56. Epistle to Davie, A Brother Poet by Robert Burns
WHILE winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw, Anâ€™ bar the doors wiâ€™ driving snaw, Anâ€™ hing us owre the ingle, I set me down to pass the time, Anâ€™ spin a verse or twa oâ€™ rhyme, In hamely, westlin jingle. While frosty winds blaw in the drift, Ben to the chimla lug, I grudge a wee the great-folkâ€™s gift, That live sae bien anâ€™ snug: I tent less, and want less Their roomy fire-side; But hanker, and canker, To see their cursed pride.
Itâ€™s hardly in a bodyâ€™s powâ€™r To keep, at times, frae being sour, To see how things are sharâ€™d; How best oâ€™ chiels are whiles in want, While coofs on countless thousands rant, And ken na how to wairâ€™t; But, Davie, lad, neâ€™er fash your head, Thoâ€™ we hae little gear; Weâ€™re fit to win our daily bread, As langâ€™s weâ€™re hale and fier: â€œMair spier na, nor fear na,â€ 1 Auld age neâ€™er mind a feg; The last oâ€™t, the warst oâ€™t Is only but to beg.
To lie in kilns and barns at eâ€™en, When banes are crazâ€™d, and bluid is thin, Is doubtless, great distress! Yet then content could make us blest; Evâ€™n then, sometimes, weâ€™d snatch a taste Of truest happiness. The honest heart thatâ€™s free frae aâ€™ Intended fraud or guile, However Fortune kick the baâ€™, Has aye some cause to smile; Anâ€™ mind still, youâ€™ll find still, A comfort this nae smaâ€™; Nae mair then weâ€™ll care then, Nae farther can we faâ€™.
What thoâ€™, like commoners of air, We wander out, we know not where, But either house or halâ€™, Yet natureâ€™s charms, the hills and woods, The sweeping vales, and foaming floods, Are free alike to all. In days when daisies deck the ground, And blackbirds whistle clear, With honest joy our hearts will bound, To see the coming year: On braes when we please, then, Weâ€™ll sit anâ€™ sowth a tune; Syne rhyme tillâ€™t weâ€™ll time tillâ€™t, Anâ€™ singâ€™t when we hae done.
Itâ€™s no in titles nor in rank; Itâ€™s no in wealth like Lonâ€™on bank, To purchase peace and rest: Itâ€™s no in makinâ€™ muckle, mair; Itâ€™s no in books, itâ€™s no in lear, To make us truly blest: If happiness hae not her seat Anâ€™ centre in the breast, We may be wise, or rich, or great, But never can be blest; Nae treasures, nor pleasures Could make us happy lang; The heart ayeâ€™s the part aye That makes us right or wrang.
Think ye, that sic as you and I, Wha drudge anâ€™ drive throâ€™ wet and dry, Wiâ€™ never ceasing toil; Think ye, are we less blest than they, Wha scarcely tent us in their way, As hardly worth their while? Alas! how aft in haughty mood, Godâ€™s creatures they oppress! Or else, neglecting aâ€™ thatâ€™s guid, They riot in excess! Baith careless and fearless Of either heaven or hell; Esteeming and deeming Itâ€™s aâ€™ an idle tale!
Then let us cheerfuâ€™ acquiesce, Nor make our scanty pleasures less, By pining at our state: And, even should misfortunes come, I, here wha sit, hae met wiâ€™ someâ€” Anâ€™s thankfuâ€™ for them yet. They gie the wit of age to youth; They let us ken ourselâ€™; They make us see the naked truth, The real guid and ill: Thoâ€™ losses anâ€™ crosses Be lessons right severe, Thereâ€™s wit there, yeâ€™ll get there, Yeâ€™ll find nae other where.
But tent me, Davie, ace oâ€™ hearts! (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes, And flattâ€™ry I detest) This life has joys for you and I; Anâ€™ joys that riches neâ€™er could buy, Anâ€™ joys the very best. Thereâ€™s aâ€™ the pleasures oâ€™ the heart, The lover anâ€™ the frienâ€™; Ye hae your Meg, your dearest part, And I my darling Jean! It warms me, it charms me, To mention but her name: It heats me, it beets me, Anâ€™ sets me aâ€™ on flame!
O all ye Powâ€™rs who rule above! O Thou whose very self art love! Thou knowâ€™st my words sincere! The life-blood streaming throâ€™ my heart, Or my more dear immortal part, Is not more fondly dear! When heart-corroding care and grief Deprive my soul of rest, Her dear idea brings relief, And solace to my breast. Thou Being, All-seeing, O hear my fervent prayâ€™r; Still take her, and make her Thy most peculiar care!
All hail! ye tender feelings dear! The smile of love, the friendly tear, The sympathetic glow! Long since, this worldâ€™s thorny ways Had numberâ€™d out my weary days, Had it not been for you! Fate still has blest me with a friend, In evâ€™ry care and ill; And oft a more endearing bandâ€” A tie more tender still. It lightens, it brightens The tenebrific scene, To meet with, and greet with My Davie, or my Jean!
O, how that name inspires my style! The words come skelpin, rank anâ€™ file, Amaist before I ken! The ready measure rins as fine, As Phoebus anâ€™ the famous Nine Were glowrin owre my pen. My spaviet Pegasus will limp, Till ance heâ€™s fairly het; And then heâ€™ll hilch, and stilt, anâ€™ jimp, And rin an unco fit: But least then the beast then Should rue this hasty ride, Iâ€™ll light now, and dight now His sweaty, wizenâ€™d hide.