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To Colonel De Peyster

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

1.
My honor'd Colonel, deep I feel
Your interest in the Poet's weal:
Ah! now sma' heart hae I to speel
The steep Parnassus,
2.
O, what a canty warld were it,
Would pain and care and sickness spare it,
And Fortune favor worth and merit
As they deserve,
And ay a rowth - roast-beef and claret! --
Syne, wha wad starve?
3.
Dame Life, tho' fiction out may trick her,
And in paste gems and frippery deck her,
Oh! flickering, feeble, and unsicker
I've found her still:
Ay wavering, like the willow-wicker,
'Tween good and ill!
4.
Then that curst carmagnole, Auld Satan,
Watches, like baudrons by a ratton,
Our sinfu' saul to get a claut on
Wi' felon ire;
Syne, whip! his tail ye'll ne'er cast saut on --
He's aff like fire.
5.
Ah Nick! Ah Nick! it is na fair,
First showing us the tempting ware,
Bright wines and bonie lasses rare,
To put us daft;
Syne weave, unseen, thy spider snare
O' Hell's damned waft!
6.
Poor Man, the flie, aft bizzes by,
And aft, as chance he comes thee nigh,
Thy damn'd auld elbow yeuks wi' joy
And hellish pleasure,
Already in thy fancy's eye
Thy sicker treasure!
7.
Soon, heels o'er gowdie, in he gangs,
And, like a sheep-head on a tangs,
Thy girnin laugh enjoys his pangs
And murdering wrestle,
As, dangling in the wind, he hangs
A gibbet's tassle.
8.
But lest you think I am uncivil
To plague you with this draunting drivel,
Abjuring a' intentions evil,
I quat my pen:
The Lord preserve us frae the Devil!
Amen! Amen!

 


My honoured Colonel, deep I feel
Your interest in the Poet's well being:
Ah! now small heart have I to climb
The steep Parnassus,

O, what a jolly world were it,
Would pain and care and sickness spare it,
And Fortune favor worth and merit
As they deserve,
And always a plenty - roast-beef and claret! -
Then, who would starve?

Dame Life, though fiction out may trick her,
And in paste gems and tawdry finery deck her,
Oh! flickering, feeble, and uncertain
I have found her still:
Always wavering, like the willow twigs,
Between good and ill!

Then that cursed violent demagogue, Old Satan,
Watches, like the cat by the rat,
Our sinful soul to get a clutch on
With felon ire;
Then, whip! his tail you will never cast salt on -
He is off like fire.

Ah Nick! Ah Nick! it is not fair,
First showing us the tempting ware,
Bright wines and lovely girls rare,
To send us wild;
Then weave, unseen, your spider snare
Of Hell's damned weft!

Poor Man, the fly, often buzzes by,
And often, as chance he comes you near,
Your damned old elbow itches with joy
And hellish pleasure,
Already in your fancy's eye
Your certain treasure!

Soon, heels over head, in he goes,
And, like a sheep-head on a tongs (for singeing),
Your grinning laugh enjoys his pangs
And murdering wrestle,
As, dangling in the wind, he hangs
A gallows tassel.

But lest you think I am uncivil
To plague you with this tedious drivel,
Abjuring all intentions evil,
I quit my pen:
The Lord preserve us from the Devil!
Amen! Amen!

 

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