Verse > Harvard Classics > Robert Burns > Poems and Songs
Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
116. On a Scotch Bard, gone to the West Indies
Gone to the West Indies
A’ YE wha live by sowps o’ drink,
A’ ye wha live by crambo-clink,
A’ ye wha live and never think,
                    Come, mourn wi’ me!
Our billie ’s gien us a’ a jink,        5
                    An’ owre the sea!
Lament him a’ ye rantin core,
Wha dearly like a random splore;
Nae mair he’ll join the merry roar;
                    In social key;        10
For now he’s taen anither shore.
                    An’ owre the sea!
The bonie lasses weel may wiss him,
And in their dear petitions place him:
The widows, wives, an’ a’ may bless him        15
                    Wi’ tearfu’ e’e;
For weel I wat they’ll sairly miss him
                    That’s owre the sea!
O Fortune, they hae room to grumble!
Hadst thou taen aff some drowsy bummle,        20
Wha can do nought but fyke an’ fumble,
                    ’Twad been nae plea;
But he was gleg as ony wumble,
                    That’s owre the sea!
Auld, cantie Kyle may weepers wear,        25
An’ stain them wi’ the saut, saut tear;
’Twill mak her poor auld heart, I fear,
                    In flinders flee:
He was her Laureat mony a year,
                    That’s owre the sea!        30
He saw Misfortune’s cauld nor-west
Lang mustering up a bitter blast;
A jillet brak his heart at last,
                    Ill may she be!
So, took a berth afore the mast,        35
                    An’ owre the sea.
To tremble under Fortune’s cummock,
On a scarce a bellyfu’ o’ drummock,
Wi’ his proud, independent stomach,
                    Could ill agree;        40
So, row’t his hurdies in a hammock,
                    An’ owre the sea.
He ne’er was gien to great misguidin,
Yet coin his pouches wad na bide in;
Wi’ him it ne’er was under hiding;        45
                    He dealt it free:
The Muse was a’ that he took pride in,
                    That’s owre the sea.
Jamaica bodies, use him weel,
An’ hap him in cozie biel:        50
Ye’ll find him aye a dainty chiel,
                    An’ fou o’ glee:
He wad na wrang’d the vera deil,
                    That’s owre the sea.
Farewell, my rhyme-composing billie!        55
Your native soil was right ill-willie;
But may ye flourish like a lily,
                    Now bonilie!
I’ll toast you in my hindmost gillie,
                    Tho’ owre the sea!        60


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