Tam o’Shanter and others

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Tam o’ Shanter

When chapmen billies leave the street

And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,

As market days are wearing late,

An’ folk begin to tak the gate;

While we sit bousing at the nappy,

And getting fou and unco happy,

We think na on the lang Scots miles,

The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,

That lie between us and our hame,

Where sits our sulky sullen dame.

Gathering her brows like gathering storm,

Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,

As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,

(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses

For honest men and bonie lasses.)

O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise,

As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice!

She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,

A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;

That frae November till October,

Ae market-day thou was nae sober;

That ilka melder, wi’ the miller,

Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;

That every naig was ca’d a shoe on,

The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;

That at the Lord’s house, even on Sunday,

Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.

She prophesied that late or soon,

Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon;

Or catch’d wi’ warlocks in the mirk,

By Alloway’s auld haunted kirk.

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,

To think how mony counsels sweet,

How mony lengthen’d, sage advices,

The husband frae the wife despises!

But to our tale: — Ae market-night,

Tam had got planted unco right;

Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely,

Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely

And at his elbow, Souter Johnny,

His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony;

Tam lo’ed him like a vera brither —

They had been fou for weeks thegither!

The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter

And ay the ale was growing better:

The landlady and Tam grew gracious,

wi’ favours secret, sweet and precious

The Souter tauld his queerest stories;

The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus:

The storm without might rair and rustle,

Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.

Care, mad to see a man sae happy,

E’en drown’d himsel’ amang the nappy!

As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,

The minutes wing’d their way wi’ pleasure:

Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious.

O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious!

But pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river,

A moment white — then melts for ever;

Or like the borealis race,

That flit ere you can point their place;

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form

Evanishing amid the storm. —

Nae man can tether time or tide;

The hour approaches Tam maun ride;

That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane,

That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;

And sic a night he taks the road in

As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.

The wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last;

The rattling showers rose on the blast;

The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d

Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow’d:

That night, a child might understand,

The Deil had business on his hand.

Weel mounted on his gray mare, Meg —

A better never lifted leg —

Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire;

Despisin’ wind and rain and fire.

Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet;

Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet;

Whiles glowring round wi’ prudent cares,

Lest bogles catch him unawares:

Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,

Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.

By this time he was cross the ford,

Whare, in the snaw, the chapman smoor’d;

And past the birks and meikle stane,

Whare drunken Chairlie brak ‘s neck-bane;

And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn,

Whare hunters fand the murder’d bairn;

And near the thorn, aboon the well,

Whare Mungo’s mither hang’d hersel’. —

Before him Doon pours all his floods;

The doubling storm roars thro’ the woods;

The lightnings flash from pole to pole;

Near and more near the thunders roll:

When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees,

Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze;

Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing;

And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!

What dangers thou canst make us scorn!

Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil;

Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil! —

The swats sae ream’d in Tammie’s noddle,

Fair play, he car’d na deils a boddle.

But Maggie stood, right sair astonish’d,

Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d,

She ventured forward on the light;

And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight

Warlocks and witches in a dance;

Nae cotillion brent-new frae France,

But hornpipes, jigs strathspeys, and reels,

Put life and mettle in their heels.

A winnock-bunker in the east,

There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;

A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,

To gie them music was his charge:

He scre’d the pipes and gart them skirl,

Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl. —

Coffins stood round, like open presses,

That shaw’d the dead in their last dresses;

And by some develish cantraip slight,

Each in its cauld hand held a light. —

By which heroic Tam was able

To note upon the haly table,

A murders’s banes in gibbet-airns;

Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen’d bairns;

A thief, new-cutted frae a rape,

Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape;

Five tomahawks, wi blude red-rusted;

Five scymitars, wi’ murder crusted;

A garter, which a babe had strangled;

A knife, a father’s throat had mangled,

Whom his ain son o’ life bereft,

The gray hairs yet stack to the heft;

Wi’ mair o’ horrible and awfu’,

Which even to name was be unlawfu’.

Three lawyers’ tongues, turn’d inside out,

Wi’ lies seam’d like a beggar’s clout;

Three priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck,

Lay stinking, vile in every neuk.

As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious,

The mirth and fun grew fast and furious;

The piper loud and louder blew;

The dancers quick and quicker flew;

They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit,

Till ilka carlin swat and reekit,

And coost her duddies to the wark,

And linket at it in her sark!

Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans,

A“plump and strapping in their teens,

Their sarks, instead o’ creeshie flannen,

Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linnen!

Thir breeks o’ mine, my only pair,

That ance were plush, o’ gude blue hair,

I wad hae gi’en them off my hurdies,

For ae blink o’ the bonie burdies!

But wither’d beldams, auld and droll,

Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal,

Louping and flinging on a crummock,

I wonder did na turn thy stomach!

But Tam kend what was what fu’ brawlie:

There was ae winsome wench and waulie,

That night enlisted in the core,

Lang after ken’d on Carrick shore;

(For mony a beast to dead she shot,

And perish’d mony a bonie boat,

And shook baith meikle corn and bear,

And kept the country-side in fear.)

Her cutty-sark, o’ Paisley harn

That while a lassie she had worn,

In longitude tho’ sorely scanty,

It was her best, and she was vauntie, —

Ah! little ken’d thy reverend grannie,

That sark she coft for he wee Nannie,

Wi’ twa pund Scots, (‘twas a’ her riches),

Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!

But here my Muse her wing maun cour;

Sic flights are far beyond her pow’r;

To sing how Nannie lap and flang,

(A souple jade she was, and strang),

And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d,

And thought his very een enrich’d;

Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’ fain,

And hotch’d and blew wi’ might and main;

Till first ae caper, syne anither,

Tam tint his reason ' thegither,

And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”

And in an instant all was dark:

And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,

When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,

When plundering herds assail their byke;

As open pussie’s mortal foes,

When, pop! she starts before their nose;

As eager runs the market-crowd,

When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud;

So Maggie runs, the witches follow,

Wi’ mony an eldritch skriech and hollo.

Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin’!

In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin’!

In vain thy Kate awaits thy commin’!

Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!

Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,

And win the key-stane o’ the brig;

There at them thou thy tail may toss,

A running stream they dare na cross.

But ere the key-stane she could make,

The fient a tail she had to shake!

For Nannie, far before the rest,

Hard upon noble Maggie prest,

And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle;

But little wist she Maggie’s mettle —

Ae spring brought off her master hale,

But left behind her ain gray tail;

The carlin claught her by the rump,

And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

No, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,

Ilk man and mother’s son take heed;

Whene’er to drink you are inclin’d,

Or cutty-sarks run in your mind,

Think! ye may buy joys o’er dear —

Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.

Song — Handsome Nell^1

Tune — “I am a man unmarried.”

Once I lov’d a bonie lass,

Ay, and I love her still;

And whilst that virtue warms my breast,

I’ll love my handsome Nell.

As bonie lasses I hae seen,

And mony full as braw;

But, for a modest gracefu’ mein,

The like I never saw.

A bonie lass, I will confess,

Is pleasant to the e’e;

But, without some better qualities,

She’s no a lass for me.

But Nelly’s looks are blythe and sweet,

And what is best of a’,

Her reputation is complete,

And fair without a flaw.

She dresses aye sae clean and neat,

Both decent and genteel;

And then there’s something in her gait

Gars ony dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air

May slightly touch the heart;

But it’s innocence and modesty

That polishes the dart.

“Tis this in Nelly pleases me,

“Tis this enchants my soul;

For absolutely in my breast

She reigns without control.

Song — O Tibbie, I Hae Seen The Day

Tune — “Invercauld’s Reel, or Strathspey.”

Choir. — O Tibbie, I hae seen the day,

Ye wadna been sae shy;

For laik o’ gear ye lightly me,

But, trowth, I care na by.

Yestreen I met you on the moor,

Ye spak na, but gaed by like stour;

Ye geck at me because I’m poor,

But fient a hair care I.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

When coming hame on Sunday last,

Upon the road as I cam past,

Ye snufft and ga’e your head a cast —

But trowth I care’t na by.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

I doubt na, lass, but ye may think,

Because ye hae the name o’ clink,

That ye can please me at a wink,

Whene’er ye like to try.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

But sorrow tak’ him that’s sae mean,

Altho’ his pouch o’ coin were clean,

Wha follows ony saucy quean,

That looks sae proud and high.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

Altho’ a lad were e’er sae smart,

If that he want the yellow dirt,

Ye’ll cast your head anither airt,

And answer him fu’ dry.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

But, if he hae the name o’ gear,

Ye’ll fasten to him like a brier,

Tho’ hardly he, for sense or lear,

Be better than the kye.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

But, Tibbie, lass, tak’ my advice:

Your daddie’s gear maks you sae nice;

The deil a ane wad speir your price,

Were ye as poor as I.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

There lives a lass beside yon park,

I’d rather hae her in her sark,

Than you wi’ a’ your thousand mark;

That gars you look sae high.

O Tibbie, I hae seen the day, &c.

Song — I Dream’d I Lay

I dream’d I lay where flowers were springing

Gaily in the sunny beam;

List’ning to the wild birds singing,

By a falling crystal stream:

Straight the sky grew black and daring;

Thro’ the woods the whirlwinds rave;

Tress with aged arms were warring,

O’er the swelling drumlie wave.

Such was my life’s deceitful morning,

Such the pleasures I enjoyed:

But lang or noon, loud tempests storming

A“my flowery bliss destroy’d.

Tho’ fickle fortune has deceiv’d me —

She promis’d fair, and perform’d but ill,

Of mony a joy and hope bereav’d me —

I bear a heart shall support me still.

Song — In The Character Of A Ruined Farmer

Tune — “Go from my window, Love, do.”

The sun he is sunk in the west,

All creatures retired to rest,

While here I sit, all sore beset,

With sorrow, grief, and woe:

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

The prosperous man is asleep,

Nor hears how the whirlwinds sweep;

But Misery and I must watch

The surly tempest blow:

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

There lies the dear partner of my breast;

Her cares for a moment at rest:

Must I see thee, my youthful pride,

Thus brought so very low!

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

There lie my sweet babies in her arms;

No anxious fear their little hearts alarms;

But for their sake my heart does ache,

With many a bitter throe:

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

I once was by Fortune carest:

I once could relieve the distrest:

Now life’s poor support, hardly earn’d

My fate will scarce bestow:

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

No comfort, no comfort I have!

How welcome to me were the grave!

But then my wife and children dear —

O, wither would they go!

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

O whither, O whither shall I turn!

All friendless, forsaken, forlorn!

For, in this world, Rest or Peace

I never more shall know!

And it’s O, fickle Fortune, O!

Tragic Fragment

All devil as I am — a damned wretch,

A hardened, stubborn, unrepenting villain,

Still my heart melts at human wretchedness;

And with sincere but unavailing sighs

I view the helpless children of distress:

With tears indignant I behold the oppressor

Rejoicing in the honest man’s destruction,

Whose unsubmitting heart was all his crime. —

Ev’n you, ye hapless crew! I pity you;

Ye, whom the seeming good think sin to pity;

Ye poor, despised, abandoned vagabonds,

Whom Vice, as usual, has turn’d o’er to ruin.

Oh! but for friends and interposing Heaven,

I had been driven forth like you forlorn,

The most detested, worthless wretch among you!

O injured God! Thy goodness has endow’d me

With talents passing most of my compeers,

Which I in just proportion have abused —

As far surpassing other common villains

As Thou in natural parts has given me more.

Tarbolton Lasses, The

If ye gae up to yon hill-tap,

Ye’ll there see bonie Peggy;

She kens her father is a laird,

And she forsooth’s a leddy.

There Sophy tight, a lassie bright,

Besides a handsome fortune:

Wha canna win her in a night,

Has little art in courtin’.

Gae down by Faile, and taste the ale,

And tak a look o’ Mysie;

She’s dour and din, a deil within,

But aiblins she may please ye.

If she be shy, her sister try,

Ye’ll maybe fancy Jenny;

If ye’ll dispense wi’ want o’ sense —

She kens hersel she’s bonie.

As ye gae up by yon hillside,

Speir in for bonie Bessy;

She’ll gie ye a beck, and bid ye light,

And handsomely address ye.

There’s few sae bonie, nane sae guid,

In a’ King George’ dominion;

If ye should doubt the truth o’ this —

It’s Bessy’s ain opinion!

Ah, Woe Is Me, My Mother Dear

Paraphrase of Jeremiah, 15th Chap., 10th verse.

Ah, woe is me, my mother dear!

A man of strife ye’ve born me:

For sair contention I maun bear;

They hate, revile, and scorn me.

I ne’er could lend on bill or band,

That five per cent. might blest me;

And borrowing, on the tither hand,

The deil a ane wad trust me.

Yet I, a coin-denied wight,

By Fortune quite discarded;

Ye see how I am, day and night,

By lad and lass blackguarded!

Montgomerie’s Peggy

Tune — “Galla Water.”

Altho’ my bed were in yon muir,

Amang the heather, in my plaidie;

Yet happy, happy would I be,

Had I my dear Montgomerie’s Peggy.

When o’er the hill beat surly storms,

And winter nights were dark and rainy;

I’d seek some dell, and in my arms

I’d shelter dear Montgomerie’s Peggy.

Were I a baron proud and high,

And horse and servants waiting ready;

Then a’ ‘twad gie o’ joy to me, —

The sharin’t with Montgomerie’s Peggy.

Ploughman’s Life, The

As I was a-wand’ring ae morning in spring,

I heard a young ploughman sae sweetly to sing;

And as he was singin’, thir words he did say, —

There’s nae life like the ploughman’s in the month o’ sweet May.

The lav’rock in the morning she’ll rise frae her nest,

And mount i’ the air wi’ the dew on her breast,

And wi’ the merry ploughman she’ll whistle and sing,

And at night she’ll return to her nest back again.


Ronalds Of The Bennals, The

In Tarbolton, ye ken, there are proper young men,

And proper young lasses and a’, man;

But ken ye the Ronalds that live in the Bennals,

They carry the gree frae them a’, man.

Their father’s laird, and weel he can spare’t,

Braid money to tocher them a’, man;

To proper young men, he’ll clink in the hand

Gowd guineas a hunder or twa, man.

There’s ane they ca’ Jean, I’ll warrant ye’ve seen

As bonie a lass or as braw, man;

But for sense and guid taste she’ll vie wi’ the best,

And a conduct that beautifies a’, man.

The charms o’ the min’, the langer they shine,

The mair admiration they draw, man;

While peaches and cherries, and roses and lilies,

They fade and they wither awa, man,

If ye be for Miss Jean, tak this frae a frien’,

A hint o’ a rival or twa, man;

The Laird o’ Blackbyre wad gang through the fire,

If that wad entice her awa, man.

The Laird o’ Braehead has been on his speed,

For mair than a towmond or twa, man;

The Laird o’ the Ford will straught on a board,

If he canna get her at a’, man.

Then Anna comes in, the pride o’ her kin,

The boast of our bachelors a’, man:

Sae sonsy and sweet, sae fully complete,

She steals our affections awa, man.

If I should detail the pick and the wale

O“lasses that live here awa, man,

The fau’t wad be mine if they didna shine

The sweetest and best o’ them a’, man.

I lo’e her mysel, but darena weel tell,

My poverty keeps me in awe, man;

For making o’ rhymes, and working at times,

Does little or naething at a’, man.

Yet I wadna choose to let her refuse,

Nor hae’t in her power to say na, man:

For though I be poor, unnoticed, obscure,

My stomach’s as proud as them a’, man.

Though I canna ride in weel-booted pride,

And flee o’er the hills like a craw, man,

I can haud up my head wi’ the best o’ the breed,

Though fluttering ever so braw, man.

My coat and my vest, they are Scotch o’ the best,

O’pairs o’ guid breeks I hae twa, man;

And stockings and pumps to put on my stumps,

And ne’er a wrang steek in them a’, man.

My sarks they are few, but five o’ them new,

Twal’ hundred, as white as the snaw, man,

A ten-shillings hat, a Holland cravat;

There are no mony poets sae braw, man.

I never had frien’s weel stockit in means,

To leave me a hundred or twa, man;

Nae weel-tocher’d aunts, to wait on their drants,

And wish them in hell for it a’, man.

I never was cannie for hoarding o’ money,

Or claughtin’t together at a’, man;

I’ve little to spend, and naething to lend,

But deevil a shilling I awe, man.

Song — Here’s To Thy Health

Tune — “Laggan Burn.”

Here’s to thy health, my bonie lass,

Gude nicht and joy be wi’ thee;

I’ll come nae mair to thy bower-door,

To tell thee that I lo’e thee.

O dinna think, my pretty pink,

But I can live without thee:

I vow and swear I dinna care,

How lang ye look about ye.

Thou’rt aye sae free informing me,

Thou hast nae mind to marry;

I’ll be as free informing thee,

Nae time hae I to tarry:

I ken thy frien’s try ilka means

Frae wedlock to delay thee;

Depending on some higher chance,

But fortune may betray thee.

I ken they scorn my low estate,

But that does never grieve me;

For I’m as free as any he;

Sma’ siller will relieve me.

I’ll count my health my greatest wealth,

Sae lang as I’ll enjoy it;

I’ll fear nae scant, I’ll bode nae want,

As lang’s I get employment.

But far off fowls hae feathers fair,

And, aye until ye try them,

Tho’ they seem fair, still have a care;

They may prove waur than I am.

But at twal’ at night, when the moon shines bright,

My dear, I’ll come and see thee;

For the man that loves his mistress weel,

Nae travel makes him weary.

Lass Of Cessnock Banks, The^1

[Footnote 1: The lass is identified as Ellison Begbie, a servant

wench, daughter of a “Farmer Lang”. ]

A Song of Similes

Tune — “If he be a Butcher neat and trim.”

On Cessnock banks a lassie dwells;

Could I describe her shape and mein;

Our lasses a’ she far excels,

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

She’s sweeter than the morning dawn,

When rising Phoebus first is seen,

And dew-drops twinkle o’er the lawn;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

She’s stately like yon youthful ash,

That grows the cowslip braes between,

And drinks the stream with vigour fresh;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

She’s spotless like the flow’ring thorn,

With flow’rs so white and leaves so green,

When purest in the dewy morn;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her looks are like the vernal May,

When ev’ning Phoebus shines serene,

While birds rejoice on every spray;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her hair is like the curling mist,

That climbs the mountain-sides at e’en,

When flow’r-reviving rains are past;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her forehead’s like the show’ry bow,

When gleaming sunbeams intervene

And gild the distant mountain’s brow;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her cheeks are like yon crimson gem,

The pride of all the flowery scene,

Just opening on its thorny stem;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her bosom’s like the nightly snow,

When pale the morning rises keen,

While hid the murm’ring streamlets flow;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her lips are like yon cherries ripe,

That sunny walls from Boreas screen;

They tempt the taste and charm the sight;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her teeth are like a flock of sheep,

With fleeces newly washen clean,

That slowly mount the rising steep;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her breath is like the fragrant breeze,

That gently stirs the blossom’d bean,

When Phoebus sinks behind the seas;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

Her voice is like the ev’ning thrush,

That sings on Cessnock banks unseen,

While his mate sits nestling in the bush;

An’ she has twa sparkling roguish een.

But it’s not her air, her form, her face,

Tho’ matching beauty’s fabled queen;

“Tis the mind that shines in ev’ry grace,

An’ chiefly in her roguish een.

Song — Bonie Peggy Alison

Tune — “The Braes o’ Balquhidder.”

Chor. — And I’ll kiss thee yet, yet,

And I’ll kiss thee o’er again:

And I’ll kiss thee yet, yet,

My bonie Peggy Alison.

Ilk care and fear, when thou art near

I evermair defy them, O!

Young kings upon their hansel throne

Are no sae blest as I am, O!

And I’ll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.

When in my arms, wi’ a’ thy charms,

I clasp my countless treasure, O!

I seek nae mair o’ Heaven to share

Than sic a moment’s pleasure, O!

And I’ll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.

And by thy een sae bonie blue,

I swear I’m thine for ever, O!

And on thy lips I seal my vow,

And break it shall I never, O!

And I’ll kiss thee yet, yet, &c.

Song — Mary Morison

Tune — “Bide ye yet.”

O Mary, at thy window be,

It is the wish’d, the trysted hour!

Those smiles and glances let me see,

That make the miser’s treasure poor:

How blythely was I bide the stour,

A weary slave frae sun to sun,

Could I the rich reward secure,

The lovely Mary Morison.

Yestreen, when to the trembling string

The dance gaed thro’ the lighted ha’,

To thee my fancy took its wing,

I sat, but neither heard nor saw:

Tho’ this was fair, and that was braw,

And yon the toast of a’ the town,

I sigh’d, and said among them a’,

“Ye are na Mary Morison.”

Oh, Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,

Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?

Or canst thou break that heart of his,

Whase only faut is loving thee?

If love for love thou wilt na gie,

At least be pity to me shown;

A thought ungentle canna be

The thought o’ Mary Morison.


Winter: A Dirge

The wintry west extends his blast,

And hail and rain does blaw;

Or the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw:

While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,

And roars frae bank to brae;

And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”

The joyless winter day

Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May:

The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,

My griefs it seems to join;

The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme

These woes of mine fulfil,

Here firm I rest; they must be best,

Because they are Thy will!

Then all I want — O do Thou grant

This one request of mine! —

Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,

Assist me to resign.

Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish

O Thou Great Being! what Thou art,

Surpasses me to know;

Yet sure I am, that known to Thee

Are all Thy works below.

Thy creature here before Thee stands,

All wretched and distrest;

Yet sure those ills that wring my soul

Obey Thy high behest.

Sure, Thou, Almighty, canst not act

From cruelty or wrath!

O, free my weary eyes from tears,

Or close them fast in death!

But, if I must afflicted be,

To suit some wise design,

Then man my soul with firm resolves,

To bear and not repine!

Paraphrase Of The First Psalm

The man, in life wherever plac’d,

Hath happiness in store,

Who walks not in the wicked’s way,

Nor learns their guilty lore!

Nor from the seat of scornful pride

Casts forth his eyes abroad,

But with humility and awe

Still walks before his God.

That man shall flourish like the trees,

Which by the streamlets grow;

The fruitful top is spread on high,

And firm the root below.

But he whose blossom buds in guilt

Shall to the ground be cast,

And, like the rootless stubble, tost

Before the sweeping blast.

For why? that God the good adore,

Hath giv’n them peace and rest,

But hath decreed that wicked men

Shall ne’er be truly blest.

First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm Versified, The

O Thou, the first, the greatest friend

Of all the human race!

Whose strong right hand has ever been

Their stay and dwelling place!

Before the mountains heav’d their heads

Beneath Thy forming hand,

Before this ponderous globe itself

Arose at Thy command;

That Pow’r which rais’d and still upholds

This universal frame,

From countless, unbeginning time

Was ever still the same.

Those mighty periods of years

Which seem to us so vast,

Appear no more before Thy sight

Than yesterday that’s past.

Thou giv’st the word: Thy creature, man,

Is to existence brought;

Again Thou say’st, “Ye sons of men,

Return ye into nought!”

Thou layest them, with all their cares,

In everlasting sleep;

As with a flood Thou tak’st them off

With overwhelming sweep.

They flourish like the morning flow’r,

In beauty’s pride array’d;

But long ere night cut down it lies

All wither’d and decay’d.

Prayer, In The Prospect Of Death

O Thou unknown, Almighty Cause

Of all my hope and fear!

In whose dread presence, ere an hour,

Perhaps I must appear!

If I have wander’d in those paths

Of life I ought to shun,

As something, loudly, in my breast,

Remonstrates I have done;

Thou know’st that Thou hast formed me

With passions wild and strong;

And list’ning to their witching voice

Has often led me wrong.

Where human weakness has come short,

Or frailty stept aside,

Do Thou, All-Good — for such Thou art —

In shades of darkness hide.

Where with intention I have err’d,

No other plea I have,

But, Thou art good; and Goodness still

Delighteth to forgive.

Stanzas, On The Same Occasion

Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene?

Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?

Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between —

Some gleams of sunshine ‘mid renewing storms,

Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?

Or death’s unlovely, dreary, dark abode?

For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms:

I tremble to approach an angry God,

And justly smart beneath His sin-avenging rod.

Fain would I say, “Forgive my foul offence,”

Fain promise never more to disobey;

But, should my Author health again dispense,

Again I might desert fair virtue’s way;

Again in folly’s part might go astray;

Again exalt the brute and sink the man;

Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray

Who act so counter heavenly mercy’s plan?

Who sin so oft have mourn’d, yet to temptation ran?

O Thou, great Governor of all below!

If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee,

Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,

Or still the tumult of the raging sea:

With that controlling pow’r assist ev’n me,

Those headlong furious passions to confine,

For all unfit I feel my pow’rs to be,

To rule their torrent in th’ allowed line;

O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!


Fickle Fortune: A Fragment

Though fickle Fortune has deceived me,

She pormis’d fair and perform’d but ill;

Of mistress, friends, and wealth bereav’d me,

Yet I bear a heart shall support me still.

I’ll act with prudence as far ‘s I’m able,

But if success I must never find,

Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,

I’ll meet thee with an undaunted mind.

Raging Fortune — Fragment Of Song

O raging Fortune’s withering blast

Has laid my leaf full low, O!

O raging Fortune’s withering blast

Has laid my leaf full low, O!

My stem was fair, my bud was green,

My blossom sweet did blow, O!

The dew fell fresh, the sun rose mild,

And made my branches grow, O!

But luckless Fortune’s northern storms

Laid a’ my blossoms low, O!

But luckless Fortune’s northern storms

Laid a’ my blossoms low, O!

Impromptu — “I’ll Go And Be A Sodger”

O why the deuce should I repine,

And be an ill foreboder?

I’m twenty-three, and five feet nine,

I’ll go and be a sodger!

I gat some gear wi’ mickle care,

I held it weel thegither;

But now it’s gane, and something mair —

I’ll go and be a sodger!

Song — “No Churchman Am I”

Tune — “Prepare, my dear Brethren, to the tavern let’s fly.”

No churchman am I for to rail and to write,

No statesman nor soldier to plot or to fight,

No sly man of business contriving a snare,

For a big-belly’d bottle’s the whole of my care.

The peer I don’t envy, I give him his bow;

I scorn not the peasant, though ever so low;

But a club of good fellows, like those that are here,

And a bottle like this, are my glory and care.

Here passes the squire on his brother — his horse;

There centum per centum, the cit with his purse;

But see you the Crown how it waves in the air?

There a big-belly’d bottle still eases my care.

The wife of my bosom, alas! she did die;

for sweet consolation to church I did fly;

I found that old Solomon proved it fair,

That a big-belly’d bottle’s a cure for all care.

I once was persuaded a venture to make;

A letter inform’d me that all was to wreck;

But the pursy old landlord just waddl’d upstairs,

With a glorious bottle that ended my cares.

“Life’s cares they are comforts” — a maxim laid down

By the Bard, what d’ye call him, that wore the black gown;

And faith I agree with th’ old prig to a hair,

For a big-belly’d bottle’s a heav’n of a care.

A Stanza Added In A Mason Lodge

Then fill up a bumper and make it o’erflow,

And honours masonic prepare for to throw;

May ev’ry true Brother of the Compass and Square

Have a big-belly’d bottle when harass’d with care.

My Father Was A Farmer

Tune — “The weaver and his shuttle, O.”

My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,

And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;

He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne’er a farthing, O;

For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.

Then out into the world my course I did determine, O;

Tho’ to be rich was not my wish, yet to be great was charming, O;

My talents they were not the worst, nor yet my education, O:

Resolv’d was I at least to try to mend my situation, O.

In many a way, and vain essay, I courted Fortune’s favour, O;

Some cause unseen still stept between, to frustrate each endeavour, O;

Sometimes by foes I was o’erpower’d, sometimes by friends forsaken, O;

And when my hope was at the top, I still was worst mistaken, O.

Then sore harass’d and tir’d at last, with Fortune’s vain delusion, O,

I dropt my schemes, like idle dreams, and came to this conclusion, O;

The past was bad, and the future hid, its good or ill untried, O;

But the present hour was in my pow’r, and so I would enjoy it, O.

No help, nor hope, nor view had I, nor person to befriend me, O;

So I must toil, and sweat, and moil, and labour to sustain me, O;

To plough and sow, to reap and mow, my father bred me early, O;

For one, he said, to labour bred, was a match for Fortune fairly, O.

Thus all obscure, unknown, and poor, thro’ life I’m doom’d to wander, O,

Till down my weary bones I lay in everlasting slumber, O:

No view nor care, but shun whate’er might breed me pain or sorrow, O;

I live to-day as well’s I may, regardless of to-morrow, O.

But cheerful still, I am as well as a monarch in his palace, O,

Tho’ Fortune’s frown still hunts me down, with all her wonted malice, O:

I make indeed my daily bread, but ne’er can make it farther, O:

But as daily bread is all I need, I do not much regard her, O.

When sometimes by my labour, I earn a little money, O,

Some unforeseen misfortune comes gen’rally upon me, O;

Mischance, mistake, or by neglect, or my goodnatur’d folly, O:

But come what will, I’ve sworn it still, I’ll ne’er be melancholy, O.

All you who follow wealth and power with unremitting ardour, O,

The more in this you look for bliss, you leave your view the farther, O:

Had you the wealth Potosi boasts, or nations to adore you, O,

A cheerful honest-hearted clown I will prefer before you, O.

John Barleycorn: A Ballad

There was three kings into the east,

Three kings both great and high,

And they hae sworn a solemn oath

John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,

Put clods upon his head,

And they hae sworn a solemn oath

John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,

And show’rs began to fall;

John Barleycorn got up again,

And sore surpris’d them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,

And he grew thick and strong;

His head weel arm’d wi’ pointed spears,

That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,

When he grew wan and pale;

His bending joints and drooping head

Show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,

He faded into age;

And then his enemies began

To show their deadly rage.

They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,

And cut him by the knee;

Then tied him fast upon a cart,

Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,

And cudgell’d him full sore;

They hung him up before the storm,

And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit

With water to the brim;

They heaved in John Barleycorn,

There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,

To work him farther woe;

And still, as signs of life appear’d,

They toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,

The marrow of his bones;

But a miller us’d him worst of all,

For he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,

And drank it round and round;

And still the more and more they drank,

Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,

Of noble enterprise;

For if you do but taste his blood,

“Twill make your courage rise.

“Twill make a man forget his woe;

“Twill heighten all his joy;

“Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,

Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,

Each man a glass in hand;

And may his great posterity

Ne’er fail in old Scotland!


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.


Remorse: A Fragment

Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,

That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish

Beyond comparison the worst are those

By our own folly, or our guilt brought on:

In ev’ry other circumstance, the mind

Has this to say, “It was no deed of mine:”

But, when to all the evil of misfortune

This sting is added, “Blame thy foolish self!”

Or worser far, the pangs of keen remorse,

The torturing, gnawing consciousness of guilt —

Of guilt, perhaps, when we’ve involved others,

The young, the innocent, who fondly lov’d us;

Nay more, that very love their cause of ruin!

O burning hell! in all thy store of torments

There’s not a keener lash!

Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart

Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,

Can reason down its agonizing throbs;

And, after proper purpose of amendment,

Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace?

O happy, happy, enviable man!

O glorious magnanimity of soul!

Epitaph On Wm. Hood, Senr., In Tarbolton

Here Souter Hood in death does sleep;

To hell if he’s gane thither,

Satan, gie him thy gear to keep;

He’ll haud it weel thegither.

Epitaph On James Grieve, Laird Of Boghead, Tarbolton

Here lies Boghead amang the dead

In hopes to get salvation;

But if such as he in Heav’n may be,

Then welcome, hail! damnation.

Epitaph On My Own Friend And My Father’s Friend, Wm. Muir In Tarbolton Mill

An honest man here lies at rest

As e’er God with his image blest;

The friend of man, the friend of truth,

The friend of age, and guide of youth:

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,

Few heads with knowledge so informed:

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

Epitaph On My Ever Honoured Father

O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,

Draw near with pious rev’rence, and attend!

Here lie the loving husband’s dear remains,

The tender father, and the gen’rous friend;

The pitying heart that felt for human woe,

The dauntless heart that fear’d no human pride;

The friend of man — to vice alone a foe;

For “ev’n his failings lean’d to virtue’s side.”^1

[Footnote 1: Goldsmith. — R.B.]

Ballad On The American War

Tune — “Killiecrankie.”

When Guilford good our pilot stood

An’ did our hellim thraw, man,

Ae night, at tea, began a plea,

Within America, man:

Then up they gat the maskin-pat,

And in the sea did jaw, man;

An’ did nae less, in full congress,

Than quite refuse our law, man.

Then thro’ the lakes Montgomery takes,

I wat he was na slaw, man;

Down Lowrie’s Burn he took a turn,

And Carleton did ca’, man:

But yet, whatreck, he, at Quebec,

Montgomery-like did fa’, man,

Wi’ sword in hand, before his band,

Amang his en’mies a’, man.

Poor Tammy Gage within a cage

Was kept at Boston — ha’, man;

Till Willie Howe took o’er the knowe

For Philadelphia, man;

Wi’ sword an’ gun he thought a sin

Guid Christian bluid to draw, man;

But at New York, wi’ knife an’ fork,

Sir-Loin he hacked sma’, man.

Burgoyne gaed up, like spur an’ whip,

Till Fraser brave did fa’, man;

Then lost his way, ae misty day,

In Saratoga shaw, man.

Cornwallis fought as lang’s he dought,

An’ did the Buckskins claw, man;

But Clinton’s glaive frae rust to save,

He hung it to the wa’, man.

Then Montague, an’ Guilford too,

Began to fear, a fa’, man;

And Sackville dour, wha stood the stour,

The German chief to thraw, man:

For Paddy Burke, like ony Turk,

Nae mercy had at a’, man;

An’ Charlie Fox threw by the box,

An’ lows’d his tinkler jaw, man.

Then Rockingham took up the game,

Till death did on him ca’, man;

When Shelburne meek held up his cheek,

Conform to gospel law, man:

Saint Stephen’s boys, wi’ jarring noise,

They did his measures thraw, man;

For North an’ Fox united stocks,

An’ bore him to the wa’, man.

Then clubs an’ hearts were Charlie’s cartes,

He swept the stakes awa’, man,

Till the diamond’s ace, of Indian race,

Led him a sair faux pas, man:

The Saxon lads, wi’ loud placads,

On Chatham’s boy did ca’, man;

An’ Scotland drew her pipe an’ blew,

“Up, Willie, waur them a’, man!”

Behind the throne then Granville’s gone,

A secret word or twa, man;

While slee Dundas arous’d the class

Be-north the Roman wa’, man:

An’ Chatham’s wraith, in heav’nly graith,

(Inspired bardies saw, man),

Wi’ kindling eyes, cry’d, ‘Willie, rise!

Would I hae fear’d them a’, man?”

But, word an’ blow, North, Fox, and Co.

Gowff’d Willie like a ba’, man;

Till Suthron raise, an’ coost their claise

Behind him in a raw, man:

An’ Caledon threw by the drone,

An’ did her whittle draw, man;

An’ swoor fu’ rude, thro’ dirt an’ bluid,

To mak it guid in law, man.

Reply To An Announcement By J. Rankine On His Writing To The Poet That A Girl In That Part Of The Country Was With A Child To Him

I am a keeper of the law

In some sma’ points, altho’ not a’;

Some people tell me gin I fa’,

Ae way or ither,

The breaking of ae point, tho’ sma’,

Breaks a’ thegither.

I hae been in for’t ance or twice,

And winna say o’er far for thrice;

Yet never met wi’ that surprise

That broke my rest;

But now a rumour’s like to rise —

A whaup’s i’ the nest!

Epistle To John Rankine

Enclosing Some Poems

O Rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine,

The wale o’ cocks for fun an’ drinkin!

There’s mony godly folks are thinkin,

Your dreams and tricks

Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin

Straught to auld Nick’s.

Ye hae saw mony cracks an’ cants,

And in your wicked, drucken rants,

Ye mak a devil o’ the saunts,

An’ fill them fou;

And then their failings, flaws, an’ wants,

Are a’ seen thro’.

Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!

That holy robe, O dinna tear it!

Spare’t for their sakes, wha aften wear it —

The lads in black;

But your curst wit, when it comes near it,

Rives’t aff their back.

Think, wicked Sinner, wha ye’re skaithing:

It’s just the Blue-gown badge an’ claithing

O“saunts; tak that, ye lea’e them naething

To ken them by

Frae ony unregenerate heathen,

Like you or I.

I’ve sent you here some rhyming ware,

A“that I bargain’d for, an’ mair;

Sae, when ye hae an hour to spare,

I will expect,

Yon sang ye’ll sen’t, wi’ cannie care,

And no neglect.

Tho’ faith, sma’ heart hae I to sing!

My muse dow scarcely spread her wing;

I’ve play’d mysel a bonie spring,

An’ danc’d my fill!

I’d better gaen an’ sair’t the king,

At Bunkjer’s Hill.

“Twas ae night lately, in my fun,

I gaed a rovin’ wi’ the gun,

An’ brought a paitrick to the grun’ —

A bonie hen;

And, as the twilight was begun,

Thought nane wad ken.

The poor, wee thing was little hurt;

I straikit it a wee for sport,

Ne’er thinkin they wad fash me for’t;

But, Deil-ma-care!

Somebody tells the poacher-court

The hale affair.

Some auld, us’d hands had taen a note,

That sic a hen had got a shot;

I was suspected for the plot;

I scorn’d to lie;

So gat the whissle o’ my groat,

An’ pay’t the fee.

But by my gun, o’ guns the wale,

An’ by my pouther an’ my hail,

An’ by my hen, an’ by her tail,

I vow an’ swear!

The game shall pay, o’er muir an’ dale,

For this, niest year.

As soon’s the clockin-time is by,

An’ the wee pouts begun to cry,

Lord, I’se hae sporting by an’ by

For my gowd guinea,

Tho’ I should herd the buckskin kye

For’t in Virginia.

Trowth, they had muckle for to blame!

“Twas neither broken wing nor limb,

But twa-three draps about the wame,

Scarce thro’ the feathers;

An’ baith a yellow George to claim,

An’ thole their blethers!

It pits me aye as mad’s a hare;

So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;

But pennyworths again is fair,

When time’s expedient:

Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,

Your most obedient.

A Poet’s Welcome To His Love-Begotten Daughter^1

[Footnote 1: Burns never published this poem.]

The First Instance That Entitled Him To

The Venerable Appellation Of Father

Thou’s welcome, wean; mishanter fa’ me,

If thoughts o’ thee, or yet thy mamie,

Shall ever daunton me or awe me,

My bonie lady,

Or if I blush when thou shalt ca’ me

Tyta or daddie.

Tho’ now they ca’ me fornicator,

An’ tease my name in kintry clatter,

The mair they talk, I’m kent the better,

E’en let them clash;

An auld wife’s tongue’s a feckless matter

To gie ane fash.

Welcome! my bonie, sweet, wee dochter,

Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,

And tho’ your comin’ I hae fought for,

Baith kirk and queir;

Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for,

That I shall swear!

Wee image o’ my bonie Betty,

As fatherly I kiss and daut thee,

As dear, and near my heart I set thee

Wi’ as gude will

As a’ the priests had seen me get thee

That’s out o’ hell.

Sweet fruit o’ mony a merry dint,

My funny toil is now a’ tint,

Sin’ thou came to the warl’ asklent,

Which fools may scoff at;

In my last plack thy part’s be in’t

The better ha’f o’t.

Tho’ I should be the waur bestead,

Thou’s be as braw and bienly clad,

And thy young years as nicely bred

Wi’ education,

As ony brat o’ wedlock’s bed,

In a’ thy station.

Lord grant that thou may aye inherit

Thy mither’s person, grace, an’ merit,

An’ thy poor, worthless daddy’s spirit,

Without his failins,

“Twill please me mair to see thee heir it,

Than stockit mailens.

For if thou be what I wad hae thee,

And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,

I’ll never rue my trouble wi’ thee,

The cost nor shame o’t,

But be a loving father to thee,

And brag the name o’t.

Song — O Leave Novels^1

[Footnote 1: Burns never published this poem.]

O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,

Ye’re safer at your spinning-wheel;

Such witching books are baited hooks

For rakish rooks, like Rob Mossgiel;

Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,

They make your youthful fancies reel;

They heat your brains, and fire your veins,

And then you’re prey for Rob Mossgiel.

Beware a tongue that’s smoothly hung,

A heart that warmly seems to feel;

That feeling heart but acts a part —

“Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.

The frank address, the soft caress,

Are worse than poisoned darts of steel;

The frank address, and politesse,

Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.

Fragment — The Mauchline Lady

Tune — “I had a horse, I had nae mair.”

When first I came to Stewart Kyle,

My mind it was na steady;

Where’er I gaed, where’er I rade,

A mistress still I had aye.

But when I came roun’ by Mauchline toun,

Not dreadin anybody,

My heart was caught, before I thought,

And by a Mauchline lady.

Fragment — My Girl She’s Airy

Tune — “Black Jock.”

My girl she’s airy, she’s buxom and gay;

Her breath is as sweet as the blossoms in May;

A touch of her lips it ravishes quite:

She’s always good natur’d, good humour’d, and free;

She dances, she glances, she smiles upon me;

I never am happy when out of her sight.

The Belles Of Mauchline

In Mauchline there dwells six proper young belles,

The pride of the place and its neighbourhood a’;

Their carriage and dress, a stranger would guess,

In Lon’on or Paris, they’d gotten it a’.

Miss Miller is fine, Miss Markland’s divine,

Miss Smith she has wit, and Miss Betty is braw:

There’s beauty and fortune to get wi’ Miss Morton,

But Armour’s the jewel for me o’ them a’.

Epitaph On A Noisy Polemic

Below thir stanes lie Jamie’s banes;

O Death, it’s my opinion,

Thou ne’er took such a bleth’rin bitch

Into thy dark dominion!

Epitaph On A Henpecked Country Squire

As father Adam first was fool’d,

(A case that’s still too common,)

Here lies man a woman ruled,

The devil ruled the woman.

Epigram On The Said Occasion

O Death, had’st thou but spar’d his life,

Whom we this day lament,

We freely wad exchanged the wife,

And a’ been weel content.

Ev’n as he is, cauld in his graff,

The swap we yet will do’t;

Tak thou the carlin’s carcase aff,

Thou’se get the saul o’boot.


One Queen Artemisia, as old stories tell,

When deprived of her husband she loved so well,

In respect for the love and affection he show’d her,

She reduc’d him to dust and she drank up the powder.

But Queen Netherplace, of a diff’rent complexion,

When called on to order the fun’ral direction,

Would have eat her dead lord, on a slender pretence,

Not to show her respect, but — to save the expense!

On Tam The Chapman

As Tam the chapman on a day,

Wi’Death forgather’d by the way,

Weel pleas’d, he greets a wight so famous,

And Death was nae less pleas’d wi’ Thomas,

Wha cheerfully lays down his pack,

And there blaws up a hearty crack:

His social, friendly, honest heart

Sae tickled Death, they could na part;

Sae, after viewing knives and garters,

Death taks him hame to gie him quarters.

Epitaph On John Rankine

Ae day, as Death, that gruesome carl,

Was driving to the tither warl’

A mixtie — maxtie motley squad,

And mony a guilt-bespotted lad —

Black gowns of each denomination,

And thieves of every rank and station,

From him that wears the star and garter,

To him that wintles in a halter:

Ashamed himself to see the wretches,

He mutters, glowrin at the bitches,

“By God I’ll not be seen behint them,

Nor ‘mang the sp’ritual core present them,

Without, at least, ae honest man,

To grace this damn’d infernal clan!”

By Adamhill a glance he threw,

“Lord God!” quoth he, “I have it now;

There’s just the man I want, i’ faith!”

And quickly stoppit Rankine’s breath.

Lines On The Author’s Death

Written With The Supposed View Of

Being Handed To Rankine After The Poet’s Interment

He who of Rankine sang, lies stiff and dead,

And a green grassy hillock hides his head;

Alas! alas! a devilish change indeed.

Man Was Made To Mourn: A Dirge

When chill November’s surly blast

Made fields and forests bare,

One ev’ning, as I wander’d forth

Along the banks of Ayr,

I spied a man, whose aged step

Seem’d weary, worn with care;

His face furrow’d o’er with years,

And hoary was his hair.

“Young stranger, whither wand’rest thou?”

Began the rev’rend sage;

“Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,

Or youthful pleasure’s rage?

Or haply, prest with cares and woes,

Too soon thou hast began

To wander forth, with me to mourn

The miseries of man.

“The sun that overhangs yon moors,

Out-spreading far and wide,

Where hundreds labour to support

A haughty lordling’s pride; —

I’ve seen yon weary winter-sun

Twice forty times return;

And ev’ry time has added proofs,

That man was made to mourn.

“O man! while in thy early years,

How prodigal of time!

Mis-spending all thy precious hours —

Thy glorious, youthful prime!

Alternate follies take the sway;

Licentious passions burn;

Which tenfold force gives Nature’s law.

That man was made to mourn.

“Look not alone on youthful prime,

Or manhood’s active might;

Man then is useful to his kind,

Supported in his right:

But see him on the edge of life,

With cares and sorrows worn;

Then Age and Want — oh! ill-match’d pair —

Shew man was made to mourn.

“A few seem favourites of fate,

In pleasure’s lap carest;

Yet, think not all the rich and great

Are likewise truly blest:

But oh! what crowds in ev’ry land,

All wretched and forlorn,

Thro’ weary life this lesson learn,

That man was made to mourn.

“Many and sharp the num’rous ills

Inwoven with our frame!

More pointed still we make ourselves,

Regret, remorse, and shame!

And man, whose heav’n-erected face

The smiles of love adorn, —

Man’s inhumanity to man

Makes countless thousands mourn!

“See yonder poor, o’erlabour’d wight,

So abject, mean, and vile,

Who begs a brother of the earth

To give him leave to toil;

And see his lordly fellow-worm

The poor petition spurn,

Unmindful, tho’ a weeping wife

And helpless offspring mourn.

“If I’m design’d yon lordling’s slave,

By Nature’s law design’d,

Why was an independent wish

E’er planted in my mind?

If not, why am I subject to

His cruelty, or scorn?

Or why has man the will and pow’r

To make his fellow mourn?

“Yet, let not this too much, my son,

Disturb thy youthful breast:

This partial view of human-kind

Is surely not the last!

The poor, oppressed, honest man

Had never, sure, been born,

Had there not been some recompense

To comfort those that mourn!

“O Death! the poor man’s dearest friend,

The kindest and the best!

Welcome the hour my aged limbs

Are laid with thee at rest!

The great, the wealthy fear thy blow

From pomp and pleasure torn;

But, oh! a blest relief for those

That weary-laden mourn!”

The Twa Herds; Or, The Holy Tulyie
An Unco Mournfu’ Tale

“Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,

But fool with fool is barbarous civil war,” — Pope.

O a’ ye pious godly flocks,

Weel fed on pastures orthodox,

Wha now will keep you frae the fox,

Or worrying tykes?

Or wha will tent the waifs an’ crocks,

About the dykes?

The twa best herds in a’ the wast,

The e’er ga’e gospel horn a blast

These five an’ twenty simmers past —

Oh, dool to tell!

Hae had a bitter black out-cast

Atween themsel’.

O, Moddie,^1 man, an’ wordy Russell,^2

How could you raise so vile a bustle;

Ye’ll see how New-Light herds will whistle,

An’ think it fine!

The Lord’s cause ne’er gat sic a twistle,

Sin’ I hae min’.

O, sirs! whae’er wad hae expeckit

Your duty ye wad sae negleckit,

Ye wha were ne’er by lairds respeckit

To wear the plaid;

But by the brutes themselves eleckit,

To be their guide.

What flock wi’ Moodie’s flock could rank? —

Sae hale and hearty every shank!

Nae poison’d soor Arminian stank

He let them taste;

Frae Calvin’s well, aye clear, drank, —

O, sic a feast!

[Footnote 1: Rev. Mr. Moodie of Riccarton.]

[Footnote 2: Rev. John Russell of Kilmarnock.]

The thummart, willcat, brock, an’ tod,

Weel kend his voice thro’ a’ the wood,

He smell’d their ilka hole an’ road,

Baith out an in;

An’ weel he lik’d to shed their bluid,

An’ sell their skin.

What herd like Russell tell’d his tale;

His voice was heard thro’ muir and dale,

He kenn’d the Lord’s sheep, ilka tail,

Owre a’ the height;

An’ saw gin they were sick or hale,

At the first sight.

He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,

Or nobly fling the gospel club,

And New-Light herds could nicely drub

Or pay their skin;

Could shake them o’er the burning dub,

Or heave them in.

Sic twa — O! do I live to see’t? —

Sic famous twa should disagree’t,

And names, like “villain,” “hypocrite,”

Ilk ither gi’en,

While New-Light herds, wi’ laughin spite,

Say neither’s liein!

A“ye wha tent the gospel fauld,

There’s Duncan^3 deep, an’ Peebles^4 shaul,

But chiefly thou, apostle Auld,^5

We trust in thee,

That thou wilt work them, het an’ cauld,

Till they agree.

Consider, sirs, how we’re beset;

There’s scarce a new herd that we get,

But comes frae ‘mang that cursed set,

I winna name;

I hope frae heav’n to see them yet

In fiery flame.

Dalrymple^6 has been lang our fae,

M’Gill^7 has wrought us meikle wae,

An’ that curs’d rascal ca’d M’Quhae,^8

And baith the Shaws,^9

That aft hae made us black an’ blae,

Wi’ vengefu’ paws.

Auld Wodrow^10 lang has hatch’d mischief;

We thought aye death wad bring relief;

But he has gotten, to our grief,

Ane to succeed him,^11

A chield wha’ll soundly buff our beef;

I meikle dread him.

And mony a ane that I could tell,

Wha fain wad openly rebel,

Forby turn-coats amang oursel’,

There’s Smith^12 for ane;

I doubt he’s but a grey nick quill,

An’ that ye’ll fin’.

O! a’ ye flocks o’er a, the hills,

By mosses, meadows, moors, and fells,

Come, join your counsel and your skills

To cowe the lairds,

An’ get the brutes the power themsel’s

To choose their herds.

Then Orthodoxy yet may prance,

An’ Learning in a woody dance,

An’ that fell cur ca’d Common Sense,

That bites sae sair,

Be banished o’er the sea to France:

Let him bark there.

Then Shaw’s an’ D’rymple’s eloquenceM’Gill’s close nervous excellence

[Footnote 6: Rev. Dr. Dalrymple of Ayr.]

[Footnote 7: Rev. Wm. M’Gill, colleague of Dr. Dalrymple.]

[Footnote 8: Minister of St. Quivox.]

[Footnote 9: Dr. Andrew Shaw of Craigie, and Dr. David Shaw of


[Footnote 10: Dr. Peter Wodrow of Tarbolton.]

[Footnote 11: Rev. John M’Math, a young assistant and successor

to Wodrow.]

[Footnote 12: Rev. George Smith of Galston.]

M’Quhae’s pathetic manly sense,

An’ guid M’Math,

Wi’ Smith, wha thro’ the heart can glance,

May a’ pack aff.


Epistle To Davie, A Brother Poet


While winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw,

An’ bar the doors wi’ driving snaw,

An’ hing us owre the ingle,

I set me down to pass the time,

An’ spin a verse or twa o’ rhyme,

In hamely, westlin jingle.

While frosty winds blaw in the drift,

Ben to the chimla lug,

I grudge a wee the great-folk’s gift,

That live sae bien an’ snug:

I tent less, and want less

Their roomy fire-side;

But hanker, and canker,

To see their cursed pride.

It’s hardly in a body’s pow’r

To keep, at times, frae being sour,

To see how things are shar’d;

How best o’ chiels are whiles in want,

While coofs on countless thousands rant,

And ken na how to wair’t;

But, Davie, lad, ne’er fash your head,

Tho’ we hae little gear;

We’re fit to win our daily bread,

As lang’s we’re hale and fier:

“Mair spier na, nor fear na,”^1

Auld age ne’er mind a feg;

The last o’t, the warst o’t

Is only but to beg.

To lie in kilns and barns at e’en,

When banes are craz’d, and bluid is thin,

Is doubtless, great distress!

[Footnote 1: Ramsay. — R. B.]

Yet then content could make us blest;

Ev’n then, sometimes, we’d snatch a taste

Of truest happiness.

The honest heart that’s free frae a’

Intended fraud or guile,

However Fortune kick the ba’,

Has aye some cause to smile;

An’ mind still, you’ll find still,

A comfort this nae sma’;

Nae mair then we’ll care then,

Nae farther can we fa’.

What tho’, like commoners of air,

We wander out, we know not where,

But either house or hal’,

Yet nature’s charms, the hills and woods,

The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,

Are free alike to all.

In days when daisies deck the ground,

And blackbirds whistle clear,

With honest joy our hearts will bound,

To see the coming year:

On braes when we please, then,

We’ll sit an’ sowth a tune;

Syne rhyme till’t we’ll time till’t,

An’ sing’t when we hae done.

It’s no in titles nor in rank;

It’s no in wealth like Lon’on bank,

To purchase peace and rest:

It’s no in makin’ muckle, mair;

It’s no in books, it’s no in lear,

To make us truly blest:

If happiness hae not her seat

An’ centre in the breast,

We may be wise, or rich, or great,

But never can be blest;

Nae treasures, nor pleasures

Could make us happy lang;

The heart aye’s the part aye

That makes us right or wrang.

Think ye, that sic as you and I,

Wha drudge an’ drive thro’ wet and dry,

Wi’ never-ceasing toil;

Think ye, are we less blest than they,

Wha scarcely tent us in their way,

As hardly worth their while?

Alas! how aft in haughty mood,

God’s creatures they oppress!

Or else, neglecting a’ that’s guid,

They riot in excess!

Baith careless and fearless

Of either heaven or hell;

Esteeming and deeming

It’s a’ an idle tale!

Then let us cheerfu’ acquiesce,

Nor make our scanty pleasures less,

By pining at our state:

And, even should misfortunes come,

I, here wha sit, hae met wi’ some —

An’s thankfu’ for them yet.

They gie the wit of age to youth;

They let us ken oursel’;

They make us see the naked truth,

The real guid and ill:

Tho’ losses an’ crosses

Be lessons right severe,

There’s wit there, ye’ll get there,

Ye’ll find nae other where.

But tent me, Davie, ace o’ hearts!

(To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,

And flatt’ry I detest)

This life has joys for you and I;

An’ joys that riches ne’er could buy,

An’ joys the very best.

There’s a’ the pleasures o’ the heart,

The lover an’ the frien’;

Ye hae your Meg, your dearest part,

And I my darling Jean!

It warms me, it charms me,

To mention but her name:

It heats me, it beets me,

An’ sets me a’ on flame!

O all ye Pow’rs who rule above!

O Thou whose very self art love!

Thou know’st my words sincere!

The life-blood streaming thro’ my heart,

Or my more dear immortal part,

Is not more fondly dear!

When heart-corroding care and grief

Deprive my soul of rest,

Her dear idea brings relief,

And solace to my breast.

Thou Being, All-seeing,

O hear my fervent pray’r;

Still take her, and make her

Thy most peculiar care!

All hail! ye tender feelings dear!

The smile of love, the friendly tear,

The sympathetic glow!

Long since, this world’s thorny ways

Had number’d out my weary days,

Had it not been for you!

Fate still has blest me with a friend,

In ev’ry care and ill;

And oft a more endearing band —

A tie more tender still.

It lightens, it brightens

The tenebrific scene,

To meet with, and greet with

My Davie, or my Jean!

O, how that name inspires my style!

The words come skelpin, rank an’ file,

Amaist before I ken!

The ready measure rins as fine,

As Phoebus an’ the famous Nine

Were glowrin owre my pen.

My spaviet Pegasus will limp,

Till ance he’s fairly het;

And then he’ll hilch, and stilt, an’ jimp,

And rin an unco fit:

But least then the beast then

Should rue this hasty ride,

I’ll light now, and dight now

His sweaty, wizen’d hide.

Holy Willie’s Prayer

“And send the godly in a pet to pray.” — Pope.


Holy Willie was a rather oldish bachelor elder, in the parish of

Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that polemical chattering,

which ends in tippling orthodoxy, and for that spiritualized bawdry

which refines to liquorish devotion. In a sessional process with a

gentleman in Mauchline — a Mr. Gavin Hamilton — Holy Willie and his

priest, Father Auld, after full hearing in the presbytery of Ayr, came

off but second best; owing partly to the oratorical powers of Mr. Robert

Aiken, Mr. Hamilton’s counsel; but chiefly to Mr. Hamilton’s being one

of the most irreproachable and truly respectable characters in the

county. On losing the process, the muse overheard him [Holy Willie]

at his devotions, as follows: —

O Thou, who in the heavens does dwell,

Who, as it pleases best Thysel’,

Sends ane to heaven an’ ten to hell,

A“for Thy glory,

And no for ony gude or ill

They’ve done afore Thee!

I bless and praise Thy matchless might,

When thousands Thou hast left in night,

That I am here afore Thy sight,

For gifts an’ grace

A burning and a shining light

To a’ this place.

What was I, or my generation,

That I should get sic exaltation,

I wha deserve most just damnation

For broken laws,

Five thousand years ere my creation,

Thro’ Adam’s cause?

When frae my mither’s womb I fell,

Thou might hae plunged me in hell,

To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,

In burnin lakes,

Where damned devils roar and yell,

Chain’d to their stakes.

Yet I am here a chosen sample,

To show thy grace is great and ample;

I’m here a pillar o’ Thy temple,

Strong as a rock,

A guide, a buckler, and example,

To a’ Thy flock.

O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,

When drinkers drink, an’ swearers swear,

An’ singin there, an’ dancin here,

Wi’ great and sma’;

For I am keepit by Thy fear

Free frae them a’.

But yet, O Lord! confess I must,

At times I’m fash’d wi’ fleshly lust:

An’ sometimes, too, in wardly trust,

Vile self gets in:

But Thou remembers we are dust,

Defil’d wi’ sin.

O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi’ Meg —

Thy pardon I sincerely beg,

O! may’t ne’er be a livin plague

To my dishonour,

An’ I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg

Again upon her.

Besides, I farther maun allow,

Wi’ Leezie’s lass, three times I trow —

But Lord, that Friday I was fou,

When I cam near her;

Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true

Wad never steer her.

Maybe Thou lets this fleshly thorn

Buffet Thy servant e’en and morn,

Lest he owre proud and high shou’d turn,

That he’s sae gifted:

If sae, Thy han’ maun e’en be borne,

Until Thou lift it.

Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,

For here Thou hast a chosen race:

But God confound their stubborn face,

An’ blast their name,

Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace

An’ public shame.

Lord, mind Gaw’n Hamilton’s deserts;

He drinks, an’ swears, an’ plays at cartes,

Yet has sae mony takin arts,

Wi’ great and sma’,

Frae God’s ain priest the people’s hearts

He steals awa.

An’ when we chasten’d him therefor,

Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,

An’ set the warld in a roar

O“laughing at us; —

Curse Thou his basket and his store,

Kail an’ potatoes.

Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r,

Against that Presbyt’ry o’ Ayr;

Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare

Upo’ their heads;

Lord visit them, an’ dinna spare,

For their misdeeds.

O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu’d Aiken,

My vera heart and flesh are quakin,

To think how we stood sweatin’, shakin,

An’ p-‘d wi’ dread,

While he, wi’ hingin lip an’ snakin,

Held up his head.

Lord, in Thy day o’ vengeance try him,

Lord, visit them wha did employ him,

And pass not in Thy mercy by ‘em,

Nor hear their pray’r,

But for Thy people’s sake, destroy ‘em,

An’ dinna spare.

But, Lord, remember me an’ mine

Wi’ mercies temp’ral an’ divine,

That I for grace an’ gear may shine,

Excell’d by nane,

And a’ the glory shall be thine,

Amen, Amen!

Epitaph On Holy Willie

Here Holy Willie’s sair worn clay

Taks up its last abode;

His saul has ta’en some other way,

I fear, the left-hand road.

Stop! there he is, as sure’s a gun,

Poor, silly body, see him;

Nae wonder he’s as black’s the grun,

Observe wha’s standing wi’ him.

Your brunstane devilship, I see,

Has got him there before ye;

But haud your nine-tail cat a wee,

Till ance you’ve heard my story.

Your pity I will not implore,

For pity ye have nane;

Justice, alas! has gi’en him o’er,

And mercy’s day is gane.

But hear me, Sir, deil as ye are,

Look something to your credit;

A coof like him wad stain your name,

If it were kent ye did it.

Death and Doctor Hornbook

A True Story

Some books are lies frae end to end,

And some great lies were never penn’d:

Ev’n ministers they hae been kenn’d,

In holy rapture,

A rousing whid at times to vend,

And nail’t wi’ Scripture.

But this that I am gaun to tell,

Which lately on a night befell,

Is just as true’s the Deil’s in hell

Or Dublin city:

That e’er he nearer comes oursel’

“S a muckle pity.

The clachan yill had made me canty,

I was na fou, but just had plenty;

I stacher’d whiles, but yet too tent aye

To free the ditches;

An’ hillocks, stanes, an’ bushes, kenn’d eye

Frae ghaists an’ witches.

The rising moon began to glowre

The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:

To count her horns, wi’ a my pow’r,

I set mysel’;

But whether she had three or four,

I cou’d na tell.

I was come round about the hill,

An’ todlin down on Willie’s mill,

Setting my staff wi’ a’ my skill,

To keep me sicker;

Tho’ leeward whiles, against my will,

I took a bicker.

I there wi’ Something did forgather,

That pat me in an eerie swither;

An’ awfu’ scythe, out-owre ae shouther,

Clear-dangling, hang;

A three-tae’d leister on the ither

Lay, large an’ lang.

Its stature seem’d lang Scotch ells twa,

The queerest shape that e’er I saw,

For fient a wame it had ava;

And then its shanks,

They were as thin, as sharp an’ sma’

As cheeks o’ branks.

“Guid-een,” quo’ I; ‘Friend! hae ye been mawin,

When ither folk are busy sawin!”^1

I seem’d to make a kind o’ stan’

But naething spak;

At length, says I, “Friend! whare ye gaun?

Will ye go back?”

It spak right howe, — “My name is Death,

But be na fley’d.’ — Quoth I, ‘Guid faith,

Ye’re maybe come to stap my breath;

But tent me, billie;

I red ye weel, tak care o’ skaith

See, there’s a gully!”

“Gudeman,” quo’ he, ‘put up your whittle,

I’m no designed to try its mettle;

But if I did, I wad be kittle

To be mislear’d;

I wad na mind it, no that spittle

Out-owre my beard.”

[Footnote 1: This recontre happened in seed-time, 1785. — R.B.]

[Footnote 2: An epidemical fever was then raging in that

country. — R.B.]

“Ay, ay!” quo’ he, an’ shook his head,

“It’s e’en a lang, lang time indeed

Sin’ I began to nick the thread,

An’ choke the breath:

Folk maun do something for their bread,

An’ sae maun Death.

“Sax thousand years are near-hand fled

Sin’ I was to the butching bred,

An’ mony a scheme in vain’s been laid,

To stap or scar me;

Till ane Hornbook’s^3 ta’en up the trade,

And faith! he’ll waur me.

“Ye ken Hornbook i’ the clachan,

Deil mak his king’s-hood in spleuchan!

He’s grown sae weel acquaint wi’ Buchan^4

And ither chaps,

The weans haud out their fingers laughin,

An’ pouk my hips.

“See, here’s a scythe, an’ there’s dart,

They hae pierc’d mony a gallant heart;

But Doctor Hornbook, wi’ his art

An’ cursed skill,

Has made them baith no worth a f-t,

Damn’d haet they’ll kill!

““Twas but yestreen, nae farther gane,

I threw a noble throw at ane;

Wi’ less, I’m sure, I’ve hundreds slain;

But deil-ma-care,

It just play’d dirl on the bane,

But did nae mair.

“Hornbook was by, wi’ ready art,

An’ had sae fortify’d the part,

[Footnote 3: This gentleman, Dr. Hornbook, is professionally

a brother of the sovereign Order of the Ferula; but, by

intuition and inspiration, is at once an apothecary,

surgeon, and physician. — R.B.]

[Footnote 4: Burchan’s Domestic Medicine. — R.B.]

That when I looked to my dart,

It was sae blunt,

Fient haet o’t wad hae pierc’d the heart

Of a kail-runt.

“I drew my scythe in sic a fury,

I near-hand cowpit wi’ my hurry,

But yet the bauld Apothecary

Withstood the shock;

I might as weel hae tried a quarry

O“hard whin rock.

“Ev’n them he canna get attended,

Altho’ their face he ne’er had kend it,

Just — in a kail-blade, an’ sent it,

As soon’s he smells ‘t,

Baith their disease, and what will mend it,

At once he tells ‘t.

“And then, a’ doctor’s saws an’ whittles,

Of a’ dimensions, shapes, an’ mettles,

A“kind o’ boxes, mugs, an’ bottles,

He’s sure to hae;

Their Latin names as fast he rattles

as A B C.

“Calces o’ fossils, earths, and trees;

True sal-marinum o’ the seas;

The farina of beans an’ pease,

He has’t in plenty;

Aqua-fontis, what you please,

He can content ye.

“Forbye some new, uncommon weapons,

Urinus spiritus of capons;

Or mite-horn shavings, filings, scrapings,

Distill’d per se;

Sal-alkali o’ midge-tail clippings,

And mony mae.”

“Waes me for Johnie Ged’s^5 Hole now,”

Quoth I, “if that thae news be true!

His braw calf-ward whare gowans grew,

Sae white and bonie,

Nae doubt they’ll rive it wi’ the plew;

They’ll ruin Johnie!”

The creature grain’d an eldritch laugh,

And says “Ye needna yoke the pleugh,

Kirkyards will soon be till’d eneugh,

Tak ye nae fear:

They’ll be trench’d wi’ mony a sheugh,

In twa-three year.

“Whare I kill’d ane, a fair strae-death,

By loss o’ blood or want of breath

This night I’m free to tak my aith,

That Hornbook’s skill

Has clad a score i’ their last claith,

By drap an’ pill.

“An honest wabster to his trade,

Whase wife’s twa nieves were scarce weel-bred

Gat tippence-worth to mend her head,

When it was sair;

The wife slade cannie to her bed,

But ne’er spak mair.

“A country laird had ta’en the batts,

Or some curmurring in his guts,

His only son for Hornbook sets,

An’ pays him well:

The lad, for twa guid gimmer-pets,

Was laird himsel’.

“A bonie lass — ye kend her name —

Some ill-brewn drink had hov’d her wame;

She trusts hersel’, to hide the shame,

In Hornbook’s care;

Horn sent her aff to her lang hame,

To hide it there.

[Footnote 5: The grave-digger. — R.B.]

“That’s just a swatch o’ Hornbook’s way;

Thus goes he on from day to day,

Thus does he poison, kill, an’ slay,

An’s weel paid for’t;

Yet stops me o’ my lawfu’ prey,

Wi’ his damn’d dirt:

“But, hark! I’ll tell you of a plot,

Tho’ dinna ye be speakin o’t;

I’ll nail the self-conceited sot,

As dead’s a herrin;

Neist time we meet, I’ll wad a groat,

He gets his fairin!”

But just as he began to tell,

The auld kirk-hammer strak the bell

Some wee short hour ayont the twal’,

Which rais’d us baith:

I took the way that pleas’d mysel’,

And sae did Death.

Epistle To J. Lapraik, An Old Scottish Bard

April 1, 1785

While briers an’ woodbines budding green,

An’ paitricks scraichin loud at e’en,

An’ morning poussie whiddin seen,

Inspire my muse,

This freedom, in an unknown frien’,

I pray excuse.

On Fasten — e’en we had a rockin,

To ca’ the crack and weave our stockin;

And there was muckle fun and jokin,

Ye need na doubt;

At length we had a hearty yokin

At sang about.

There was ae sang, amang the rest,

Aboon them a’ it pleas’d me best,

That some kind husband had addrest

To some sweet wife;

It thirl’d the heart-strings thro’ the breast,

A“to the life.

I’ve scarce heard ought describ’d sae weel,

What gen’rous, manly bosoms feel;

Thought I “Can this be Pope, or Steele,

Or Beattie’s wark?”

They tauld me ‘twas an odd kind chiel

About Muirkirk.

It pat me fidgin-fain to hear’t,

An’ sae about him there I speir’t;

Then a’ that kent him round declar’d

He had ingine;

That nane excell’d it, few cam near’t,

It was sae fine:

That, set him to a pint of ale,

An’ either douce or merry tale,

Or rhymes an’ sangs he’d made himsel,

Or witty catches —

“Tween Inverness an’ Teviotdale,

He had few matches.

Then up I gat, an’ swoor an aith,

Tho’ I should pawn my pleugh an’ graith,

Or die a cadger pownie’s death,

At some dyke-back,

A pint an’ gill I’d gie them baith,

To hear your crack.

But, first an’ foremost, I should tell,

Amaist as soon as I could spell,

I to the crambo-jingle fell;

Tho’ rude an’ rough —

Yet crooning to a body’s sel’

Does weel eneugh.

I am nae poet, in a sense;

But just a rhymer like by chance,

An’ hae to learning nae pretence;

Yet, what the matter?

Whene’er my muse does on me glance,

I jingle at her.

Your critic-folk may cock their nose,

And say, “How can you e’er propose,

You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,

To mak a sang?”

But, by your leaves, my learned foes,

Ye’re maybe wrang.

What’s a’ your jargon o’ your schools —

Your Latin names for horns an’ stools?

If honest Nature made you fools,

What sairs your grammars?

Ye’d better taen up spades and shools,

Or knappin-hammers.

A set o’ dull, conceited hashes

Confuse their brains in college classes!

They gang in stirks, and come out asses,

Plain truth to speak;

An’ syne they think to climb Parnassus

By dint o’ Greek!

Gie me ae spark o’ nature’s fire,

That’s a’ the learning I desire;

Then tho’ I drudge thro’ dub an’ mire

At pleugh or cart,

My muse, tho’ hamely in attire,

May touch the heart.

O for a spunk o’ Allan’s glee,

Or Fergusson’s the bauld an’ slee,

Or bright Lapraik’s, my friend to be,

If I can hit it!

That would be lear eneugh for me,

If I could get it.

Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,

Tho’ real friends, I b’lieve, are few;

Yet, if your catalogue be fu’,

I’se no insist:

But, gif ye want ae friend that’s true,

I’m on your list.

I winna blaw about mysel,

As ill I like my fauts to tell;

But friends, an’ folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me;

Tho’ I maun own, as mony still

As far abuse me.

There’s ae wee faut they whiles lay to me,

I like the lasses — Gude forgie me!

For mony a plack they wheedle frae me

At dance or fair;

Maybe some ither thing they gie me,

They weel can spare.

But Mauchline Race, or Mauchline Fair,

I should be proud to meet you there;

We’se gie ae night’s discharge to care,

If we forgather;

An’ hae a swap o’ rhymin-ware

Wi’ ane anither.

The four-gill chap, we’se gar him clatter,

An’ kirsen him wi’ reekin water;

Syne we’ll sit down an’ tak our whitter,

To cheer our heart;

An’ faith, we’se be acquainted better

Before we part.

Awa ye selfish, war’ly race,

Wha think that havins, sense, an’ grace,

Ev’n love an’ friendship should give place

To catch — the — plack!

I dinna like to see your face,

Nor hear your crack.

But ye whom social pleasure charms

Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms,

Who hold your being on the terms,

“Each aid the others,”

Come to my bowl, come to my arms,

My friends, my brothers!

But, to conclude my lang epistle,

As my auld pen’s worn to the gristle,

Twa lines frae you wad gar me fissle,

Who am, most fervent,

While I can either sing or whistle,

Your friend and servant.

Second Epistle To J. Lapraik

April 21, 1785

While new-ca’d kye rowte at the stake

An’ pownies reek in pleugh or braik,

This hour on e’enin’s edge I take,

To own I’m debtor

To honest-hearted, auld Lapraik,

For his kind letter.

Forjesket sair, with weary legs,

Rattlin the corn out-owre the rigs,

Or dealing thro’ amang the naigs

Their ten-hours’ bite,

My awkart Muse sair pleads and begs

I would na write.

The tapetless, ramfeezl’d hizzie,

She’s saft at best an’ something lazy:

Quo’ she, ‘Ye ken we’ve been sae busy

This month an’ mair,

That trowth, my head is grown right dizzie,

An’ something sair.”

Her dowff excuses pat me mad;

“Conscience,” says I, “ye thowless jade!

I’ll write, an’ that a hearty blaud,

This vera night;

So dinna ye affront your trade,

But rhyme it right.

“Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o’ hearts,

Tho’ mankind were a pack o’ cartes,

Roose you sae weel for your deserts,

In terms sae friendly;

Yet ye’ll neglect to shaw your parts

An’ thank him kindly?”

Sae I gat paper in a blink,

An’ down gaed stumpie in the ink:

Quoth I, “Before I sleep a wink,

I vow I’ll close it;

An’ if ye winna mak it clink,

By Jove, I’ll prose it!”

Sae I’ve begun to scrawl, but whether

In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither;

Or some hotch-potch that’s rightly neither,

Let time mak proof;

But I shall scribble down some blether

Just clean aff-loof.

My worthy friend, ne’er grudge an’ carp,

Tho’ fortune use you hard an’ sharp;

Come, kittle up your moorland harp

Wi’ gleesome touch!

Ne’er mind how Fortune waft and warp;

She’s but a bitch.

She ‘s gien me mony a jirt an’ fleg,

Sin’ I could striddle owre a rig;

But, by the Lord, tho’ I should beg

Wi’ lyart pow,

I’ll laugh an’ sing, an’ shake my leg,

As lang’s I dow!

Now comes the sax-an’-twentieth simmer

I’ve seen the bud upon the timmer,

Still persecuted by the limmer

Frae year to year;

But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,

I, Rob, am here.

Do ye envy the city gent,

Behint a kist to lie an’ sklent;

Or pursue-proud, big wi’ cent. per cent.

An’ muckle wame,

In some bit brugh to represent

A bailie’s name?

Or is’t the paughty, feudal thane,

Wi’ ruffl’d sark an’ glancing cane,

Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,

But lordly stalks;

While caps and bonnets aff are taen,

As by he walks?

“O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!

Gie me o’ wit an’ sense a lift,

Then turn me, if thou please, adrift,

Thro’ Scotland wide;

Wi’ cits nor lairds I wadna shift,

In a’ their pride!”

Were this the charter of our state,

“On pain o’ hell be rich an’ great,”

Damnation then would be our fate,

Beyond remead;

But, thanks to heaven, that’s no the gate

We learn our creed.

For thus the royal mandate ran,

When first the human race began;

“The social, friendly, honest man,

Whate’er he be —

“Tis he fulfils great Nature’s plan,

And none but he.”

O mandate glorious and divine!

The ragged followers o’ the Nine,

Poor, thoughtless devils! yet may shine

In glorious light,

While sordid sons o’ Mammon’s line

Are dark as night!

Tho’ here they scrape, an’ squeeze, an’ growl,

Their worthless nievefu’ of a soul

May in some future carcase howl,

The forest’s fright;

Or in some day-detesting owl

May shun the light.

Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,

To reach their native, kindred skies,

And sing their pleasures, hopes an’ joys,

In some mild sphere;

Still closer knit in friendship’s ties,

Each passing year!

Epistle To William Simson

Schoolmaster, Ochiltree. — May, 1785

I gat your letter, winsome Willie;

Wi’ gratefu’ heart I thank you brawlie;

Tho’ I maun say’t, I wad be silly,

And unco vain,

Should I believe, my coaxin billie

Your flatterin strain.

But I’se believe ye kindly meant it:

I sud be laith to think ye hinted

Ironic satire, sidelins sklented

On my poor Musie;

Tho’ in sic phraisin terms ye’ve penn’d it,

I scarce excuse ye.

My senses wad be in a creel,

Should I but dare a hope to speel

Wi’ Allan, or wi’ Gilbertfield,

The braes o’ fame;

Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,

A deathless name.

(O Fergusson! thy glorious parts

Ill suited law’s dry, musty arts!

My curse upon your whunstane hearts,

Ye E’nbrugh gentry!

The tithe o’ what ye waste at cartes

Wad stow’d his pantry!)

Yet when a tale comes i’ my head,

Or lassies gie my heart a screed —

As whiles they’re like to be my dead,

(O sad disease!)

I kittle up my rustic reed;

It gies me ease.

Auld Coila now may fidge fu’ fain,

She’s gotten poets o’ her ain;

Chiels wha their chanters winna hain,

But tune their lays,

Till echoes a’ resound again

Her weel-sung praise.

Nae poet thought her worth his while,

To set her name in measur’d style;

She lay like some unkenn’d-of-isle

Beside New Holland,

Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil

Besouth Magellan.

Ramsay an’ famous Fergusson

Gied Forth an’ Tay a lift aboon;

Yarrow an’ Tweed, to monie a tune,

Owre Scotland rings;

While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an’ Doon

Naebody sings.

Th’ Illissus, Tiber, Thames, an’ Seine,

Glide sweet in monie a tunefu’ line:

But Willie, set your fit to mine,

An’ cock your crest;

We’ll gar our streams an’ burnies shine

Up wi’ the best!

We’ll sing auld Coila’s plains an’ fells,

Her moors red-brown wi’ heather bells,

Her banks an’ braes, her dens and dells,

Whare glorious Wallace

Aft bure the gree, as story tells,

Frae Suthron billies.

At Wallace’ name, what Scottish blood

But boils up in a spring-tide flood!

Oft have our fearless fathers strode

By Wallace’ side,

Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,

Or glorious died!

O, sweet are Coila’s haughs an’ woods,

When lintwhites chant amang the buds,

And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,

Their loves enjoy;

While thro’ the braes the cushat croods

With wailfu’ cry!

Ev’n winter bleak has charms to me,

When winds rave thro’ the naked tree;

Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree

Are hoary gray;

Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee,

Dark’ning the day!

O Nature! a’ thy shews an’ forms

To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!

Whether the summer kindly warms,

Wi’ life an light;

Or winter howls, in gusty storms,

The lang, dark night!

The muse, nae poet ever fand her,

Till by himsel he learn’d to wander,

Adown some trottin burn’s meander,

An’ no think lang:

O sweet to stray, an’ pensive ponder

A heart-felt sang!

The war’ly race may drudge an’ drive,

Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an’ strive;

Let me fair Nature’s face descrive,

And I, wi’ pleasure,

Shall let the busy, grumbling hive

Bum owre their treasure.

Fareweel, “my rhyme-composing” brither!

We’ve been owre lang unkenn’d to ither:

Now let us lay our heads thegither,

In love fraternal:

May envy wallop in a tether,

Black fiend, infernal!

While Highlandmen hate tools an’ taxes;

While moorlan’s herds like guid, fat braxies;

While terra firma, on her axis,

Diurnal turns;

Count on a friend, in faith an’ practice In Robert Burns


My memory’s no worth a preen;

I had amaist forgotten clean,

Ye bade me write you what they mean

By this “new-light,”

“Bout which our herds sae aft hae been

Maist like to fight.

In days when mankind were but callans

At grammar, logic, an’ sic talents,

They took nae pains their speech to balance,

Or rules to gie;

But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,

Like you or me.

In thae auld times, they thought the moon,

Just like a sark, or pair o’ shoon,

Wore by degrees, till her last roon

Gaed past their viewin;

An’ shortly after she was done

They gat a new ane.

This passed for certain, undisputed;

It ne’er cam i’ their heads to doubt it,

Till chiels gat up an’ wad confute it,

An’ ca’d it wrang;

An’ muckle din there was about it,

Baith loud an’ lang.

Some herds, weel learn’d upo’ the beuk,

Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk;

For ‘twas the auld moon turn’d a neuk

An’ out of’ sight,

An’ backlins-comin to the leuk

She grew mair bright.

This was deny’d, it was affirm’d;

The herds and hissels were alarm’d

The rev’rend gray-beards rav’d an’ storm’d,

That beardless laddies

Should think they better wer inform’d,

Than their auld daddies.

Frae less to mair, it gaed to sticks;

Frae words an’ aiths to clours an’ nicks;

An monie a fallow gat his licks,

Wi’ hearty crunt;

An’ some, to learn them for their tricks,

Were hang’d an’ brunt.

This game was play’d in mony lands,

An’ auld-light caddies bure sic hands,

That faith, the youngsters took the sands

Wi’ nimble shanks;

Till lairds forbad, by strict commands,

Sic bluidy pranks.

But new-light herds gat sic a cowe,

Folk thought them ruin’d stick-an-stowe;

Till now, amaist on ev’ry knowe

Ye’ll find ane plac’d;

An’ some their new-light fair avow,

Just quite barefac’d.

Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin;

Their zealous herds are vex’d an’ sweatin;

Mysel’, I’ve even seen them greetin

Wi’ girnin spite,

To hear the moon sae sadly lied on

By word an’ write.

But shortly they will cowe the louns!

Some auld-light herds in neebor touns

Are mind’t, in things they ca’ balloons,

To tak a flight;

An’ stay ae month amang the moons

An’ see them right.

Guid observation they will gie them;

An’ when the auld moon’s gaun to lea’e them,

The hindmaist shaird, they’ll fetch it wi’ them

Just i’ their pouch;

An’ when the new-light billies see them,

I think they’ll crouch!

Sae, ye observe that a’ this clatter

Is naething but a “moonshine matter”;

But tho’ dull prose-folk Latin splatter

In logic tulyie,

I hope we bardies ken some better

Than mind sic brulyie.

One Night As I Did Wander

Tune — “John Anderson, my jo.”

One night as I did wander,

When corn begins to shoot,

I sat me down to ponder

Upon an auld tree root;

Auld Ayr ran by before me,

And bicker’d to the seas;

A cushat crooded o’er me,

That echoed through the braes


Tho’ Cruel Fate Should Bid Us Part

Tune — “The Northern Lass.”

Tho’ cruel fate should bid us part,

Far as the pole and line,

Her dear idea round my heart,

Should tenderly entwine.

Tho’ mountains, rise, and deserts howl,

And oceans roar between;

Yet, dearer than my deathless soul,

I still would love my Jean.


Song — Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin^1

[Footnote 1: Not published by Burns.]

Tune — “Daintie Davie.”

There was a lad was born in Kyle,

But whatna day o’ whatna style,

I doubt it’s hardly worth the while

To be sae nice wi’ Robin.

Chor. — Robin was a rovin’ boy,

Rantin’, rovin’, rantin’, rovin’,

Robin was a rovin’ boy,

Rantin’, rovin’, Robin!

Our monarch’s hindmost year but ane

Was five-and-twenty days begun^2,

“Twas then a blast o’ Janwar’ win’

Blew hansel in on Robin.

Robin was, &c.

[Footnote 2: January 25, 1759, the date of my

bardship’s vital existence. — R.B.]

The gossip keekit in his loof,

Quo’ scho, ‘Wha lives will see the proof,

This waly boy will be nae coof:

I think we’ll ca’ him Robin.”

Robin was, &c.

“He’ll hae misfortunes great an’ sma’,

But aye a heart aboon them a’,

He’ll be a credit till us a’ —

We’ll a’ be proud o’ Robin.”

Robin was, &c.

“But sure as three times three mak nine,

I see by ilka score and line,

This chap will dearly like our kin’,

So leeze me on thee! Robin.”

Robin was, &c.

“Guid faith,” quo’, scho, ‘I doubt you gar

The bonie lasses lie aspar;

But twenty fauts ye may hae waur

So blessins on thee! Robin.”

Robin was, &c.

Elegy On The Death Of Robert Ruisseaux^1

Now Robin lies in his last lair,

He’ll gabble rhyme, nor sing nae mair;

Cauld poverty, wi’ hungry stare,

Nae mair shall fear him;

Nor anxious fear, nor cankert care,

E’er mair come near him.

To tell the truth, they seldom fash’d him,

Except the moment that they crush’d him;

For sune as chance or fate had hush’d ‘em

Tho’ e’er sae short.

Then wi’ a rhyme or sang he lash’d ‘em,

And thought it sport.

[Footnote 1: Ruisseaux is French for rivulets

or “burns,” a translation of his name.]

Tho’he was bred to kintra-wark,

And counted was baith wight and stark,

Yet that was never Robin’s mark

To mak a man;

But tell him, he was learn’d and clark,

Ye roos’d him then!

Epistle To John Goldie, In Kilmarnock

Author Of The Gospel Recovered. — August, 1785

O Gowdie, terror o’ the whigs,

Dread o’ blackcoats and rev’rend wigs!

Sour Bigotry, on her last legs,

Girns an’ looks back,

Wishing the ten Egyptian plagues

May seize you quick.

Poor gapin’, glowrin’ Superstition!

Wae’s me, she’s in a sad condition:

Fye: bring Black Jock,^1 her state physician,

To see her water;

Alas, there’s ground for great suspicion

She’ll ne’er get better.

Enthusiasm’s past redemption,

Gane in a gallopin’ consumption:

Not a’ her quacks, wi’ a’ their gumption,

Can ever mend her;

Her feeble pulse gies strong presumption,

She’ll soon surrender.

Auld Orthodoxy lang did grapple,

For every hole to get a stapple;

But now she fetches at the thrapple,

An’ fights for breath;

Haste, gie her name up in the chapel,^2

Near unto death.

It’s you an’ Taylor^3 are the chief

To blame for a’ this black mischief;

[Footnote 1: The Rev. J. Russell, Kilmarnock. — R. B.]

[Footnote 2: Mr. Russell’s Kirk. — R. B.]

[Footnote 3: Dr. Taylor of Norwich. — R. B.]

But, could the Lord’s ain folk get leave,

A toom tar barrel

An’ twa red peats wad bring relief,

And end the quarrel.

For me, my skill’s but very sma’,

An’ skill in prose I’ve nane ava’;

But quietlins-wise, between us twa,

Weel may you speed!

And tho’ they sud your sair misca’,

Ne’er fash your head.

E’en swinge the dogs, and thresh them sicker!

The mair they squeel aye chap the thicker;

And still ‘mang hands a hearty bicker

O“something stout;

It gars an owthor’s pulse beat quicker,

And helps his wit.

There’s naething like the honest nappy;

Whare’ll ye e’er see men sae happy,

Or women sonsie, saft an’ sappy,

“Tween morn and morn,

As them wha like to taste the drappie,

In glass or horn?

I’ve seen me dazed upon a time,

I scarce could wink or see a styme;

Just ae half-mutchkin does me prime, —

Ought less is little —

Then back I rattle on the rhyme,

As gleg’s a whittle.

The Holy Fair^1

A robe of seeming truth and trust

Hid crafty Observation;

And secret hung, with poison’d crust,

The dirk of Defamation:

[Footnote 1: “Holy Fair” is a common phrase in the west of Scotland

for a sacramental occasion. — R. B.]

A mask that like the gorget show’d,

Dye-varying on the pigeon;

And for a mantle large and broad,

He wrapt him in Religion.

Hypocrisy A-La-Mode

Upon a simmer Sunday morn

When Nature’s face is fair,

I walked forth to view the corn,

An’ snuff the caller air.

The rising sun owre Galston muirs

Wi’ glorious light was glintin;

The hares were hirplin down the furrs,

The lav’rocks they were chantin

Fu’ sweet that day.

As lightsomely I glowr’d abroad,

To see a scene sae gay,

Three hizzies, early at the road,

Cam skelpin up the way.

Twa had manteeles o’ dolefu’ black,

But ane wi’ lyart lining;

The third, that gaed a wee a-back,

Was in the fashion shining

Fu’ gay that day.

The twa appear’d like sisters twin,

In feature, form, an’ claes;

Their visage wither’d, lang an’ thin,

An’ sour as only slaes:

The third cam up, hap-stap-an’-lowp,

As light as ony lambie,

An’ wi’a curchie low did stoop,

As soon as e’er she saw me,

Fu’ kind that day.

Wi’ bonnet aff, quoth I, ‘Sweet lass,

I think ye seem to ken me;

I’m sure I’ve seen that bonie face

But yet I canna name ye.”

Quo’ she, an’ laughin as she spak,

An’ taks me by the han’s,

“Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck

Of a’ the ten comman’s

A screed some day.”

“My name is Fun — your cronie dear,

The nearest friend ye hae;

An’ this is Superstitution here,

An’ that’s Hypocrisy.

I’m gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair,

To spend an hour in daffin:

Gin ye’ll go there, yon runkl’d pair,

We will get famous laughin

At them this day.”

Quoth I, “Wi’ a’ my heart, I’ll do’t;

I’ll get my Sunday’s sark on,

An’ meet you on the holy spot;

Faith, we’se hae fine remarkin!”

Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time,

An’ soon I made me ready;

For roads were clad, frae side to side,

Wi’ mony a weary body

In droves that day.

Here farmers gash, in ridin graith,

Gaed hoddin by their cotters;

There swankies young, in braw braid-claith,

Are springing owre the gutters.

The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang,

In silks an’ scarlets glitter;

Wi’ sweet-milk cheese, in mony a whang,

An’ farls, bak’d wi’ butter,

Fu’ crump that day.

When by the plate we set our nose,

Weel heaped up wi’ ha’pence,

A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws,

An’ we maun draw our tippence.

Then in we go to see the show:

On ev’ry side they’re gath’rin;

Some carrying dails, some chairs an’ stools,

An’ some are busy bleth’rin

Right loud that day.

Here stands a shed to fend the show’rs,

An’ screen our countra gentry;

There Racer Jess,^2 an’ twa-three whores,

Are blinkin at the entry.

Here sits a raw o’ tittlin jads,

Wi’ heaving breast an’ bare neck;

An’ there a batch o’ wabster lads,

Blackguarding frae Kilmarnock,

For fun this day.

Here, some are thinkin on their sins,

An’ some upo’ their claes;

Ane curses feet that fyl’d his shins,

Anither sighs an’ prays:

On this hand sits a chosen swatch,

Wi’ screwed-up, grace-proud faces;

On that a set o’ chaps, at watch,

Thrang winkin on the lasses

To chairs that day.

O happy is that man, an’ blest!

Nae wonder that it pride him!

Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best,

Comes clinkin down beside him!

Wi’ arms repos’d on the chair back,

He sweetly does compose him;

Which, by degrees, slips round her neck,

An’s loof upon her bosom,

Unkend that day.

Now a’ the congregation o’er

Is silent expectation;

For Moodie^3 speels the holy door,

Wi’ tidings o’ damnation:

[Footnote 2: Racer Jess (d. 1813) was a half-witted daughter of

Possie Nansie. She was a great pedestrian.]

[Footnote 3: Rev. Alexander Moodie of Riccarton.]

Should Hornie, as in ancient days,

“Mang sons o’ God present him,

The vera sight o’ Moodie’s face,

To ‘s ain het hame had sent him

Wi’ fright that day.

Hear how he clears the point o’ faith

Wi’ rattlin and wi’ thumpin!

Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath,

He’s stampin, an’ he’s jumpin!

His lengthen’d chin, his turned-up snout,

His eldritch squeel an’ gestures,

O how they fire the heart devout,

Like cantharidian plaisters

On sic a day!

But hark! the tent has chang’d its voice,

There’s peace an’ rest nae langer;

For a’ the real judges rise,

They canna sit for anger,

Smith^4 opens out his cauld harangues,

On practice and on morals;

An’ aff the godly pour in thrangs,

To gie the jars an’ barrels

A lift that day.

What signifies his barren shine,

Of moral powers an’ reason?

His English style, an’ gesture fine

Are a’ clean out o’ season.

Like Socrates or Antonine,

Or some auld pagan heathen,

The moral man he does define,

But ne’er a word o’ faith in

That’s right that day.

In guid time comes an antidote

Against sic poison’d nostrum;

For Peebles,^5 frae the water-fit,

Ascends the holy rostrum:

[Footnote 4: Rev. George Smith of Galston.]

[Footnote 5: Rev. Wm. Peebles of Newton-upon-Ayr.]

See, up he’s got, the word o’ God,

An’ meek an’ mim has view’d it,

While Common-sense has taen the road,

An’ aff, an’ up the Cowgate^6

Fast, fast that day.

Wee Miller^7 neist the guard relieves,

An’ Orthodoxy raibles,

Tho’ in his heart he weel believes,

An’ thinks it auld wives’ fables:

But faith! the birkie wants a manse,

So, cannilie he hums them;

Altho’ his carnal wit an’ sense

Like hafflins-wise o’ercomes him

At times that day.

Now, butt an’ ben, the change-house fills,

Wi’ yill-caup commentators;

Here ‘s cryin out for bakes and gills,

An’ there the pint-stowp clatters;

While thick an’ thrang, an’ loud an’ lang,

Wi’ logic an’ wi’ scripture,

They raise a din, that in the end

Is like to breed a rupture

O“wrath that day.

Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair

Than either school or college;

It kindles wit, it waukens lear,

It pangs us fou o’ knowledge:

Be’t whisky-gill or penny wheep,

Or ony stronger potion,

It never fails, or drinkin deep,

To kittle up our notion,

By night or day.

The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent

To mind baith saul an’ body,

Sit round the table, weel content,

An’ steer about the toddy:

[Footnote 6: A street so called which faces the tent in

Mauchline. — R. B.]

[Footnote 7: Rev. Alex. Miller, afterward of Kilmaurs.]

On this ane’s dress, an’ that ane’s leuk,

They’re makin observations;

While some are cozie i’ the neuk,

An’ forming assignations

To meet some day.

But now the Lord’s ain trumpet touts,

Till a’ the hills are rairin,

And echoes back return the shouts;

Black Russell is na sparin:

His piercin words, like Highlan’ swords,

Divide the joints an’ marrow;

His talk o’ Hell, whare devils dwell,

Our vera “sauls does harrow”

Wi’ fright that day!

A vast, unbottom’d, boundless pit,

Fill’d fou o’ lowin brunstane,

Whase raging flame, an’ scorching heat,

Wad melt the hardest whun-stane!

The half-asleep start up wi’ fear,

An’ think they hear it roarin;

When presently it does appear,

“Twas but some neibor snorin

Asleep that day.

“Twad be owre lang a tale to tell,

How mony stories past;

An’ how they crouded to the yill,

When they were a’ dismist;

How drink gaed round, in cogs an’ caups,

Amang the furms an’ benches;

An’ cheese an’ bread, frae women’s laps,

Was dealt about in lunches

An’ dawds that day.

In comes a gawsie, gash guidwife,

An’ sits down by the fire,

Syne draws her kebbuck an’ her knife;

The lasses they are shyer:

The auld guidmen, about the grace

Frae side to side they bother;

Till some ane by his bonnet lays,

An’ gies them’t like a tether,

Fu’ lang that day.

Waesucks! for him that gets nae lass,

Or lasses that hae naething!

Sma’ need has he to say a grace,

Or melvie his braw claithing!

O wives, be mindfu’ ance yoursel’

How bonie lads ye wanted;

An’ dinna for a kebbuck-heel

Let lasses be affronted

On sic a day!

Now Clinkumbell, wi’ rattlin tow,

Begins to jow an’ croon;

Some swagger hame the best they dow,

Some wait the afternoon.

At slaps the billies halt a blink,

Till lasses strip their shoon:

Wi’ faith an’ hope, an’ love an’ drink,

They’re a’ in famous tune

For crack that day.

How mony hearts this day converts

O“sinners and o’ lasses!

Their hearts o’ stane, gin night, are gane

As saft as ony flesh is:

There’s some are fou o’ love divine;

There’s some are fou o’ brandy;

An’ mony jobs that day begin,

May end in houghmagandie

Some ither day.

Third Epistle To J. Lapraik

Guid speed and furder to you, Johnie,

Guid health, hale han’s, an’ weather bonie;

Now, when ye’re nickin down fu’ cannie

The staff o’ bread,

May ye ne’er want a stoup o’ bran’y

To clear your head.

May Boreas never thresh your rigs,

Nor kick your rickles aff their legs,

Sendin the stuff o’er muirs an’ haggs

Like drivin wrack;

But may the tapmost grain that wags

Come to the sack.

I’m bizzie, too, an’ skelpin at it,

But bitter, daudin showers hae wat it;

Sae my auld stumpie pen I gat it

Wi’ muckle wark,

An’ took my jocteleg an whatt it,

Like ony clark.

It’s now twa month that I’m your debtor,

For your braw, nameless, dateless letter,

Abusin me for harsh ill-nature

On holy men,

While deil a hair yoursel’ ye’re better,

But mair profane.

But let the kirk-folk ring their bells,

Let’s sing about our noble sel’s:

We’ll cry nae jads frae heathen hills

To help, or roose us;

But browster wives an’ whisky stills,

They are the muses.

Your friendship, Sir, I winna quat it,

An’ if ye mak’ objections at it,

Then hand in neive some day we’ll knot it,

An’ witness take,

An’ when wi’ usquabae we’ve wat it

It winna break.

But if the beast an’ branks be spar’d

Till kye be gaun without the herd,

And a’ the vittel in the yard,

An’ theekit right,

I mean your ingle-side to guard

Ae winter night.

Then muse-inspirin’ aqua-vitae

Shall make us baith sae blythe and witty,

Till ye forget ye’re auld an’ gatty,

An’ be as canty

As ye were nine years less than thretty —

Sweet ane an’ twenty!

But stooks are cowpit wi’ the blast,

And now the sinn keeks in the west,

Then I maun rin amang the rest,

An’ quat my chanter;

Sae I subscribe myself’ in haste,

Yours, Rab the Ranter.

Epistle To The Rev. John M’math

Sept. 13, 1785.

Inclosing A Copy Of “Holy Willie’s Prayer,”

Which He Had Requested, Sept. 17, 1785

While at the stook the shearers cow’r

To shun the bitter blaudin’ show’r,

Or in gulravage rinnin scowr

To pass the time,

To you I dedicate the hour

In idle rhyme.

My musie, tir’d wi’ mony a sonnet

On gown, an’ ban’, an’ douse black bonnet,

Is grown right eerie now she’s done it,

Lest they should blame her,

An’ rouse their holy thunder on it

An anathem her.

I own ‘twas rash, an’ rather hardy,

That I, a simple, country bardie,

Should meddle wi’ a pack sae sturdy,

Wha, if they ken me,

Can easy, wi’ a single wordie,

Lowse hell upon me.

But I gae mad at their grimaces,

Their sighin, cantin, grace-proud faces,

Their three-mile prayers, an’ half-mile graces,

Their raxin conscience,

Whase greed, revenge, an’ pride disgraces

Waur nor their nonsense.

There’s Gaw’n, misca’d waur than a beast,

Wha has mair honour in his breast

Than mony scores as guid’s the priest

Wha sae abus’d him:

And may a bard no crack his jest

What way they’ve us’d him?

See him, the poor man’s friend in need,

The gentleman in word an’ deed —

An’ shall his fame an’ honour bleed

By worthless, skellums,

An’ not a muse erect her head

To cowe the blellums?

O Pope, had I thy satire’s darts

To gie the rascals their deserts,

I’d rip their rotten, hollow hearts,

An’ tell aloud

Their jugglin hocus-pocus arts

To cheat the crowd.

God knows, I’m no the thing I should be,

Nor am I even the thing I could be,

But twenty times I rather would be

An atheist clean,

Than under gospel colours hid be

Just for a screen.

An honest man may like a glass,

An honest man may like a lass,

But mean revenge, an’ malice fause

He’ll still disdain,

An’ then cry zeal for gospel laws,

Like some we ken.

They take religion in their mouth;

They talk o’ mercy, grace, an’ truth,

For what? — to gie their malice skouth

On some puir wight,

An’ hunt him down, owre right and ruth,

To ruin straight.

All hail, Religion! maid divine!

Pardon a muse sae mean as mine,

Who in her rough imperfect line

Thus daurs to name thee;

To stigmatise false friends of thine

Can ne’er defame thee.

Tho’ blotch’t and foul wi’ mony a stain,

An’ far unworthy of thy train,

With trembling voice I tune my strain,

To join with those

Who boldly dare thy cause maintain

In spite of foes:

In spite o’ crowds, in spite o’ mobs,

In spite o’ undermining jobs,

In spite o’ dark banditti stabs

At worth an’ merit,

By scoundrels, even wi’ holy robes,

But hellish spirit.

O Ayr! my dear, my native ground,

Within thy presbyterial bound

A candid liberal band is found

Of public teachers,

As men, as Christians too, renown’d,

An’ manly preachers.

Sir, in that circle you are nam’d;

Sir, in that circle you are fam’d;

An’ some, by whom your doctrine’s blam’d

(Which gies you honour)

Even, sir, by them your heart’s esteem’d,

An’ winning manner.

Pardon this freedom I have ta’en,

An’ if impertinent I’ve been,

Impute it not, good Sir, in ane

Whase heart ne’er wrang’d ye,

But to his utmost would befriend

Ought that belang’d ye.

Second Epistle to Davie

A Brother Poet

Auld Neibour,

I’m three times doubly o’er your debtor,

For your auld-farrant, frien’ly letter;

Tho’ I maun say’t I doubt ye flatter,

Ye speak sae fair;

For my puir, silly, rhymin clatter

Some less maun sair.

Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle,

Lang may your elbuck jink diddle,

To cheer you thro’ the weary widdle

O“war’ly cares;

Till barins’ barins kindly cuddle

Your auld grey hairs.

But Davie, lad, I’m red ye’re glaikit;

I’m tauld the muse ye hae negleckit;

An, gif it’s sae, ye sud by lickit

Until ye fyke;

Sic haun’s as you sud ne’er be faikit,

Be hain’t wha like.

For me, I’m on Parnassus’ brink,

Rivin the words to gar them clink;

Whiles dazed wi’ love, whiles dazed wi’ drink,

Wi’ jads or masons;

An’ whiles, but aye owre late, I think

Braw sober lessons.

Of a’ the thoughtless sons o’ man,

Commen’ to me the bardie clan;

Except it be some idle plan

O“rhymin clink,

The devil haet, — that I sud ban —

They ever think.

Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o’ livin,

Nae cares to gie us joy or grievin,

But just the pouchie put the neive in,

An’ while ought’s there,

Then, hiltie, skiltie, we gae scrievin’,

An’ fash nae mair.

Leeze me on rhyme! it’s aye a treasure,

My chief, amaist my only pleasure;

At hame, a-fiel’, at wark, or leisure,

The Muse, poor hizzie!

Tho’ rough an’ raploch be her measure,

She’s seldom lazy.

Haud to the Muse, my daintie Davie:

The warl’ may play you mony a shavie;

But for the Muse, she’ll never leave ye,

Tho’ e’er sae puir,

Na, even tho’ limpin wi’ the spavie

Frae door tae door.

Song — Young Peggy Blooms

Tune — “Loch Eroch-side.”

Young Peggy blooms our boniest lass,

Her blush is like the morning,

The rosy dawn, the springing grass,

With early gems adorning.

Her eyes outshine the radiant beams

That gild the passing shower,

And glitter o’er the crystal streams,

And cheer each fresh’ning flower.

Her lips, more than the cherries bright,

A richer dye has graced them;

They charm th’ admiring gazer’s sight,

And sweetly tempt to taste them;

Her smile is as the evening mild,

When feather’d pairs are courting,

And little lambkins wanton wild,

In playful bands disporting.

Were Fortune lovely Peggy’s foe,

Such sweetness would relent her;

As blooming spring unbends the brow

Of surly, savage Winter.

Detraction’s eye no aim can gain,

Her winning pow’rs to lessen;

And fretful Envy grins in vain

The poison’d tooth to fasten.

Ye Pow’rs of Honour, Love, and Truth,

From ev’ry ill defend her!

Inspire the highly-favour’d youth

The destinies intend her:

Still fan the sweet connubial flame

Responsive in each bosom;

And bless the dear parental name

With many a filial blossom.

Song — Farewell To Ballochmyle

Tune — “Miss Forbe’s farewell to Banff.”

The Catrine woods were yellow seen,

The flowers decay’d on Catrine lee,

Nae lav’rock sang on hillock green,

But nature sicken’d on the e’e.

Thro’ faded groves Maria sang,

Hersel’ in beauty’s bloom the while;

And aye the wild-wood ehoes rang,

Fareweel the braes o’ Ballochmyle!

Low in your wintry beds, ye flowers,

Again ye’ll flourish fresh and fair;

Ye birdies dumb, in with’ring bowers,

Again ye’ll charm the vocal air.

But here, alas! for me nae mair

Shall birdie charm, or floweret smile;

Fareweel the bonie banks of Ayr,

Fareweel, fareweel! sweet Ballochmyle!

Fragment — Her Flowing Locks

Her flowing locks, the raven’s wing,

Adown her neck and bosom hing;

How sweet unto that breast to cling,

And round that neck entwine her!

Her lips are roses wat wi’ dew,

O“what a feast her bonie mou’!

Her cheeks a mair celestial hue,

A crimson still diviner!


[Footnote 1: Is thought to be a night when witches, devils,

and other mischief-making beings are abroad on their baneful

midnight errands; particularly those aerial people, the

fairies, are said on that night to hold a grand

anniversary,. — R.B.]

The following poem will, by many readers, be well enough understood; but

for the sake of those who are unacquainted with the manners and

traditions of the country where the scene is cast, notes are added to

give some account of the principal charms and spells of that night, so

big with prophecy to the peasantry in the west of Scotland. The passion

of prying into futurity makes a striking part of the history of human

nature in its rude state, in all ages and nations; and it may be some

entertainment to a philosophic mind, if any such honour the author with

a perusal, to see the remains of it among the more unenlightened in our

own. — R.B.

Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,

The simple pleasure of the lowly train;

To me more dear, congenial to my heart,

One native charm, than all the gloss of art. — Goldsmith.

Upon that night, when fairies light

On Cassilis Downans^2 dance,

Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,

On sprightly coursers prance;

Or for Colean the rout is ta’en,

Beneath the moon’s pale beams;

There, up the Cove,^3 to stray an’ rove,

Amang the rocks and streams

To sport that night;

[Footnote 2: Certain little, romantic, rocky, green hills,

in the neighbourhood of the ancient seat of the Earls of

Cassilis. — R.B.]

[Footnote 3: A noted cavern near Colean house, called the

Cove of Colean; which, as well as Cassilis Downans, is

famed, in country story, for being a favorite haunt of

fairies. — R.B.]

Amang the bonie winding banks,

Where Doon rins, wimplin, clear;

Where Bruce^4 ance rul’d the martial ranks,

An’ shook his Carrick spear;

Some merry, friendly, countra-folks

Together did convene,

To burn their nits, an’ pou their stocks,

An’ haud their Halloween

Fu’ blythe that night.

[Footnote 4: The famous family of that name, the ancestors

of Robert, the great deliverer of his country, were Earls of

Carrick. — R.B.]

The lasses feat, an’ cleanly neat,

Mair braw than when they’re fine;

Their faces blythe, fu’ sweetly kythe,

Hearts leal, an’ warm, an’ kin’:

The lads sae trig, wi’ wooer-babs

Weel-knotted on their garten;

Some unco blate, an’ some wi’ gabs

Gar lasses’ hearts gang startin

Whiles fast at night.

Then, first an’ foremost, thro’ the kail,

Their stocks^5 maun a’ be sought ance;

[Footnote 5: The first ceremony of Halloween is pulling each

a “stock,” or plant of kail. They must go out, hand in hand,

with eyes shut, and pull the first they meet with: its being

big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size

and shape of the grand object of all their spells — the

husband or wife. If any “yird,” or earth, stick to the root,

that is “tocher,” or fortune; and the taste of the

“custock,” that is, the heart of the stem, is indicative of

the natural temper and disposition. Lastly, the stems, or,

to give them their ordinary appellation, the “runts,” are

placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the

Christian names of the people whom chance brings into the

house are, according to the priority of placing the “runts,”

the names in question. — R. B.]

They steek their een, and grape an’ wale

For muckle anes, an’ straught anes.

Poor hav’rel Will fell aff the drift,

An’ wandered thro’ the bow-kail,

An’ pou’t for want o’ better shift

A runt was like a sow-tail

Sae bow’t that night.

Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,

They roar an’ cry a’ throu’ther;

The vera wee-things, toddlin, rin,

Wi’ stocks out owre their shouther:

An’ gif the custock’s sweet or sour,

Wi’ joctelegs they taste them;

Syne coziely, aboon the door,

Wi’ cannie care, they’ve plac’d them

To lie that night.

The lassies staw frae ‘mang them a’,

To pou their stalks o’ corn;^6

But Rab slips out, an’ jinks about,

Behint the muckle thorn:

He grippit Nelly hard and fast:

Loud skirl’d a’ the lasses;

But her tap-pickle maist was lost,

Whan kiutlin in the fause-house^7

Wi’ him that night.

[Footnote 6: They go to the barnyard, and pull each, at

three different times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk

wants the “top-pickle,” that is, the grain at the top of the

stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed

anything but a maid. — R.B.]

[Footnote 7: When the corn is in a doubtful state, by being

too green or wet, the stack-builder, by means of old timber,

etc., makes a large apartment in his stack, with an opening

in the side which is fairest exposed to the wind: this he

calls a “fause-house.” — R.B.]

The auld guid-wife’s weel-hoordit nits^8

Are round an’ round dividend,

An’ mony lads an’ lasses’ fates

Are there that night decided:

Some kindle couthie side by side,

And burn thegither trimly;

Some start awa wi’ saucy pride,

An’ jump out owre the chimlie

Fu’ high that night.

[Footnote 8: Burning the nuts is a favorite charm. They name

the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in

the fire; and according as they burn quietly together, or

start from beside one another, the course and issue of the

courtship will be. — R.B.]

Jean slips in twa, wi’ tentie e’e;

Wha ‘twas, she wadna tell;

But this is Jock, an’ this is me,

She says in to hersel’:

He bleez’d owre her, an’ she owre him,

As they wad never mair part:

Till fuff! he started up the lum,

An’ Jean had e’en a sair heart

To see’t that night.

Poor Willie, wi’ his bow-kail runt,

Was brunt wi’ primsie Mallie;

An’ Mary, nae doubt, took the drunt,

To be compar’d to Willie:

Mall’s nit lap out, wi’ pridefu’ fling,

An’ her ain fit, it brunt it;

While Willie lap, and swore by jing,

“Twas just the way he wanted

To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min’,

She pits hersel an’ Rob in;

In loving bleeze they sweetly join,

Till white in ase they’re sobbin:

Nell’s heart was dancin at the view;

She whisper’d Rob to leuk for’t:

Rob, stownlins, prie’d her bonie mou’,

Fu’ cozie in the neuk for’t,

Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,

Her thoughts on Andrew Bell:

She lea’es them gashin at their cracks,

An’ slips out — by hersel’;

She thro’ the yard the nearest taks,

An’ for the kiln she goes then,

An’ darklins grapit for the bauks,

And in the blue-clue^9 throws then,

Right fear’t that night.

[Footnote 9: Whoever would, with success, try this spell,

must strictly observe these directions: Steal out, all

alone, to the kiln, and darkling, throw into the “pot” a

clue of blue yarn; wind it in a new clue off the old one;

and, toward the latter end, something will hold the thread:

demand, “Wha hauds?” i.e., who holds? and answer will be

returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the Christian and

surname of your future spouse. — R.B.]

An’ ay she win’t, an’ ay she swat —

I wat she made nae jaukin;

Till something held within the pat,

Good Lord! but she was quaukin!

But whether ‘twas the deil himsel,

Or whether ‘twas a bauk-en’,

Or whether it was Andrew Bell,

She did na wait on talkin

To spier that night.

Wee Jenny to her graunie says,

“Will ye go wi’ me, graunie?

I’ll eat the apple at the glass,^10

I gat frae uncle Johnie:”

She fuff’t her pipe wi’ sic a lunt,

In wrath she was sae vap’rin,

She notic’t na an aizle brunt

Her braw, new, worset apron

Out thro’ that night.

[Footnote 10: Take a candle and go alone to a looking-glass;

eat an apple before it, and some traditions say you should

comb your hair all the time; the face of your conjungal

companion, to be, will be seen in the glass, as if peeping

over your shoulder. — R.B.]

“Ye little skelpie-limmer’s face!

I daur you try sic sportin,

As seek the foul thief ony place,

For him to spae your fortune:

Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!

Great cause ye hae to fear it;

For mony a ane has gotten a fright,

An’ liv’d an’ died deleerit,

On sic a night.

“Ae hairst afore the Sherra-moor,

I mind’t as weel’s yestreen —

I was a gilpey then, I’m sure

I was na past fyfteen:

The simmer had been cauld an’ wat,

An’ stuff was unco green;

An’ eye a rantin kirn we gat,

An’ just on Halloween

It fell that night.

“Our stibble-rig was Rab M’Graen,

A clever, sturdy fallow;

His sin gat Eppie Sim wi’ wean,

That lived in Achmacalla:

He gat hemp-seed,^11 I mind it weel,

An’he made unco light o’t;

But mony a day was by himsel’,

He was sae sairly frighted

That vera night.”

[Footnote 11: Steal out, unperceived, and sow a handful of

hemp-seed, harrowing it with anything you can conveniently

draw after you. Repeat now and then: “Hemp-seed, I saw thee,

hemp-seed, I saw thee; and him (or her) that is to be my

true love, come after me and pou thee.” Look over your left

shoulder, and you will see the appearance of the person

invoked, in the attitude of pulling hemp. Some traditions

say, “Come after me and shaw thee,” that is, show thyself;

in which case, it simply appears. Others omit the harrowing,

and say: “Come after me and harrow thee.” — R.B.]

Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,

An’ he swoor by his conscience,

That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;

For it was a’ but nonsense:

The auld guidman raught down the pock,

An’ out a handfu’ gied him;

Syne bad him slip frae’ mang the folk,

Sometime when nae ane see’d him,

An’ try’t that night.

He marches thro’ amang the stacks,

Tho’ he was something sturtin;

The graip he for a harrow taks,

An’ haurls at his curpin:

And ev’ry now an’ then, he says,

“Hemp-seed I saw thee,

An’ her that is to be my lass

Come after me, an’ draw thee

As fast this night.”

He wistl’d up Lord Lennox’ March

To keep his courage cherry;

Altho’ his hair began to arch,

He was sae fley’d an’ eerie:

Till presently he hears a squeak,

An’ then a grane an’ gruntle;

He by his shouther gae a keek,

An’ tumbled wi’ a wintle

Out-owre that night.

He roar’d a horrid murder-shout,

In dreadfu’ desperation!

An’ young an’ auld come rinnin out,

An’ hear the sad narration:

He swoor ‘twas hilchin Jean M’Craw,

Or crouchie Merran Humphie —

Till stop! she trotted thro’ them a’;

And wha was it but grumphie

Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn gaen,

To winn three wechts o’ naething;^12

But for to meet the deil her lane,

She pat but little faith in:

She gies the herd a pickle nits,

An’ twa red cheekit apples,

To watch, while for the barn she sets,

In hopes to see Tam Kipples

That vera night.

She turns the key wi’ cannie thraw,

An’owre the threshold ventures;

But first on Sawnie gies a ca’,

Syne baudly in she enters:

A ratton rattl’d up the wa’,

An’ she cry’d Lord preserve her!

An’ ran thro’ midden-hole an’ a’,

An’ pray’d wi’ zeal and fervour,

Fu’ fast that night.

They hoy’t out Will, wi’ sair advice;

They hecht him some fine braw ane;

It chanc’d the stack he faddom’t thrice^13

Was timmer-propt for thrawin:

He taks a swirlie auld moss-oak

For some black, grousome carlin;

An’ loot a winze, an’ drew a stroke,

Till skin in blypes cam haurlin

Aff’s nieves that night.

[Footnote 13: Take an opportunity of going unnoticed to a

“bear-stack,” and fathom it three times round. The last

fathom of the last time you will catch in your arms the

appearance of your future conjugal yoke-fellow. — R.B.]

A wanton widow Leezie was,

As cantie as a kittlen;

But och! that night, amang the shaws,

She gat a fearfu’ settlin!

She thro’ the whins, an’ by the cairn,

An’ owre the hill gaed scrievin;

Whare three lairds’ lan’s met at a burn,^14

To dip her left sark-sleeve in,

Was bent that night.

[Footnote 14: You go out, one or more (for this is a social

spell), to a south running spring, or rivulet, where “three

lairds’ lands meet,” and dip your left shirt sleeve. Go to

bed in sight of a fire, and hang your wet sleeve before it

to dry. Lie awake, and, some time near midnight, an

apparition, having the exact figure of the grand object in

question, will come and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the

other side of it. — R.B.]

Whiles owre a linn the burnie plays,

As thro’ the glen it wimpl’t;

Whiles round a rocky scar it strays,

Whiles in a wiel it dimpl’t;

Whiles glitter’d to the nightly rays,

Wi’ bickerin’, dancin’ dazzle;

Whiles cookit undeneath the braes,

Below the spreading hazel

Unseen that night.

Amang the brachens, on the brae,

Between her an’ the moon,

The deil, or else an outler quey,

Gat up an’ ga’e a croon:

Poor Leezie’s heart maist lap the hool;

Near lav’rock-height she jumpit,

But mist a fit, an’ in the pool

Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,

Wi’ a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,

The luggies^15 three are ranged;

An’ ev’ry time great care is ta’en

To see them duly changed:

Auld uncle John, wha wedlock’s joys

Sin’ Mar’s-year did desire,

Because he gat the toom dish thrice,

He heav’d them on the fire

In wrath that night.

[Footnote 15: Take three dishes, put clean water in one,

foul water in another, and leave the third empty; blindfold

a person and lead him to the hearth where the dishes are

ranged; he (or she) dips the left hand; if by chance in the

clean water, the future (husband or) wife will come to the

bar of matrimony a maid; if in the foul, a widow; if in the

empty dish, it foretells, with equal certainty, no marriage

at all. It is repeated three times, and every time the

arrangement of the dishes is altered. — R.B.]

Wi’ merry sangs, an’ friendly cracks,

I wat they did na weary;

And unco tales, an’ funnie jokes —

Their sports were cheap an’ cheery:

Till butter’d sowens,^16 wi’ fragrant lunt,

[Footnote 16: Sowens, with butter instead of milk to them,

is always the Halloween Supper. — R.B.]

Set a’ their gabs a-steerin;

Syne, wi’ a social glass o’ strunt,

They parted aff careerin

Fu’ blythe that night.

To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough, November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,

O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi’ bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,

Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,

Has broken nature’s social union,

An’ justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle

At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,

An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!

A daimen icker in a thrave

“S a sma’ request;

I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,

An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!

It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!

An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,

O“foggage green!

An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,

Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,

An’ weary winter comin fast,

An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,

Thou thought to dwell —

Till crash! the cruel coulter past

Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,

Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!

Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,

But house or hald,

To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,

An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men

Gang aft agley,

An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me

The present only toucheth thee:

But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.

On prospects drear!

An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,

I guess an’ fear!

Epitaph On John Dove, Innkeeper

Here lies Johnie Pigeon;

What was his religion?

Whae’er desires to ken,

To some other warl’

Maun follow the carl,

For here Johnie Pigeon had nane!

Strong ale was ablution,

Small beer persecution,

A dram was memento mori;

But a full-flowing bowl

Was the saving his soul,

And port was celestial glory.

Epitaph For James Smith

Lament him, Mauchline husbands a’,

He aften did assist ye;

For had ye staid hale weeks awa,

Your wives they ne’er had miss’d ye.

Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press

To school in bands thegither,

O tread ye lightly on his grass, —

Perhaps he was your father!

Adam Armour’s Prayer

Gude pity me, because I’m little!

For though I am an elf o’ mettle,

An’ can, like ony wabster’s shuttle,

Jink there or here,

Yet, scarce as lang’s a gude kail-whittle,

I’m unco queer.

An’ now Thou kens our waefu’ case;

For Geordie’s jurr we’re in disgrace,

Because we stang’d her through the place,

An’ hurt her spleuchan;

For whilk we daurna show our face

Within the clachan.

An’ now we’re dern’d in dens and hollows,

And hunted, as was William Wallace,

Wi’ constables-thae blackguard fallows,

An’ sodgers baith;

But Gude preserve us frae the gallows,

That shamefu’ death!

Auld grim black-bearded Geordie’s sel’ —

O shake him owre the mouth o’ hell!

There let him hing, an’ roar, an’ yell

Wi’ hideous din,

And if he offers to rebel,

Then heave him in.

When Death comes in wi’ glimmerin blink,

An’ tips auld drucken Nanse the wink,

May Sautan gie her doup a clink

Within his yett,

An’ fill her up wi’ brimstone drink,

Red-reekin het.

Though Jock an’ hav’rel Jean are merry —

Some devil seize them in a hurry,

An’ waft them in th’ infernal wherry

Straught through the lake,

An’ gie their hides a noble curry

Wi’ oil of aik!

As for the jurr-puir worthless body!

She’s got mischief enough already;

Wi’ stanged hips, and buttocks bluidy

She’s suffer’d sair;

But, may she wintle in a woody,

If she wh-e mair!

The Jolly Beggars: A Cantata^1

[Footnote 1: Not published by Burns.]


When lyart leaves bestrow the yird,

Or wavering like the bauckie-bird,

Bedim cauld Boreas’ blast;

When hailstanes drive wi’ bitter skyte,

And infant frosts begin to bite,

In hoary cranreuch drest;

Ae night at e’en a merry core

O“randie, gangrel bodies,

In Poosie-Nansie’s held the splore,

To drink their orra duddies;

Wi’ quaffing an’ laughing,

They ranted an’ they sang,

Wi’ jumping an’ thumping,

The vera girdle rang,

First, neist the fire, in auld red rags,

Ane sat, weel brac’d wi’ mealy bags,

And knapsack a’ in order;

His doxy lay within his arm;

Wi’ usquebae an’ blankets warm

She blinkit on her sodger;

An’ aye he gies the tozie drab

The tither skelpin’ kiss,

While she held up her greedy gab,

Just like an aumous dish;

Ilk smack still, did crack still,

Just like a cadger’s whip;

Then staggering an’ swaggering

He roar’d this ditty up —


Tune — “Soldier’s Joy.”

I am a son of Mars who have been in many wars,

And show my cuts and scars wherever I come;

This here was for a wench, and that other in a trench,

When welcoming the French at the sound of the drum.

Lal de daudle, &c.

My ‘prenticeship I past where my leader breath’d his last,

When the bloody die was cast on the heights of Abram:

and I served out my trade when the gallant game was play’d,

And the Morro low was laid at the sound of the drum.

I lastly was with Curtis among the floating batt’ries,

And there I left for witness an arm and a limb;

Yet let my country need me, with Elliot to head me,

I’d clatter on my stumps at the sound of a drum.

And now tho’ I must beg, with a wooden arm and leg,

And many a tatter’d rag hanging over my bum,

I’m as happy with my wallet, my bottle, and my callet,

As when I used in scarlet to follow a drum.

What tho’ with hoary locks, I must stand the winter shocks,

Beneath the woods and rocks oftentimes for a home,

When the t’other bag I sell, and the t’other bottle tell,

I could meet a troop of hell, at the sound of a drum.


He ended; and the kebars sheuk,

Aboon the chorus roar;

While frighted rattons backward leuk,

An’ seek the benmost bore:

A fairy fiddler frae the neuk,

He skirl’d out, encore!

But up arose the martial chuck,

An’ laid the loud uproar.


Tune — “Sodger Laddie.”

I once was a maid, tho’ I cannot tell when,

And still my delight is in proper young men;

Some one of a troop of dragoons was my daddie,

No wonder I’m fond of a sodger laddie,

Sing, lal de lal, &c.

The first of my loves was a swaggering blade,

To rattle the thundering drum was his trade;

His leg was so tight, and his cheek was so ruddy,

Transported I was with my sodger laddie.

But the godly old chaplain left him in the lurch;

The sword I forsook for the sake of the church:

He ventur’d the soul, and I risked the body,

“Twas then I proved false to my sodger laddie.

Full soon I grew sick of my sanctified sot,

The regiment at large for a husband I got;

From the gilded spontoon to the fife I was ready,

I asked no more but a sodger laddie.

But the peace it reduc’d me to beg in despair,

Till I met old boy in a Cunningham fair,

His rags regimental, they flutter’d so gaudy,

My heart it rejoic’d at a sodger laddie.

And now I have liv’d — I know not how long,

And still I can join in a cup and a song;

But whilst with both hands I can hold the glass steady,

Here’s to thee, my hero, my sodger laddie.


Poor Merry-Andrew, in the neuk,

Sat guzzling wi’ a tinkler-hizzie;

They mind’t na wha the chorus teuk,

Between themselves they were sae busy:

At length, wi’ drink an’ courting dizzy,

He stoiter’d up an’ made a face;

Then turn’d an’ laid a smack on Grizzie,

Syne tun’d his pipes wi’ grave grimace.


Tune — “Auld Sir Symon.”

Sir Wisdom’s a fool when he’s fou;

Sir Knave is a fool in a session;

He’s there but a ‘prentice I trow,

But I am a fool by profession.

My grannie she bought me a beuk,

An’ I held awa to the school;

I fear I my talent misteuk,

But what will ye hae of a fool?

For drink I would venture my neck;

A hizzie’s the half of my craft;

But what could ye other expect

Of ane that’s avowedly daft?

I ance was tied up like a stirk,

For civilly swearing and quaffin;

I ance was abus’d i’ the kirk,

For towsing a lass i’ my daffin.

Poor Andrew that tumbles for sport,

Let naebody name wi’ a jeer;

There’s even, I’m tauld, i’ the Court

A tumbler ca’d the Premier.

Observ’d ye yon reverend lad

Mak faces to tickle the mob;

He rails at our mountebank squad, —

It’s rivalship just i’ the job.

And now my conclusion I’ll tell,

For faith I’m confoundedly dry;

The chiel that’s a fool for himsel’,

Guid Lord! he’s far dafter than I.


Then niest outspak a raucle carlin,

Wha kent fu’ weel to cleek the sterlin;

For mony a pursie she had hooked,

An’ had in mony a well been douked;

Her love had been a Highland laddie,

But weary fa’ the waefu’ woodie!

Wi’ sighs an’ sobs she thus began

To wail her braw John Highlandman.


Tune — “O, an ye were dead, Guidman.”

A Highland lad my love was born,

The Lalland laws he held in scorn;

But he still was faithfu’ to his clan,

My gallant, braw John Highlandman.


Sing hey my braw John Highlandman!

Sing ho my braw John Highlandman!

There’s not a lad in a’ the lan’

Was match for my John Highlandman.

With his philibeg an’ tartan plaid,

An’ guid claymore down by his side,

The ladies’ hearts he did trepan,

My gallant, braw John Highlandman.

Sing hey, &c.

We ranged a’ from Tweed to Spey,

An’ liv’d like lords an’ ladies gay;

For a Lalland face he feared none, —

My gallant, braw John Highlandman.

Sing hey, &c.

They banish’d him beyond the sea.

But ere the bud was on the tree,

Adown my cheeks the pearls ran,

Embracing my John Highlandman.

Sing hey, &c.

But, och! they catch’d him at the last,

And bound him in a dungeon fast:

My curse upon them every one,

They’ve hang’d my braw John Highlandman!

Sing hey, &c.

And now a widow, I must mourn

The pleasures that will ne’er return:

The comfort but a hearty can,

When I think on John Highlandman.

Sing hey, &c.


A pigmy scraper wi’ his fiddle,

Wha us’d at trystes an’ fairs to driddle.

Her strappin limb and gausy middle

(He reach’d nae higher)

Had hol’d his heartie like a riddle,

An’ blawn’t on fire.

Wi’ hand on hainch, and upward e’e,

He croon’d his gamut, one, two, three,

Then in an arioso key,

The wee Apoll

Set off wi’ allegretto glee

His giga solo.


Tune — “Whistle owre the lave o’t.”

Let me ryke up to dight that tear,

An’ go wi’ me an’ be my dear;

An’ then your every care an’ fear

May whistle owre the lave o’t.


I am a fiddler to my trade,

An’ a’ the tunes that e’er I played,

The sweetest still to wife or maid,

Was whistle owre the lave o’t.

At kirns an’ weddins we’se be there,

An’ O sae nicely’s we will fare!

We’ll bowse about till Daddie Care

Sing whistle owre the lave o’t.

I am, &c.

Sae merrily’s the banes we’ll pyke,

An’ sun oursel’s about the dyke;

An’ at our leisure, when ye like,

We’ll whistle owre the lave o’t.

I am, &c.

But bless me wi’ your heav’n o’ charms,

An’ while I kittle hair on thairms,

Hunger, cauld, an’ a’ sic harms,

May whistle owre the lave o’t.

I am, &c.


Her charms had struck a sturdy caird,

As weel as poor gut-scraper;

He taks the fiddler by the beard,

An’ draws a roosty rapier —

He swoor, by a’ was swearing worth,

To speet him like a pliver,

Unless he would from that time forth

Relinquish her for ever.

Wi’ ghastly e’e poor tweedle-dee

Upon his hunkers bended,

An’ pray’d for grace wi’ ruefu’ face,

An’ so the quarrel ended.

But tho’ his little heart did grieve

When round the tinkler prest her,

He feign’d to snirtle in his sleeve,

When thus the caird address’d her:


Tune — “Clout the Cauldron.”

My bonie lass, I work in brass,

A tinkler is my station:

I’ve travell’d round all Christian ground

In this my occupation;

I’ve taen the gold, an’ been enrolled

In many a noble squadron;

But vain they search’d when off I march’d

To go an’ clout the cauldron.

I’ve taen the gold, &c.

Despise that shrimp, that wither’d imp,

With a’ his noise an’ cap’rin;

An’ take a share with those that bear

The budget and the apron!

And by that stowp! my faith an’ houp,

And by that dear Kilbaigie,^1

If e’er ye want, or meet wi’ scant,

May I ne’er weet my craigie.

And by that stowp, &c.

[Footnote 1: A peculiar sort of whisky so called,

a great favorite with Poosie Nansie’s clubs. — R.B.]


The caird prevail’d — th’ unblushing fair

In his embraces sunk;

Partly wi’ love o’ercome sae sair,

An’ partly she was drunk:

Sir Violino, with an air

That show’d a man o’ spunk,

Wish’d unison between the pair,

An’ made the bottle clunk

To their health that night.

But hurchin Cupid shot a shaft,

That play’d a dame a shavie —

The fiddler rak’d her, fore and aft,

Behint the chicken cavie.

Her lord, a wight of Homer’s craft,^2

Tho’ limpin wi’ the spavie,

He hirpl’d up, an’ lap like daft,

An’ shor’d them Dainty Davie.

O“boot that night.

He was a care-defying blade

As ever Bacchus listed!

Tho’ Fortune sair upon him laid,

His heart, she ever miss’d it.

He had no wish but — to be glad,

Nor want but — when he thirsted;

He hated nought but — to be sad,

An’ thus the muse suggested

His sang that night.


Tune — “For a’ that, an’ a’ that.”

I am a Bard of no regard,

Wi’ gentle folks an’ a’ that;

But Homer-like, the glowrin byke,

Frae town to town I draw that.


For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

An’ twice as muckle’s a’ that;

I’ve lost but ane, I’ve twa behin’,

I’ve wife eneugh for a’ that.

[Footnote 2: Homer is allowed to be the

oldest ballad-singer on record. — R.B.]

I never drank the Muses’ stank,

Castalia’s burn, an’ a’ that;

But there it streams an’ richly reams,

My Helicon I ca’ that.

For a’ that, &c.

Great love Idbear to a’ the fair,

Their humble slave an’ a’ that;

But lordly will, I hold it still

A mortal sin to thraw that.

For a’ that, &c.

In raptures sweet, this hour we meet,

Wi’ mutual love an’ a’ that;

But for how lang the flie may stang,

Let inclination law that.

For a’ that, &c.

Their tricks an’ craft hae put me daft,

They’ve taen me in, an’ a’ that;

But clear your decks, and here’s — “The Sex!”

I like the jads for a’ that.


For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

An’ twice as muckle’s a’ that;

My dearest bluid, to do them guid,

They’re welcome till’t for a’ that.


So sang the bard — and Nansie’s wa’s

Shook with a thunder of applause,

Re-echo’d from each mouth!

They toom’d their pocks, they pawn’d their duds,

They scarcely left to co’er their fuds,

To quench their lowin drouth:

Then owre again, the jovial thrang

The poet did request

To lowse his pack an’ wale a sang,

A ballad o’ the best;

He rising, rejoicing,

Between his twa Deborahs,

Looks round him, an’ found them

Impatient for the chorus.


Tune — “Jolly Mortals, fill your Glasses.”

See the smoking bowl before us,

Mark our jovial ragged ring!

Round and round take up the chorus,

And in raptures let us sing —


A fig for those by law protected!

Liberty’s a glorious feast!

Courts for cowards were erected,

Churches built to please the priest.

What is title, what is treasure,

What is reputation’s care?

If we lead a life of pleasure,

“Tis no matter how or where!

A fig for, &c.

With the ready trick and fable,

Round we wander all the day;

And at night in barn or stable,

Hug our doxies on the hay.

A fig for, &c.

Does the train-attended carriage

Thro’ the country lighter rove?

Does the sober bed of marriage

Witness brighter scenes of love?

A fig for, &c.

Life is al a variorum,

We regard not how it goes;

Let them cant about decorum,

Who have character to lose.

A fig for, &c.

Here’s to budgets, bags and wallets!

Here’s to all the wandering train.

Here’s our ragged brats and callets,

One and all cry out, Amen!


A fig for those by law protected!

Liberty’s a glorious feast!

Courts for cowards were erected,

Churches built to please the priest.

Song — For A” That^1

Tune — “For a’ that.”

Tho’ women’s minds, like winter winds,

May shift, and turn, an’ a’ that,

The noblest breast adores them maist —

A consequence I draw that.


For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

And twice as meikle’s a’ that;

The bonie lass that I loe best

She’ll be my ain for a’ that.

Great love I bear to a’ the fair,

Their humble slave, an’ a’ that;

But lordly will, I hold it still

A mortal sin to thraw that.

For a’ that, &c.

But there is ane aboon the lave,

Has wit, and sense, an’ a’ that;

A bonie lass, I like her best,

And wha a crime dare ca’ that?

For a’ that, &c.

In rapture sweet this hour we meet,

Wi’ mutual love an’ a’ that,

[Footnote 1: A later version of “I am a bard

of no regard” in “The Jolly Beggars.”]

But for how lang the flie may stang,

Let inclination law that.

For a’ that, &c.

Their tricks an’ craft hae put me daft.

They’ve taen me in, an’ a’ that;

But clear your decks, and here’s — “The Sex!”

I like the jads for a’ that.

For a’ that, &c.

Song — Merry Hae I Been Teethin A Heckle

Tune — “The bob O” Dumblane.”

O Merry hae I been teethin’ a heckle,

An’ merry hae I been shapin’ a spoon;

O merry hae I been cloutin’ a kettle,

An’ kissin’ my Katie when a’ was done.

O a’ the lang day I ca’ at my hammer,

An’ a’ the lang day I whistle and sing;

O a’ the lang night I cuddle my kimmer,

An’ a’ the lang night as happy’s a king.

Bitter in idol I lickit my winnins

O“marrying Bess, to gie her a slave:

Blest be the hour she cool’d in her linnens,

And blythe be the bird that sings on her grave!

Come to my arms, my Katie, my Katie;

O come to my arms and kiss me again!

Drucken or sober, here’s to thee, Katie!

An’ blest be the day I did it again.

The Cotter’s Saturday Night

Inscribed to R. Aiken, Esq., of Ayr.

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;

Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,

The short and simple annals of the Poor.


My lov’d, my honour’d, much respected friend!

No mercenary bard his homage pays;

With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end,

My dearest meed, a friend’s esteem and praise:

To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,

The lowly train in life’s sequester’d scene,

The native feelings strong, the guileless ways,

What Aiken in a cottage would have been;

Ah! tho’ his worth unknown, far happier there I ween!

November chill blaws loud wi’ angry sugh;

The short’ning winter-day is near a close;

The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;

The black’ning trains o’ craws to their repose:

The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes, —

This night his weekly moil is at an end,

Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,

Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,

And weary, o’er the moor, his course does hameward bend.

At length his lonely cot appears in view,

Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;

Th’ expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through

To meet their dead, wi’ flichterin noise and glee.

His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,

His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie’s smile,

The lisping infant, prattling on his knee,

Does a’ his weary kiaugh and care beguile,

And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.

Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,

At service out, amang the farmers roun’;

Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin

A cannie errand to a neibor town:

Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,

In youthfu’ bloom-love sparkling in her e’e —

Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown,

Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,

To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.

With joy unfeign’d, brothers and sisters meet,

And each for other’s weelfare kindly speirs:

The social hours, swift-wing’d, unnotic’d fleet:

Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.

The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;

Anticipation forward points the view;

The mother, wi’ her needle and her shears,

Gars auld claes look amaist as weel’s the new;

The father mixes a’ wi’ admonition due.

Their master’s and their mistress’ command,

The younkers a’ are warned to obey;

And mind their labours wi’ an eydent hand,

And ne’er, tho’ out o’ sight, to jauk or play;

“And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,

And mind your duty, duly, morn and night;

Lest in temptation’s path ye gang astray,

Implore His counsel and assisting might:

They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright.”

But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;

Jenny, wha kens the meaning o’ the same,

Tells how a neibor lad came o’er the moor,

To do some errands, and convoy her hame.

The wily mother sees the conscious flame

Sparkle in Jenny’s e’e, and flush her cheek;

With heart-struck anxious care, enquires his name,

While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;

Weel-pleased the mother hears, it’s nae wild, worthless rake.

Wi’ kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;

A strappin youth, he takes the mother’s eye;

Blythe Jenny sees the visit’s no ill ta’en;

The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.

The youngster’s artless heart o’erflows wi’ joy,

But blate an’ laithfu’, scarce can weel behave;

The mother, wi’ a woman’s wiles, can spy

What makes the youth sae bashfu’ and sae grave,

Weel-pleas’d to think her bairn’s respected like the lave.

O happy love! where love like this is found:

O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!

I’ve paced much this weary, mortal round,

And sage experience bids me this declare, —

“If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare —

One cordial in this melancholy vale,

“Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair

In other’sarms, breathe out the tender tale,

Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale.”

Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,

A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!

That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,

Betray sweet Jenny’s unsuspecting youth?

Curse on his perjur’d arts! dissembling smooth!

Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil’d?

Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,

Points to the parents fondling o’er their child?

Then paints the ruin’d maid, and their distraction wild?

But now the supper crowns their simple board,

The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia’s food;

The sowp their only hawkie does afford,

That, ‘yont the hallan snugly chows her cood:

The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,

To grace the lad, her weel-hain’d kebbuck, fell;

And aft he’s prest, and aft he ca’s it guid:

The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell

How t’was a towmond auld, sin’ lint was i’ the bell.

The cheerfu’ supper done, wi’ serious face,

They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;

The sire turns o’er, with patriarchal grace,

The big ha’bible, ance his father’s pride:

His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,

His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;

Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,

He wales a portion with judicious care;

And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn air.

They chant their artless notes in simple guise,

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;

Perhaps Dundee’s wild-warbling measures rise;

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;

Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;

The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays:

Compar’d with these, Italian trills are tame;

The tickl’d ears no heart-felt raptures raise;

Nae unison hae they with our Creator’s praise.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page,

How Abram was the friend of God on high;

Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage

With Amalek’s ungracious progeny;

Or how the royal bard did groaning lie

Beneath the stroke of Heaven’s avenging ire;

Or Job’s pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;

Or rapt Isaiah’s wild, seraphic fire;

Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,

How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;

How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,

Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:

How His first followers and servants sped;

The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:

How he, who lone in Patmos banished,

Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,

And heard great Bab’lon’s doom pronounc’d by Heaven’s command.

Then, kneeling down to Heaven’s Eternal King,

The saint, the father, and the husband prays:

Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,”^1

That thus they all shall meet in future days,

There, ever bask in uncreated rays,

No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,

Together hymning their Creator’s praise,

In such society, yet still more dear;

While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere

Compar’d with this, how poor Religion’s pride,

In all the pomp of method, and of art;

When men display to congregations wide

[Footnote 1: Pope’s “Windsor Forest.” — R.B.]

Devotion’s ev’ry grace, except the heart!

The Power, incens’d, the pageant will desert,

The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;

But haply, in some cottage far apart,

May hear, well-pleas’d, the language of the soul;

And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.

Then homeward all take off their sev’ral way;

The youngling cottagers retire to rest:

The parent-pair their secret homage pay,

And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,

That he who stills the raven’s clam’rous nest,

And decks the lily fair in flow’ry pride,

Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,

For them and for their little ones provide;

But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.

From scenes like these, old Scotia’s grandeur springs,

That makes her lov’d at home, rever’d abroad:

Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,

“An honest man’s the noblest work of God;”

And certes, in fair virtue’s heavenly road,

The cottage leaves the palace far behind;

What is a lordling’s pomp? a cumbrous load,

Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,

Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin’d!

O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!

For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,

Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil

Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!

And O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent

From luxury’s contagion, weak and vile!

Then howe’er crowns and coronets be rent,

A virtuous populace may rise the while,

And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov’d isle.

O Thou! who pour’d the patriotic tide,

That stream’d thro’ Wallace’s undaunted heart,

Who dar’d to nobly stem tyrannic pride,

Or nobly die, the second glorious part:

(The patriot’s God peculiarly thou art,

His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)

O never, never Scotia’s realm desert;

But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard

In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!

Address To The Deil

O Prince! O chief of many throned Pow’rs

That led th’ embattl’d Seraphim to war —


O Thou! whatever title suit thee —

Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie,

Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sootie,

Clos’d under hatches,

Spairges about the brunstane cootie,

To scaud poor wretches!

Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,

An’ let poor damned bodies be;

I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,

Ev’n to a deil,

To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me,

An’ hear us squeel!

Great is thy pow’r an’ great thy fame;

Far ken’d an’ noted is thy name;

An’ tho’ yon lowin’ heuch’s thy hame,

Thou travels far;

An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame,

Nor blate, nor scaur.

Whiles, ranging like a roarin lion,

For prey, a’ holes and corners tryin;

Whiles, on the strong-wind’d tempest flyin,

Tirlin the kirks;

Whiles, in the human bosom pryin,

Unseen thou lurks.

I’ve heard my rev’rend graunie say,

In lanely glens ye like to stray;

Or where auld ruin’d castles grey

Nod to the moon,

Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way,

Wi’ eldritch croon.

When twilight did my graunie summon,

To say her pray’rs, douse, honest woman!

Aft’yont the dyke she’s heard you bummin,

Wi’ eerie drone;

Or, rustlin, thro’ the boortrees comin,

Wi’ heavy groan.

Ae dreary, windy, winter night,

The stars shot down wi’ sklentin light,

Wi’ you, mysel’ I gat a fright,

Ayont the lough;

Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,

Wi’ wavin’ sough.

The cudgel in my nieve did shake,

Each brist’ld hair stood like a stake,

When wi’ an eldritch, stoor “quaick, quaick,”

Amang the springs,

Awa ye squatter’d like a drake,

On whistlin’ wings.

Let warlocks grim, an’ wither’d hags,

Tell how wi’ you, on ragweed nags,

They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags,

Wi’ wicked speed;

And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,

Owre howkit dead.

Thence countra wives, wi’ toil and pain,

May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain;

For oh! the yellow treasure’s ta’en

By witchin’ skill;

An’ dawtit, twal-pint hawkie’s gane

As yell’s the bill.

Thence mystic knots mak great abuse

On young guidmen, fond, keen an’ crouse,

When the best wark-lume i’ the house,

By cantrip wit,

Is instant made no worth a louse,

Just at the bit.

When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,

An’ float the jinglin’ icy boord,

Then water-kelpies haunt the foord,

By your direction,

And ‘nighted trav’llers are allur’d

To their destruction.

And aft your moss-traversin Spunkies

Decoy the wight that late an’ drunk is:

The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies

Delude his eyes,

Till in some miry slough he sunk is,

Ne’er mair to rise.

When masons’ mystic word an’ grip

In storms an’ tempests raise you up,

Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,

Or, strange to tell!

The youngest brither ye wad whip

Aff straught to hell.

Lang syne in Eden’s bonie yard,

When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,

An’ all the soul of love they shar’d,

The raptur’d hour,

Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird,

In shady bower;^1

Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!

Ye cam to Paradise incog,

[Footnote 1: The verse originally ran: “Lang syne, in Eden’s

happy scene When strappin Adam’s days were green, And Eve

was like my bonie Jean, My dearest part, A dancin, sweet,

young handsome quean, O” guileless heart.”]

An’ play’d on man a cursed brogue,

(Black be your fa’! )

An’ gied the infant warld a shog,

“Maist rui’d a’.

D’ye mind that day when in a bizz

Wi’ reekit duds, an’ reestit gizz,

Ye did present your smoutie phiz

“Mang better folk,

An’ sklented on the man of Uzz

Your spitefu’ joke?

An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,

An’ brak him out o’ house an hal’,

While scabs and botches did him gall,

Wi’ bitter claw;

An’ lows’d his ill-tongu’d wicked scaul’,

Was warst ava?

But a’ your doings to rehearse,

Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce,

Sin’ that day Michael^2 did you pierce,

Down to this time,

Wad ding a Lallan tounge, or Erse,

In prose or rhyme.

An’ now, auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkin,

A certain bardie’s rantin, drinkin,

Some luckless hour will send him linkin

To your black pit;

But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkin,

An’ cheat you yet.

But fare-you-weel, auld Nickie-ben!

O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!

Ye aiblins might — I dinna ken —

Stil hae a stake:

I’m wae to think up’ yon den,

Ev’n for your sake!

[Footnote 2: Vide Milton, Book vi. — R. B.]

Scotch Drink

Gie him strong drink until he wink,

That’s sinking in despair;

An’ liquor guid to fire his bluid,

That’s prest wi’ grief and care:

There let him bouse, an’ deep carouse,

Wi’ bumpers flowing o’er,

Till he forgets his loves or debts,

An’ minds his griefs no more.

(Solomon’s Proverbs, xxxi. 6, 7.)

Let other poets raise a fracas

“Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drucken Bacchus,

An’ crabbit names an’stories wrack us,

An’ grate our lug:

I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,

In glass or jug.

O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!

Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,

Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,

In glorious faem,

Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink,

To sing thy name!

Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,

An’ aits set up their awnie horn,

An’ pease and beans, at e’en or morn,

Perfume the plain:

Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,

Thou king o’ grain!

On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,

In souple scones, the wale o’food!

Or tumblin in the boiling flood

Wi’ kail an’ beef;

But when thou pours thy strong heart’s blood,

There thou shines chief.

Food fills the wame, an’ keeps us leevin;

Tho’ life’s a gift no worth receivin,

When heavy-dragg’d wi’ pine an’ grievin;

But, oil’d by thee,

The wheels o’ life gae down-hill, scrievin,

Wi’ rattlin glee.

Thou clears the head o’doited Lear;

Thou cheers ahe heart o’ drooping Care;

Thou strings the nerves o’ Labour sair,

At’s weary toil;

Though even brightens dark Despair

Wi’ gloomy smile.

Aft, clad in massy siller weed,

Wi’ gentles thou erects thy head;

Yet, humbly kind in time o’ need,

The poor man’s wine;

His weep drap parritch, or his bread,

Thou kitchens fine.

Thou art the life o’ public haunts;

But thee, what were our fairs and rants?

Ev’n godly meetings o’ the saunts,

By thee inspired,

When gaping they besiege the tents,

Are doubly fir’d.

That merry night we get the corn in,

O sweetly, then, thou reams the horn in!

Or reekin on a New-year mornin

In cog or bicker,

An’ just a wee drap sp’ritual burn in,

An’ gusty sucker!

When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,

An’ ploughmen gather wi’ their graith,

O rare! to see thee fizz an freath

I“th’ luggit caup!

Then Burnewin comes on like death

At every chap.

Nae mercy then, for airn or steel;

The brawnie, banie, ploughman chiel,

Brings hard owrehip, wi’ sturdy wheel,

The strong forehammer,

Till block an’ studdie ring an reel,

Wi’ dinsome clamour.

When skirling weanies see the light,

Though maks the gossips clatter bright,

How fumblin’ cuiffs their dearies slight;

Wae worth the name!

Nae howdie gets a social night,

Or plack frae them.

When neibors anger at a plea,

An’ just as wud as wud can be,

How easy can the barley brie

Cement the quarrel!

It’s aye the cheapest lawyer’s fee,

To taste the barrel.

Alake! that e’er my muse has reason,

To wyte her countrymen wi’ treason!

But mony daily weet their weason

Wi’ liquors nice,

An’ hardly, in a winter season,

E’er Spier her price.

Wae worth that brandy, burnin trash!

Fell source o’ mony a pain an’ brash!

Twins mony a poor, doylt, drucken hash,

O“half his days;

An’ sends, beside, auld Scotland’s cash

To her warst faes.

Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well!

Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,

Poor, plackless devils like mysel’!

It sets you ill,

Wi’ bitter, dearthfu’ wines to mell,

Or foreign gill.

May gravels round his blather wrench,

An’ gouts torment him, inch by inch,

What twists his gruntle wi’ a glunch

O“sour disdain,

Out owre a glass o’ whisky-punch

Wi’ honest men!

O Whisky! soul o’ plays and pranks!

Accept a bardie’s gratfu’ thanks!

When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks

Are my poor verses!

Thou comes — they rattle in their ranks,

At ither’s a-s!

Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!

Scotland lament frae coast to coast!

Now colic grips, an’ barkin hoast

May kill us a’;

For loyal Forbes’ charter’d boast

Is ta’en awa?

Thae curst horse-leeches o’ the’ Excise,

Wha mak the whisky stells their prize!

Haud up thy han’, Deil! ance, twice, thrice!

There, seize the blinkers!

An’ bake them up in brunstane pies

For poor damn’d drinkers.

Fortune! if thou’ll but gie me still

Hale breeks, a scone, an’ whisky gill,

An’ rowth o’ rhyme to rave at will,

Tak a’ the rest,

An’ deal’t about as thy blind skill

Directs thee best.


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!

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