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Poem by Robert Burns


Epistle To John Rankine


O ROUGH, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
The wale o cocks for fun and drinkin!
Theres mony godly folks are thinkin
    Your dreams an tricks
Will send you, Korah-like a-sinkin,
    Straught to auld Nicks.

Ye hae sae mony cracks an cants,
And in your wicked, drucken rants,
Ye mak a devil o the saunts,
    An fill them fou;
And then their failings, flaws, an wants,
    Are a seen thro.

Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
That holy robe, O dinna tear it!
Spare t for their sakes wha aften wear it,
    The lads in black;
But your curst wit, when it comes near it,
    Rivest aff their back.

Think, wicked sinner, wha yere skaithing,
Its just the blue-gown badge an claithing
O saunts; tak that, ye leae them naithing
    To ken them by,
Frae ony unregenerate heathen
    Like you or I.

Ive sent you here some rhyming ware,
A that I bargaind for, an mair;
Sae, when ye hae an hour to spare,
    I will expect
Yon sang; yell sent, wi cannie care,
    And no neglect.

Tho, faith, sma heart hae I to sing!
My Muse dow scarcely spread her wing!
Ive playd mysel a bonnie spring,
    An dancd my fill!
Id better gane an saird the king
    At Bunkers Hill.

Twas ae night lately, in my fun,
I gaed a roving wi the gun,
An brought a paitrick to the grun,
    A bonnie hen;
And, as the twilight was begun,
    Thought nane would ken.

The poor wee thing was little hurt;
I straikit it a wee for sport,
Neer thinkin they wad fash me for t;
    But, Deil-may-care!
Somebody tells the poacher-court
    The hale affair.

Some auld usd hands had taen a note,
That sic a hen had got a shot;
I was suspected for the plot;
    I scornd to lie;
So gat the whissle o my groat,
    An payt the fee.

But, by my gun, o guns the wale,
An by my pouther an my hail,
An by my hen, an by her tail,
    I vow an swear!
The game shall pay, oer moor an dale,
    For this, niest year.

As soons the clockin-time is by,
An the wee pouts begun to cry,
Lord, Ise hae sportin by an by,
    For my gowd guinea;
Tho I should herd the buckskin kye
    For t, in Virginia.

Trowth, they had muckle for to blame!
Twas neither broken wing nor limb,
But twa-three draps about the wame
    Scarce thro the feathers;
An baith a yellow George to claim,
    An thole their blethers!

It pits me aye as mads a hare;
So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;
But pennyworths again is fair,
    When times expedient:
Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,
    Your most obedient.

[1784]

                      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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