lasses, dight your e'en,

For some o' you hae tint a frien';

In Eighty-eight, ye ken, was taen,

What ye'll ne'er hae to gie again.

Observe the very nowt an' sheep,

How dowff an' daviely they creep;

Nay, even the yirth itsel' does cry,

For E'nburgh wells are grutten dry.

O Eighty-nine, thou's but a bairn,

An' no owre auld, I hope, to learn!

Thou beardless boy, I pray tak care,

Thou now hast got thy Daddy's chair;

Nae handcuff'd, mizl'd, hap-shackl'd Regent,

But, like himsel, a full free agent,

Be sure ye follow out the plan

Nae waur than he did, honest man!

As muckle better as you can.

January, 1, 1789.

The Henpecked Husband

Curs'd be the man, the poorest wretch in life,

The crouching vassal to a tyrant wife!

Who has no will but by her high permission,

Who has not sixpence but in her possession;

Who must to he, his dear friend's secrets tell,

Who dreads a curtain lecture worse than hell.

Were such the wife had fallen to my part,

I'd break her spirit or I'd break her heart;

I'd charm her with the magic of a switch,

I'd kiss her maids, and kick the perverse bitch.

Versicles On Sign-Posts

His face with smile eternal drest,

Just like the Landlord's to his Guest's,

High as they hang with creaking din,

To index out the Country Inn.

He looked just as your sign-post Lions do,

With aspect fierce, and quite as harmless too.

A head, pure, sinless quite of brain and soul,

The very image of a barber's Poll;

It shews a human face, and wears a wig,

And looks, when well preserv'd, amazing big.