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Translation
Index

A Dream
Thoughts, words, and deeds, the statute blames with reason;
But surely Dreams were ne'er indicted Treason.

On reading in the public papers, the Laureate's Ode with the parade of June 4th, 1786, the Author was no sooner dropt asleep, than he imagined himself transported to the Birth-day Levee: and, in his dreaming fancy, made the following Address:

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

1.
Guid-mornin to your Majesty!
May Heaven augment your blisses,
On ev'ry new birth-day ye see,
A humble Poet wishes!
My Bardship here, at your Levee,
On sic a day as this is,
Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
Amang thae birth-day dresses
Sae fine this day.
2.
I see ye're complimented thrang,
My monie a Lord an' Lady;
God Save the King 's a cuckoo sang
That's unco easy said ay:
The poets, too, a venal gang,
Wi' rhymes weel-turn'd an' ready,
Wad gar you trow ye ne'er do wrang,
But ay unerring steady,
On sic a day.
3.
For me! before a Monarch's face,
Ev'n there I winna flatter;
For neither pension, post, nor place,
Am I your humble debtor:
So, nae reflection on your Grace,
Your Kingship to bespatter;
There's monie waur been o' the race,
And aiblins ane been better
Than you this day.
4.
'Tis very true my sovereign King,
My skill may weel be doubted;
But facts are chiels that winna ding,
And canna be disputed:
Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
Is e'en right reft and clouted,
And now the third part o' the string,
An' less, will gang about it
Than did ae day.
5.
Far be't frae me that I aspire
To blame your legislation,
Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire
To rule this mighty nation:
But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
Ye've trusted ministration
To chaps wha in a barn or byre
Wad better fill'd their station,
Than courts yon day.
6.
And now ye've gien auld Britain peace,
Her broken shins to plaister;
Your sair taxation does her fleece,
Till she has scarce a tester:
For me, thank God, my life's a lease,
Nae bargain wearin faster,
Or faith! I fear, that, wi' the geese,
I shortly boost to pasture
I' the craft some day.
7.
I'm no mistrusting Willie Pitt,
When taxes he enlarges,
(An' Will's a true guid fallow's get,
A name not envy spairges),
That he intends to pay your debt,
An' lessen a' your charges;
But, God sake! let nae saving fit
Abridge your bonie barges
An' boats this day.
8.
Adieu, my Liege! may Freedom geck
Beneath your high protection;
An' may ye rax Corruption's neck,
And gie her for dissection!
But since I'm here I'll no neglect,
In loyal, true affection,
To pay your Queen, wi' due respect,
My fealty an' subjection
This great birth-day.
9.
Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
While nobles strive to please ye,
Will ye accept a compliment,
A simple Bardie gies ye?
Thae bonie bairntime Heav'n has lent,
Still higher may they heeze ye
In bliss, till Fate some day in sent,
For ever to release ye
Frae care that day.
10.
For you young Potentate' o' Wales,
I tell your Highness fairly,
Down Pleasure's stream, wi' swelling sails,
I'm tauld ye're driving rarely:
But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
An' curse your folly sairly,
That e'er ye brak Diana's pales,
Or rattl'd dice wi' Charlie
By night or day.
11.
Yet aft a ragged cowte's been known,
To mak a noble aiver;
So, ye may doucely fill a throne,
For a' their clish-ma-claver;
There, him a Agincourt wha shone,
Few better were or braver;
And yet, wi', funny, queer Sir John,
He was an unco shaver
For monie a day.
12.
For you, right rev'rend Osnaburg,
Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
Altho' a ribban at your lug
Wad been a dress completer:
As ye disown yon paughty dog,
That bears the keys of Peter,
Then swith! and get a wife to hug,
Or trowth, ye'll stain the mitre
Some luckless day!
13.
Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn,
Ye've lately come athwart her --
A glorious galley, stem an' stern
Weel rigg'd for Venus' barter;
But first hang out that she'll discern
Your hymeneal charter;
Then heave aboard your grapple-airn,
An', large upon her quarter,
Come full that day.
14.
Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a',
Ye royal lasses dainty,
Heav'n mak you guid as weel as braw,
An' gie you lads a-plenty!
But sneer na British boys awa!
For kings are unco scant ay,
An' German gentles are but sma':
They're better just than want ay
On onie day.
15.
God bless you a'! consider now,
Ye're unco muckle dautet;
But ere the course o' life be through,
It may be bitter sautet:
An' I hae seen their coggie fou,
That yet hae tarrow't at it;
But or the day was done, I trow,
The laggen they hae clautet
Fu' clean that day.


Good morning to your Majesty!
May Heaven augment your bliss,
On every new birth-day you see,
A humble Poet wishes!
My Bardship here, at your Levee,
On such a day as this is,
Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
Among those birth-day dresses
So fine this day.

I see you are complimented busily,
By many a Lord and Lady;
God Save the King is a cuckoo song
That is mighty easy said always:
The poets, too, a venal gang,
With rhymes well turned and ready,
Would make you think you never do wrong,
But always unerring steady,
On such a day.

For me! before a Monarch's face,
Even there I will not flatter;
For neither pension, post, nor place,
Am I your humble debtor:
So, no reflection on your Grace,
Your Kingship to bespatter;
There is many worse been of the race,
And maybe one been better
Than you this day.

It is very true my sovereign King,
My skill may well be doubted;
But facts are fellows that will not be upset,
And can not be disputed:
Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
Is even right (well) torn and patched,
And now the third part of the string,
And less, will go about it
Than did one day.

Far be it from me that I aspire
To blame your legislation,
Or say, you wisdom want, or fire
To rule this mighty nation:
But faith! I greatly doubt, my sire,
You have trusted ministration
To chaps who in a barn or cow shed
Would have better filled their station,
Than courts that day.

And now you have given old Britain peace,
Her broken shins to plaster (poultice);
Your sore taxation does her fleece (rob),
Till she has scarce a tester (six pence):
For me, thank God, my life is a lease,
No bargain wearing faster,
Or faith! I fear, that, with the geese,
I shortly behove to pasture
In the croft (small farm) some day.

I am not mistrusting Willie Pitt (Prime Minister),
When taxes he enlarges,
(And Will is a true good fellow's offspring,
A name not envy spatters),
That he intends to pay your debt,
And lessen all your charges;
But, (for) God sake! let no saving fit (adjustment)
Abridge your bonny barges
And boats this day.

Adieu, my Liege! may Freedom sport
Beneath your high protection;
And may you wring Corruption's neck,
And give her for dissection!
But since I am here I will not neglect,
In loyal, true affection,
To pay your Queen, with due respect,
My fealty and subjection
This great birth-day.

Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
While nobles strive to please you,
Will you accept a compliment,
A simple Bardie (poet) gives you?
Those lovely brood Heaven has loaned,
Still higher may they hoist you
In bliss, till Fate some day in sent,
For ever to release you
From care that day.

For you young Potentate' of Wales,
I tell your Highness fairly,
Down Pleasure's stream, with swelling sails,
I am told you are driving rarely:
But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
And curse your folly sorely,
That ever you broke Diana's pales,
Or rattled dice with Charlie
By night or day.

Yet often a ragged colt has been known,
To make a noble old horse;
So, you may sedately fill a throne,
For all their gossip;
There, him a Agincourt who shone,
Few better were or braver;
And yet, with, funny, queer Sir John,
He was an uncommon young person
For many a day.

For you, right reverend Osnaburg,
None becomes the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
Although a ribbon at your ear
Would have been a dress completer:
As you disown yonder haughty dog,
That bears the keys of Peter,
Then haste! and get a wife to hug,
Or truth, you will stain the mitre
Some luckless day!

Young, royal Tarry-breeks (trousers), I learn,
You have lately come across her -
A glorious galley, stem and stern
Well rigged for Venus' barter;
But first hang out that she will discern
Your hymeneal (god of marriage) charter;
Then heave aboard your grappling iron,
And, large upon her quarter,
Come full that day.

You, lastly, lovely blossoms all,
You royal girls dainty,
Heaven make you good as well as lovely,
And give you lads a-plenty!
But sneer not British boys away!
For kings are uncommonly scant always,
And German gentlemen are but small:
They are better just than want always
On any day.

God bless you all! consider now,
You are extremely petted;
But ere the course of life be through,
It may be bitter salted:
And I have see their dish full,
That yet have tarried at it;
But before the day was done, I believe,
The bottom they have scraped
Full clean that day.

 

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