To a Mouse,

- 1759-1796

On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785.

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' murdering pattle.

   I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
                        Which maks 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,
                        And 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 and 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 a-gley,
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!

More by Robert Burns

Afton Water

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stock-dove whose echo resounds through the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighboring hills,
Far marked with the courses of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft as mild evening weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dreams.

Anna, Thy Charms

Anna, thy charms my bosom fire,  
  And waste my soul with care;  
But ah! how bootless to admire,  
  When fated to despair!  
  
Yet in thy presence, lovely Fair,
  To hope may be forgiven;  
For sure 'twere impious to despair  
  So much in sight of heaven. 

[O were my love yon Lilac fair]

O were my love yon Lilac fair,  
  Wi' purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,  
  When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn         
  By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,  
  When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd. 
O gin my love were yon red rose,  
  That grows upon the castle wa';    
And I myself a drap o' dew,  
  Into her bonie breast to fa'!
O there, beyond expression blest,  
  I'd feast on beauty a' the night;
Seal'd on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
  Till fley'd awa by Phoebus' light!