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To The Guidwife Of Wauchop House

( Mrs. Scott )

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

To The Guidwife Of Wauchop House
( Mrs. Scott )
1.
Guid Wife,
I mind it weel, in early date,
When I was beardless, young, and blate,
An' first could thresh the barn,
Or haud a yokin at the pleugh,
An', tho' forfoughten sair eneuh,
Yet unco proud to learn;
When first amang the yellow corn
A man I reckon'd was,
An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn
Could rank my rig and lass:
Still shearing, and clearing
The tither stooked raw,
Wi' clavers an' havers
Wearing the day awa.
2.
E'en then, a wish (I mind its pow'r),
A wish that to my latest hour
Shall strongly heave my breast,
That I for poor auld Scotland's sake
Some usefu' plan or book could make,
Or sing a sang at least.
The rough burr-thistle spreading wide
Amang the bearded bear,
I turn'd the weeder-clips aside,
An' spar'd the symbol dear.
No nation, no station
My envy e'er could raise;
A Scot still, but blot still,
I knew nae higher praise.
3.
But still the elements o' sang
In formless jumble, right an' wrang,
Wild floated in my brain;
Till on that hairst I said before,
My partner in the merry core,
She rous'd the forming strain.
I see her yet, the sonsie quean
That lighted up my jingle,
Her witching smile, her pauky een
That gart my heart-strings tingle!
I fired, inspired,
At ev'ry kindling keek,
But, bashing and dashing,
I feared ay to speak.
4.
Hale to the sex! (ilk guid chiel says):
Wi' merry dance on winter days,
An' we to share in common!
The gust o' joy, the balm of woe,
The saul o' life, the heav'n below
Is rapture-giving Woman.
Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name,
Be mindfu' o' your mither:
She, honest woman, may think shame
That ye're connected with her!
Ye're wae men, ye're nae men
That slight the lovely dears;
To shame ye, disclaim ye,
Ilk honest birkie swears.
5.
For you, no bred to barn and byre,
Wha sweetly tune the Scottish lyre,
Thanks to you for your line!
The marl'd plaid ye kindly spare,
By me should gratefully be ware;
'Twad please me to the nine.
I'd be mair vauntie o, my hap,
Douce hingin owre my curple,
Than onie ermine ever lap,
Or proud imperial purple.
Farewell, then! lang hale, then,
An' plenty be your fa'!
May losses and crosses
Ne'er at your hallan ca'!

 

To The Hostess Of Wauchop House
( Mrs. Scott )

Good Wife,
I remember it well, in early date,
When I was beardless, young, and bashful,
And first could thresh the barn,
Or hold a days work at the plough,
And, though exhausted sore enough,
Yet mighty proud to learn;
When first among the yellow corn
A man I reckoned was,
And with the others each merry morning
Could rank my ridge and lass:
Still reaping, and clearing
The other stacked row of shocks,
With gossip and nonsense
Wearing the day away.

Even then, a wish (I remember its power),
A wish that to my latest hour
Shall strongly heave my breast,
That I for poor old Scotland's sake
Some useful plan or book could make,
Or sing a song at least.
The rough burr-thistle spreading wide
Among the bearded barley,
I turned the weeder-shears aside,
And spared the symbol dear.
No nation, no station
My envy ever could raise;
A Scot still, but without still,
I knew no higher praise.

But still the elements of song
In formless jumble, right and wrong,
Wild floated in my brain;
Till on that harvest I mentioned before,
My partner in the merry band,
She roused the forming strain.
I see her yet, the pleasant young girl
That lighted up my jingle,
Her witching smile, her artful eyes
That made my heart-strings tingle!
I fired, inspired,
At every kindling glance,
But, abashing and peacocking,
I feared always to speak.

Health to the sex! (each good fellow says):
With merry dance on winter days,
And we to share in common!
The gust of joy, the balm of woe,
The soul of life, the heaven below
Is rapture-giving Woman.
You surly churls, who hate the name,
Be mindful of your mother:
She, honest woman, may think shame
That you are connected with her!
You are sad men, you are not men
That slight the lovely dears;
To shame you, disclaim you,
Each honest fellow swears.

For you, not bred to barn and cowhouse,
Who sweetly tune the Scottish lyre,
Thanks to you for your line!
The marled plaid you kindly spare,
By me should gratefully be worn;
It would please me to perfection.
I would be more proud of my wrap,
Sedately hanging over my crupper (buttocks),
Than any ermine ever folded,
Or proud imperial purple.
Farewell, then! long health, then,
And plenty be your portion!
May losses and crosses
Never at your porch call!

 

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