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To William Stewart


Brownhill Monday even: Dear Sir, In honest Bacon's ingle-neuk, Here maun I sit and think; Sick o' the warld and warld's fock, And sick, damned sick o' drink! I see, I see there is nae help, But still down I maun sink; Till some day, laigh enough, I yelp, 'Wae worth that cursed drink!' Yestreen, alas! I was sae fu', I could but yisk and wink; And now, this day, sair, sair I rue, The weary, weary drink. Satan, I fear thy sooty claws, I hate thy brunstane stink, And ay I curse the luckless cause, The wicked soup o' drink. In vain I would forget my woes In idle rhyming clink, For past redemption damn'd in Prose I can do nought but drink. For you, my trusty, well-try'd friend, May Heaven still on you blink; And may your life flow to the end, Sweet as a dry man's drink! Rabbie Burns

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Dougray Scott

About this work

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

Themes for this poem

drink religion

Selected for 26 January

Many will have toasted our national poet in drinks as soft as his own tender heart. Others, opting for something a wee bit stronger, will nontheless have exercised a moderation more seemly than Burns sometimes managed. If, however, for a few imbibers, today felt like the morning after the Burns night before, then this split-skulled, dry-mouthed groan from the fireside corner, or ingle-neuk, by a (briefly) repenant toper, '...sick, o' drink!', may offer some not exactly sobering solace. The letter enclosing the poem was actually dated January 24 but as poetic hair of the dog, it seemed irresistibly ripe for deferral... With appropriate informality, the poet 'signs off' as Rabbie Burns.

Donny O'Rourke

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