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Poem by Robert Burns


Scotch Drink


        Gie him strong drink, until he wink,
          That’s sinking in despair;
        An’ liquor guid to fire his bluid,
          That’s prest wi’ grief an’ care;
        There let him bouse, an’ deep carouse,
          Wi’ bumpers flowing o’er,
        Till he forgets his love, or debts,
          An’ minds his griefs no more.
                Solomon (Proverbs xxxi. 6, 7).

LET other Poets raise a fracas
‘Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drunken Bacchus,
An’ crabbed names an’ stories wrack us,
    An’ grate our lug;
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
    In glass or jug.

O thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch Drink,
Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
    In glorious faem,
Inspire ms, till I lisp an’ wink,
    To sing thy name!

Let husky wheat the baughs adorn,
An’ aits set up their awnie horn,
An’ pease an’ beans at een or morn,
    Perfume the plain;
Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
    Thou King o’ grain!

On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
In souple scones, the wale o’ food!
Or tumblin’ in the boiling flood
    Wi’ kail an’ beef;
But when thou pours thy strong heart’s blood,
    here thou shines chief.

Food fills the wame, an’ keeps us livin’;
Tho’ life’s a gift no worth receivin’,
When heavy-dragg’d wi’ pine an’ grievin’;
    But, oil’d by thee,
The wheels o’ life gae down-hill, scrievin’
    Wi’ rattlin’ glee.

Thou clears the head o’ doited Lear:
Thou cheers the heart o’ drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o’ Labour sair,
    At’s weary toil:
Thou even brightens dark Despair
    Wi’ gloomy smile.

Aft, clad in massy siller weed,
Wi’ gentles thou erects thy head;
Yet humbly kind, in time o’ need,
    The poor man’s wine,
His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
    Thou kitchens fine.

Thou art the life o’ public haunts;
But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
Ev’n godly meetings o’ the saunts,
    By thee inspir’d,
When gaping they besiege the tents,
    Are doubly fir’d.

That merry night we get the corn in!
O sweetly then thou reams the horn in!
Or reekin’ on a New-Year mornin’
    In cog or bicker,
An’ just a wee drap sp’ritual burn in,
    An’ gusty sucker!

When Vulcan glee his bellows breath,
An’ ploughmen gather wi’ their graith,
O rare to see thee fizz an’ freath
    I’ th’ lugged caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like death
    At ev’ry chaup.

Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel;
The brawnie, bathe, ploughman chiel,
Brings hard owrehip, wi’ sturdy wheel,
    The strong forehammer.
Till block an’ studdie ring an’ reel
    Wi’ dinsome clamour.

When skirlin’ weanies see the light,
Thou maks the gossips clatter bright
How fumblin’ cuifs their dearies slight-
    Wae worth the name!
Nae Howdie gets a social night,
    Or plack frae them.

When neibors anger at a plea,
An’ just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-bree
    Cement the quarrel!
It’s aye the cheapest lawyer’s fee
    To taste the barrel.

Alaken that e’er my Muse has reason
To wyte her countrymen wi’ treason;
But mony daily weet their weasan’
    Wi’ liquors nice,
An’ hardly, in a winter’s season,
    E’er spier her price.

Was worth that brandy, burning trash!
Fell source o’ mony a pain an’ brash!
Twins mony a poor, doylt, drucken bash,
    O’ half his days;
An’ sends, beside, auld Scotland’s cash
    To her warst faes.

Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well,
Ye chief; to you my tale I tell,
Poor plackleas devils like mysel’!
    It sets you ill,
Wi’ bitter, dearthfu’ wines to mell,
    Or foreign gill.

May gravels round his blather wrench,
An’ gouts torment him, inch by inch,
Wha twists his gruntle wi’ a glunch
    O’ sour disdain,
Out owre a glass o’ whisky punch
    Wi’ honest men!

O Whisky! soul o’ plays an’ pranks!
Accept a bardie’s gratefu’ thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
    Are my poor verses!
Thou comes-they rattle i’ their ranks
    At ither’s areas!

Thee, Ferintosh!  O sadly lost!
Scotland, lament frae coast to coast!
Now colic-grips an’ barkin’ hoast
    May kill us a’;
For loyal Forbes’ charter’d boast
    Is ta’en awa!

Thae curst horse-leeches o’ th’ Excise,
Wha mak the whisky stells their prize-
Haud up thy hand, deil!  Ance-twice-thrice!
    There, seize the blinkers!
An’ bake them up in brunstane pies
    For poor damn’d drinkers.

Fortune! if thou’11 but gie me still
Hale breeks, a bannock, and a gill,
An’ rowth o’ rhyme to rave at will,
    Tak’ a’ the rest,
An’ deal’d about as thy blind skill
    Directs thee best.

1786

Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. A Fragment («No cold approach, no altered mien…»)
  2. On Maria Dancing
  3. Thanksgiving for Victory
  4. To the Beautiful Eliza J –– n
  5. On Mr. W. Cruikshank of the High School, Edinburgh


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