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Poem by Robert Burns


Epistle To Robert Graham, Esq., Of Fintry On The Close Of The Disputed Election Between Sir James Johnstone And Captain Millier, For The Dumfries District Of Boroughs


FINTRY, my stay in worldly strife,
Friend o’ my Muse, friend o’ my life,
    Are ye as idle’s I am?
Come then, wi’ uncouth, kintra fleg,
O’er Pegasus I’ll fling my leg,
    And ye shall see me try him..

But where shall I go rin a ride,
That I may splatter nane beside?
    I wad na be uncivil:
In manhood’s various paths and ways
There’s aye some doytin’ body strays,
    And _I_ ride like the devil.

Thus I break off wi’ a’ my birr,
An’ down you dark deep alley spur,
    Where Theologies daunder:
Alas! curst wi’ eternal fogs,
And damned in everlasting bogs,
    As sure’s the creed I’ll blunder.

I’ll stain a band, or jaup a gown,
Or rin my reckless guilty crown
    Against the haly door.
Sair do I rue my luckless fate
When, as the muse an’ deil wad hae’t,
    I rade that road before.

Suppose I take a spurt, and mix
Amang the wilds o’ Politics,
    Electors and elected;
Where dogs at Court (sad sons of bitches!)
Septennially a madness touches,
    Till all the land’s infected.

All hail!  Drumlanrig’s haughty Grace,
Discarded remnant of a race
    Once godlike great in story;
Thy forbears’ virtues all contrasted,
The very name of Douglas blasted,
    Thine that inverted glory!

Hate, envy, oft the Douglas bore;
But thou hast superadded more,
    And sunk them in contempt;
Follies and crimes have stained the name,
But, Queensberry, thine the virgin claim-
    From all that’s good exempt!

I’ll sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears
Who left the all-important cares
    Of princes and their darlings;
And, bent on winning borough towns,
Came shaking hands wi’ wabster loons,
    And kissing barefit carlins.

Combustion thro’ our boroughs rode
Whistling his roaring pack abroad
    Of mad unmuzzled lions;
As Queensberry buff and blue unfurl’d,
And Westerha’ and Hopeton hurl’d
    To every Whig defiance.

But cautious Queensberry left the war,
Th’ unmanner’d dust might soil his star;
    Besides, he hated bleeding;
But left behind him heroes bright,
Heroes in Caesarean fight,
    Or Ciceronian pleading.

O! for a throat like huge Mons-Meg,
To muster o’er each ardent Whig
    Beneath Drumlanrig’s banner!
Heroes and heroines commix,
All in the field of politics,
    To win immortal honour.

M’Murdo and his lovely spouse,
(Th’ enamour’d laurels kiss her brows!)
    Led on the loves and graces:
She won each gaping burgess’ heart,
While he, all-conquering, play’d his part
    Among their wives and lasses.

Craigdarroch led a Iight-arm’d corps,
Tropes, metaphors and figures pour,
    Like Hecla streaming thunder:
Glenriddel, skill’d in rusty coins,
Blew up each Tory’s dark designs,
    And bared the treason under.

In either wing two champions fought,
Redoubted Staig, who set at nought
    The wildest savage Tory:
And Welsh, who ne’er yet flinch’d his ground,
High-waved his magnum-bonum round
    With Cyclopean fury.

Miller brought up th’ artillery ranks,
The many-pounders of the Banks,
    Resistless desolation!
While Maxwelton, that baron bold,
‘Mid Lawson’s port entrench’d his hold,
    And threaten’d worse damnation.

To these what Tory hosts oppos’d,
With theee what Tory warriors clos’d,
    Surpasses my descriving:
Squadrons extended long and large,
With furious speed rush to the charge,
    Like raving devils driving.

What verse can sing, what prose narrate,
The butcher deeds of bloody fate
    Amid this mighty tulzie!
Grim Horror girn’d-pale Terror roar’d,
As Murther at his thrapple shor’d,
    And Hell mix’d in the brulzie,

As Highland crags by thunder cleft,
When lightnings fire the stormy lift,
    Hurl down with crashing rattle;
As flames among a hundred woods;
As headlong foam a hundred floods;
    Such is the rage of battle!

The stubborn Tories dare to die;
As soon the rooted oaks would fly
    Before th’ approaching fellers:
The Whigs come on like Ocean’s roar,
When all his wintry billows pour
    Against the Buchan Bullers.

Lo, from the shades of Death’s deep night,
Departed Whigs enjoy the fight,
    And think on former daring:
The muffled murtherer of Charles
The Magna Charta flag unfurl;
    All deadly gules its bearing.

Nor wanting ghosts of Tory fame,
Bold Scrimgeour follows gallant Graham,
    Auld Covenanters shiver.
(Forgive, forgive, much-wrong’d Montrose!
Now death and hell engulf thy foes,
    Thou liv’st on high for ever!)

Still o’er the field the combat burns,
The Tories, Whigs, give way by turns;
    But Fate the word has spoken,
For woman’s wit and strength o’ man
Alas! can do but what they can!
    The Tory ranks are broken.

O that my een were flowing burns!
My voice a lioness that mourns
    Her darling cubs’ undoing;
That I might greet, that I might cry,
While Tories fall, while Tories fly,
    And furious Whigs pursuing!

What Whig but melts for good Sir James?
Dear to his country by the names
    Friend, patron, benefactor!
Not Pulteney’s wealth can Pulteney save!
And Hopeton falls, the generous brave!
    And Stewart, bold as Hector!

Thou, Pitt, shalt rue this overthrow;
And Thurlow growl a curse of woe;
    And Melville melt in wailing!
How Fox and Sheridan rejoice!
And Burke shall sing, ‘O Prince, arise,
    Thy power is all-prevailing!’

For your poor friend, the Bard, afar
He only hears and sees the war,
    A cool spectator purely!
So, when the storm the forest rends,
The robin in the hedge descends,
    And sober chirps securely.

Now for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes,
And for my dear-loved Land o’ Cakes,
    I pray with holy fire-
Lord send a rough-shod troop o’ hell
Owre a’ wad Scotland buy or sell,
    To grind them in the mire!



                      Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Mark Yonder Pomp
  2. By Allan Stream
  3. There’s News, Lasses
  4. Scroggam
  5. There’s a Youth in This City


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