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Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
O what a panic's in thy breastie !
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin and chase thee
Wi' murdoring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve ;
What then ? poor beastie, thou maun live !
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request :
I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave,
And never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin !
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin':
And naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
And bleak December's winds ensuin'
Baith snell and keen !
Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste
And weary winter comin' fast,
And cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till, crash ! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble !
Now thou's turn'd out for a' thy trouble
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble
And cranreuch cauld ?
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain :
The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley,
And lea'e us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear !
And forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess and fear.
Mine be a cot beside the hill ;
A bee-hive's hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook that turns a mill,
With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew ;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet-gown and apron blue.
The village-church among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze
And point with taper spire to Heaven.
If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales;
O Nymph reserved,—while now the bright-hair'd sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts
With brede ethereal wove,
O'erhang his wavy bed,
Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,
Or where the beetle winds
His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum,-
Now teach me, maid composed,
To breathe some soften'd strain
Whose numbers, stealing through thy dark’ning vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit;
As musing slow I hail
Thy genial loved return.
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
The fragrant Hours, and Elves
Who slept in buds the day,
And many a Nymph who wreathes her brows with
And sheds the freshening dew, and lovelier still
The pensive Pleasures sweet,
Prepare thy shadowy car.
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene;
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,
Whose walls more awful nod
By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blustering winds or driving rain
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
That, from the mountain's side,
Views wilds and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires,
And hears their simple bell ; and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showers, as ott he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves ;
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train
And rudely rends thy robes ;
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,
Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name !
147. ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds :
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn
Or busy housewife ply her evening care :
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.