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May Desolation's lang-teeth'd harrow,
Nine miles an hour,
Rake them, like Sodom and Gomorrah,
In brunstane stour.a

But for thy friends, and they are mony,
Baith honest men, and lassies bonie,
May couthie Fortune, kind and cannie,
In social glee,


Wi' mornings blythe, and e'enings funny,
Bless them and thee!

Fareweel, auld birkie! Lord be near ye,
And then the deil, he daurna steerd ye:
Your friends aye love, your faes aye fear ye;
For me, shame fa' me,

If neist my heart I dinna wear ye,

While BURNS they ca' me.

Second Epistle to Robert Graham, Esq. of Fintry.1

5th October 1791.

LATE crippl'd of an arm, and now a leg,
About to beg a pass for leave to beg;
Dull, listless, teas'd, dejected, and deprest
(Nature is adverse to a cripple's rest);
Will generous Graham list to his Poet's wail?
(It soothes poor Misery, hearkening to her tale)
And hear him curse the light he first survey'd,
And doubly curse the luckless rhyming trade?

Thou, Nature! partial Nature, I arraign;
Of thy caprice maternal I complain;
The lion and the bull thy care have found,

One shakes the forests, and one spurns the ground;

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Thou giv'st the ass his hide, the snail his shell;
Th' envenom'd wasp, victorious, guards his cell;
Thy minions kings defend, control, devour,
In all th' omnipotence of rule and power;
Foxes and statesmen subtile wiles ensure;
The cit and polecat stink, and are secure;
Toads with their poison, doctors with their drug,
The priest and hedgehog in their robes, are snug;
Ev'n silly woman has her warlike arts

Her tongue and eyes-her dreaded spear and darts.

But Oh! thou bitter step-mother and hard,
To thy poor, fenceless, naked child-the Bard!
A thing unteachable in world's skill,

And half an idiot too, more helpless still :
No heels to bear him from the op'ning dun;
No claws to dig, his hated sight to shun;
No horns, but those by luckless Hymen worn,
And those, alas! not, Amalthea's horn:
No nerves olfact'ry, Mammon's trusty cur,
Clad in rich Dulness' comfortable fur;
In naked feeling, and in aching pride,
He bears th' unbroken blast from ev'ry side:
Vampyre booksellers drain him to the heart,
And scorpion critics cureless venom dart.

Critics-appall'd, I venture on the name;
Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame:
Bloody dissectors, worse than ten Munroes;
He hacks to teach, they mangle to expose :

His heart by causeless wanton malice wrung,
By blockheads' daring into madness stung;
His well-won bays, than life itself more dear,
By miscreants torn, who ne'er one sprig must wear;
Foil'd, bleeding, tortur'd in th' unequal strife,
The hapless Poet flounders on thro' life:
Till, fled each hope that once his bosom fir'd,
And fled each muse that glorious once inspir'd,

Low sunk in squalid, unprotected age,
Dead even resentment for his injur'd page,

He heeds or feels no more the ruthless critic's rage!
So, by some hedge, the gen'rous steed deceas'd,
For half-starv'd snarling curs a dainty feast;
By toil and famine wore to skin and bone,
Lies, senseless of each tugging bitch's son.

O Dulness! portion of the truly blest!
Calm shelter'd haven of eternal rest!
Thy sons ne'er madden in the fierce extremes
Of Fortune's polar frost, or torrid beams.
If mantling high she fills the golden cup,
With sober selfish ease they sip it up;
Conscious the bounteous meed they well deserve,
They only wonder "some folks" do not starve.
The grave sage hern thus easy picks his frog,
And thinks the mallard a sad worthless dog.
When disappointment snaps the clue of hope,
And thro' disastrous night they darkling grope,
With deaf endurance sluggishly they bear,
And just conclude "that fools are fortune's care."
So, heavy, passive to the tempest's shocks,
Strong on the sign-post stands the stupid ox.

Not so the idle Muses' mad-cap train,

Not such the workings of their moon-struck brain; In equanimity they never dwell,

By turns in soaring heav'n, or vaulted hell.

I dread thee, Fate, relentless and severe,
With all a poet's, husband's, father's fear!
Already one strong hold of hope is lost-
Glencairn, the truly noble, lies in dust
(Fled, like the sun eclips'd as noon appears,
And left us darkling in a world of tears);
O! hear my ardent, grateful, selfish pray'r!
Fintry, my other stay, long bless and spare!
Thro' a long life his hopes and wishes crown,
And bright in cloudless skies his sun go down!


May bliss domestic smooth his private path;
Give energy to life; and soothe his latest breath,
With many a filial tear circling the bed of death!

The Song of Death.1

Tune-"Oran an aoig."

Scene.-A Field of Battle-Time of the day, evening-The wounded and dying of the victorious army are supposed to join in the following song.

FAREWELL, thou fair day, thou green earth and ye skies,
Now gay with the broad setting sun;

Farewell, loves and friendships, ye dear tender ties,
Our race of existence is run!

Thou grim King of Terrors; thou Life's gloomy foe!
Go, frighten the coward and slave;

Go, teach them to tremble, fell tyrant! but know
No terrors hast thou to the brave!

Thou strik'st the dull peasant-he sinks in the dark,
Nor saves e'en the wreck of a name;

Thou strik'st the young hero-a glorious mark;
He falls in the blaze of his fame!

In the field of proud honour-our swords in our hands,
Our King and our country to save;

While victory shines on Life's last ebbing sands,—
O who would not die with the brave?

Poem on Sensibility.2

SENSIBILITY, how charming,

Dearest Nancy, thou canst tell;
But distress, with horrors arming,
Thou alas! hast known too well!

1 Enthusiasm for King and Country do not match well with Burns's affection for the French Revolution. The piece, though it has been admired, is extremely conventional,

2 These Tears of Sensibility flowed for Mrs M'Lehose.

The verses were afterwards sent to Mrs Dunlop and Mrs Stewart, with the second line altered to

"Thou, my friend, canst truly tell."

Fairest flower, behold the lily
Blooming in the sunny ray;
Let the blast sweep o'er the valley,
See it prostrate in the clay.

Hear the woodlark charm the forest,
Telling o'er his little joys;
But alas! a prey the surest
To each pirate of the skies.

Dearly bought the hidden treasure
Finer feelings can bestow :
Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure
Thrill the deepest notes of woe.

The Toadeater.1

OF Lordly acquaintance you boast,

And the Dukes that you dined wi' yestreen;
Yet an insect's an insect at most,

Tho' it crawl on the curl of a Queen!

Divine Service in the Kirk of Lamington.2

As cauld a wind as ever blew,
A cauld kirk, and in't but few:
As cauld a minister's ever spak;
Ye'se a' be het or I come back.

1 On a level with Burns's usual essays in epigram.

The text is Lockhart's version. Hogg and Motherwell give :

"What of lords with whom you have supped,

And of Dukes that you dined with yestreen;

A louse, sir, is still but a louse,

Tho' it crawl on the looks of a

Cunningham's is a compound of the two,
and Chambers gives:-

"No more of your titled acquaintances boast,

And what nobles and gentles you've


An insect is only an insect at most,
Tho' it crawl on the curl of a

2 Lockhart, a Lanarkshire man himself, published these rhymes in his Life of Burns (1828).

Text also from Lockhart. Scott Douglas gives in the third line :

"A caulder preacher never spak."

The variations in different editions are numerous, but that of Hogg and Motherwell gives the most unusual form :

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A cauld, cauld kirk, and in't but few,
A caulder minister never spak;
His sermon made us a' turn blue,
But it'e be warm ere I come back."

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