Robert Burns disturbs the home of a mouse while ploughing his field

To A Mouse depicts Burns’ remorse at having destroyed the nest of a tiny field mouse with his plough. He apologises to the mouse for his mishap, for the general tyranny of man in nature and reflects mournfully on the role of fate in the life of every creature, including himself.

This poem explores the following themes:

  • The heartbreaking futility of planning for the future in an uncertain world
  • Extreme difficulty of life for poor people and the injustice of a world where they have so little
  • Our life-enhancing, human duty to understand the importance of all life, however insignificant it might seem