More about this poem
It is thought that these short lines were written by Burns during the winter of 1781-82, after the failure of his attempt to enter into business as a flax-dresser.
"My partner was a scoundrel of the first water," recalled Burns, "who made money by the mystery of thieving."
Their shop burned down over the New Year period, and left Burns, "like a true poet, not worth a sixpence."
James Currie printed the lines from a notebook which Burns had bought for making ‘farming memorandums’.