[Page 195][Page 196][Page 199][Page 202]
EPISTLE TO J. L*****K, AN OLD SCOTCH BARD.
April 1st, 1785.
1 WHILE briers an' woodbines budding green,
2 An' Paitricks scraichan loud at e'en,
3 And morning Poossie whiddan seen,
4 Inspire my Muse,
5 This freedom, in an unknown frien',
6 I pray excuse.
7 On Fasteneen we had a rockin,
8 To ca' the crack and weave our stockin;
9 And there was muckle fun and jokin,
10 Ye need na doubt;
11 At length we had a hearty yokin,
12 At sang about.
13 There was ae sang, amang the rest,
14 Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
15 That some kind husband had addrest,
16 To some sweet wife:
17 It thirl'd the heart-strings thro' the breast,
18 A' to the life.
19 I've scarce heard ought describ'd sae weel,
20 What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel;
21 Thought I, 'Can this be Pope, or Steele,
22 Or Beattie's wark;'
23 They tald me 'twas an odd kind chiel
24 About Muirkirk.
25 It pat me fidgean-fain to hear't,
26 An' sae about him there I spier't;[Page 197]
27 Then a' that kent him round declar'd,
28 He had ingine,
29 That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,
30 It was sae fine.
31 That set him to a pint of ale,
32 An' either douse or merry tale,
33 Or rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,
34 Or witty catches,
35 'Tween Inverness and Tiviotdale,
36 He had few matches.
37 Then up I gat, an swoor an aith,
38 Tho' I should pawn my pleugh an' graith,
39 Or die a cadger pownie's death,
40 At some dyke-back,
41 A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith,
42 To hear your crack.
43 But first an' foremost, I should tell,
44 Amaist as soon as I could spell,
45 I to the crambo-jingle fell,
46 Tho' rude an' rough,[Page 198]
47 Yet crooning to a body's sel,
48 Does weel eneugh.
49 I am nae Poet, in a sense,
50 But just a Rhymer like by chance,
51 An' hae to Learning nae pretence,
52 Yet, what the matter?
53 Whene'er my Muse does on me glance,
54 I jingle at her.
55 Your Critic-folk may cock their nose,
56 And say, 'How can you e'er propose,
57 ' You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,
58 'To mak a sang? '
59 But by your leaves, my learned foes,
60 Ye're maybe wrang.
61 What's a' your jargon o' your Schools,
62 Your Latin names for horns an' stools;
63 If honest Nature made you fools,
64 What sairs your Grammars?
65 Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,
66 Or knappin-hammers.
67 A set o' dull, conceited Hashes,
68 Confuse their brains in Colledge-classes!
69 They gang in Stirks, and come out Asses,
70 Plain truth to speak;
71 An' syne they think to climb Parnassus
72 By dint o' Greek!
73 Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire,
74 That's a' the learning I desire;
75 Then tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire
76 At pleugh or cart,
77 My Muse, tho' hamely in attire,
78 May touch the heart.
79 O for a spunk o' ALLAN'S glee,
80 Or FERGUSON'S, the bauld an' slee,
81 Or bright L*****K'S, my friend to be,
82 If I can hit it!
83 That would be lear eneugh for me,
84 If I could get it.
85 Now, Sir, if ye hae friends enow,
86 Tho' real friends I b'lieve are few,[Page 200]
87 Yet, if your catalogue be fow,
88 I'se no insist;
89 But gif ye want ae friend that's true,
90 I'm on your list,
91 I winna blaw about mysel,
92 As ill I like my fauts to tell;
93 But friends an' folk that wish me well,
94 They sometimes roose me;
95 Tho' I maun own, as monie still,
96 As far abuse me.
97 There's ae wee faut they whiles lay to me;
98 I like the lasses — Gude forgie me!
99 For monie a Plack they wheedle frae me,
100 At dance or fair:
101 Maybe some ither thing they gie me
102 They weel can spare.
103 But MAUCHLINE Race or MAUCHLINE Fair,
104 I should be proud to meet you there;
105 We'se gie ae night's discharge to care,
106 If we forgather,[Page 201]
107 An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware,
108 Wi' ane anither
109 The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter,
110 An kirs'n him wi' reekin water;
111 Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,
112 To chear our heart;
113 An' faith, we'se be acquainted better
114 Before we part.
115 Awa ye selfish, warly race,
116 Wha think that havins, sense an' grace,
117 Ev'n love an' friendship should give place
118 To catch-the-plack!
119 I dinna like to see your face,
120 Nor hear your crack.
121 But ye whom social pleasure charms,
122 Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms,
123 Who hold your being on the terms,
124 'Each aid the others,'
125 Come to my bowl, come to my arms,
126 My friends, my brothers!
127 But to conclude my lang epistle,
128 As my auld pen's worn to the grissle;
129 Twa lines frae you wad gar me sissle,
130 Who am, most fervent,
131 While I can either sing, or whissle,
132 Your friend and servent.
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About this text
Author: Robert Burns
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Burns, Robert, 1759-1796. POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, BY ROBERT BURNS. Kilmarnock: printed by John Wilson, M,DCC,LXXXVI., 1786, pp. 195-202. 240p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T91548) (Page images digitized by National Library of Scotland.)
Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
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