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Reply To A Trimming Epistle Received From A Tailor

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

1.
What ails ye now, ye lousie bitch,
To thresh my back at sic a pitch?
Losh, man, hae mercy wi' your natch!
Your bodkin's bauld:
I didna suffer half sae much
Frae Daddie Auld.

(Note:- Losh is a mild oath, a mild form of Lord.
A bodkin is a large blunt needle.)

2.
What tho' at times, when I grow crouse,
I gie their wames a random pouse,
Is that enough for you to souse
Your servant sae?
Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse
An' jag-the-flae!
3.
King David o' poetic brief
Wrocht 'mang the lassies sic mischief
As fill'd his after-life with grief
An' bloody rants;
An' yet he's rank'd amang the chief
O' lang-syne saunts.
4.
And maybe, Tam, for a' my cants
My wicked rhymes an' drucken rants,
I'll gie auld Cloven-Clootie's haunts
An unco slip yet,
An' snugly sit amang the saunts
At Davie's hip yet!
5.
But, fegs! the Session says I maun
Gae fa' upo' anither plan
Than garrin lasses coup the cran,
Clean heels owre body,
An' sairly thole their mither's ban
Afore the howdy.
6.
This leads me on to tell for sport
How I did wi' the Session sort:
Auld Clinkum at the inner port
Cried three times:--- 'Robin!
Come hither lad, and answer for't,
Ye're blam'd for jobbin!'
7.
Wi' pinch I put a Sunday's face on,
An' snoov'd awa' before the Session:
I made an open, fair confession -
I scorn'd to lie -
An' syne Mess John, beyond expression,
Fell foul o' me.
8.
A fornicator-loun he call'd me,
An' said my faut frae bliss expell'd me.
I own'd the tale was true he tell'd me,
'But, what the matter?'
(Quo' I) 'I fear unless ye geld me,
I'll ne'er be better!'
9.
'Geld you!' (quo' he) ' an' what for no?
If that your right hand, leg, or toe
Should ever prove your sp'ritual foe,
You should remember
To cut it aff; an' what for no
Your dearest member?'
10.
'Na, na' (quo' I), ' I'm no for that,
Gelding's nae better than 'tis ca't;
I'd rather suffer for my faut
A hearty flewit,
As sair owre hip as ye can draw't,
Tho' I should rue it.
11.
'Or, gin ye like to end the bother,
To please us a' - I've just ae ither:
When next wi' yon lass I forgather,
Whate'er betide it,
I'll frankly gie her't a' thegither,
An' let her guide it.'
12.
But, Sir, this pleas'd them warst of a',
An' therefore, Tam, when that I saw,
I said 'Guid-night,' an' cam awa,
An' left the Session:
I saw they were resolved a'
On my oppression.

 


What ails you now, you lousy bitch,
To punish my back at such a pitch?
Losh, man, have mercy with your notching tool!
Your bodkin is bauld (blunt):
I did not suffer half so much
From Daddy Old.





What though at times, when I grow merry,
I give their bellies a random push,
Is that enough for you to souse (smite)
Your servant so?
Go mind your seam, you prick-the-louse
And jag-the-flea!

King David of poetic writ
Worked among the girls such mischief
As filled his after-life with grief
And bloody rows;
And yet he is ranked among the chief
Of (long-then) old-time saints.

And maybe, Tam, for all my cants (hypocritical speech)
My wicked rhymes and drunken rants,
I will give old Cloven-Clootie's (the devil's) haunts
An uncommon slip yet,
And snugly sit among the saints
At David's hip yet!

But, faith! the Church Session says I must
Go fall upon another plan
Than making girls capsize the pot,
Clean heels over body,
And sorely suffer their mother's ban
Before the midwife.

This leads me on to tell for sport
How I did with the Church Session sort:
Old Clinkum ( the Bellman) at the inner port
Cried three times:--- 'Robin!
Come hither lad, and answer for it,
You are blamed for jobbing!'

With a pinch I put a Sunday's face on,
And toddled away before the Session:
I made an open, fair confession -
I scorned to lie -
And then Master John, beyond expression,
Fell foul of me.

A fornicator-rascal he called me,
And said my fault from bliss expelled me.
I owned the tale was true he tolled me,
'But, what the matter?'
(Said I) 'I fear unless you geld me,
I will never be better!'

'Geld you!' (said he) 'and why not?
If that your right hand, leg, or toe
Should ever prove your spiritual foe,
You should remember
To cut it off; and why not
Your dearest member?'

'No, no (said I), ' I am not for that,
Gelding is no better than it is called;
I would rather suffer for my fault
A hearty stripe (lash),
As sore over hip as you can draw it,
Though I should rue it.

'Or, if you like to end the bother,
To please us all - I have just one other:
When next with yon girl I meet,
Whatever betide it,
I will frankly give her it all together,
And let her guide it.'

But, Sir, this pleased them worst of all,
And therefore, Tam, when that I saw,
I said 'Good-night,' and came away,
And left the Church Session:
I saw they were resolved all
On my oppression.

 

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