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Poem by Robert Burns

Prologue for Mr. Sutherlands Benefit-night, Dumfries

WHAT needs this din about the town o Lonon,
How this new play an that new sang is comin?
Why is outlandish stuff sae meikle courted?
Does nonsense mend like brandy, when imported?
Is there nae poet, burning keen. for fame,
Will try to gie us sangs and plays at hame?
For comedy abroad he need na toil,
A fool and knave are plants of every soil;
Nor need he hunt as far as Rome and Greece
To gather matter for a serious piece;
Theres themes enow in Caledonian story,
Would show the tragic muse in a her glory.
  Is there no daring Bard will rise, and tell
How glorious Wallace stood, how hapless fell?
Where are the Muses fled that could produce
A drama worthy o the name o Bruce;
How here, even here, he first unsheathd the sword
Gainst mighty England and her guilty lord;
And after mony a bloody, deathless doing,
Wrenchd his dear country from the jaws of ruin?
O for a Shakespeare or an Otway scene,
To draw the lovely, hapless Scottish Queen!
Vain all th omnipotence of female charms
Gainst headlong, ruthless, mad Rebellions arms.
She fell, but fell with spirit truly Roman,
To glut the vengeance of a rival woman;
A woman, tho the phrase may seem uncivil,
As able and as wicked as the devil!
One Douglas lives in Homes immortal page,
But Douglases were heroes every age:
And tho your fathers, prodigal of life,
A Douglas followd to the martial strife,
Perhaps, if bowls row right, and Right succeeds,
Ye yet may follow where a Douglas leads!
  As ye hae generous done, if a the land
Would tak the Muses servants by the hand;
Not only hear, but patronize, befriend them,
And where ye justly can commend, commend them;
And aiblins when they winna stand the test,
Wink hard, and say the folks hae done their best!
Would a the land do this, then Ill be cation
Yell soon has poets o the Scottish nation
Will gar Fame blaw until her trumpet crack,
And warsle time, an lay him on his back!
  For us and for our stage should ony spier,
Whase aught thae chiels maks a this bustle here?
My best leg foremost, Ill set up my brow,
We hae the honour to belong to you!
Were your ain bairns, een guide us as ye like,
But like good mithers, shore before ye strike-
And gratefu still I hope yell ever find us,
For a the patronage and meikle kindness
Weve got frae a professions, sets and ranks:
God help us! were but poor-yese get but thanks.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. The Cairds Second Song
  2. The Sailors Song
  3. Had I The Wyte
  4. The Rantin Dog the Daddie Ot
  5. Tam The Chapman

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