Poem on Life


My honored colonel, deep I feel Your interest in the Poet's weal; Ah! now sma' heart hae I to speel The steep Parnassus, Surrounded thus by bolus pill, And potion glasses. O what a canty warld were it, Would pain and care, and sickness spare it; And fortune favor worth and merit, As they deserve: (And aye a rowth, roast-beef and claret; Syne wha would starve?) Dame life, tho' fiction out may trick her, And in paste gems and frippery deck her; Oh! flickering, feeble, and unsicker I've found her still, Ay wavering like the willow wicker, 'Tween good and ill. Then that curst carmagnole, auld Satan, Watches, like bawd'rons by a rattan, Our sinfu' saul to get a claute on Wi' felon ire; Syne, whip! his tail ye'll ne'er cast saut on, He's off like fire. Ah! Nick, ah Nick it is na fair, First shewing us the tempting ware, Bright wines and bonnie lasses rare, To put us daft; Syne weave, unseen, thy spider snare O hell's damned waft. Poor man the flie, aft bizzes bye, And aft as chance he comes thee nigh, Thy auld damn'd elbow yeuks wi' joy, And hellish pleasure; Already in thy fancy's eye, Thy sicker treasure. Soon heels o'er gowdie! in he gangs, And like a sheep-head on a tangs, Thy girning laugh enjoys his pangs And murdering wrestle, As dangling in the wind he hangs A gibbet's tassel. But lest you think I am uncivil, To plague you with this draunting drivel, Abjuring a' intentions evil, I quat my pen: The Lord preserve us frae the devil! Amen! Amen!

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Jonathan Watson

About this work

This is an epistle by Robert Burns. It was written in 1796 and is read here by Jonathan Watson.

Themes for this epistle

death religion

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