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Prologue Spoken At The Theatre Of Dumfries

ON NEW YEAR'S DAY EVENING, 1790

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

No song nor dance I bring from yon great city
That queens it o'er our taste - the more's the pity!
Tho', by the bye, abroad why will you roam?
Good sense and taste are natives here at home.
But not for panegyric I appear:
I come to wish you all a good New Year!
Old Father Time deputes me here before ye,
Not for to preach, but tell his simple story.
The sage, grave Ancient cough'd, and bade me say:
' You're one year older this important day.'
If wiser too - he hinted some suggestion,
But 'twould be rude, you know, to ask the question;
And with a would-be-roguish leer and wink
He bade me on you press this one word - Think!

Ye sprightly youths, quite flush with hope and spirit
Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
To you the dotard has a deal to say,
In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way!
He bids you mind, amid your thoughtless rattle,
That the first blow is ever half the battle;
That, tho' some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
Yet by the forelock is the hold to catch him;
That, whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
You may do miracles by persevering.

Last, tho' not least in love, ye youthful fair,
Angelic forms, high Heaven's peculiar care!
To you old Bald-Pate smoothes his wrinkled brow,
And humbly begs you'll mind the important - Now!
To crown your happiness he asks your leave,
And offers bliss to give and to receive.

For our sincere, tho' haply weak endeavours,
With grateful pride we own your many favours;
And howsoe'er our tongues may ill reveal it,
Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.

 

 

No song nor dance I bring from yonder great city
That queens it over our taste - the more is the pity!
Though, by the bye, abroad why will you roam?
Good sense and taste are natives here at home.
But not for panegyric I appear:
I come to wish you all a good New Year!
Old Father Time deputes me here before you,
Not for to preach, but tell his simple story.
The sage, grave Ancient coughed, and bade me say:
' You are one year older this important day.'
If wiser too - he hinted some suggestion,
But it would be rude, you know, to ask the question;
And with a would-be-roguish leer and wink
He bade me on you press this one word - Think!

You sprightly youths, quite flush with hope and spirit
Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
To you the old man has a great amount to say,
In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way!
He bids you consider, amid your thoughtless rattle,
That the first blow is ever half the battle;
That, though some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
Yet by the forelock is the hold to catch him;
That, whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
You may do miracles by persevering.

Last, though not least in love, you youthful fair,
Angelic forms, high Heaven's peculiar care!
To you old Bald-Pate smoothes his wrinkled brow,
nd humbly begs you will remember the important - Now
To crown your happiness he asks your leave,
And offers bliss to give and to receive.

For our sincere, though by chance weak endeavours,
With grateful pride we own your many favours;
And howsoever our tongues may ill reveal it,
Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.

 

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