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Poem by Robert Burns


A Dedication to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.


EXPECT na, Sir, in this narration,
A fleechin, flethrin Dedication,
To roose you up, an ca you guid,
An sprung o great an noble bluid,
Because yere sirnamd like his Grace,
Perhaps related to the race;
Then when Im tird-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 needna 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 thats nae flattrin,
its 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 hes done yet,
But only-hes no just begun yet.

  The Patron (Sir, ye maun forgie me,
I winna lie, come what will o me)-
On evry hand it will allowd be,
Hes just-nae better than he should be.

  I readily and freely grant,
He downa see a poor man want;
Whats no his ain he winna tak it,
What ance he says he winna break it;
Ought he can lend hell not refust,
Till aft his guidness is abusd;
And rascals whyles that do him wrang,
Evn 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;
Its naething but a milder feature
Of our poor, sinfu, corrupt nature:
Yell get the best o moral works,
Mang black Gentoos and pagan Turks,
Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
Wha never heard of orthodoxy.
That hes the poor mans friend in need,
The gentleman in word and deed,
Its no thro terror of damnation;
Its just a carnal inclination.

  Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o thousands thou hast slain!
Vain is his hope, whase stay and trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!

  No-stretch a point to catch a plack;
Abuse a brother to his back;
Steal thro 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 evry art o legal thieving;
No matter-stick to sound believing.

Learn three-mile prayrs, an half-mile graces,
Wi weel-spread looves, an lang, wry faces;
Grunt up a solemn, lengthend groan,
And damn a parties but your own;
Ill warrant then yere nae deceiver,
A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.

  O ye wha leave the springs of Calvin,
For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin!
Ye sons of heresy and error,
Yell some day squeal 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 Heavn commission gies him:
While oer the harp pale misry moans,
And strikes the ever-deepning 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, ye 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 favour,
And your petitioner shall ever-
I had amaist said ever pray:
But thats a word I need na say:
For prayin I hae little skill ot;
Im baith dead-sweer, an wretched ill ot;
But Ise repeat each poor mans prayr,
That kens or hears about you, Sir.

  May neer misfortunes gowling bark
Howl thro the dwelling o the Clerk!
May neer his genrous, honest heart,
For that same genrous spirit smart!
May Kennedys far-honourd name
Lang beet his hymeneal flame,
Till Hamiltons, at least a dizen,
Are frae their nuptial labours risen!
Five bonnie lasses round their table,
And seven braw fellows, stout an able,
To serve their King and Country weel,
By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
May health and peace, in mutual rays,
Shine on the evening o his days;
Till his wee, curlie Johns ier-oe,
When ebbing life use mair shall flow,
The last, sad, mournful rites bestow!

  I will not wind a lang conclusion
Wi complimentary effusion:
But whilst your wishes and endeavours
Are blest with Fortunes smiles and favours,
I am, dear Sir, with zeal most fervent,
Your much indebted, humble servant.

  But if (which Powrs 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 mans hopes in Heavn!
While recollections powr is given,
If, in the vale of human life,
The victim sad of fortunes strife,
I, thro the tender gushing tear,
Should recognize my Master dear,
If friendless, low, we meet together,
Then, Sir, your hand-my Friend and Brother!



                      Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Scroggam
  2. Lines Written on a Bank-note
  3. Lines Written at Loudon Manse
  4. To Alex Cunningham, Writer
  5. How Lang And Dreary


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