Robert Burns


To the Same


WHILE new-ca’d kye rowte at the stake,
An’ pownies reek in pleugh or braik,
This hour on e’enin’s edge I take,
    To own I’m debtor,
To honest-hearted auld Lapraik,
    For his kind letter.

Forjeskit sair, with weary legs,
Rattlin’ the corn out-owre the rigs,
Or dealing thro’ amang the naigs
    Their ten-hours’ bite,
My awkwart Muse sair pleads and begs
    I would na write.

The tapetless, ramfeezl’d hizzie,
She’s saft at best, and something lazy,
Quo’ she ‘Ye ken we’ve been see busy,
    This month an’ mair,
That trouth my head is grown quite dizzie,
    An’ something sair.’

Her dowff excuses pat me mad;
‘Conscience,’ says I, ‘ye thowless jad!
I’ll write, an’ that a hearty blaud,
    This very night;
So dinna ye affront your trade,
    But rhyme it right.

‘Shall bauld Lapraik, the king o’ hearts,
Tho’ mankind were a pack o’ cartes,
Roose you sae weel for your deserts,
    In terms sae friendly,
Yet ye’ll neglect to shaw your parts,
    An’ thank him kindly?’

Sae I gat paper in a blink,
An’ down gaed stumpie in the ink:
Quoth I ‘Before I sleep a wink,
    I vow I’ll close it;
An if ye winna mak it clink,
    By Jove, I’ll prose it!’

Sae I’ve begun to scrawl, but whether
In rhyme, or prose, or baith thegither,
Or some hotch-potch that’s rightly’ neither,
    Let time mak proof;
But I shall scribble down some blether
    Just clean aff-loof.

My worthy friend, ne’er grudge an’ carp,
Tho’ fortune use you hard an’ sharp;
Come, kittle up your moorland harp
    Wi’ gleesome touch!
Ne’er mind how fortune waft an’ warp;
    She’s but a bitch.

She’s gien me mony a jirt an’ fleg,
Sin’ I could striddle owre a rig;
But, by the Lord, tho’ I should beg
    Wi’ lyart pow,
I’ll laugh, an’ sing, an’ shake my leg,
    As lang’s I dow!

Now comes the sax-an’-twentieth simmer
I’ve seen the bud upo’ the timmer,
Still persecuted by the limmer,
    Frae year to year:
But yet, despite the kittle kimmer,
    I, Rob, am here.

Do ye envy the city gent,
Behind a kist to lie an’ sklent,
Or purse-proud, big wi’ cent per cent
    An’ muckle wame,
In some bit brugh to represent
    A bailie’s name?

Or is’t the paughty feudal thane,
WI’ ruffl’d sark an’ glancing cane,
Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
    But lordly stalks,
While caps and bonnets aff are taen,
    As by he walks?

‘O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
Gie me o’ wit an’ sense a lift,
Then turn me, if Thou please, adrift,
    Thro’ Scotland wide;
Wi’ cits nor lairds I wadna shift,
    In a’ their pride!’

Were this the charter of our state,
‘On pain o’ hell be rich an’ great,’
Damnation then would be our fate,
    Beyond remead;
But, thanks to Heaven! that’s no the gate
    We learn our creed.

For thus the royal mandate ran,
When first the human race began,
‘The social, friendly, honest man,
    Whate’er he be,
‘Tis he fulfils great Nature’s plan,
    And none but he!’

O mandate glorious and divine!
The followers of the ragged Nine,
Poor, thoughtless devils! yet may shine,
    In glorious light,
While sordid sons of Mammon’s line
    Are dark as night.

Tho’ here they scrape, an’ squeeze, an’ growl,
Their worthless nievefu’ of a soul
May in some future carcase howl,
    The forest’s fright;
Or in some day-detesting owl
    May shun the light.

Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,
To reach their native kindred skies,
And sing their pleasures, hopes, an’ joys,
    In some mild sphere,
Still closer knit in friendship’s ties
    Each passing year!




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