Extempore


O why the deuce should I repine, And be an ill foreboder; I'm twenty-three, and five feet nine, I'll go and be a sodger. I'll gat some gear wi' meikle care, I held it weel thegither; But now its gane, and something mair, I'll go an be a sodger.

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Paul Higgins

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1782 and is read here by Paul Higgins.

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’.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this poem

future work

Selected for 19 November

It was on this day in 1960 that National Service was finally abolished. Young men no longer had to do compulsory military service. Burns was not obliged to join up. But as with so many recruits, poverty and a sense of adventure came close to enlisting him just the same.

Donny O'Rourke

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