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185

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

BER, 1785.

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,
Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie !
Thou needna start awa’ sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle!
5 I wad be laith to rin and chase thee,

Wi? murdoring pattle !
Headnote, line 3, gaudsman, ploughboy.
1. sleekit, sleek.
3. needna, need not.
4. bickering brattle, clattering scamper.

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
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earthborn companion,

And fellow-mortal!

10

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!
20 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 !

25 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 passed

Out through thy cell.

30

13. whiles, sometimes. 14. maun, must.

15. daimen icker, ear of corn now and then ; thrave, twentyfour sheaves.

21. big, build ; ane, one.
22. foggage, stray vegetable material used for nests.
24. baith, both ; snell, biting.

That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou 's turned out for a' thy trouble,

But house or hald,
35 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:
45 But, och! I backward cast my e'e

On prospects drear!
And forward, though I canna see,

I guess and fear.

TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY,

ON TURNING ONE DOWN WITH THE PLOUGH IN APRIL, 1786.

WEE, modest, crimson-tipped flower,
Thou 's met me in an evil hour;

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

amang

the stoure Thy slender stem: 5 To spare thee now is past my power,

Thou bonny gem.

Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
The bonny lark, companion meet,
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,

Wi' speckled breast,
When upward-springing, blithe, to greet

The purpling east!

10

Cauld blew the bitter biting north

Upon thy early, humble birth ;
15 Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth

Amid the storm,
Scarce reared above the parent earth

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,

Unseen, alane.

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;
But now the share uptears thy bed,

And low thou lies!

30

Such is the fate of artless maid,
Sweet floweret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betrayed,

And guileless trust,
35 Till she, like thee, all soiled, is laid

Low i' the dust.

Such is the fate of simple bard,
On life’s rough ocean luckless starr'd!
Unskilful he to note the card

Of prudent lore,
Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,

And whelm him o'er!

40

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,
Till wrenched of every stay but Heaven,

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,
Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight

Shall be thy doom.
39. card, the face of the compass.

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