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Translation
Index


Written In Friars Carse Hermitage, On Nithside

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

 

Thou whom chance may hither lead,
Be thou clad in russet weed,
Be thou deckt in silken stole,
Grave these counsels on thy soul.

Life is but a day at most,
Sprung from night, -- in darkness lost:
Hope not sunshine ev'ry hour,
Fear not clouds will always lour.

As Youth and Love with sprightly dance
Beneath thy morning star advance,
Pleasure with her siren air
May delude the thoughtless pair:
Let Prudence bless Enjoyment's cup,
Then raptur'd sip, and sip it up.

As thy day grows warm and high,
Life's meridian flaming nigh,
Dost thou spurn the humble vale?
Life's proud summits would'st thou scale?
Check thy climbing step, elate,
Evils lurk in felon wait:
Dangers, eagle-pinioned, bold,
Soar around each cliffy hold;
While cheerful Peace with linnet song
Chants the lowly dells among.

As the shades of ev'ning close,
Beck'ing thee to long repose;
As life itself becomes disease,
Seek the chimney-nook of ease:
There ruminate with sober thought,
On all thou'st seen, and heard, and wrought;
And teach the sportive younkers round,
Saws of experience, sage and sound:
Say, man's true, genuine estimate,
The grand criterion of his fate,
Is not, Art thou high or low?
Did thy fortune ebb or flow?
Did many talents gild thy span?
Or frugal Nature grudge thee one?
Tell them, and press it on their mind,
As thou thyself must shortly find,
The smile or frown of awful Heav'n
To Virtue or to Vice is giv'n;
Say, to be just, and kind, and wise -
There solid self-enjoyment lies;
That foolish, selfish, faithless ways
Lead to be wretched, vile, and base.

Thus resign'd and quiet, creep
To the bed of lasting sleep:
Sleep, whence thou shall ne'er awake,
Night, where dawn shall never break;
Till future life, future no more,
To light and joy the good restore,
To light and joy unknown before.

Stranger, go! Heav'n be thy guide!
Quod the beadsman of Nithside.

 

 

You whom chance may hither lead,
Be you clad in russet weed,
Be you decked in silken stole,
Grave these counsels on your soul.

Life is but a day at most,
Sprung from night, -- in darkness lost:
Hope not sunshine every hour,
Fear not clouds will always lour (threaten).

As Youth and Love with sprightly dance
Beneath your morning star advance,
Pleasure with her siren air
May delude the thoughtless pair:
Let Prudence bless Enjoyment's cup,
Then raptured sip, and sip it up.

As your day grows warm and high,
Life's meridian flaming nigh,
Do you spurn the humble vale?
Life's proud summits would you scale?
Check your climbing step, elate,
Evils lurk in felon wait:
Dangers, eagle-pinioned, bold,
Soar around each cliffy hold;
While cheerful Peace with linnet song
Chants the lowly dells among.

As the shades of evening close,
Beckoning you to long repose;
As life itself becomes disease,
Seek the chimney-nook (corner) of ease:
There ruminate with sober thought,
On all you have seen, and heard, and worked (did);
And teach the sportive youngsters round,
Saws (proverbs) of experience, sage and sound:
Say, man's true, genuine estimate,
The grand criterion of his fate,
Is not, Art you high or low?
Did your fortune ebb or flow?
Did many talents gild your span (life)?
Or frugal Nature grudge thee one?
Tell them, and press it on their mind,
As you yourself must shortly find,
The smile or frown of awful Heaven
To Virtue or to Vice is given;
Say, to be just, and kind, and wise -
There solid self-enjoyment lies;
That foolish, selfish, faithless ways
Lead to be wretched, vile, and base.

Thus resigned and quiet, creep
To the bed of lasting sleep:
Sleep, whence you shall never awake,
Night, where dawn shall never break;
Till future life, future no more,
To light and joy the good restore,
To light and joy unknown before.

Stranger, go! Heaven be your guide!
Quoth (said) the beadsman of Nithside.

 

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