Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Poetry: Robert Burns

(I can't figure out how to indent in html. If someone knows, please teach me. I've done a few poems a disservice on this blog because of that lack of knowledge, including the one below.)

I first read this in sixth grade, after we read the novel named for its famous line. I still can't understand a great number of the words without footnotes. I love the poem because that doesn't matter.

Robert Burns
To a Mouse, On Turning Up Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, timorous beastie,
O what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na starta awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murdering pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion
An' fellow-mortal!

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 sill wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thouh thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out through thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' 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!
An' forward though I canna see,
I guess an' fear!


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