Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
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Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
 
R. Burns
 
CXLIV. To a Mouse
On turning her up in her nest with the plough, November 1785
 
WEE, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie, 
O what a panic's in thy breastie! 
Thou need na start awa sae hasty, 
                Wi' bickerin' brattle! 
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee         5
                Wi' murd'rin' pattle! 
  
I'm truly sorry man's dominion 
Has broken Nature's social union, 
An' justifies that ill opinion 
                Which makes thee startle  10
At me, thy poor earth-born companion, 
                An' fellow-mortal! 
  
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve: 
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! 
A daimen-icker in a thrave  15
                'S a sma' request: 
I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave, 
                An' never miss't! 
  
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin! 
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin';  20
An' naething, now, to big a new ane, 
                O' foggage green! 
An' bleak December's winds ensuin', 
                Baith snell an' keen! 
  
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,  25
An' weary winter comin' fast, 
An' cozie here, beneath the blast, 
                Thou thought to dwell— 
Till, crash! the cruel coulter past 
                Out thro' thy cell.  30
  
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble 
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble! 
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble, 
                But house or hald, 
To thole the winter's sleety dribble  35
                An' cranreuch cauld! 
  
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane 
In proving foresight may be vain: 
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men 
                Gang aft agley,  40
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, 
                For promised joy. 
  
Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me! 
The present only toucheth thee: 
But, och! I backward cast my e'e  45
                On prospects drear! 
An' forward, tho' I canna see 
                I guess an' fear! 
 
 
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