Friday, 25 January 2013

Tae The Bard

Delivered by David Sibbald of

To A Mouse.
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,
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
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
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
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.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
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 agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, here in Smalltown we have our own version of Burns Night.

It tends to be celebrated by the local ne'er-do-wells setting barns alight.

JRB said...

Thank you for giving us that wonderful Karen Matheson rendition of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’.

Many, many a long year ago when I was but a wee laddie attending primary school we had a wonderful teacher; who was more akin to a firm but benevolent grandmother; who had one burning passion – the works of Burns.

She insisted that all we bairns should commit to memory at least one, or a part of one, piece of Burns.
I choose Tam O’Shanter

So, for Miss Steel -

When chapman billies leave the street
And drouthy neighbours, neighbours meet
As market days are wearing late
And folk begin to tak the gate
While we sit bousin at the nappy
An getting foo and unco happy
We think nay on the lang Scots miles
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles
That lie between us and our hame
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame
Gathering her brows like gathering storm
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

... here the memory fades as to exactly what comes next but still remembering the first verse after almost 60+yrs is credit to Miss Steel and the wonderful words of Robbie Burns

Tae The Bard!

pa_broon74 said...

I attended a 3rd Degree Burns Night last night, it was a cross over curry/haggis neeps and tatties affair raising funds for the Scout Group.

Two kids addressed the haggis, one struggled a wee bit, reading the above I can see why. I did think at the time, 'oh no, Scottish kids missing out on Scottish culture', but it is hard going.

Mind you, I partook of the haggis and tatties but avoided the neeps so I'm not sure where that leaves me either.

William said...

I would understand the poetry of Burns better if it was written in English.

Hamish said...

Come on William, you are winding us up. Which part of To a Mouse do you not understand? The Scots words are practically self-explanatory.
And if your problem is Ae Fond Kiss, 'ae' means 'one'.

Hamish said...

Come on William, you are winding us up. Which part of To a Mouse do you not understand? The Scots words are practically self-explanatory.
And if your problem is Ae Fond Kiss, 'ae' means 'one'.

subrosa said...

Auch I thought smalltown was a bonny quiet hamlet smalltownman.

subrosa said...

Hey JRB, well done! You're a credit to Miss Steel.

I too liked that particular interpretation by Karen Matheson.

subrosa said...

3rd Degree Burns Night - love it pa_broon. :)

Didn't your mum teach you to eat up your vegetables?

subrosa said...

William, there are plenty English translations around. I'd like to hear Shakespeare in Scots come to think of it.

subrosa said...

Hamish, it is a wind up I think. :)

Stewart Cowan said...

I've just called the SNP a "wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie" on their FB page for preferring indy-pretence "in Europe" to real independence.

subrosa said...

Good for you Stewart. I'm writing something about it for morning.

Stewart Cowan said...

I'll try and toon in, S/R!

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