Lines Addressed to Mr John Ranken

Ae day, as Death, that grusome carl, Was driving to the tither warl', A mixie-maxie motely squad, And mony a guilt-bespotted lad; Black gowns of each denomination, And thieves of every rank and station, For him that wears the star and garter To him that wintles in a halter: Asham'd himself to see the wretches, He mutters, glow'ring at the bitches, 'By God I'll not be seen behint them, 'Nor 'mang the sp'ritual core present them, 'Without, at least, ae honest man, 'To grace this damn'd infernal clan.' By Adamhill a glance he threw, 'Lord, God!' quoth he, 'I have it now, 'There's just the man I want, in faith,' And quickly stopped Ranken's breath.


Blythe Duff

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1785 and is read here by Blythe Duff.

More about this poem

Burns composed 'Lines addressed to Mr John Ranken' in 1785. John Rankine (d. 1810) was a farmer at Adamhill and Burns's neighbour during the poet's time at Tarbolton. A close friend of the poet, Rankine was also the recipient of Epistle to John Rankine.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this poem


Selected for 16 October

Yesterday we looked at a missive addressed to John Ranken. Today's poem is one of the Bard's mock epitaphs in which he jokingly wishes his good friend, the living Ranken dead. The subject of these lines knew that one of Burns's 'conquests' was pregnant. And he had written disapprovingly to the baby's father.

Donny O'Rourke

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