Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
VI. Animate Nature
To a Mouse
Robert Burns (1759–1796)
On Turning Her up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785

WEE, sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beastie,
O, what a panic ’s in thy breastie!
Thou needna start awa sae hasty,
          Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,        5
          Wi’ murdering 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 doubtna, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker 1 in a thrave 2        15
          ’S a sma’ request;
I ’ll get a blessin’ wi’ the lave,
          And 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 and 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 through thy cell.        30
That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou ’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
          But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,        35
          An’ cranreuch 3 cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
          Gang aft a-gley,        40
An’ lea’e us naught but grief and pain,
          For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my e’e        45
          On prospects drear;
An’ forward, though I canna see,
          I guess an’ fear.
Note 1. An ear of corn. [back]
Note 2. Twenty-four sheaves. [back]
Note 3. Hoar-frost. [back]

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