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L-d, hear my earnest cry and pray'r,
Against that Presbyt'ry of Ayr;

Thy strong right hand, L-d, make it bare
Upo' their heads;

L-d visit them, an' dinna spare,

For their misdeeds.

O L-d, my G-d! that glib-tongu'd Aiken,
My vera heart and flesh are quakin,

To think how we stood sweatin, shakin,
An' p-'d wi' dread,

While he, wi' hingin lip an' snakin,1

Held up his head.

L-d, in Thy day o' vengeance try him,
L-d, visit them wha did employ him,
And pass not in Thy mercy by 'em,

Nor hear their pray'r,

But for Thy people's sake destroy 'em,
An' dinna spare.

But, L-d, remember me an' mine
Wi' mercies temporal an' divine,
That I for grace an' gear may shine,

Excell'd by nane,

And a' the glory shall be thine,

Amen, Amen!

Epitaph on Holy Willie.2

HERE Holy Willie's sair worn clay
Taks up its last abode;
His saul has ta'en some other way,
I fear, the left-hand road.

1 Explained as exulting and sneering. Burns altered the lines to get rid of this meaning, into :

While Auld, wi' hinging lip, gaed sneaking

And hid his head."

2 Unpublished by Burns, and Burns was commonly a good critic of his own work.


Stop! there he is, as sure's a gun,
Poor, silly body, see him;
Nae wonder he's as black's the grun,
Observe wha's standing wi' him.

Your brunstane devilship, I see,
Has got him there before ye;
But haud your nine-tail cat a wee,
Till ance you've heard my story.

Your pity I will not implore,
For pity ye have nane;
Justice, alas! has gi'en him o'er,
And mercy's day is gane.

But hear me, Sir, deil as ye are,

Look something to your credit;

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A coof like him wad stain your name,
If it were kent ye did it.

Death and Doctor Hornbook.1


SOME books are lies frae end to end,
And some great lies were never penn'd:
Ev'n ministers they hae been kenn'd,
In holy rapture,

A rousing whid at times to vend,
And nail't wi' Scripture.

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But this that I am gaun to tell,
Which lately on a night befell,
Is just as true's the Deil's in hell
Or Dublin city:

That e'er he nearer comes oursel'
'S a muckle pity.

The clachan yilla had made me canty,
I was na fou, but just had plenty;


I stacher'd whiles, but yet took tenta aye
To free the ditches;

An' hillocks, stanes, an' bushes, kenn'd aye
Frae ghaists an' witches.

The rising moon began to glowre
The distant Cumnock hills out-owre:
To count her horns, wi' a' my pow'r,
I set mysel';

But whether she had three or four,
I cou'd na tell.

I was come round about the hill,
An' todlin down on Willie's mill,
Setting my staff wi' a' my skill,

To keep me sicker";
Tho' leeward whiles, against my will,
I took a bicker.

I there wi' Something did forgather,
That pat me in an eerie swithers;
An' awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther,
Clear-dangling, hang;

A three-tae'd leister on the ither

Lay, large an' lang.

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Its stature seem'd lang Scotch ells twa,
The queerest shape that e'er I saw,
For fient a wamea it had avab;

And then its shanks,

They were as thin, as sharp an' sma'

As cheeks o' branks.

'Guid-een, quo' I; 'Friend! hae ye been mawin,d 'When ither folk are busy sawin! '1

It seem'd to make a kind o' stan',

But naething spak;

At length, says I, 'Friend! whare ye gaun?
"Will ye go back?'

It spak right howe,-'My name is Death,
'But be na fley'd.'-Quoth I, 'Guid faith,
'Ye're maybe come to stap my breath;
'But tent me, billie ;

'I red ye weel, tak care o' skaith,'


'See, there's a gully! '1

'Gudeman,' quo' he, 'put up your whittle,

'I'm no designed to try its mettle;

'But if I did, I wad be kittle

'To be mislear'd ;'

'I wad na mind it, no that spittle


'Out-owre my beard.'

'Weel, weel!' says I, 'a bargain be't;

'Come, gie's your hand, an' sae we're gree't;
'We'll ease our shanks an' tak a seat-


Come, gie's your news;
"This while ye hae been mony a gate,
'At mony a house.'

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'Ay, ay!' quo' he, an' shook his head,
'It's e'en a lang, lang time indeed
'Sin' I began to nick the thread,


'An' choke the breath:

'Folk maun do something for their bread,
'An' sae maun Death.

'Sax thousand years are near-hand fled
'Sin' I was to the butching bred,
'An' mony a scheme in vain's been laid,
'To stap or scarb me;

'Till ane Hornbook's1 ta'en up the trade,
And faith! he'll waur me.

'Ye ken Jock Hornbook i' the Clachan,
'Deil mak his king's-hood in a spleuchand;
'He's grown sae weel acquaint wi' Buchan 2
'And ither chaps,

"The weans haud out their fingers laughin,
'An' pouk my hips.

'See, here's a scythe, an' there's a dart,
"They hae pierc'd mony a gallant heart;
'But Doctor Hornbook wi' his art

'An' cursed skill,

'Has made them baith no worth a f-t,
'D-n'd haet' they'll kill!

"'Twas but yestreen, nae farther gane,
'I threw a noble throw at ane;

'Wi' less, I'm sure, I've hundreds slain;
'But deil-ma-care,

'It just play'd dirle on the bane,
'But did nae mair.

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