On Robert Burns’ 250th Birthday, January 25, 1759-2009: “Of Mice and Men”


TO A MOUSE ON TURNING HER UP IN HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785 by: Robert Burns (1759-1796)

I

EE, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie, Oh, what a panic’s in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, Wi’ bickering brattle! I was be laith to rin an’ chase thee, Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

II

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!

III

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, And never miss’t!

IV

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

V

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.

VI

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an stibble, Has cost thee mony a weary nibble! Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble, But house or hald, To thole the winter’s sleety dribble, An’ cranreuch cauld!

VII

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, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

VIII

Still thou art blest, compared wi’ me! The present only toucheth thee: But och! I backward cast my e’e, On prospects drear! An’ forward, tho’ I cannot see, I guess an’ fear!

“To a Mouse” is reprinted from English Poems. Ed. Edward Chauncey Baldwin & Harry G. Paul. New York: American Book Company, 1908.

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