Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
To a Mouse
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
On Turning her up in her Nest, with the Plough, November, 1785

WEE, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
          Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,        5
          Wi’ murd’ring 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, whyles, 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,
          And never miss’t!
 
Thy wee hit 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 turned 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 a-gley,        40
An’ lea’e us nought 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, tho’ I canna see,
          I guess an’ fear!
 
 
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