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Index

A Dedication
To Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation



Expect na, Sir, in this narration,
A fleechin, fleth'rin Dedication,
To roose you up, an' ca' you guid,
An' sprung o' great an' noble bluid,
Because ye're surnam'd like his Grace,
Perhaps related to the race:
Then, when I'm tired - and sae are ye,
Wi' monie a fulsome, sinfu' lie --
Set up a face how I stop short,
For fear your modesty be hurt.

This may do - maun do, Sir, wi' them wha
Maun please the great-folk for a wamefou';
For me! sae laigh I need na bow,
For, Lord be thankit, I can plough;
And when I downa yoke a naig,
Then, Lord be thankit, I can beg;
Sae I shall say, an' that's nae flatt'rin,
It's just sic poet an' sic patron.

The Poet, some guid angel help him,
Or else, I fear, some ill ane skelp him!
He may do weel for a' he's done yet,
But only he's no just begun yet.

The Patron (sir, ye maun forgie me;
I winna lie, come what will o' me),
On ev'ry hand it will allow'd be,
He's just - nae better than he should be.

I readily and freely grant,
He downa see a poor man want;
What's no his ain he winna take it;
What ance he says, he winna break it;
Ought he can lend he'll no refuse 't,
Till aft his guidness is abus'd;
And rascals whyles that do him wrang,
Ev'n that, he does na mind it lang;
As master, landlord, husband, father,
He does na fail his part in either.

But then, nae thanks to him for a' that;
Nae godly symptom ye can ca' that;
It's naething but a milder feature
Of our poor, sinfu', corrupt nature:
Ye'll get the best o' moral works,
'Mang black Gentoos, and pagan Turks,
Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
Wha never heard of orthodoxy.

That he's the poor man's friend in need,
The gentleman in word and deed,
It's no thro' terror of damnation:
It's just a carnal inclination,
And och! that's nae regeneration.

Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou hast slain!
Vain is his hope, whase stay an' trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!

No - stretch a point to catch a plack;
Abuse a brother to his back;
Steal thro' the winnock frae a whore,
But point the rake that taks the door;
Be to the poor like onie whunstane,
And haud their noses to the grunstane;
Ply ev'ry art o' legal thieving;
No matter - stick to sound believing.

Learn three-mile pray'rs, an' half-mile graces,
Wi' weel-spread looves, an' lang, wry faces;
Grunt up a solemn, lengthen'd groan,
And damn a' parties but your own;
I'll warrant then, ye're nae deceiver,
A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.

O ye wha leave the springs o' Calvin,
For gumlie dubs of your ain delvin!
Ye sons of Heresy and Error,
Ye'll some day squeel in quaking terror,
When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath,
And in the fire throws the sheath;
When Ruin, with his sweeping besom,
Just frets till Heav'n commission gies him;
While o'er the harp pale Misery moans,
And strikes the ever-deep'ning tones,
Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans!

Your pardon, sir, for this digression:
I maist forgat my Dedication;
But when divinity comes 'cross me,
My readers still are sure to lose me.

So, Sir, you see 'twas nae daft vapour;
But I maturely thought it proper,
When a' my works I did review,
To dedicate them, Sir, to you:
Because (ye need na tak' it ill),
I thought them something like yoursel.

Then patronize them wi' your favor
And your petitioner shall ever --
I had amaist said, ever pray,
But that's a word I need na say;
For prayin, I hae little skill o't,
I'm baith dead-sweer, an' wretched ill o't;
But I'se repeat each poor man's pray'r,
That kens or hears about you, Sir: --

'May ne'er Misfortune's growling bark
Howl thro' the dwelling o' the clerk!
May ne'er his gen'rous, honest heart,
For that same gen'rous spirit smart!
May Kennedy's far-honor'd name
Lang beet his hymeneal flame,
Till Hamiltons, at least a dizzen,
Are frae their nuptial labors risen:
Five bonie lasses round their table,
And sev'n braw fellows, stout an' able,
To serve their king an' country weel,
By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
May Health and Peace, with mutual rays,
Shine on the ev'ning o' his days;
Till his wee, curlie John's ier-oe,
When ebbing life nae mair shall flow,
The last, sad, mournful rites bestow!'

I will not wind a lang conclusion,
With complimentary effusion;
But, whilst your wishes and endeavours
Are blest with Fortune's smiles and favours,
I am, dear sir, with zeal most fervent,
Your much indebted, humble servant.

But if (which Pow'rs above prevent)
That iron-hearted carl, Want,
Attended, in his grim advances,
By sad mistakes, and black mischances,
While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
Make you as poor a dog as I am,
Your 'humble servant' then no more;
For who would humbly serve the poor?
But, by a poor man's hopes in Heav'n!
While recollection's pow'r is giv'n,
If, in the vale of humble life,
The victim sad of Fortune's strife,
I, thro' the tender-gushing tear,
Should recognise my master dear;
If friendless, low, we meet together,
Then, sir, your hand - my FRIEND and BROTHER!



Expect not, Sir, in this narration,
A wheedling, flattering Dedication,
To praise you up, and call you good,
And sprung of great and noble blood,
Because you are surnamed like his Grace,
Perhaps related to the race:
Then, when I am tired - and so are you,
With many a fulsome, sinful lie -
Set up a face how I stop short,
For fear your modesty be hurt.

This may do - must do, Sir, with them who
Must please the great folk for a bellyful;
For me! so low I need not bow,
For, Lord be thanked, I can plough;
And when I cannot yoke a horse,
Then, Lord be thanked, I can beg;
So I shall say, and that is not flattering,
It is just such poet and such patron.

The Poet, some good angel help him,
Or else, I fear, some ill one trounce him!
He may do well for all he has done yet,
But only he is not just begun yet.

The Patron (sir, you must forgive me;
I will not lie, come what will of me),
On every hand it will allowed be,
He is just - no better than he should be.

I readily and freely grant,
He can not see a poor man want;
What is not his own he will not take it;
When once he gives his word, he will not break it;
Anything he can loan he will not refuse it,
Until often his goodness is abused;
And rascals sometimes that do him wrong,
Even that, he does not mind it long;
As master, landlord, husband, father,
He does not fail his part in either.

But then, no thanks to him for all that;
No godly symptom you can call that;
It is nothing but a milder feature
Of our poor, sinful, corrupt nature:
You will get the best of moral works,
Among black Gentoos, and pagan Turks,
Or hunters wild on Ponotaxi,
Who never heard of orthodoxy.

That he is the poor man's friend in need,
The gentleman in word and deed,
It is not through terror of damnation:
It is just a carnal inclination,
And oh! that is no regeneration.

Morality, you deadly bane,
Your tens of thousands you have slain!
Vain is his hope, whose stay and trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!

No - stretch a point to catch a farthing (1\4 penny);
Abuse a brother to his back;
Steal through the window from a whore,
But point the rake that takes the door;
Be to the poor like any whinstone,
And hold their noses to the grindstone;
Ply every art of legal thieving;
No matter - stick to sound believing.

Learn three-mile prayers, and half-mile graces,
With well-spread palms, and long, wry faces;
Grunt up a solemn, lengthened groan,
And damn all parties but your own;
I will warrant then, you are not a deceiver,
A steady, sturdy, staunch believer.

O you who leave the springs of Calvin,
For muddy puddles of your own delving!
You sons of Heresy and Error,
You will some day squeal in quaking terror,
When Vengeance draws the sword in wrath,
And in the fire throws the sheath;
When Ruin, with his sweeping broom,
Just frets till Heaven commission gives him;
While over the harp pale Misery moans,
And strikes the ever deepening tones,
Still louder shrieks, and heavier groans!

Your pardon, sir, for this digression:
I almost forgot my Dedication;
But when divinity comes across me,
My readers still are sure to lose me.

So, Sir, you see it was no mad vapour;
But I maturely thought it proper,
When all my works I did review,
To dedicate them, Sir, to you:
Because (you need not take it ill),
I thought them something like yoursel.

Then patronize them with your favour
And your petitioner shall ever -
I had almost said, ever pray,
But that is a word I need not say;
For praying, I have little skill of it,
I am both extremely reluctant, and wretched ill of it;
But I will repeat each poor man's prayer,
That knows or hears about you, Sir: --

'May never Misfortune's growling bark
Howl through the dwelling of the lawyer!
May never his generous, honest heart,
For that same generous spirit smart!
May Kennedy's far honoured name
Long feed his hymeneal flame,
Till Hamiltons, at least a dozen,
Are from their nuptial labors risen:
Five lovely girls round their table,
And seven handsome fellows, stout and able,
To serve their king and country well,
By word, or pen, or pointed steel!
May Health and Peace, with mutual rays,
Shine on the evening of his days;
Till his little, curly John's great-grandchild,
When ebbing life no more shall flow,
The last, sad, mournful rites bestow!'

I will not wind a long conclusion,
With complimentary effusion;
But, while your wishes and endeavours
Are blessed with Fortune's smiles and favours,
I am, dear sir, with zeal most fervent,
Your much indebted, humble servant.

But if (which Powers above prevent)
That iron-hearted fellow, Want,
Attended, in his grim advances,
By sad mistakes, and black mischance's,
While hopes, and joys, and pleasures fly him,
Make you as poor a dog as I am,
Your 'humble servant' then no more;
For who would humbly serve the poor?
But, by a poor man's hopes in Heaven!
While recollection's power is given,
If, in the vale of humble life,
The victim sad of Fortune's strife,
I, through the tender-gushing tear,
Should recognise my master dear;
If friendless, low, we meet together,
Then, sir, your hand - my FRIEND and BROTHER!

 

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