Poems And Songs Of Robert Burns
Part 5 out of 13
This list, wi' my ain hand I wrote it,
The day and date as under noted;
Then know all ye whom it concerns,
Mossgiel, February 22, 1786.
To John Kennedy, Dumfries House
Now, Kennedy, if foot or horse
E'er bring you in by Mauchlin corse,
(Lord, man, there's lasses there wad force
A hermit's fancy;
An' down the gate in faith they're worse,
An' mair unchancy).
But as I'm sayin, please step to Dow's,
An' taste sic gear as Johnie brews,
Till some bit callan bring me news
That ye are there;
An' if we dinna hae a bouze,
I'se ne'er drink mair.
It's no I like to sit an' swallow,
Then like a swine to puke an' wallow;
But gie me just a true good fallow,
Wi' right ingine,
And spunkie ance to mak us mellow,
An' then we'll shine.
Now if ye're ane o' warl's folk,
Wha rate the wearer by the cloak,
An' sklent on poverty their joke,
Wi' bitter sneer,
Wi' you nae friendship I will troke,
Nor cheap nor dear.
But if, as I'm informed weel,
Ye hate as ill's the very deil
The flinty heart that canna feel-
Come, sir, here's to you!
Hae, there's my haun', I wiss you weel,
An' gude be wi' you.
Mossgiel, 3rd March, 1786.
To Mr. M'Adam, Of Craigen-Gillan
In answer to an obliging Letter he sent in the commencement of my poetic
Sir, o'er a gill I gat your card,
I trow it made me proud;
"See wha taks notice o' the bard!"
I lap and cried fu' loud.
Now deil-ma-care about their jaw,
The senseless, gawky million;
I'll cock my nose abune them a',
I'm roos'd by Craigen-Gillan!
'Twas noble, sir; 'twas like yourself',
To grant your high protection:
A great man's smile ye ken fu' well
Is aye a blest infection.
Tho', by his banes wha in a tub
Match'd Macedonian Sandy!
On my ain legs thro' dirt and dub,
I independent stand aye, -
And when those legs to gude, warm kail,
Wi' welcome canna bear me,
A lee dyke-side, a sybow-tail,
An' barley-scone shall cheer me.
Heaven spare you lang to kiss the breath
O' mony flow'ry simmers!
An' bless your bonie lasses baith,
I'm tauld they're loosome kimmers!
An' God bless young Dunaskin's laird,
The blossom of our gentry!
An' may he wear and auld man's beard,
A credit to his country.
To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church
Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.
Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
Till ye've got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow'rin height
O' Miss' bonnet.
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an' grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
Wad dress your droddum.
I wad na been surpris'd to spy
You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do't?
O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An' set your beauties a' abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie's makin:
Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
Inscribed On A Work Of Hannah More's
Presented to the Author by a Lady.
Thou flatt'ring mark of friendship kind,
Still may thy pages call to mind
The dear, the beauteous donor;
Tho' sweetly female ev'ry part,
Yet such a head, and more the heart
Does both the sexes honour:
She show'd her taste refin'd and just,
When she selected thee;
Yet deviating, own I must,
For sae approving me:
But kind still I'll mind still
The giver in the gift;
I'll bless her, an' wiss her
A Friend aboon the lift.
Song, Composed In Spring
tune-"Jockey's Grey Breeks."
Again rejoicing Nature sees
Her robe assume its vernal hues:
Her leafy locks wave in the breeze,
All freshly steep'd in morning dews.
Chorus.-And maun I still on Menie doat,
And bear the scorn that's in her e'e?
For it's jet, jet black, an' it's like a hawk,
An' it winna let a body be.
In vain to me the cowslips blaw,
In vain to me the vi'lets spring;
In vain to me in glen or shaw,
The mavis and the lintwhite sing.
And maun I still, &c.
The merry ploughboy cheers his team,
Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks;
But life to me's a weary dream,
A dream of ane that never wauks.
And maun I still, &c.
The wanton coot the water skims,
Amang the reeds the ducklings cry,
The stately swan majestic swims,
And ev'ry thing is blest but I.
And maun I still, &c.
The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap,
And o'er the moorlands whistles shill:
Wi' wild, unequal, wand'ring step,
I meet him on the dewy hill.
And maun I still, &c.
And when the lark, 'tween light and dark,
Blythe waukens by the daisy's side,
And mounts and sings on flittering wings,
A woe-worn ghaist I hameward glide.
And maun I still, &c.
Come winter, with thine angry howl,
And raging, bend the naked tree;
Thy gloom will soothe my cheerless soul,
When nature all is sad like me!
And maun I still, &c.
To A Mountain Daisy,
On turning down with the Plough, in April, 1786.
Wee, modest crimson-tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonie gem.
Alas! it's no thy neibor sweet,
The bonie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
Wi' spreckl'd breast!
When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
The purpling east.
Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
Upon thy early, humble birth;
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce rear'd above the parent-earth
Thy tender form.
The flaunting flow'rs our gardens yield,
High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield;
But thou, beneath the random bield
O' clod or stane,
Adorns the histie stibble field,
There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sun-ward spread,
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise;
But now the share uptears thy bed,
And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless maid,
Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betray'd,
And guileless trust;
Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard,
On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
Unskilful he to note the card
Of prudent lore,
Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
By human pride or cunning driv'n
To mis'ry's brink;
Till wrench'd of ev'ry stay but Heav'n,
He, ruin'd, sink!
Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
That fate is thine-no distant date;
Stern Ruin's plough-share drives elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight,
Shall be thy doom!
All hail! inexorable lord!
At whose destruction-breathing word,
The mightiest empires fall!
Thy cruel, woe-delighted train,
The ministers of grief and pain,
A sullen welcome, all!
With stern-resolv'd, despairing eye,
I see each aimed dart;
For one has cut my dearest tie,
And quivers in my heart.
Then low'ring, and pouring,
The storm no more I dread;
Tho' thick'ning, and black'ning,
Round my devoted head.
And thou grim Pow'r by life abhorr'd,
While life a pleasure can afford,
Oh! hear a wretch's pray'r!
Nor more I shrink appall'd, afraid;
I court, I beg thy friendly aid,
To close this scene of care!
When shall my soul, in silent peace,
Resign life's joyless day-
My weary heart is throbbing cease,
Cold mould'ring in the clay?
No fear more, no tear more,
To stain my lifeless face,
Enclasped, and grasped,
Within thy cold embrace!
Occasioned by the unfortunate issue of a Friend's Amour.
Alas! how oft does goodness would itself,
And sweet affection prove the spring of woe!
O thou pale orb that silent shines
While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
Thou seest a wretch who inly pines.
And wanders here to wail and weep!
With woe I nightly vigils keep,
Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam;
And mourn, in lamentation deep,
How life and love are all a dream!
I joyless view thy rays adorn
The faintly-marked, distant hill;
I joyless view thy trembling horn,
Reflected in the gurgling rill:
My fondly-fluttering heart, be still!
Thou busy pow'r, remembrance, cease!
Ah! must the agonizing thrill
For ever bar returning peace!
No idly-feign'd, poetic pains,
My sad, love-lorn lamentings claim:
No shepherd's pipe-Arcadian strains;
No fabled tortures, quaint and tame.
The plighted faith, the mutual flame,
The oft-attested pow'rs above,
The promis'd father's tender name;
These were the pledges of my love!
Encircled in her clasping arms,
How have the raptur'd moments flown!
How have I wish'd for fortune's charms,
For her dear sake, and her's alone!
And, must I think it! is she gone,
My secret heart's exulting boast?
And does she heedless hear my groan?
And is she ever, ever lost?
Oh! can she bear so base a heart,
So lost to honour, lost to truth,
As from the fondest lover part,
The plighted husband of her youth?
Alas! life's path may be unsmooth!
Her way may lie thro' rough distress!
Then, who her pangs and pains will soothe
Her sorrows share, and make them less?
Ye winged hours that o'er us pass'd,
Enraptur'd more, the more enjoy'd,
Your dear remembrance in my breast
My fondly-treasur'd thoughts employ'd:
That breast, how dreary now, and void,
For her too scanty once of room!
Ev'n ev'ry ray of hope destroy'd,
And not a wish to gild the gloom!
The morn, that warns th' approaching day,
Awakes me up to toil and woe;
I see the hours in long array,
That I must suffer, lingering, slow:
Full many a pang, and many a throe,
Keen recollection's direful train,
Must wring my soul, were Phoebus, low,
Shall kiss the distant western main.
And when my nightly couch I try,
Sore harass'd out with care and grief,
My toil-beat nerves, and tear-worn eye,
Keep watchings with the nightly thief:
Or if I slumber, fancy, chief,
Reigns, haggard-wild, in sore affright:
Ev'n day, all-bitter, brings relief
From such a horror-breathing night.
O thou bright queen, who o'er th' expanse
Now highest reign'st, with boundless sway
Oft has thy silent-marking glance
Observ'd us, fondly-wand'ring, stray!
The time, unheeded, sped away,
While love's luxurious pulse beat high,
Beneath thy silver-gleaming ray,
To mark the mutual-kindling eye.
Oh! scenes in strong remembrance set!
Scenes, never, never to return!
Scenes, if in stupor I forget,
Again I feel, again I burn!
From ev'ry joy and pleasure torn,
Life's weary vale I'll wander thro';
And hopeless, comfortless, I'll mourn
A faithless woman's broken vow!
Despondency: An Ode
Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
A burden more than I can bear,
I set me down and sigh;
O life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Dim backward as I cast my view,
What sick'ning scenes appear!
What sorrows yet may pierce me through,
Too justly I may fear!
Still caring, despairing,
Must be my bitter doom;
My woes here shall close ne'er
But with the closing tomb!
Happy! ye sons of busy life,
Who, equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard!
Ev'n when the wished end's denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward:
Whilst I, a hope-abandon'd wight,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet ev'ry sad returning night,
And joyless morn the same!
You, bustling, and justling,
Forget each grief and pain;
I, listless, yet restless,
Find ev'ry prospect vain.
How blest the solitary's lot,
Who, all-forgetting, all forgot,
Within his humble cell,
The cavern, wild with tangling roots,
Sits o'er his newly gather'd fruits,
Beside his crystal well!
Or haply, to his ev'ning thought,
By unfrequented stream,
The ways of men are distant brought,
A faint, collected dream;
While praising, and raising
His thoughts to heav'n on high,
As wand'ring, meand'ring,
He views the solemn sky.
Than I, no lonely hermit plac'd
Where never human footstep trac'd,
Less fit to play the part,
The lucky moment to improve,
And just to stop, and just to move,
With self-respecting art:
But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
Which I too keenly taste,
The solitary can despise,
Can want, and yet be blest!
He needs not, he heeds not,
Or human love or hate;
Whilst I here must cry here
At perfidy ingrate!
O, enviable, early days,
When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
To care, to guilt unknown!
How ill exchang'd for riper times,
To feel the follies, or the crimes,
Of others, or my own!
Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
Like linnets in the bush,
Ye little know the ills ye court,
When manhood is your wish!
The losses, the crosses,
That active man engage;
The fears all, the tears all,
Of dim declining age!
To Gavin Hamilton, Esq., Mauchline,
Recommending a Boy.
Mossgaville, May 3, 1786.
I hold it, sir, my bounden duty
To warn you how that Master Tootie,
Alias, Laird M'Gaun,
Was here to hire yon lad away
'Bout whom ye spak the tither day,
An' wad hae don't aff han';
But lest he learn the callan tricks-
An' faith I muckle doubt him-
Like scrapin out auld Crummie's nicks,
An' tellin lies about them;
As lieve then, I'd have then
Your clerkship he should sair,
If sae be ye may be
Not fitted otherwhere.
Altho' I say't, he's gleg enough,
An' 'bout a house that's rude an' rough,
The boy might learn to swear;
But then, wi' you, he'll be sae taught,
An' get sic fair example straught,
I hae na ony fear.
Ye'll catechise him, every quirk,
An' shore him weel wi' hell;
An' gar him follow to the kirk-
Aye when ye gang yoursel.
If ye then maun be then
Frae hame this comin' Friday,
Then please, sir, to lea'e, sir,
The orders wi' your lady.
My word of honour I hae gi'en,
In Paisley John's, that night at e'en,
To meet the warld's worm;
To try to get the twa to gree,
An' name the airles an' the fee,
In legal mode an' form:
I ken he weel a snick can draw,
When simple bodies let him:
An' if a Devil be at a',
In faith he's sure to get him.
To phrase you and praise you,.
Ye ken your Laureat scorns:
The pray'r still you share still
Of grateful Minstrel Burns.
Versified Reply To An Invitation
Yours this moment I unseal,
And faith I'm gay and hearty!
To tell the truth and shame the deil,
I am as fou as Bartie:
But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,
Expect me o' your partie,
If on a beastie I can speel,
Or hurl in a cartie.
Mauchlin, Monday night, 10 o'clock.
song-Will Ye Go To The Indies, My Mary?
tune-"Will ye go to the Ewe-Bughts, Marion."
Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
And leave auld Scotia's shore?
Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary,
Across th' Atlantic roar?
O sweet grows the lime and the orange,
And the apple on the pine;
But a' the charms o' the Indies
Can never equal thine.
I hae sworn by the Heavens to my Mary,
I hae sworn by the Heavens to be true;
And sae may the Heavens forget me,
When I forget my vow!
O plight me your faith, my Mary,
And plight me your lily-white hand;
O plight me your faith, my Mary,
Before I leave Scotia's strand.
We hae plighted our troth, my Mary,
In mutual affection to join;
And curst be the cause that shall part us!
The hour and the moment o' time!
song-My Highland Lassie, O
tune-"The deuks dang o'er my daddy."
Nae gentle dames, tho' e'er sae fair,
Shall ever be my muse's care:
Their titles a' arc empty show;
Gie me my Highland lassie, O.
Chorus.-Within the glen sae bushy, O,
Aboon the plain sae rashy, O,
I set me down wi' right guid will,
To sing my Highland lassie, O.
O were yon hills and vallies mine,
Yon palace and yon gardens fine!
The world then the love should know
I bear my Highland Lassie, O.
But fickle fortune frowns on me,
And I maun cross the raging sea!
But while my crimson currents flow,
I'll love my Highland lassie, O.
Altho' thro' foreign climes I range,
I know her heart will never change,
For her bosom burns with honour's glow,
My faithful Highland lassie, O.
For her I'll dare the billow's roar,
For her I'll trace a distant shore,
That Indian wealth may lustre throw
Around my Highland lassie, O.
She has my heart, she has my hand,
By secret troth and honour's band!
Till the mortal stroke shall lay me low,
I'm thine, my Highland lassie, O.
Farewell the glen sae bushy, O!
Farewell the plain sae rashy, O!
To other lands I now must go,
To sing my Highland lassie, O.
Epistle To A Young Friend
May __, 1786.
I Lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend,
A something to have sent you,
Tho' it should serve nae ither end
Than just a kind memento:
But how the subject-theme may gang,
Let time and chance determine;
Perhaps it may turn out a sang:
Perhaps turn out a sermon.
Ye'll try the world soon, my lad;
And, Andrew dear, believe me,
Ye'll find mankind an unco squad,
And muckle they may grieve ye:
For care and trouble set your thought,
Ev'n when your end's attained;
And a' your views may come to nought,
Where ev'ry nerve is strained.
I'll no say, men are villains a';
The real, harden'd wicked,
Wha hae nae check but human law,
Are to a few restricked;
But, Och! mankind are unco weak,
An' little to be trusted;
If self the wavering balance shake,
It's rarely right adjusted!
Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife,
Their fate we shouldna censure;
For still, th' important end of life
They equally may answer;
A man may hae an honest heart,
Tho' poortith hourly stare him;
A man may tak a neibor's part,
Yet hae nae cash to spare him.
Aye free, aff-han', your story tell,
When wi' a bosom crony;
But still keep something to yoursel',
Ye scarcely tell to ony:
Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can
Frae critical dissection;
But keek thro' ev'ry other man,
Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.
The sacred lowe o' weel-plac'd love,
Luxuriantly indulge it;
But never tempt th' illicit rove,
Tho' naething should divulge it:
I waive the quantum o' the sin,
The hazard of concealing;
But, Och! it hardens a' within,
And petrifies the feeling!
To catch dame Fortune's golden smile,
Assiduous wait upon her;
And gather gear by ev'ry wile
That's justified by honour;
Not for to hide it in a hedge,
Nor for a train attendant;
But for the glorious privilege
Of being independent.
The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip,
To haud the wretch in order;
But where ye feel your honour grip,
Let that aye be your border;
Its slightest touches, instant pause-
Debar a' side-pretences;
And resolutely keep its laws,
The great Creator to revere,
Must sure become the creature;
But still the preaching cant forbear,
And ev'n the rigid feature:
Yet ne'er with wits profane to range,
Be complaisance extended;
An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange
For Deity offended!
When ranting round in pleasure's ring,
Religion may be blinded;
Or if she gie a random sting,
It may be little minded;
But when on life we're tempest driv'n-
A conscience but a canker-
A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n,
Is sure a noble anchor!
Adieu, dear, amiable youth!
Your heart can ne'er be wanting!
May prudence, fortitude, and truth,
Erect your brow undaunting!
In ploughman phrase, "God send you speed,"
Still daily to grow wiser;
And may ye better reck the rede,
Then ever did th' adviser!
Address Of Beelzebub
To the Right Honourable the Earl of Breadalbane, President of the Right
Honourable and Honourable the Highland Society, which met on the 23rd of May
last at the Shakespeare, Covent Garden, to concert ways and means to frustrate
the designs of five hundred Highlanders, who, as the Society were informed by
Mr. M'Kenzie of Applecross, were so audacious as to attempt an escape from
their lawful lords and masters whose property they were, by emigrating from
the lands of Mr. Macdonald of Glengary to the wilds of Canada, in search of
that fantastic thing-Liberty.
Long life, my Lord, an' health be yours,
Unskaithed by hunger'd Highland boors;
Lord grant me nae duddie, desperate beggar,
Wi' dirk, claymore, and rusty trigger,
May twin auld Scotland o' a life
She likes-as butchers like a knife.
Faith you and Applecross were right
To keep the Highland hounds in sight:
I doubt na! they wad bid nae better,
Than let them ance out owre the water,
Then up among thae lakes and seas,
They'll mak what rules and laws they please:
Some daring Hancocke, or a Franklin,
May set their Highland bluid a-ranklin;
Some Washington again may head them,
Or some Montgomery, fearless, lead them,
Till God knows what may be effected
When by such heads and hearts directed,
Poor dunghill sons of dirt and mire
May to Patrician rights aspire!
Nae sage North now, nor sager Sackville,
To watch and premier o'er the pack vile, -
An' whare will ye get Howes and Clintons
To bring them to a right repentance-
To cowe the rebel generation,
An' save the honour o' the nation?
They, an' be d-d! what right hae they
To meat, or sleep, or light o' day?
Far less-to riches, pow'r, or freedom,
But what your lordship likes to gie them?
But hear, my lord! Glengarry, hear!
Your hand's owre light to them, I fear;
Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies,
I canna say but they do gaylies;
They lay aside a' tender mercies,
An' tirl the hallions to the birses;
Yet while they're only poind't and herriet,
They'll keep their stubborn Highland spirit:
But smash them! crash them a' to spails,
An' rot the dyvors i' the jails!
The young dogs, swinge them to the labour;
Let wark an' hunger mak them sober!
The hizzies, if they're aughtlins fawsont,
Let them in Drury-lane be lesson'd!
An' if the wives an' dirty brats
Come thiggin at your doors an' yetts,
Flaffin wi' duds, an' grey wi' beas',
Frightin away your ducks an' geese;
Get out a horsewhip or a jowler,
The langest thong, the fiercest growler,
An' gar the tatter'd gypsies pack
Wi' a' their bastards on their back!
Go on, my Lord! I lang to meet you,
An' in my house at hame to greet you;
Wi' common lords ye shanna mingle,
The benmost neuk beside the ingle,
At my right han' assigned your seat,
'Tween Herod's hip an' Polycrate:
Or if you on your station tarrow,
Between Almagro and Pizarro,
A seat, I'm sure ye're well deservin't;
An' till ye come-your humble servant,
June 1st, Anno Mundi, 5790.
Thoughts, words, and deeds, the Statute blames with reason;
But surely Dreams were ne'er indicted Treason.
On reading, in the public papers, the Laureate's Ode, with the other
parade of June 4th, 1786, the Author was no sooner dropt asleep, than he
imagined himself transported to the Birth-day Levee: and, in his dreaming
fancy, made the following Address:
Guid-Mornin' to our Majesty!
May Heaven augment your blisses
On ev'ry new birth-day ye see,
A humble poet wishes.
My bardship here, at your Levee
On sic a day as this is,
Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
Amang thae birth-day dresses
Sae fine this day.
I see ye're complimented thrang,
By mony a lord an' lady;
"God save the King" 's a cuckoo sang
That's unco easy said aye:
The poets, too, a venal gang,
Wi' rhymes weel-turn'd an' ready,
Wad gar you trow ye ne'er do wrang,
But aye unerring steady,
On sic a day.
For me! before a monarch's face
Ev'n there I winna flatter;
For neither pension, post, nor place,
Am I your humble debtor:
So, nae reflection on your Grace,
Your Kingship to bespatter;
There's mony waur been o' the race,
And aiblins ane been better
Than you this day.
'Tis very true, my sovereign King,
My skill may weel be doubted;
But facts are chiels that winna ding,
An' downa be disputed:
Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
Is e'en right reft and clouted,
And now the third part o' the string,
An' less, will gang aboot it
Than did ae day.^1
Far be't frae me that I aspire
To blame your legislation,
Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire,
To rule this mighty nation:
But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
Ye've trusted ministration
To chaps wha in barn or byre
Wad better fill'd their station
Than courts yon day.
And now ye've gien auld Britain peace,
Her broken shins to plaister,
Your sair taxation does her fleece,
Till she has scarce a tester:
For me, thank God, my life's a lease,
Nae bargain wearin' faster,
Or, faith! I fear, that, wi' the geese,
I shortly boost to pasture
I' the craft some day.
[Footnote 1: The American colonies had recently been lost.]
I'm no mistrusting Willie Pitt,
When taxes he enlarges,
(An' Will's a true guid fallow's get,
A name not envy spairges),
That he intends to pay your debt,
An' lessen a' your charges;
But, God-sake! let nae saving fit
Abridge your bonie barges
An'boats this day.
Adieu, my Liege; may freedom geck
Beneath your high protection;
An' may ye rax Corruption's neck,
And gie her for dissection!
But since I'm here, I'll no neglect,
In loyal, true affection,
To pay your Queen, wi' due respect,
May fealty an' subjection
This great birth-day.
Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
While nobles strive to please ye,
Will ye accept a compliment,
A simple poet gies ye?
Thae bonie bairntime, Heav'n has lent,
Still higher may they heeze ye
In bliss, till fate some day is sent
For ever to release ye
Frae care that day.
For you, young Potentate o'Wales,
I tell your highness fairly,
Down Pleasure's stream, wi' swelling sails,
I'm tauld ye're driving rarely;
But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
An' curse your folly sairly,
That e'er ye brak Diana's pales,
Or rattl'd dice wi' Charlie
By night or day.
Yet aft a ragged cowt's been known,
To mak a noble aiver;
So, ye may doucely fill the throne,
For a'their clish-ma-claver:
There, him^2 at Agincourt wha shone,
Few better were or braver:
And yet, wi' funny, queer Sir John,^3
He was an unco shaver
For mony a day.
For you, right rev'rend Osnaburg,
Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
Altho' a ribbon at your lug
Wad been a dress completer:
As ye disown yon paughty dog,
That bears the keys of Peter,
Then swith! an' get a wife to hug,
Or trowth, ye'll stain the mitre
Some luckless day!
Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn,
Ye've lately come athwart her-
A glorious galley,^4 stem and stern,
Weel rigg'd for Venus' barter;
But first hang out, that she'll discern,
Your hymeneal charter;
Then heave aboard your grapple airn,
An' large upon her quarter,
Come full that day.
Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a',
Ye royal lasses dainty,
Heav'n mak you guid as well as braw,
An' gie you lads a-plenty!
But sneer na British boys awa!
For kings are unco scant aye,
An' German gentles are but sma',
They're better just than want aye
On ony day.
[Footnote 2: King Henry V.-R.B.]
[Footnote 3: Sir John Falstaff, vid. Shakespeare.-R. B.]
[Footnote 4: Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain Royal sailor's
amour.-R. B. This was Prince William Henry, third son of George III,
afterward King William IV.]
Gad bless you a'! consider now,
Ye're unco muckle dautit;
But ere the course o' life be through,
It may be bitter sautit:
An' I hae seen their coggie fou,
That yet hae tarrow't at it.
But or the day was done, I trow,
The laggen they hae clautit
Fu' clean that day.
To Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
Expect na, sir, in this narration,
A fleechin, fleth'rin Dedication,
To roose you up, an' ca' you guid,
An' sprung o' great an' noble bluid,
Because ye're surnam'd like His Grace-
Perhaps related to the race:
Then, when I'm tir'd-and sae are ye,
Wi' mony a fulsome, sinfu' lie,
Set up a face how I stop short,
For fear your modesty be hurt.
This may do-maun do, sir, wi' them wha
Maun please the great folk for a wamefou;
For me! sae laigh I need na bow,
For, Lord be thankit, I can plough;
And when I downa yoke a naig,
Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg;
Sae I shall say-an' that's nae flatt'rin-
It's just sic Poet an' sic Patron.
The Poet, some guid angel help him,
Or else, I fear, some ill ane skelp him!
He may do weel for a' he's done yet,
But only-he's no just begun yet.
The Patron (sir, ye maun forgie me;
I winna lie, come what will o' me),
On ev'ry hand it will allow'd be,
He's just-nae better than he should be.
I readily and freely grant,
He downa see a poor man want;
What's no his ain, he winna tak it;
What ance he says, he winna break it;
Ought he can lend he'll no refus't,
Till aft his guidness is abus'd;
And rascals whiles that do him wrang,
Ev'n that, he does na mind it lang;
As master, landlord, husband, father,
He does na fail his part in either.
But then, nae thanks to him for a'that;
Nae godly symptom ye can ca' that;
It's naething but a milder feature
Of our poor, sinfu' corrupt nature:
Ye'll get the best o' moral works,
'Mang black Gentoos, and pagan Turks,
Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
Wha never heard of orthodoxy.
That he's the poor man's friend in need,
The gentleman in word and deed,
It's no thro' terror of damnation;
It's just a carnal inclination.
Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou hast slain!
Vain is his hope, whase stay an' trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!
No-stretch a point to catch a plack:
Abuse a brother to his back;
Steal through the winnock frae a whore,
But point the rake that taks the door;
Be to the poor like ony whunstane,
And haud their noses to the grunstane;
Ply ev'ry art o' legal thieving;
No matter-stick to sound believing.
Learn three-mile pray'rs, an' half-mile graces,
Wi' weel-spread looves, an' lang, wry faces;
Grunt up a solemn, lengthen'd groan,
And damn a' parties but your own;
I'll warrant they ye're nae deceiver,
A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.
O ye wha leave the springs o' Calvin,
For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin!
Ye sons of Heresy and Error,
Ye'll some day squeel in quaking terror,
When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath.
And in the fire throws the sheath;
When Ruin, with his sweeping besom,
Just frets till Heav'n commission gies him;
While o'er the harp pale Misery moans,
And strikes the ever-deep'ning tones,
Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans!
Your pardon, sir, for this digression:
I maist forgat my Dedication;
But when divinity comes 'cross me,
My readers still are sure to lose me.
So, sir, you see 'twas nae daft vapour;
But I maturely thought it proper,
When a' my works I did review,
To dedicate them, sir, to you:
Because (ye need na tak it ill),
I thought them something like yoursel'.
Then patronize them wi' your favor,
And your petitioner shall ever-
I had amaist said, ever pray,
But that's a word I need na say;
For prayin, I hae little skill o't,
I'm baith dead-sweer, an' wretched ill o't;
But I'se repeat each poor man's pray'r,
That kens or hears about you, sir-
"May ne'er Misfortune's gowling bark,
Howl thro' the dwelling o' the clerk!
May ne'er his genrous, honest heart,
For that same gen'rous spirit smart!
May Kennedy's far-honour'd name
Lang beet his hymeneal flame,
Till Hamiltons, at least a dizzen,
Are frae their nuptial labours risen:
Five bonie lasses round their table,
And sev'n braw fellows, stout an' able,
To serve their king an' country weel,
By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
May health and peace, with mutual rays,
Shine on the ev'ning o' his days;
Till his wee, curlie John's ier-oe,
When ebbing life nae mair shall flow,
The last, sad, mournful rites bestow!"
I will not wind a lang conclusion,
With complimentary effusion;
But, whilst your wishes and endeavours
Are blest with Fortune's smiles and favours,
I am, dear sir, with zeal most fervent,
Your much indebted, humble servant.
But if (which Pow'rs above prevent)
That iron-hearted carl, Want,
Attended, in his grim advances,
By sad mistakes, and black mischances,
While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
Make you as poor a dog as I am,
Your humble servant then no more;
For who would humbly serve the poor?
But, by a poor man's hopes in Heav'n!
While recollection's pow'r is giv'n-
If, in the vale of humble life,
The victim sad of fortune's strife,
I, thro' the tender-gushing tear,
Should recognise my master dear;
If friendless, low, we meet together,
Then, sir, your hand-my Friend and Brother!
Versified Note To Dr. Mackenzie, Mauchline
Friday first's the day appointed
By the Right Worshipful anointed,
To hold our grand procession;
To get a blad o' Johnie's morals,
And taste a swatch o' Manson's barrels
I' the way of our profession.
The Master and the Brotherhood
Would a' be glad to see you;
For me I would be mair than proud
To share the mercies wi' you.
If Death, then, wi' skaith, then,
Some mortal heart is hechtin,
Inform him, and storm him,
That Saturday you'll fecht him.
Mossgiel, An. M. 5790.
The Farewell To the Brethren of St. James' Lodge, Tarbolton.
tune-"Guidnight, and joy be wi' you a'."
Adieu! a heart-warm fond adieu;
Dear brothers of the mystic tie!
Ye favoured, enlighten'd few,
Companions of my social joy;
Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,
Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba';
With melting heart, and brimful eye,
I'll mind you still, tho' far awa.
Oft have I met your social band,
And spent the cheerful, festive night;
Oft, honour'd with supreme command,
Presided o'er the sons of light:
And by that hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but Craftsmen ever saw
Strong Mem'ry on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes, when far awa.
May Freedom, Harmony, and Love,
Unite you in the grand Design,
Beneath th' Omniscient Eye above,
The glorious Architect Divine,
That you may keep th' unerring line,
Still rising by the plummet's law,
Till Order bright completely shine,
Shall be my pray'r when far awa.
And you, farewell! whose merits claim
Justly that highest badge to wear:
Heav'n bless your honour'd noble name,
To Masonry and Scotia dear!
A last request permit me here, -
When yearly ye assemble a',
One round, I ask it with a tear,
To him, the Bard that's far awa.
On A Scotch Bard, Gone To The West Indies
A' ye wha live by sowps o' drink,
A' ye wha live by crambo-clink,
A' ye wha live and never think,
Come, mourn wi' me!
Our billie 's gien us a' a jink,
An' owre the sea!
Lament him a' ye rantin core,
Wha dearly like a random splore;
Nae mair he'll join the merry roar;
In social key;
For now he's taen anither shore.
An' owre the sea!
The bonie lasses weel may wiss him,
And in their dear petitions place him:
The widows, wives, an' a' may bless him
Wi' tearfu' e'e;
For weel I wat they'll sairly miss him
That's owre the sea!
O Fortune, they hae room to grumble!
Hadst thou taen aff some drowsy bummle,
Wha can do nought but fyke an' fumble,
'Twad been nae plea;
But he was gleg as ony wumble,
That's owre the sea!
Auld, cantie Kyle may weepers wear,
An' stain them wi' the saut, saut tear;
'Twill mak her poor auld heart, I fear,
In flinders flee:
He was her Laureat mony a year,
That's owre the sea!
He saw Misfortune's cauld nor-west
Lang mustering up a bitter blast;
A jillet brak his heart at last,
Ill may she be!
So, took a berth afore the mast,
An' owre the sea.
To tremble under Fortune's cummock,
On a scarce a bellyfu' o' drummock,
Wi' his proud, independent stomach,
Could ill agree;
So, row't his hurdies in a hammock,
An' owre the sea.
He ne'er was gien to great misguidin,
Yet coin his pouches wad na bide in;
Wi' him it ne'er was under hiding;
He dealt it free:
The Muse was a' that he took pride in,
That's owre the sea.
Jamaica bodies, use him weel,
An' hap him in cozie biel:
Ye'll find him aye a dainty chiel,
An' fou o' glee:
He wad na wrang'd the vera deil,
That's owre the sea.
Farewell, my rhyme-composing billie!
Your native soil was right ill-willie;
But may ye flourish like a lily,
I'll toast you in my hindmost gillie,
Tho' owre the sea!
song-Farewell To Eliza
From thee, Eliza, I must go,
And from my native shore;
The cruel fates between us throw
A boundless ocean's roar:
But boundless oceans, roaring wide,
Between my love and me,
They never, never can divide
My heart and soul from thee.
Farewell, farewell, Eliza dear,
The maid that I adore!
A boding voice is in mine ear,
We part to meet no more!
But the latest throb that leaves my heart,
While Death stands victor by, -
That throb, Eliza, is thy part,
And thine that latest sigh!
A Bard's Epitaph
Is there a whim-inspired fool,
Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool,
Let him draw near;
And owre this grassy heap sing dool,
And drap a tear.
Is there a bard of rustic song,
Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
That weekly this area throng,
O, pass not by!
But, with a frater-feeling strong,
Here, heave a sigh.
Is there a man, whose judgment clear
Can others teach the course to steer,
Yet runs, himself, life's mad career,
Wild as the wave,
Here pause-and, thro' the starting tear,
Survey this grave.
The poor inhabitant below
Was quick to learn the wise to know,
And keenly felt the friendly glow,
And softer flame;
But thoughtless follies laid him low,
And stain'd his name!
Reader, attend! whether thy soul
Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
In low pursuit:
Know, prudent, cautious, self-control
Is wisdom's root.
Epitaph For Robert Aiken, Esq.
Know thou, O stranger to the fame
Of this much lov'd, much honoured name!
(For none that knew him need be told)
A warmer heart death ne'er made cold.
Epitaph For Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
The poor man weeps-here Gavin sleeps,
Whom canting wretches blam'd;
But with such as he, where'er he be,
May I be sav'd or damn'd!
Epitaph On "Wee Johnie"
Hic Jacet wee Johnie.
Whoe'er thou art, O reader, know
That Death has murder'd Johnie;
An' here his body lies fu' low;
For saul he ne'er had ony.
The Lass O' Ballochmyle
'Twas even-the dewy fields were green,
On every blade the pearls hang;
The zephyr wanton'd round the bean,
And bore its fragrant sweets alang:
In ev'ry glen the mavis sang,
All nature list'ning seem'd the while,
Except where greenwood echoes rang,
Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle.
With careless step I onward stray'd,
My heart rejoic'd in nature's joy,
When, musing in a lonely glade,
A maiden fair I chanc'd to spy:
Her look was like the morning's eye,
Her air like nature's vernal smile:
Perfection whisper'd, passing by,
"Behold the lass o' Ballochmyle!"
Fair is the morn in flowery May,
And sweet is night in autumn mild;
When roving thro' the garden gay,
Or wand'ring in the lonely wild:
But woman, nature's darling child!
There all her charms she does compile;
Even there her other works are foil'd
By the bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.
O, had she been a country maid,
And I the happy country swain,
Tho' shelter'd in the lowest shed
That ever rose on Scotland's plain!
Thro' weary winter's wind and rain,
With joy, with rapture, I would toil;
And nightly to my bosom strain
The bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.
Then pride might climb the slipp'ry steep,
Where frame and honours lofty shine;
And thirst of gold might tempt the deep,
Or downward seek the Indian mine:
Give me the cot below the pine,
To tend the flocks or till the soil;
And ev'ry day have joys divine
With the bonie lass o' Ballochmyle.
Lines To An Old Sweetheart
Once fondly lov'd, and still remember'd dear,
Sweet early object of my youthful vows,
Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere,
Friendship! 'tis all cold duty now allows.
And when you read the simple artless rhymes,
One friendly sigh for him-he asks no more,
Who, distant, burns in flaming torrid climes,
Or haply lies beneath th' Atlantic roar.
Motto Prefixed To The Author's First Publication
The simple Bard, unbroke by rules of art,
He pours the wild effusions of the heart;
And if inspir'd 'tis Nature's pow'rs inspire;
Her's all the melting thrill, and her's the kindling fire.
Lines To Mr. John Kennedy
Farewell, dear friend! may guid luck hit you,
And 'mang her favourites admit you:
If e'er Detraction shore to smit you,
May nane believe him,
And ony deil that thinks to get you,
Good Lord, deceive him!
Lines Written On A Banknote
Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o' a' my woe and grief!
For lack o' thee I've lost my lass!
For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass!
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy curst restriction:
I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile
Amid his hapless victim's spoil;
And for thy potence vainly wished,
To crush the villain in the dust:
For lack o' thee, I leave this much-lov'd shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.
Stanzas On Naething
Extempore Epistle to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
To you, sir, this summons I've sent,
Pray, whip till the pownie is freathing;
But if you demand what I want,
I honestly answer you-naething.
Ne'er scorn a poor Poet like me,
For idly just living and breathing,
While people of every degree
Are busy employed about-naething.
Poor Centum-per-centum may fast,
And grumble his hurdies their claithing,
He'll find, when the balance is cast,
He's gane to the devil for-naething.
The courtier cringes and bows,
Ambition has likewise its plaything;
A coronet beams on his brows;
And what is a coronet-naething.
Some quarrel the Presbyter gown,
Some quarrel Episcopal graithing;
But every good fellow will own
Their quarrel is a' about-naething.
The lover may sparkle and glow,
Approaching his bonie bit gay thing:
But marriage will soon let him know
He's gotten-a buskit up naething.
The Poet may jingle and rhyme,
In hopes of a laureate wreathing,
And when he has wasted his time,
He's kindly rewarded wi'-naething.
The thundering bully may rage,
And swagger and swear like a heathen;
But collar him fast, I'll engage,
You'll find that his courage is-naething.
Last night wi' a feminine whig-
A Poet she couldna put faith in;
But soon we grew lovingly big,
I taught her, her terrors were naething.
Her whigship was wonderful pleased,
But charmingly tickled wi' ae thing,
Her fingers I lovingly squeezed,
And kissed her, and promised her-naething.
The priest anathemas may threat-
Predicament, sir, that we're baith in;
But when honour's reveille is beat,
The holy artillery's naething.
And now I must mount on the wave-
My voyage perhaps there is death in;
But what is a watery grave?
The drowning a Poet is naething.
And now, as grim death's in my thought,
To you, sir, I make this bequeathing;
My service as long as ye've ought,
And my friendship, by God, when ye've naething.
The valiant, in himself, what can he suffer?
Or what does he regard his single woes?
But when, alas! he multiplies himself,
To dearer serves, to the lov'd tender fair,
To those whose bliss, whose beings hang upon him,
To helpless children,-then, Oh then, he feels
The point of misery festering in his heart,
And weakly weeps his fortunes like a coward:
Such, such am I!-undone!
Thomson's Edward and Eleanora.
Farewell, old Scotia's bleak domains,
Far dearer than the torrid plains,
Where rich ananas blow!
Farewell, a mother's blessing dear!
A borther's sigh! a sister's tear!
My Jean's heart-rending throe!
Farewell, my Bess! tho' thou'rt bereft
Of my paternal care.
A faithful brother I have left,
My part in him thou'lt share!
Adieu, too, to you too,
My Smith, my bosom frien';
When kindly you mind me,
O then befriend my Jean!
What bursting anguish tears my heart;
From thee, my Jeany, must I part!
Thou, weeping, answ'rest-"No!"
Alas! misfortune stares my face,
And points to ruin and disgrace,
I for thy sake must go!
Thee, Hamilton, and Aiken dear,
A grateful, warm adieu:
I, with a much-indebted tear,
Shall still remember you!
All hail then, the gale then,
Wafts me from thee, dear shore!
It rustles, and whistles
I'll never see thee more!
To the Rev. James Steven, on his text, Malachi, ch. iv. vers. 2. "And ye
shall go forth, and grow up, as Calves of the stall."
Right, sir! your text I'll prove it true,
Tho' heretics may laugh;
For instance, there's yourself just now,
God knows, an unco calf.
And should some patron be so kind,
As bless you wi' a kirk,
I doubt na, sir but then we'll find,
Ye're still as great a stirk.
But, if the lover's raptur'd hour,
Shall ever be your lot,
Forbid it, ev'ry heavenly Power,
You e'er should be a stot!
Tho' when some kind connubial dear
Your but-and-ben adorns,
The like has been that you may wear
A noble head of horns.
And, in your lug, most reverend James,
To hear you roar and rowt,
Few men o' sense will doubt your claims
To rank amang the nowt.
And when ye're number'd wi' the dead,
Below a grassy hillock,
With justice they may mark your head-
"Here lies a famous bullock!"
Nature's Law-A Poem
Humbly inscribed to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
Great Nature spoke: observant man obey'd-Pope.
Let other heroes boast their scars,
The marks of sturt and strife:
And other poets sing of wars,
The plagues of human life:
Shame fa' the fun, wi' sword and gun
To slap mankind like lumber!
I sing his name, and nobler fame,
Wha multiplies our number.
Great Nature spoke, with air benign,
"Go on, ye human race;
This lower world I you resign;
Be fruitful and increase.
The liquid fire of strong desire
I've pour'd it in each bosom;
Here, on this had, does Mankind stand,
And there is Beauty's blossom."
The Hero of these artless strains,
A lowly bard was he,
Who sung his rhymes in Coila's plains,
With meikle mirth an'glee;
Kind Nature's care had given his share
Large, of the flaming current;
And, all devout, he never sought
To stem the sacred torrent.
He felt the powerful, high behest
Thrill, vital, thro' and thro';
And sought a correspondent breast,
To give obedience due:
Propitious Powers screen'd the young flow'rs,
From mildews of abortion;
And low! the bard - a great reward -
Has got a double portion!
Auld cantie Coil may count the day,
As annual it returns,
The third of Libra's equal sway,
That gave another Burns,
With future rhymes, an' other times,
To emulate his sire:
To sing auld Coil in nobler style
With more poetic fire.
Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,
Look down with gracious eyes;
And bless auld Coila, large and long,
With multiplying joys;
Lang may she stand to prop the land,
The flow'r of ancient nations;
And Burnses spring, her fame to sing,
To endless generations!
Mr. Chalmers, a gentleman in Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked
me to write a poetic epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her,
but was scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows:-
Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride,
And eke a braw new brechan,
My Pegasus I'm got astride,
And up Parnassus pechin;
Whiles owre a bush wi' donwward crush,
The doited beastie stammers;
Then up he gets, and off he sets,
For sake o' Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na, lass, that weel ken'd name
May cost a pair o' blushes;
I am nae stranger to your fame,
Nor his warm urged wishes.
Your bonie face sae mild and sweet,
His honest heart enamours,
And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
Tho' wair'd on Willie Chalmers.
Auld Truth hersel' might swear yer'e fair,
And Honour safely back her;
And Modesty assume your air,
And ne'er a ane mistak her:
And sic twa love-inspiring een
Might fire even holy palmers;
Nae wonder then they've fatal been
To honest Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na fortune may you shore
Some mim-mou'd pouther'd priestie,
Fu' lifted up wi' Hebrew lore,
And band upon his breastie:
But oh! what signifies to you
His lexicons and grammars;
The feeling heart's the royal blue,
And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.
Some gapin', glowrin' countra laird
May warsle for your favour;
May claw his lug, and straik his beard,
And hoast up some palaver:
My bonie maid, before ye wed
Sic clumsy-witted hammers,
Seek Heaven for help, and barefit skelp
Awa wi' Willie Chalmers.
Forgive the Bard! my fond regard
For ane that shares my bosom,
Inspires my Muse to gie 'm his dues
For deil a hair I roose him.
May powers aboon unite you soon,
And fructify your amours, -
And every year come in mair dear
To you and Willie Chalmers.
Reply To A Trimming Epistle Received From A Tailor
What ails ye now, ye lousie bitch
To thresh my back at sic a pitch?
Losh, man! hae mercy wi' your natch,
Your bodkin's bauld;
I didna suffer half sae much
Frae Daddie Auld.
What tho' at times, when I grow crouse,
I gie their wames a random pouse,
Is that enough for you to souse
Your servant sae?
Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse,
King David, o' poetic brief,
Wrocht 'mang the lasses sic mischief
As filled his after-life wi' grief,
An' bluidy rants,
An' yet he's rank'd amang the chief
O' lang-syne saunts.
And maybe, Tam, for a' my cants,
My wicked rhymes, an' drucken rants,
I'll gie auld cloven's Clootie's haunts
An unco slip yet,
An' snugly sit amang the saunts,
At Davie's hip yet!
But, fegs! the session says I maun
Gae fa' upo' anither plan
Than garrin lasses coup the cran,
Clean heels ower body,
An' sairly thole their mother's ban
Afore the howdy.
This leads me on to tell for sport,
How I did wi' the Session sort;
Auld Clinkum, at the inner port,
Cried three times, "Robin!
Come hither lad, and answer for't,
Ye're blam'd for jobbin!"
Wi' pinch I put a Sunday's face on,
An' snoov'd awa before the Session:
I made an open, fair confession-
I scorn't to lee,
An' syne Mess John, beyond expression,
Fell foul o' me.
A fornicator-loun he call'd me,
An' said my faut frae bliss expell'd me;
I own'd the tale was true he tell'd me,
"But, what the matter?
(Quo' I) I fear unless ye geld me,
I'll ne'er be better!"
"Geld you! (quo' he) an' what for no?
If that your right hand, leg or toe
Should ever prove your sp'ritual foe,
You should remember
To cut it aff-an' what for no
Your dearest member?"
"Na, na, (quo' I,) I'm no for that,
Gelding's nae better than 'tis ca't;
I'd rather suffer for my faut
A hearty flewit,
As sair owre hip as ye can draw't,
Tho' I should rue it.
"Or, gin ye like to end the bother,
To please us a'-I've just ae ither-
When next wi' yon lass I forgather,
Whate'er betide it,
I'll frankly gie her 't a' thegither,
An' let her guide it."
But, sir, this pleas'd them warst of a',
An' therefore, Tam, when that I saw,
I said "Gude night," an' cam' awa',
An' left the Session;
I saw they were resolved a'
On my oppression.
The Brigs Of Ayr
Inscribed to John Ballantine, Esq., Ayr.
The simple Bard, rough at the rustic plough,
Learning his tuneful trade from ev'ry bough;
The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush,
Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn bush;
The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill,
Or deep-ton'd plovers grey, wild-whistling o'er the hill;
Shall he-nurst in the peasant's lowly shed,
To hardy independence bravely bred,
By early poverty to hardship steel'd.
And train'd to arms in stern Misfortune's field-
Shall he be guilty of their hireling crimes,
The servile, mercenary Swiss of rhymes?
Or labour hard the panegyric close,
With all the venal soul of dedicating prose?
No! though his artless strains he rudely sings,
And throws his hand uncouthly o'er the strings,
He glows with all the spirit of the Bard,
Fame, honest fame, his great, his dear reward.
Still, if some patron's gen'rous care he trace,
Skill'd in the secret, to bestow with grace;
When Ballantine befriends his humble name,
And hands the rustic stranger up to fame,
With heartfelt throes his grateful bosom swells,
The godlike bliss, to give, alone excels.
'Twas when the stacks get on their winter hap,
And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap;
Potatoe-bings are snugged up frae skaith
O' coming Winter's biting, frosty breath;
The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils,
Unnumber'd buds an' flow'rs' delicious spoils,
Seal'd up with frugal care in massive waxen piles,
Are doom'd by Man, that tyrant o'er the weak,
The death o' devils, smoor'd wi' brimstone reek:
The thundering guns are heard on ev'ry side,
The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide;
The feather'd field-mates, bound by Nature's tie,
Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
(What warm, poetic heart but inly bleeds,
And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!)
Nae mair the flow'r in field or meadow springs,
Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings,
Except perhaps the Robin's whistling glee,
Proud o' the height o' some bit half-lang tree:
The hoary morns precede the sunny days,
Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide blaze,
While thick the gosamour waves wanton in the rays.
'Twas in that season, when a simple Bard,
Unknown and poor-simplicity's reward!-
Ae night, within the ancient brugh of Ayr,
By whim inspir'd, or haply prest wi' care,
He left his bed, and took his wayward route,
And down by Simpson's^1 wheel'd the left about:
(Whether impell'd by all-directing Fate,
To witness what I after shall narrate;
Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
He wander'd out, he knew not where or why:)
The drowsy Dungeon-clock^2 had number'd two,
and Wallace Tower^2 had sworn the fact was true:
The tide-swoln firth, with sullen-sounding roar,
Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore.
All else was hush'd as Nature's closed e'e;
The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree;
The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam,
Crept, gently-crusting, o'er the glittering stream-
When, lo! on either hand the list'ning Bard,
The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard;
Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air;
Swift as the gos^3 drives on the wheeling hare;
Ane on th' Auld Brig his airy shape uprears,
The other flutters o'er the rising piers:
Our warlock Rhymer instantly dexcried
The Sprites that owre the Brigs of Ayr preside.
(That Bards are second-sighted is nae joke,
And ken the lingo of the sp'ritual folk;
Fays, Spunkies, Kelpies, a', they can explain them,
And even the very deils they brawly ken them).
Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race,
The very wrinkles Gothic in his face;
He seem'd as he wi' Time had warstl'd lang,
Yet, teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
[Footnote 1: A noted tavern at the Auld Brig end.-R. B.]
[Footnote 2: The two steeples.-R. B.]
[Footnote 3: The Gos-hawk, or Falcon.-R. B.]
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat,
That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams got;
In 's hand five taper staves as smooth 's a bead,
Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head.
The Goth was stalking round with anxious search,
Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch;
It chanc'd his new-come neibor took his e'e,
And e'en a vexed and angry heart had he!
Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien,
He, down the water, gies him this guid-e'en:-
"I doubt na, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheepshank,
Ance ye were streekit owre frae bank to bank!
But gin ye be a brig as auld as me-
Tho' faith, that date, I doubt, ye'll never see-
There'll be, if that day come, I'll wad a boddle,
Some fewer whigmaleeries in your noddle."
"Auld Vandal! ye but show your little mense,
Just much about it wi' your scanty sense:
Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street,
Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet,
Your ruin'd, formless bulk o' stane and lime,
Compare wi' bonie brigs o' modern time?
There's men of taste wou'd tak the Ducat stream,^4
Tho' they should cast the very sark and swim,
E'er they would grate their feelings wi' the view
O' sic an ugly, Gothic hulk as you."
"Conceited gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride!
This mony a year I've stood the flood an' tide;
And tho' wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn,
I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn!
As yet ye little ken about the matter,
But twa-three winters will inform ye better.
When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains,
[Footnote 4: A noted ford, just above the Auld Brig.-R. B.]
Wi' deepening deluges o'erflow the plains;
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil,
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil;
Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course.
Or haunted Garpal draws his feeble source,
Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes,
In mony a torrent down the snaw-broo rowes;
While crashing ice, borne on the rolling spate,
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate;
And from Glenbuck,^5 down to the Ratton-key,^6
Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea-
Then down ye'll hurl, (deil nor ye never rise!)
And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies!
A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost,
That Architecture's noble art is lost!"
"Fine architecture, trowth, I needs must say't o't,
The Lord be thankit that we've tint the gate o't!
Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices,
Hanging with threat'ning jut, like precipices;
O'er-arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves,
Supporting roofs, fantastic, stony groves;
Windows and doors in nameless sculptures drest
With order, symmetry, or taste unblest;
Forms like some bedlam Statuary's dream,
The craz'd creations of misguided whim;
Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended knee,
And still the second dread command be free;
Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea!
Mansions that would disgrace the building taste
Of any mason reptile, bird or beast:
Fit only for a doited monkish race,
Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace,
Or cuifs of later times, wha held the notion,
That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion:
Fancies that our guid Brugh denies protection,
And soon may they expire, unblest wi' resurrection!"
[Footnote 5: The source of the River Ayr.-R. B.]
[Footnote 6: A small landing place above the large quay.-R. B.]
"O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings,
Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings!
Ye worthy Proveses, an' mony a Bailie,
Wha in the paths o' righteousness did toil aye;
Ye dainty Deacons, and ye douce Conveners,
To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners
Ye godly Councils, wha hae blest this town;
ye godly Brethren o' the sacred gown,
Back to Full Books