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Poem by Robert Burns


The Twa Herds


O A ye pious godly flocks,
Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
    Or worrying tykes?
Or wha will tent the waifs and crocks,
    About the dykes?

The twa best herds in a the west
That eer gae gospel horn a blast
These five-and-twenty summers past,
    O dool to tell!
Hae had a bitter black out-cast
    Atween themsel.

O Moodie, man, and wordy Russel,
How could you raise so vile a bustle?
Yell see how new-light herds will whistle
    And think it fine!
The Lords cause neer gat sic a twistle,
    Sin I hae min.

O sirs, whaeer wad hae expeckit
Your duty ye wad sae negleckit
Ye wha were neer by lairds respeckit
    To wear the plaid,
But by the brutes themselves eleckit
    To be their guide.

What flock wi Moodies flock could rank,
Sae hale and hearty every shank?
Nae poisond soor Arminian stank
    He let them taste;
Frae Calvins well, aye clear, they drank-
    O sic a feast!

The thummart, wil-cat, brock and tod,
Weel kennd his voice thro a the wood;
He smelld their ilka hole and road
    Baith out and in,
And weel he likd to shed their bluid
    And sell their skin.

What herd like Russel telld his tale?
His voice was heard thro muir and dale;
He kennd the Lords sheep, ilka tail,
    Oer a the height,
And saw gin they were sick or hale
    At the first sight.

He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
Or nobly fling the gospel club,
And new-light herds could nicely drub
    Or pay their skin,
Could shake them owre the burning dub,
    Or heave them in.

Sic twa-O! do I live to see t?
Sic famous twa should disagreet,
An names like villain, hypocrite,
    Ilk ither gien,
While new-light herds wi laughin spite
    Say neithers leein!

A ye wha tent the gospel fauld-
Theres Duncan deep, and Peebles shaul-
But chiefly thou, apostle Auld!
    We trust in thee,
That thou wilt work them, hot and cauld,
    Till they agree.

Consider, sirs, how were beset!
Theres scarce a new herd that we get,
But comes free mang that cursed set
    I winna name:
I hope frae heaven to see them yet
    In fiery flame.

Dalrymple has been lang our fae,
MGilI has wrought us meikle wae,
And that cursd rascal cad MQuhae,
    And baith the Shaws,
That aft hae made us black and blae
    Wi vengefu paws.

Auld Wodrow lang has hatchd mischief:
We thought aye death wad bring relief,
But he has gotten, to our grief,
    Ane to succeed him,
A chiel whall soundly buff our beef,
    I meikle dread him.

And mony a ane that I could tell,
Wha fain would openly rebel;
Forby turn-coats amang oursel-
    Theres Smith for ane;
I doubt hes but a grey nick quill,
    And that yell fin.

O a ye flocks, owre a the hills,
By mosses, meadows moors, and fells,
Come join your counsels and your skills
    To cowe the lairds,
And get the brutes the power themsels
    To choose their herds.

Then Orthodoxy yet may prance,
And Learning in a woody dance,
And that fell cur cad Common Sense,
    That bites sae sair,
Be baniahd owre the seas to France;
    Let him bark there.

Then Shaws and Drymples eloquence,
MGills close nervous excellence,
MQuhaes pathetic manly sense,
    And guid MMath,
Wi Smith, wha thro the heart can glance,
    May a pack aff!

1784

                      Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Tam Samsons Elegy
  2. Could Aught of Song
  3. O Whare Bid Ye Get
  4. Prayer For Mary
  5. Jockeys Taen the Parting Kiss


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