TO J. S****.
Friendship, mysterious cement of the soul!
Sweet'ner of Life, and solder of Society!
I owe thee much —
1 DEAR S****, the sleest, pawkie thief,
2 That e'er attempted stealth or rief,
3 Ye surely hae some warlock-breef
4 Owre human hearts;
5 For ne'er a bosom yet was prief
6 Against your arts.
7 For me, I swear by sun an' moon,
8 And ev'ry star that blinks aboon,
9 Ye've cost me twenty pair o' shoon
10 Just gaun to see you;[Page 70]
11 And ev'ry ither pair that's done,
12 Mair taen I'm wi' you.
13 That auld, capricious carlin, Nature,
14 To mak amends for scrimpet stature,
15 She's turn'd you off, a human-creature
16 On her first plan,
17 And in her freaks, on ev'ry feature,
18 She s wrote, the Man.
19 Just now I've taen the fit o' rhyme,
20 My barmie noddle's working prime,
21 My fancy yerket up sublime
22 Wi' hasty summon:
23 Hae ye a leisure-moment's time
24 To hear what's comin?
25 Some rhyme a neebor's name to lash;
26 Some rhyme, (vain thought!) for needfu' cash;
27 Some rhyme to court the countra clash,
28 An' raise a din;
29 For me, an aim I never fash;
30 I rhyme for fun.
31 The star that rules my luckless lot,
32 Has fated me the russet coat,
33 An' damn'd my fortune to the groat;
34 But, in requit,
35 Has blest me with a random-shot
36 O' countra wit.
37 This while my notion's taen a sklent,
38 To try my fate in guid, black prent;
39 But still the mair I'm that way bent,
40 Something cries, "Hoolie!
41 " I red you, honest man, tak tent!
42 Ye'll shaw your folly.
43 "There's ither Poets, much your betters,
44 " Far seen in Greek, deep men o' letters,
45 "Hae thought they had ensur'd their debtors,
46 " A' future ages;
47 "Now moths deform in shapeless tatters,
48 " Their unknown pages. "
49 Then farewel hopes of Laurel-boughs,
50 To garland my poetic brows! [Page 72]
51 Henceforth, I'll rove where busy ploughs
52 Are whistling thrang,
53 An' teach the lanely heights an' howes
54 My rustic sang.
55 I'll wander on with tentless heed,
56 How never-halting moments speed,
57 Till fate shall snap the brittle thread;
58 Then, all unknown,
59 I'll Iay me with th' inglorious dead,
60 Forgot and gone!
61 But why, o' Death, begin a tale?
62 Just now we're living sound an' hale;
63 Then top and maintop croud the sail,
64 Heave Care o'er-side!
65 And large, before Enjoyment's gale,
66 Let's tak the tide.
67 This life, sae far's I understand,
68 Is a' enchanted fairy-land,
69 Where Pleasure is the Magic-wand,
70 That, wielded right,[Page 73]
71 Maks Hours like Minutes, hand in hand,
72 Dance by fu' light.
73 The magic-wand then let us wield;
74 For, ance that five an' forty's speel'd,
75 See, crazy, weary, joyless Eild,
76 Wi' wrinkl'd face,
77 Comes hostan, hirplan owre the field,
78 Wi' creeping pace.
79 When ance life's day draws near the gloamin,
80 Then fareweel vacant, careless roamin;
81 An' fareweel chearfu' tankards foamin,
82 An' social noise;
83 An' fareweel dear, deluding woman,
84 The joy of joys!
85 O Life! how pleasant in thy morning,
86 Young Fancy's rays the hills adorning!
87 Cold-pausing Caution's lesson scorning,
88 We frisk away,[Page 74]
89 Like school-boys, at th' expected warning,
90 To joy and play.
91 We wander there, we wander here,
92 We eye the rose upon the brier,
93 Unmindful that the thorn is near,
94 Among the leaves;
95 And tho' the puny wound appear,
96 Short while it grieves.
97 Some, lucky, find a flow'ry spot,
98 For which they never toil'd nor swat;
99 They drink the sweet and eat the fat,
100 But care or pain;
101 And haply, eye the barren hut,
102 With high disdain.
103 With steady aim, Some Fortune chase;
104 Keen hope does ev'ry sinew brace;
105 Thro' fair, thro' foul, they urge the race,
106 And sieze the prey
107 Then canie, in some cozie place,
108 They close the day.
109 And others, like your humble servan',
110 Poor wights! nae rules nor roads observin;
111 To right or left, eternal swervin,
112 They zig-zag on;
113 Till curst with Age, obscure an' starvin,
114 They after groan.
115 Alas! what bitter toil an' straining —
116 But truce with peevish, poor complaining!
117 Is Fortune's fickle Luna waning?
118 E'en let her gang!
119 Beneath what light she has remaining,
120 Let's sing our Sang.
121 My pen I here fling to the door,
122 And kneel, 'Ye Pow'rs, and warm implore,
123 ' Tho' I should wander Terra o'er,
124 'In all her climes,
125 ' Grant me but this, I ask no more,
126 'Ay rowth o' rhymes.
127 'Gie dreeping roasts to countra Lairds,
128 'Till icicles hing frae their beards;[Page 76]
129 ' Gie fine braw claes to fine Life-guards,
130 'And Maids of Honor;
131 ' And yill an' whisky gie to Cairds,
132 'Until they sconner,
133 'A Title, DEMPSTER merits it;
134 'A Garter gie to WILLIE PIT;
135 'Gie Wealth to some be-ledger'd Cit,
136 ' In cent per cent;
137 'But give me real, sterling Wit,
138 ' And I'm content.
139 'While ye are pleas'd to keep me hale,
140 ' I'll fit down o'er my scanty meal,
141 'Be't water-brose, or muslin-kail,
142 ' Wi' chearfu' face,
143 ' As lang's the Muses dinna fail
144 'To say the grace.
145 An anxious e'e I never throws
146 Behint my lug, or by my nose;
147 I jouk beneath Misfortune's blows
148 As weel's I may;[Page 77]
149 Sworn foe to sorrow, care, and prose,
150 I rhyme away.
151 O ye, douse folk, that live by rule,
152 Grave, tideless-blooded, calm and cool,
153 Compar'd wi' you — O fool! fool! fool!
154 How much unlike!
155 Your hearts are just a standing pool,
156 Your lives, a dyke!
157 Nae hare-brain'd, sentimental traces,
158 In your unletter'd, nameless faces!
159 In arioso trills and graces
160 Ye never stray,
161 But gravissimo, solemn basses
162 Ye hum away.
163 Ye are sae grave, nae doubt ye're wise;
164 Nae ferly tho' ye do despise
165 The hairum-scairum, ram-stam boys,
166 The rambling squad:
167 I see ye upward cast your eyes —
168 — Ye ken the road —
169 Whilst I — but I shall haud me there —
170 Wi' you I'll scarce gang ony where —
171 Then Jamie, I shall say nae mair,
172 But quat my sang,
173 Content with YOU to mak a pair,
174 Whare'er I gang.