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To a Mouse
by Robert Burns

Scottish poet and songwriter, Burns is best known today for the latter and, in particular, for his Auld Lang Syne, generally sung in Britain upon the occasion of New Year. This appeared, along with such other lyrics as O My Loves Like a Red, Red Rose, Ye Banks and Braes and Scots wha hac, in the selection of Scottish tunes Burns collected and contributed to: the Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice (1793-1818). Other of his songs are also collected in another compendia, The Scots Musical Museum (1787-1803).

As a poet Burns worked with simple concepts, but applied them across a number of forms. He wrote and published satires, scenes of rustic life, epistles to friends, epigrams and nature poems, both in a composite poetic form made up of a number of Scottish dialects and in English. In poems such as The Cotter's Saturday Night and To a Mountain Daisy he uses both Scottish dialect and English together. His poems were published in the Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786).


To a Mouse
by Robert Burns

(On Turning her up in her Nest with the Plough)

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', 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' 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
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, 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!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin':
And 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 and 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 mony 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 a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

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


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