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Poem by John Lapraik

Epistle to R****t B***s

O far famd RAB! my silly Muse,
That thou sae praisd langsyne,
When she did scarce ken verse by prose,
Now dares to spread her wing.

Unconcious of the least desert,
Nor eer expecting fame,
I sometimes did myself divert,
Wi jingling worthless rhyme.

When sitting lanely by myself,
Just unco grievd and wae,
To think that Fortune, fickle Joe!
Had kickd me oer the brae!

And when I was amaist half-drownd
Wi dolefu grief and care,
Id may-be rhyme a verse or twa,
To drive away despair.

Or when I met a chiel like you,
Sae gien to mirth an fun,
Wha likd to speel Parnassus hill
An drink at Helicon,

Id aiblins catch a wee bit spark
O his Poetic fire,
An rhyme awa like ane half-mad,
Until my Muse did tire.

I likd the Lasses unco weel,
Langsyne when I was young,
Which fortimes kittled up my Muse
To write a kind love sang;

Yet still it neer ran in my head,
To trouble Mankind with
My dull, insipid, thowless rhyme,
And stupid, senseless stuff;

Till your kind Muse, wi friendly blast,
First tooted up my fame,
And sounded loud, through a the Wast,
My lang forgotten name.

Quoth I, "Shall I, like to a sumph,
"Sit douss and dowie here,
"And suffer the ill-naturd warld
"To ca RAB BURNS a liar.

"He says that I can sing fu weel,
"An through the warld has sent it-
"Na; faith I rhyme a hearty blaud,
"Though I should aye repent it."

Syne I gat up, wi unco glee,
An snatchd my grey goose quill,
An cryd, "Come here, my Muse, fy come,
"An rhyme wi a your skill."

The Hizzy was right sweer to tryt,
An fearce wad be persuaded:
She said, I was turnd auld an stiff,
My youthfu fire quite faded.

Quoth she, "Had ye begun langsyne,
"When ye were brisk and young,
"I doubtna but ye might hae past,
"And sung a glorious sang:

"But now yere clean gane out o tune,
"Your auld grey scaulp turnd bare:
"Mair meet that ye were turning douse
"And tryng to say your prayr.

"The folks a laughing at you, else,
"Yell gar them laugh aye father:
"When ye gang out, theyll point and say,
"There gangs the Poetafter."

"Devil care," said I, haud just your toungue,
"Begin and nae mair say;
"I maun maintain my honour now,
"Though I should seldom pray!

"I oft when in a merry tift
"Have rhymd for my diversion;
"Ill now go try to rhyme for bread
"And let the warld be clashin."

"Weel, weel," says she, "fin yere fae bent,
"Come, let us go begin then;
"Well try to do the best we can,
"Im sure well aye say something."

Syne tillt I gat, an rhymd away,
Till I hae made a Book ot,
An though I should rue t a my life,
Ill gie the warld a look ot.

Im weel aware the greatest part
(I fain hope not the whole)
Will look upont as senseless stuff,
And mes a crazy fool.

Whether that it be nonsense a
Or some ot not amiss
And whether Ive done right or wrang,
I leave the warld to guess:

But I should tell them, bye the bye,
Though it is may-be idle,
That fint a book scarce eer I read,
Save ance or twice the Bible.

An what the learned folk ca grammar,
I naething ken about it;
Although I blieve it be owre true,
Ane can do nought without it.

But maist my life has just been spent
(Which to my cost I feel)
In fechtin fair wi luckless brutes,
Till they kickd up my heel.

Now fare-ye-well, my guid frien RAB,
May luck and health attend ye;
If I do weel, Ill bless the day
That eer I came to ken ye:

But on the tither han, should folk
Me for my nonsense blason,
Nae doubt Ill curse th unlucky day,
I listend to your fraisin.

May that great Name that ye hae got
Untainted aye remain!
And may the Laurels on your head
Ay flourish fresh and green!

The LORD maintain your honour aye,
And then ye needna fear,
While I can write, or speak, or think,
I am your frien sincere!

John Lapraik

Poem Theme: Robert Burns

John Lapraik's other poems:
  1. An Empty Pocket Easily Known
  2. The Devils Answer to the Poets Address
  3. When I Upon Thy Bosom Lean
  4. Harvest
  5. Summer

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