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To Hugh Parker

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

In this strange land, this uncouth clime,
A land unknown to prose or rhyme;
Where words ne'er cros't the Muse's heckles,
Nor limpit in poetic shackles:
A land that Prose did never view it,
Except when drunk he stacher't thro' it:
Here, ambush'd by the chimla cheek,
Hid in an atmosphere of reek,
I hear a wheel thrum i' the neuk,
I hear it - for in vain I leuk:
The red peat gleams, a fiery kernel
Enhusked by a fog infernal.
Here, for my wonted rhyming raptures,
I sit and count my sins by chapters;
For life and spunk like ither Christians,
I'm dwindled down to mere existence;
Wi' nae converse but Gallowa' bodies,
Wi' nae kend face but Jenny Geddes.
Jenny, my Pegasean pride,
Dowie she saunters down Nithside,
And ay a westlin leuk she throws,
While tears hap o'er her auld brown nose!
Was it for this wi' cannie care
Thou bure the Bard through many a shire?
At howes or hillocks never stumbled,
And late or early never grumbled?
O, had I power like inclination,
I'd heeze thee up a constellation!
To canter with the Sagitarre,
Or loup the ecliptic like a bar,
Or turn the Pole like any arrow;
Or, when auld Phoebus bids good-morrow,
Down the Zodiac urge the race,
And cast dirt on his godship's face:
For I could lay my bread and kail
He'd ne'er cast saut upo' thy tail!
Wi' a' this care and a' this grief,
And sma', sma' prospect of relief,
And nought but peat reek i' my head,
How can I write what ye can read? -
Tarbolton, twenty-fourth o' June,
Ye'll find me in a better tune;
But till we meet and weet our whistle,
Tak this excuse for nae epistle.

 

In this strange land, this uncouth clime,
A land unknown to prose or rhyme;
Where words never crossed the Muse's hackles,
Nor limped in poetic shackles:
A land that Prose did never view it,
Except when drunk he staggered through it:
Here, ambushed by the chimney corner,
Hid in an atmosphere of smoke,
I hear a wheel spin in the corner,
I hear it - for in vain I look:
The red peat gleams, a fiery kernel
Shrouded by a fog infernal.
Here, for my accustomed rhyming raptures,
I sit and count my sins by chapters;
For life and spirit like other Christians,
I am dwindled down to mere existence;
With no converse but Galloway creatures,
With no known face but Jenny Geddes.
Jenny, my Pegasean pride,
Drooping she saunters down Nithside,
And always a westerly look she throws,
While tears heap over her old brown nose!
Was it for this with prudent care
You bore the Bard through many a shire?
At hollows or hillocks never stumbled,
And late or early never grumbled?
O, had I power like inclination,
I would hoist you up a constellation!
To canter with the Sagitarre (Centaur),
Or leap the ecliptic like a bar,
Or turn the Pole like any arrow;
Or, when old Phoebus bids good-morning,
Down the Zodiac urge the race,
And cast dirt on his godship's face:
For I could bet my bread and broth
He would never cast salt upon your tail!
With all this care and all this grief,
And small, small prospect of relief,
And nothing but peat smoke in my head,
How can I write what you can read? -
Tarbolton, twenty-fourth of June,
You will find me in a better tune;
But till we meet and wet our whistle (throat),
Take this excuse for no epistle.

 

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