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Prologue Spoken At The Theatre Of Dumfries


No song nor dance I bring from yon great city, That queens it o'er our taste - the more's the pity: Tho' by the bye, abroad why will you roam? Good sense and taste are natives here at home: But not for panegyric I appear, I come to wish you all a good New Year! Old Father Time deputes me here before ye, Not for to preach, but tell his simple story: The sage, grave Ancient cough'd, and bade me say, "You're one year older this important day," If wiser too - he hinted some suggestion, But 'twould be rude, you know, to ask the question; And with a would-be roguish leer and wink, Said - "Sutherland, in one word, bid them Think!" Ye sprightly youths, quite flush with hope and spirit, Who think to storm the world by dint of merit, To you the dotard has a deal to say, In his sly, dry , sententious, proverb way! He bids you mind , amid your thoughtless rattle, That the first blow is ever half the battle; That tho' some by the skirt may try to snatch him, Yet by the foreclock is the hold to catch him; That whether doing, suffering, or forbearing, You may do miracles by persevering. Last, tho' not least in love, ye youthful fair , Angelic forms, high Heaven's peculiar care! To you old Bald-pate smoothes his wrinkled brow, And humbly begs you'll mind the important - Now! To crown your happiness he asks your leave, And offers, bliss to give and to receive. For our sincere, tho' haply weak endeavours, With grateful pride we own your many favours; And howsoe'er our tongues may ill reveal it, Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.

Listen

Hannah Gordon

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1789 and is read here by Hannah Gordon.

More about this poem

This was written for Mr George S Sutherland who was the manager of the Dumfries Theatre for the occasion of New Year's Day 1790. Sutherland was also an actor who at one time had been involved with the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh.

Burns appears to have been a fan as he wrote to his brother Gilbert on the 11th January that year 'we have gotten a set of very decent players here just now'. It is thought that Burns was in the audience that evening to hear his prologue delivered.

Alistair Braidwood

Themes for this poem

future humour nationalism

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