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Index

Epistle To John Rankin

ENCLOSING SOME POEMS

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

1.
O rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
The wale o' cocks for fun an' drinkin!
There's monie godly folks are thinkin'
Your dreams and tricks
Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinkin
Straught to Auld Nick's.
2.
Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants,
And in your wicked drucken rants,
Ye mak a devil o' the saunts,
An' fill them fou';
And then their failings, flaws, an' wants
Are a' seen thro'.
3.
Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
That holy robe, O, dinna tear it!
Spare't for their sakes, wha aften wear it -
The lads in black;
But your curst wit, when it comes near it,
Rives't aff their back.
4.
Think, wicked sinner, wha ye're skaithing:
It's just the Blue-gown badge an' claithing
O' saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething
To ken them by
Frae onie unregenerate heathen,
Like you or I.
5.
I've sent you here some rhyming ware
A' that I bargain'd for, an' mair;
Sae, when ye hae an hour to spare,
I will expect,
You sang ye'll sen't, wi' cannie care,
And no neglect.
6.
Tho' faith, sma' heart hae I to sing:
My Muse dow scarcely spread her wing!
I've play'd mysel a bonie spring,
An' danc'd my fill!
I'd better gaen an' sair't the King
At Bunker's Hill.
7.
'Twas ae night lately, in my fun,
I gaed a rovin wi' the gun,
An' brought a paitrick to the grun' -
A bonie hen;
And, as the twilight was begun,
Thought nane wad ken.
8.
The poor, wee thing was little hurt;
I straikit it a wee for sport,
Ne'er thinkin they wad fash me for't;
But, Deil-ma-care!
Somebody tells the Poacher-Court
The hale affair.
9.
Some auld, us'd hands had taen a note,
That sic a hen had got a shot;
I was suspected for the plot;
I scorn'd to lie;
So gat the whissle o' my groat,
An' pay't the fee.
10.
But, by my gun, o' guns the wale,
An' by my pouther an' my hail,
An' by my hen, an' by her tail,
I vow an' swear!
The game shall pay, owre moor an' dale,
For this, niest year!
11.
As soon's the clockin-time is by,
An' the wee pouts begun to cry,
Lord, I'se hae sportin by an' by
For my gowd guinea;
Tho' I should herd the buckskin kye
For't, in Virginia!
12.
Trowth, they had mackle for to blame!
'Twas neither broken wing nor limb,
But twa-three chaps about the wame,
Scarce thro' the feathers;
An' baith a yellow George to claim
An' thole their blethers!
13.
It pits me ay as mad's a hare;
So I can rhyme nor write nae mair;
But pennyworths again is fair,
When time's expedient:
Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,
Your most obedient.


O rough, rude, ready-witted Rankine,
The pick of cocks for fun and drinking!
There is many godly folks are thinking
Your dreams and tricks
Will send you, Korah-like, a-sinking
Straight to Old Nick's (The Devil's).

You have so many stories and cants,
And in your wicked drunken rants,
You make a devil of the saints,
And fill them full;
And then their failings, flaws, and wants
Are all seen through.

Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it!
That holy robe, O, do not tear it!
Spare it for their sakes, who often wear it -
The lads in black;
But your cursed wit, when it comes near it,
Tears it off their back.

Think, wicked sinner, who you are damaging:
It is just the Blur-gown badge and clothing
Of saints; take that, you leave them nothing
To know them by
From any unregenerate heathen,
Like you or I.

I have sent you here some rhyming ware
All that I bargained for, and more;
So, when you have an hour to spare,
I will expect,
You song you will send it, with careful care,
And not neglect.

Though faith, small heart have I to sing:
My Muse can scarcely spread her wing!
I have played myself a lovely tune,
And danced my fill!
I had better gone and served the King
At Bunker's Hill.

It was one night lately, in my fun,
I went a roving with the gun,
And brought a partridge to the ground -
A lovely hen;
And, as the twilight was begun,
Thought none would know.

The poor, little thing was little hurt;
I stroked it a little for sport,
Never thinking they would worry me for it;
But, Devil-ma-care (I do not care a fig)!
Somebody tells the Poacher-Court (Church Session)
The whole affair.

Some old, used hands had taken a note,
That such a hen had got a shot;
I was suspected for the plot;
I scorned to lie;
So got the whistle of my groat (lost my money),
And paid the fee (fine).

But, by my gun, of guns the pick,
And by my powder and my shot,
And by my hen, and by her tail,
I vow and swear!
The game shall pay, over moor and dale,
For this, next year!

As soon as the clucking time is past,
And the little chicks begin to cry,
Lord, I will have sporting by and by
For my gold guinea;
Though I should herd the buckskin cattle
For it, in Virginia!

Truth, they had much for to blame!
It was neither broken wing nor limb,
But two or three knocks about the belly,
Scarce through the feathers;
And both a yellow George (gold guinea) to claim
And endure their nonsense talk!

It puts me always as mad as a hare;
So I can rhyme nor write no more;
But pennyworths again (tit-for-tat) is fair,
When time is expedient:
Meanwhile I am, respected Sir,
Your most obedient.

 

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