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Poem by Robert Burns


The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer


TO THE SCOTCH REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

YE Irish lords, ye knights an’ squires,
Wha represent our brughs an’ shires,
An’ doucely manage our affairs
    In Parliament,
To you a simple poet’s prayers
    Are humbly sent.

Alas! my roupit muse is hearse;
Your Honours’ heart wi’ grief ‘twad pierce
To see her sitten on her arse
    Low i’ the dust,
An’ screechin’ out prosaic verse,
    An’ like to brust!

Tell them wha hae the chief direction,
Scotland an’ me’s in great affliction,
E’er sin’ they laid that curst restriction
    On aqua vitae;
An’ rouse them up to strong conviction,
    An’ move their pity.

Stand forth, an’ tell yon Premier youth
The honest, open, naked truth:
Tell him o’ mine an’ Scotland’s drouth,
    His servants humble:
The muckle devil blaw ye south,
    If ye dissemble!

Does ony great man glunch an’ gloom?
Speak out, an’ never fash your thumb!
Let posts an’ pensions sink or soom
    Wi’ them wha grant them;
If honestly they canna come,
    Far better want them.

In gath’rin’ votes you were na slack;
Now stand as tightly by your tack;
Ne’er claw your lug, an’ fidge your back,
    An’ hum an’ haw;
But raise your arm, an’ tell your crack
    Before them a’.

Paint Scotland greetin owre her thrissle;
Her mutchkin stoup as toom’s a whissle:
An’ damn’d Excisemen in a bussle,
    Seizin a stall,
Triumphant crushin’t like a mussle
    Or limpet shell.

Then on the tither hand present her,
A blackguard smuggler, right behint her,
An’ cheek-for-chow, a chuffie vintner,
    Colleaguing join,
Pickin’ her pouch as bare as Winter
    Of a’ kind coin.

Is there, that bears the name o’ Scot,
But feels his heart’s bluid rising hot,
To see his poor auld mither’s pot
    Thus dung in staves,
An’ plunder’d o’ her hindmost groat
    By gallows knaves?

Alas! I’m but a nameless wight,
Trode i’ the mire out o’ sight!
But could I like Montgomeries fight,
    Or gab like Boswell,
There ‘a some sark-necks I wad draw tight,
    An’ tie some hose well.

God bless your Honours, can ye see ‘t,
The kind, auld, cantie carlin greet,
An’ no get warmly to your feet
    An’ gar them hear it?
An’ tell them wi’ a patriot-heat,
    Ye winna bear it?

Some o’ you nicely ken the laws
To round the period an’ pause,
An’ with rhetoric clause on clause
    To mak harangues;
Then echo thro’ Saint Stephen’s wa’s
    Auld Scotland’s wrangs.

Dempster, a true blue Scot I’se warran’;
Thee, aith-detesting, chaste Kilkerran;
An’ that glib-gabbed Highland Baron,
    The Laird o’ Graham;
An’ ane, a chap that ‘s damn’d auldfarran,
    Dundas his name;

Erskine, a spunkie Norland billie;
True Campbells, Frederik an’ Ilay;
An’ Livingston, the bauld Sir Willie;
    An’ mony ithers,
Whom auld Demosthenes or Tully
    Might own for brithers.

Arouse, my boys! exert your mettle
To get auld Scotland back her kettle;
Or faith! I’ll wad my new pleugh-pettle,
    Ye’ll see’t or lang,
She’ll teach you, wi’ a reekin whittle,
    Anither sang.

This while she’s been in crankous mood;
Her lost Militia fir’d her bluid
(Deil nor they never mair do guid
    Play’d her that pliskie!)
An’ now she’s like to rin red-wud
    About her whisky.

An’ Lord, if ance they pit her till ‘t,
Her tartan petticoat she’ll kilt,
An’, durk an’ pistol at her belt,
    She’ll tak the streets,
An’ rin her whittle to the hilt
    I’ th’ first she meets!

For God sake, sirs! then speak her fair,
An’ straik her cannie wi’ the hair,
An’ to the muckle house repair
    Wi’ instant speed
An’ strive, wi’ a’ your wit and lear,
    To get remead.

Yon ill-tongu’d tinkler, Charlie Fox,
May taunt you wi’ his jeers an’ mocks;
But gie him’t het, my hearty cocks!
    E’en cowe the cadie,
An’ send him to his dicing-box
    An’ sportin’ lady.

Tell yon guid bluid o’ auld Boconnock’s
I’ll be his debt twa mash1um bannocks,
An’ drink his health in auld Nanse Tinnock’s
    Nine times a-week,
If he some scheme, like tea an’ winnocks,
    Wad kindly seek.

Could he some commutation broach,
I’ll pledge my aith in guid braid Scotch,
He need na fear their foul reproach
    Nor erudition,
Yon mixtie-maxtie queer hotch-potch,
    The Coalition.

Auld Scotland has a raucle tongue;
She’s just a devil wi’ a rung;
An’ if she promise auld or young
    To tak their part,
Tho’ by the neck she should be strung,
    She’ll no desert.

An’ now, ye chosen Five-and-Forty,
May still your Mither’s heart support ye;
Then, though a minister grow dorty,
    An’ kick your place,
Ye’ll snap your fingers, poor an’ hearty,
    Before his face.

God bless your Honours a’ your days
Wi’ sowps o’ kail an’ brats o’ claes,
In spite o’ a’ the thievish kaes
    That haunt St. Jamie’s!
Your humble poet sings an’ prays,
    While Rab his name is.

        POSTSCRIPT.

Let half-starv’d slaves in warmer skies
See future wines rich-clust’ring rise;
Their lot auld Scotland ne’er envies,
    But, blythe an’ frisky,
She eyes her free-born martial boys
    Tak aff their whisky.

What tho’ their Phoebus kinder warms,
While fragrance blooms an’ beauty charms,
When wretches range in famish’d swarms
    The scented groves,
Or, hounded forth, dishonour arms
    In hungry droves.

Their gun’s a burden on their shouther;
They downa bide the stink o’ powther;
Their bau]dest thought’s a hank’ring swither
    To stan’ or rin,
Till skelp! a shot - they’re aff, a’ throu’ther,
    To save their skin.

But bring a Scotsman frae his hill,
Clap in his cheek a Highland gill,
Say ‘Such is royal George’s will,
    An’ there’s the foe!’
He has nae thought but how to kill
    Twa at a blow.

Nae cauld faint-hearted doubtings tease him;
Death comes, wi’ fearless eye he sees him;
Wi’ bluidy hand a welcome gies him;
    An’, when he fa’s,
His latest draught o’ breathin’ lea’es him
    In faint huzzas.

Sages their solemn een may steek,
An’ raise a philosophic reek,
An’ physically causes seek
    In clime an’ season;
But tell me whisky’s name in Greek,
    I’ll tell the reason.

Scotland, my auld respected Mither!
Tho’ whyles ye moistify your leather,
Till where ye sit, on craps o’ heather,
    Ye tine your dam-
Freedom and Whisky gang thegither!
    Tak aff your dram!



                      Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Tam Samson’s Elegy
  2. Could Aught of Song
  3. O Whare Bid Ye Get
  4. Prayer For Mary
  5. Jockey’s Ta’en the Parting Kiss


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