Verse > Harvard Classics > Robert Burns > Poems and Songs
Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
112. A Dream
Thoughts, words, and deeds, the Statute blames with reason;
But surely Dreams were ne’er indicted Treason.
On reading, in the public papers, the Laureate’s Ode, with the other parade of June 4th, 1786, the Author was no sooner dropt asleep, than he imagined himself transported to the Birth-day Levee: and, in his dreaming fancy, made the following Address:
GUID-MORNIN’ to our Majesty!
  May Heaven augment your blisses
On ev’ry new birth-day ye see,
  A humble poet wishes.
My bardship here, at your Levee        5
  On sic a day as this is,
Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
  Amang thae birth-day dresses
                    Sae fine this day.
I see ye’re complimented thrang,        10
  By mony a lord an’ lady;
“God save the King” ’s a cuckoo sang
  That’s unco easy said aye:
The poets, too, a venal gang,
  Wi’ rhymes weel-turn’d an’ ready,        15
Wad gar you trow ye ne’er do wrang,
  But aye unerring steady,
                    On sic a day.
For me! before a monarch’s face
  Ev’n there I winna flatter;        20
For neither pension, post, nor place,
  Am I your humble debtor:
So, nae reflection on your Grace,
  Your Kingship to bespatter;
There’s mony waur been o’ the race,        25
  And aiblins ane been better
                    Than you this day.
’Tis very true, my sovereign King,
  My skill may weel be doubted;
But facts are chiels that winna ding,        30
  An’ downa be disputed:
Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
  Is e’en right reft and clouted,
And now the third part o’ the string,
  An’ less, will gang aboot it        35
                    Than did ae day. 1
Far be’t frae me that I aspire
  To blame your legislation,
Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire,
  To rule this mighty nation:        40
But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
  Ye’ve trusted ministration
To chaps wha in barn or byre
  Wad better fill’d their station
                    Than courts yon day.        45
And now ye’ve gien auld Britain peace,
  Her broken shins to plaister,
Your sair taxation does her fleece,
  Till she has scarce a tester:
For me, thank God, my life’s a lease,        50
  Nae bargain wearin’ faster,
Or, faith! I fear, that, wi’ the geese,
  I shortly boost to pasture
                    I’ the craft some day.
I’m no mistrusting Willie Pitt,        55
  When taxes he enlarges,
(An’ Will’s a true guid fallow’s get,
  A name not envy spairges),
That he intends to pay your debt,
  An’ lessen a’ your charges;        60
But, God-sake! let nae saving fit
  Abridge your bonie barges
                    An’boats this day.
Adieu, my Liege; may freedom geck
  Beneath your high protection;        65
An’ may ye rax Corruption’s neck,
  And gie her for dissection!
But since I’m here, I’ll no neglect,
  In loyal, true affection,
To pay your Queen, wi’ due respect,        70
  May fealty an’ subjection
                    This great birth-day.
Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
  While nobles strive to please ye,
Will ye accept a compliment,        75
  A simple poet gies ye?
Thae bonie bairntime, Heav’n has lent,
  Still higher may they heeze ye
In bliss, till fate some day is sent
  For ever to release ye        80
                    Frae care that day.
For you, young Potentate o’Wales,
  I tell your highness fairly,
Down Pleasure’s stream, wi’ swelling sails,
  I’m tauld ye’re driving rarely;        85
But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
  An’ curse your folly sairly,
That e’er ye brak Diana’s pales,
  Or rattl’d dice wi’ Charlie
                    By night or day.        90
Yet aft a ragged cowt’s been known,
  To mak a noble aiver;
So, ye may doucely fill the throne,
  For a’their clish-ma-claver:
There, him 2 at Agincourt wha shone,        95
  Few better were or braver:
And yet, wi’ funny, queer Sir John, 3
  He was an unco shaver
                    For mony a day.
For you, right rev’rend Osnaburg,        100
  Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
Altho’ a ribbon at your lug
  Wad been a dress completer:
As ye disown yon paughty dog,
  That bears the keys of Peter,        105
Then swith! an’ get a wife to hug,
  Or trowth, ye’ll stain the mitre
                    Some luckless day!
Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn,
  Ye’ve lately come athwart her—        110
A glorious galley, 4 stem and stern,
  Weel rigg’d for Venus’ barter;
But first hang out, that she’ll discern,
  Your hymeneal charter;
Then heave aboard your grapple airn,        115
  An’ large upon her quarter,
                    Come full that day.
Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a’,
  Ye royal lasses dainty,
Heav’n mak you guid as well as braw,        120
  An’ gie you lads a-plenty!
But sneer na British boys awa!
  For kings are unco scant aye,
An’ German gentles are but sma’,
  They’re better just than want aye        125
                    On ony day.
Gad bless you a’! consider now,
  Ye’re unco muckle dautit;
But ere the course o’ life be through,
  It may be bitter sautit:        130
An’ I hae seen their coggie fou,
  That yet hae tarrow’t at it.
But or the day was done, I trow,
  The laggen they hae clautit
                    Fu’ clean that day.        135
Note 1. The American colonies had recently been lost. [back]
Note 2. King Henry V.—R. B. [back]
Note 3. Sir John Falstaff, vid. Shakespeare.—R. B. [back]
Note 4. Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain Royal sailor’s amour.—R. B. This was Prince William Henry, third son of George III, afterward King William IV. [back]


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