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The Death and Dying Words of
Poor Mailie.

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation



The Death and Dying Words of
Poor Mailie.
The Author's Only Pet Yowe:
An Unco Mournfu' Tale.

As Mailie, an' her lambs thegither,
Was ae day nibblin on the tether,
Upon her cloot she coost a hitch,
An' owre she warsl'd in the ditch:
There, groanin, dying, she did lie,
When Hughoc he cam doytin by.

Wi' glowrin een, an' lifted han's
Poor Hughoc like a statue stan's;
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, wae's my heart! He could na mend it!
He gaped wide, but naething spak.
At length poor Mailie silence brak:-

'O thou, whase lamentable face
Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
My dying words attentive hear,
An' bear them to my Master dear.

'Tell him, if e'er again he keep
As muckle gear as buy a sheep --
O, bid him never tie them mair,
Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!
But ca' them out to park or hill,
An' let them wander at their will:
So may his flock increase, an' grow
To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'!

'Tell him, he was a Master kin',
An' ay was guid to me an' mine;
An' now my dying charge I gie him,
My helpless lambs, I trust them wi' him.

'O, bid him save their harmless lives,
Frae dogs, an' tods, an' butchers' knives!
But gie them guid cow-milk their fill,
Till they be fit to fend themsel;
An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn,
Wi' teats o' hay an' ripps o' corn.

'An' may they never learn the gaets,
Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets --
To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal,
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!
So may they, like their great forbears,
For monie a year come thro' the sheers:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.

'My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,
O, bid him breed him up wi' care!
An' if he live to be a beast,
To pit some havins in his breast!
An' warn him - what I winna name --
To stay content wi' yowes at hame;
An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,
Like other menseless, graceless brutes.

'An' niest, my yowie, silly thing;
Gude keep thee frae a tether string!
O, may thou ne'er forgather up
Wi' onie blastit, moorland toop;
But ay keep mind to moop an' mell,
Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel!

'An' now, my bairns, wi' my last breath,
I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:
An' when you think upo' your mither,
Mind to be kind to ane anither.
'Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail,
To tell my master a' my tale;
An' bid him burn this cursed tether,
An' for thy pains thou'se get my blether.'
This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head,
An' clos'd her een amang the dead!



The Death and Dying Words of
Poor Mollie.
The Author's Only Pet Ewe:
An Uncommon Mournful Tale.

As Mollie, and her lambs together,
Was one day nibbling on the tether,
Upon her hoof she looped a hitch,
And over she floundered in the ditch:
There, groaning, dying, she did lie,
When Hughoc he cam doddering by.

With staring eyes, and lifted hands
Poor Hughoc like a statue stands;
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, woe is my heart! He could not mend it!
He gaped wide, but nothing spoke.
At length poor Mollie silence broke:-

'O you, whose lamentable face
Appears to mourn my woeful case!
My dying words attentive hear,
And bear them to my Master dear.

'Tell him, if ever again he keep
As much wealth as buy a sheep -
O, bid him never tie them more,
With wicked strings of hemp or hair!
But drive them out to park or hill,
And let them wander at their will:
So may his flock increase, and grow
To scores of lambs, and packs of wool!

'Tell him, he was a Master kind,
And always was good to me and mine;
And now my dying charge I give him,
My helpless lambs, I trust them with him.

'O, bid him save their harmless lives,
From dogs, and foxes, and butchers' knives!
But give them good cow-milk their fill,
Until they be fit to look after themselves;
And tend them daily, evening and morning,
With small quantities of hay and handfuls of corn.

'And may they never learn the ways,
Of other vile, restless pets -
To slink through breaches, and rob and steal,
At stacks of plants, or stocks of cabbage!
So may they, like their great ancestors,
For many a year come through the sheers:
So wives will give them bits of bread,
And children weep for them when they are dead.

'My poor tup-lamb (ram), my son and heir,
O, bid him breed him up with care!
And if lives to be a beast,
To put some conduct in his breast!
And warn him - what I will not name -
To stay content with ewes at home;
And not to run and wear his hoofs,
Like other unmannerly, graceless brutes.

'And next, my pet ewe, silly thing;
God keep you from a tether string!
O, may you never make friends,
With any blasted, moorland ram;
But always keep mind to nibble and meddle,
With sheep of credit like yourself!

'And now, my children, with my last breath,
I leave my blessing with you both:
And when you think upon your mother,
Mind to be kind to one another.
'Now, honest Hughoc, do not fail,
To tell my master all my tale;
And bid him burn this cursed tether,
And for your pains you will get my bladder.'
This said, poor Mollie turned her head,
And closed her eyes among the dead!

 

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