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Elegy On The Departed Year, 1788.

 

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

For lords or kings I dinna mourn;
E'en let them die - for that they're born;
But O, prodigious to reflect,
A towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck!
O Eighty-Eight, in thy sma' space
What dire events hae taken place!
Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!
In what a pickle thou hast left us!

The Spanish empire's tint a head,
An' my auld teethless Bawtie's dead;
The tulye's teugh 'tween Pitt and Fox,

(Note - Pitt was the Prime Minister
and Fox an other politician.)

An' our guidwife's wee birdie cocks:
The tane is game, a bluidie devil;
But to the hen-birds unco civil;
The tither's dour - has nae sic breedin,
But better stuff ne'er claw'd a midden.

Ye ministers, come mount the poupit,
An' cry till ye be haerse an' roupet,
For Eighty-Eight, he wished you weel,
An' gied ye a' baith gear an' meal:
E'en monie a plack and monie a peck,
Ye ken yoursels, for little feck!

Ye bonie lasses, dight your een,
For some o' you hae tint a frien',
In Eighty-Eight, ye ken, was taen
What ye'll ne'er hae to gie again.

Observe the vera nowte an' sheep,
How dowff an' dowilie the creep!
Nay, even the yirth itsel does cry,
For Embro' wells are grutten dry!

O Eighty-Nine, thou's but a bairn,
An' no owre auld, I hope, to learn!
Thou beardless boy, I pray tak care,
Thou now has got thy Daddie's chair:

Nae hand-cuff'd, mizzl'd, half-shackl'd Regent,
But, like himsel, a full free agent,
Be sure ye follow out the plan
Nae waur than he did, honest man!
As muckle better as ye can.
January 1, 1789.

For lords or kings I do not mourn;
Even let them die - for that they are born;
But O, prodigious to reflect,
A twelve-month, sirs, is gone to wreck!
O Eighty-Eight (1988), in your small space
What dire events have taken place!
Of what enjoyments you have robbed us!
In what a pickle you have left us!

The Spanish empire's lost a head,
And my old toothless Bawtie (pet dog) is dead;
The conflict is tough between Pitt and Fox,




And our good wife's little birdie cocks (roosters):
The one is game, a bloody devil;
But to the hen-birds uncommonly civil;
The other is stubborn - has no such breeding,
But better stuff never scratched a dung hill.

You parsons, come mount the pulpit,
And cry till you be hoarse and exhausted in voice,
For Eighty-Eight, he wished you well,
And gave you all both wealth and food:
Even many a coin and many a meal,
You know yourselves, for little return!

You lovely girls, wipe your eyes,
For some of you have lost a friend,
In Eighty-Eight, you know, was taken (died)
What you will never have to give again.

Observe the very cattle and sheep,
How dull and droopingly they creep!
No, even the ground itself does cry,
For Embro' wells are wept dry!

O Eighty-Nine, you are but a child,
And not too old, I hope, to learn!
You beardless boy, I pray take care,
You now have got your Daddy's chair:

No hand-cuffed, muzzled, half-shackled Regent,
But, like himself, a full free agent,
Be sure you follow out the plan
No worse than he did, honest man!
As much better as you can.

 

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