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Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
Or nobly die, the second glorious part,
(The patriot's God, peculiarly Thou art, His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward !)
Oh never, never, Scotia's realm desert; But still the patriot, and the patriot bard, In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard !
TO A MOUSE,
ON TURNING UP HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEM
The lines To a Mouse seem by report to have been composed while Burns was actually ploughing. One of the poet's first editors wrote : “ John Blane, who had acted as gaudsman to Burns, and who lived sixty years afterwards, had a distinct recollection of the turning up of the mouse. Like a thoughtless youth as he was, he ran after the creature to kill it, but was checked and recalled by his master, who he observed became thereafter thoughtful and abstracted. Burns, who treated his servants with the familiarity of fellow-laborers, soon afterwards read the poem to Blane.”
WEE, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
Wi' bickering brattle!
Wi? murdoring pattle !
5, 6. The boy's attempt to kill the mouse may well have been in the poet's mind here.
5. wad, would ; laith, loath. 6. pattle, plough-staff.
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Which makes thee startle
I doubtna, whiles, but thou may thieve ;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! 15 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!
O’ foggage green,
Baith snell and keen !
25 Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste,
And weary winter comin' fast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Out through thy cell.
13. whiles, sometimes. 14. maun, must.
15. daimen icker, ear of corn now and then ; thrave, twentyfour sheaves.
21. big, build ; ane, one.
That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble
But house or hald,
And cranreuch cauld !
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
Gang aft a-gley,
For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
On prospects drear!
I guess and fear.
TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY,
ON TURNING ONE DOWN WITH THE PLOUGH IN APRIL, 1786.
WEE, modest, crimson-tipped flower,
31. stibble, stubble. 32. monie, many. 34. but, without ; hald, abiding-place. 35. thole, endure. 36. cranreuch cauld, cold hoar-frost. 37. no thy lane, not alone. 40. u-gley, wrong.
For I maun crush
the stoure Thy slender stem: 5 To spare thee now is past my power,
Thou bonny gem.
Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
Wi' speckled breast,
The purpling east!
Cauld blew the bitter biting north
Upon thy early, humble birth ;
Amid the storm,
Thy tender form.
The flaunting flowers our gardens yield, 20 High sheltering woods and wa’s maun shield, But thou, beneath the random bield
O'clod or stane, Adorns the histie stibble-field,
25 There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sunward spread,
3. stoure, dust. 6. bonny, beautiful. 9. weet, wet. 21. bield, shelter. 23. histie, dry, barren. 26. snarie, snúwy.
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise;
And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless maid,
And guileless trust,
Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard,
Of prudent lore,
And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is given,
Who long with wants and woes has striven, 45 By human pride or cunning driven
To misery's brink,
He, ruined, sink!
Even thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate, 50 That fate is thine no distant date; Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Shall be thy doom.