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EPISTLE TO JOHN RANKINE

ENCLOSING SOME POEMS

O ROUGH, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
The wale o' cocks for fun an' drinkin!
There's mony godly folks are thinkin,
Your dreams and tricks

Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin
Straught to auld Nick's.

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 itThe lads in black;

But your curst wit, when it comes near it, Rives't aff their back.

Think, wicked Sinner, wha ye're skaithing: It's just the Blue-gown badge an' claithing. O' saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething To ken them by

Frae ony unregenerate heathen,

Like you or I.

I've sent you here some rhyming ware,
A' that I bargain'd for, an' mair;
Sae, when ye hae an hour to spare,
I will expect,

Yon sang ye'll sen't, wi' cannie care,
And no neglect.

Tho' faith, sma' heart hae I to sing!
My muse dow scarcely spread her wing;
I've play'd mysel a bonie spring,

An' danc'd my fill!

I'd better gaen an' sair't the king,
At Bunker's Hill.

'Twas ae night lately, in my fun,
I gaed a rovin' wi' the gun,

An' brought a paitrick to the grun'—
A bonie hen;

And, as the twilight was begun,

Thought nane wad ken.

The poor, wee thing was little hurt;
I straikit it a wee for sport,

Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me for't;
But, Deil-ma-care!

Somebody tells the poacher-court

The hale affair.

Some auld, us'd hands had taen a note,
That sic a hen had got a shot;

I was suspected for the plot;
I scorn'd to lie;

So gat the whissle o' my groat,
An' pay't 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, o'er muir an' dale,
For this, neist year.

As soon's the clockin-time is by,
An' the wee pouts begun to cry,
Lord, I'se hae sporting by an' by
For my gawd 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 mad's a hare;
So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;
But pennyworths again is fair,

When time's expedient:

Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,

Your most obedient.

A POET'S WELCOME TO HIS LOVE-BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER'

THE FIRST INSTANCE THAT ENTITLED HIM TO THE VENERABLE

APPELLATION OF FATHER

THOU'S welcome, wean; mishanter fa' me,
If thoughts o' thee, or yet thy mamie,
Shall ever daunton me or awe me,
My bonie lady,

Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me
Tyta or daddie.

Tho' now they ca' me fornicator,
An' tease my name in kintry clatter,
The mair they talk, I'm kent the better,
E'en let them clash;

An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter
To gie ane fash.

Welcome! my bonie, sweet, wee dochter,
Tho' ye come here a wee unsought for,

1 Burns never published this poem.

And tho' your comin' I hae fought for, Baith kirk and queir;

Yet, by my faith, ye're no unwrought for, That I shall swear!

Wee image o' my bonie Betty,
As fatherly I kiss and daut thee,
As dear, and near my heart I set thee
Wi' as gude will

As a' the priests had seen me get thee
That's out o' h-ll.

Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
My funny toil is now a' tint,

Sin' thou came to the warl' asklent,
Which fools may scoff at;
In my last plack thy part's be in't
The better ha'f o't.

Tho' I should be the waur bestead,
Thou's be as braw and bienly clad,
And thy young years as nicely bred
Wi' education,

As ony brat o' wedlock's bed,
In a' thy station.

Lord grant that thou may aye inherit Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit, An' thy poor, worthless daddy's spirit, Without his failins,

'Twill please me mair to see thee heir it, Than stockit mailens.

For if thou be what I wad hae thee,
And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee,
The cost nor shame o't,
But be a loving father to thee,

And brag the name o't.

SONG O LEAVE NOVELS1

O LEAVE novels, ye Mauchline belles,
Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
Such witching books are baited hooks
For rakish rooks like Rob Mossgiel;
Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,

They make your youthful fancies reel; They heat your brains, and fire your veins, And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.

Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung,
A heart that warmly seems to feel;
That feeling heart but acts a part—
'Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.
The frank address, the soft caress,
Are worse than poisoned darts of steel;
The frank address, and politesse,

Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.

FRAGMENT-THE MAUCHLINE LADY

Tune-" I had a horse, I had nae mair."

WHEN first I came to Stewart Kyle,
My mind it was na steady;
Where'er I gaed, where'er I rade,
A mistress still I had aye.

But when I came roun' by Mauchline toun,

Not dreadin anybody,

My heart was caught, before I thought,

And by a Mauchline lady.

1 Burns never published this poem.

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