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
 
Extract from The Epistle to Mrs. Scott of Wauchope
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
(See full text.)

I MIND it weel, in early date,
When I was beardless, young, and blate,
  An’ first could thresh the barn,
Or haud a yokin at the pleugh,
An’ tho’ forfoughten 1 sair eneugh,        5
  Yet unco 2 proud to learn:
When first amang the yellow corn
  A man I reckon’d was,
And wi’ the lave 3 ilk merry morn
  Could rank my rig and lass,        10
    Still shearing and clearing
      The tither stooked raw, 4
    Wi’ claivers, 5 an’ haivers, 6
      Wearing the day awa:
 
Ev’n then a wish (I mind its power),        15
A wish that, to my latest hour,
  Shall strongly heave my breast;
That I for poor auld Scotland’s sake,
Some usefu’ plan, or book could make,
  Or sing a sang at least.        20
The rough bur-thistle, spreading wide
  Amang the bearded bear, 7
I turned the weeding-hook aside,
  An’ spared the symbol dear:
    No nation, no station,        25
      My envy e’er could raise;
    A Scot still, but 8 blot still,
      I knew nae higher praise.
 
But still the elements o’ sang
In formless jumble, right an’ wrang,        30
  Wild floated in my brain;
’Till on that har’st I said before,
My partner in the merry core,
  She roused the forming strain:
I see her yet, the sonsie 9 quean,        35
  That lighted up my jingle,
Her witching smile, her pauky 10 een,
  That gart 11 my heart-strings tingle;
    I fired, inspired,
      At ev’ry kindling keek, 12        40
    But bashing, and dashing,
      I feared aye to speak.
 
Note 1. tired. [back]
Note 2. uncommonly. [back]
Note 3. rest. [back]
Note 4. the other row of shocks. [back]
Note 5. gossip. [back]
Note 6. nonsense. [back]
Note 7. barley. [back]
Note 8. without. [back]
Note 9. comely. [back]
Note 10. sly. [back]
Note 11. made. [back]
Note 12. look. [back]
 
 
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