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EPISTLE TO SIMPSON.

197

Auld Coila, now, may fidgel 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 unkend-of lise,

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,

Nae body 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 an' dells,

Whare glorious Wallace
Aft bure3 the gree, as story tells,

Frae southron billies.

· Be right glad.

2 Will not spare their bagpipes.

3 Bore the bell. 5 Coos.

198

EPISTLE TO SIMPSOX.

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,1.

Or glorious dy’d.

O, sweet are Coila's haughso an’ woods,
When lintwhiteso chant amang the buds,
And jinkin* hares, in amorous whids,

Their loves enjoy,
While thro' the braes the cushat croods.

Wi' 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 fando her,
Till by himsel he learn’d to wander,
Adown some trotting burn's meander,

An' no think lang;
O sweet, to stray an' pensive ponder

A heart-felt sang!

2

1 Blood over the shoe-tops. Dodging.

Valleys.

3 Linnets, 6 Found.

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The war’ly race may drudge an' drive,
Hog-shouther," jundieľ, 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 ;
Jay Envy wallop in a tether,

Black fiend, infernal !

While highlandmen hate tolls an' taxes
While moorlan' herds4 like guid, fat braxies,5
While terra firma, on her axis,

Diurnal turns,
Count on a friend, in faith an' practice,

In Robert Burns.

TO A MOUSE, ON TURNING HER UP IN HER

NEST, WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785.6

WEE, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie !
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle !7
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,

Wi” murdoring pattle !8

1 Press forward. 2 Justle. 3 Hum.

4 Shepherds. 5 Diseased Sheep. 6 A farm-servant, lately living, was driving the plough, which Burns held, when a mouse ran across the field. The man's first impulse was to rush aster and kill it ; but the poet stopped him, and turning thoughtful, the verses were composed. 7 Hurry.

& Instrument for clearing the plough.

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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, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-ickerl in a thrave

'S a sma' request :
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,

And never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin !
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to bigo a new ane,

O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,

Baith snell3 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,
Ilas cost thee mony a weary

nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,

But house or hald, 4
To tholes the winter's sleety dribble,

An' cranreuch6 cauld !

2 Build. 3 Bitter. · A few ears of corn out of 24 sheaves. 4 Without abiding place.

5 Endure. 6 Hoar-frost.

EPISTLE TO LAPRAIK.

201

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,1
In proving foresight may be vain :
The best laid schemes o mice an' men,

Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief and 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 !

EPISTLE TO JOHN LAPRAIK, AN OLD

SCOTTISH BARD.
WHILE briers an’ woodbines budding green,
An' paitricks3 scraichin loud at e'en,
An' morning poussiet whiddin seen,

Inspire my Muse,
This freedom in an unknown frien'

I pray excuse.
On Fasten-een we had a rockin,
To ca’ the crack5 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'do the heart-strings thro' the breast,

A' to the life.

1

Thyself alone. 3 Partridges.

4 Ilare.

Wrong,
5 Chat. 6 Thrilled.

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