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Poem by Robert Fergusson

To My Auld Breeks

Now gae your wa's  Tho' anes as gude
As ever happit flesh and blude,
Yet part we maun  The case sae hard is,
Amang the writers and the bardies,
That lang they'll brook the auld I trow,
Or neighbours cry, "Weel brook the new."
Still making tight wi' tither steek,
The tither hole, the tither eik,
To bang the birr o' winter's anger
And had the hurdies out o' langer.
     Siclike some weary wight will fill
His kyte wi' drogs frae doctor's bill,
Thinking to tack the tither year
To life, and look baith hail an fier,
Till at the lang-run Death dirks in,
To birze his saul ayont his skin.
     You needna wag your duds o' clouts,
Nor fa' into your dorty pouts,
To think that erst you've hain'd my tail
Frae wind and weet, frae snaw and hail,
And for reward, whan bauld and hummil,
Frae garret high to dree a tumble.
For you I car'd, as lang's ye dow'd
Be lin'd wi' siller or wi' gowd:
Now to befriend, it wad be folly,
Your raggit hide and pouches holey;
For wha but kens a poet's placks
Get mony weary flaws an' cracks,
And canna thole to hae them tint,
As he sae seenil sees the mint?
Yet round the warld keek and see,
That ithers fare as ill as thee;
For weel we loe the chiel we think
Can get us tick, or gie us drink,
Till o' his purse we've seen the bottom,
Than we despise, and hae forgot him.
     Yet gratefu' hearts, to make amends,
Will ay be sorry for their friends,
And I for thee  As mony a time
Wi' you I've speel'd the braes o' rhime,
Whare for the time the Muse ne'er cares
For siller, or sic guilefu' wares,
Wi' whilk we drumly grow, and crabbit,
Dour, capernoited, thrawin gabbit,
And brither, sister, friend and fae,
Without remeid o' kindred, slae.
     You've seen me round the bickers reel
Wi' heart as hale as temper'd steel,
And face sae apen, free and blyth,
Nor thought that sorrow there cou'd kyth;
But the neist moment this was lost,
Like gowan in December's frost.
     Cou'd prick-the-louse but be sae handy
As mak the breeks and claise to stand ay,
Thro' thick and thin wi' you I'd dash on,
Nor mind the folly o' the fashion:
But, hegh! the times vicissitudo
Gars ither breeks decay as you do.
The macaronies, braw and windy,
Maun fail  Sic transit gloria mundi!
     Now speed you to some maiden's chaumer,
That butt an' ben rings dule an' clamour,
Ask her, in kindness, if she seeks
In hidling ways to wear the breeks?
Safe you may dwall, tho' mould and motty,
Beneath the veil o' under coatie,
For this mair fauts nor your's can screen
Frae lover's quickest sense, his ein.
Or if some bard, in lucky times,
Shou'd profit meikle by his rhimes,
And pace awa', wi' smirky face,
In siller or in gowden lace,
Glowr in his face, like spectre gaunt,
Remind him o' his former want,
To cow his daffin and his pleasure,
And gar him live within the measure.
     So, Philip, it is said, who wou'd ring
O'er Macedon a just and gude king,
Fearing that power might plume his feather,
And bid him stretch beyond his tether,
Ilk morning to his lug wad ca'
A tiny servant o' his ha',
To tell him to improve his span,
For Philip was, like him, a Man.

Robert Fergusson

Robert Fergusson's other poems:
  1. Ode to the Gowdspink
  2. To the Tron-Kirk Bell
  3. The Daft-Days
  4. The Sitting of the Session
  5. To Sir John Fielding, on His Attempts to Suppress The Beggars Opera

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