Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Address to the Deil
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
 O Prince! O Chief of many throned Pow’rs,
That led th’ embattled Seraphim to war.
Milton.    

O THOU! whatever title suit thee,
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie,
Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sootie,
                Closed under hatches,
Spairges 1 about the brunstane cootie, 2        5
                To scaud poor wretches.
 
Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,
An’ let poor damned bodies be;
I ’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,
                Ev’n to a deil,        10
To skelp 3 an’ scaud poor dogs like me,
                An’ hear us squeel!
 
Great is thy pow’r, an’ great thy fame;
Far kenn’d an’ noted is thy name:
An’, tho’ yon lowin heugh’s 4 thy hame,        15
                Thou travels far;
An’, faith! thou ’s neither lag nor lame,
                Nor blate nor scaur. 5
 
Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey a’ holes an’ corners tryin;        20
Whyles on the strong-winged tempest flyin,
                Tirlin 6 the kirks;
Whyles in the human bosom pryin,
                Unseen thou lurks.
 
I ’ve heard my reverend grannie say,        25
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or where auld ruined castles, gray,
                Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way,
                Wi’ eldritch croon. 7        30
 
When twilight did my grannie summon,
To say her pray’rs, douce, honest woman!
Aft ’yont the dyke she ’s heard you bummin,
                W’ eerie drone;
Or, rustlin, thro’ the boortrees 8 comin,        35
                Wi’ heavy groan.
 
Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentin 9 light,
Wi’ you, mysel, I gat a fright,
                Ayont the lough;        40
Ye, like a rash-buss, 10 stood in sight,
                Wi’ waving sough.
 
The cudgel in my nieve 11 did shake,
Each bristled hair stood like a stake,
When wi’ an eldritch, stoor, 12 ‘quaick, quaick,’        45
                Amang the springs,
Awa ye squattered 13 like a drake,
                On whistling wings.
 
Let warlocks 14 grim, an’ withered hags,
Tell how wi’ you on ragweed 15 nags,        50
They skim the muirs, an’ dizzy crags,
                Wi’ wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
                Owre howkit 16 dead.
 
Thence, countra wives, wi’ toil an’ pain,        55
May plunge an’ plunge the kirn 17 in vain;
For, oh! the yellow treasure ’s taen
                By witching skill;
An’ dawtit, 18 twal-pint 19 Hawkie’s gaen
                As yell ’s 20 the bill. 21        60
 
When thowes 22 dissolve the snawy hoord, 23
An’ float the jinglin’ icy-boord,
Then Water-kelpies haunt the foord,
                By your direction,
An’ nighted Trav’llers are allured        65
                To their destruction.
 
An’ aft your moss-traversing Spunkies 24
Decoy the wight that late an’ drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies
                Delude his eyes,        70
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
                Ne’er mair to rise.
 
When masons’ mystic word an’ grip,
In storms an’ tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,        75
                Or, strange to tell!
The youngest ‘brother’ ye wad whip
                Aff straught to hell.
 
Lang syne, in Eden’s bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were paired,        80
An’ all the soul of love they shared,
                The raptured hour,
Sweet on the fragrant, flow’ry swaird,
                In shady bow’r:
 
Then you, ye auld, snick-drawin 25 dog!        85
Ye came to Paradise incog,
An’ played on man a cursed brogue, 26
                (Black be your fa’!) 27
An’ gied the infant warld a shog, 28
                ’Maist ruined a’.        90
 
D’ye mind that day, when in a bizz, 29
Wi’ reekit duds, 30 an’ reestit gizz, 31
Ye did present your smoutie phiz 32
                ’Mang better folk,
An’ sklented 33 on the man of Uzz        95
                Your spitefu’ joke?
 
An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,
An’ brak him out o’ house an’ hal’,
While scabs an’ blotches did him gall,
                Wi’ bitter claw,        100
An’ lowsed 34 his ill-tongued wicked scaul, 35
                Was warst ava? 36
 
But a’ your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares and fechtin 37 fierce,
Sin’ that day Michael 38 did you pierce,        105
                Down to this time,
Wad ding 39 a’ Lallan 40 tongue, or Erse,
                In prose or rhyme.
 
An’ now, auld Cloots, I ken ye ’re thinkin,
A certain Bardie ’s rantin, drinkin,        110
Some luckless hour will send him linkin 41
                To your black pit;
But, faith! he ’ll turn a corner jinkin, 42
                An’ cheat you yet.
 
But, fare you weel, auld Nickie-ben!        115
O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins 43 might—I dinna ken—
                Still hae a stake—
I ’m wae to think upo’ yon den,
                Ev’n for your sake!        120
 
Note 1. splashes. [back]
Note 2. pail. [back]
Note 3. slap. [back]
Note 4. flaming pit. [back]
Note 5. Neither bashful nor apt to be scared. [back]
Note 6. unroofing. [back]
Note 7. frightful moan. [back]
Note 8. elder trees. [back]
Note 9. slanting. [back]
Note 10. a bush of rushes. [back]
Note 11. fist. [back]
Note 12. hoarse. [back]
Note 13. fluttered. [back]
Note 14. wizards. [back]
Note 15. ragwort. [back]
Note 16. digged up. [back]
Note 17. churn. [back]
Note 18. fondled. [back]
Note 19. twelve-pint. [back]
Note 20. milkless. [back]
Note 21. bull. [back]
Note 22. thaws. [back]
Note 23. hoard. [back]
Note 24. Will-o’-the-wisp. [back]
Note 25. Who draws stealthily the door-bolt. [back]
Note 26. trick. [back]
Note 27. lot. [back]
Note 28. shock. [back]
Note 29. bustle. [back]
Note 30. smoky rags. [back]
Note 31. singed periwig. [back]
Note 32. blackened face. [back]
Note 33. slanted. [back]
Note 34. loosed. [back]
Note 35. scold. [back]
Note 36. of all. [back]
Note 37. fighting. [back]
Note 38. Vide Milton, Book vi.—R. B. [back]
Note 39. exhaust. [back]
Note 40. Lowland. [back]
Note 41. tripping. [back]
Note 42. dodging. [back]
Note 43. perhaps. [back]
 
 
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