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Of a' the thoughtless sons o' man,
Commen’ me to the Bardie clan;
Except it be some idle plan

O rhymin' clink,
The devil-haet, that I sud ban,

They ever think.

Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o' livin',
Nae cares tae gie us joy or grievin';
But just the pouchie put the nieve in,

An' while aught's there,
Then hiltie, skiltie, we gae scrievin',

An' fash nae mair.

Leeze me on rhyme! it's ay a treasure,
My chief, amaist my only pleasure,
At hame, a-fiel', at wark or leisure,

The Muse, poor hizzie, Tho'rough an raploch be her measure,

She's seldom lazy.

Haud tae the Muse, my daintie Davie ! The warl may play you monie a shavie, But for the Muse, she'll never leave ye,

Tho' e'er sae puir; Na, ev'n tho’ limpin wi’ the spavie

Frae door to door. 15

EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIR,

AN OLD SCOTTISH BARD, APRIL 1, 1785. WHILE briers an’ woodbines budding green, An' paitricks scraichin loud at e'en, An' morning poussie whiddin seen,

Inspire my Muse, This freedom in an unknown frien

I pray excuse.

On fasteen-e'en we had a rockin,
To ca’ the crack and weave our stockin,
And there was muckle fun an' jokin

Ye need na doubt:
At length we had a hearty yokin

At sang about.

There was ae sang, amang the rest,
Aboon them a' it pleas'd me best,
That some kind husband had addrest

To some sweet wife;
It thrill’d the heart-strings thro' the breast,

A' to the life.

I've scarce heard aught describe sae weel,
What gen'rous, manly bosoms feel;
Thought I, “ Can this be Pope, or Steele,

Or Beattie's wark ? »
They told me 'twas an odd kind chiel

About Muirkirk.

2

It pat me fidgin-fain to hear't,
And sae about him there I spier't,
Then a' that kent him round declar'd

He had ingine,
That nane excell'd it, few cam near't,

It was sae fine.

That set him to a pint of ale,
An' either douce or merry tale,
Of rhymes an' sangs he'd made himsel,

Or witty catches,
"Tween Inverness and Teviotdale,

He had few matches.

Then up I gat, an' swore an aith,
Tho' I should pawn my pleugh and graith,
Or die a cadger-pownie's death,

At some dyke-back,
A pint an' gill I'd gie them baith

To hear your crack.

But first an' foremost, I should tell,
Amaist as soon as I could spell,
I to the crambo-jingle fell,

Tho' rude an' rough,
Yet crooning to a body's sel,

Does weel enough.

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I am nae poet, in a sense,
But just a rhymer, like, by chance,
An' hae to learning nae pretence;

Yet what tha matter ?
Whene'er my Muse does on me glance,

I jingle at her

Your critic-folk may cock their nose,
And say, “How can you e'er propose,
You wha ken hardly verse frae prose,

To mak a sang ? ”
But, by your leaves, my learned foes,

Ye're may be wrang.

What's a' your jargon o' your schools,
Your Latin names for horns an' stools,
If honest Nature made you fools ?

What sairs your grammars ? Ye'd better taen up spades and shools,

Or knappin-hammers.

A set o' dull, conceited hashes
Confuse their brains in college classes !
They gang in stirks, and come out asses,

Plain truth to speak;
An' syne they think to climb Parnassus

By dint o' Greek !

Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire,
That's a' the learning I desire ;
Then, tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire,

At pleugh or cart,
My Muse, tho' hamely in attire,

May touch the heart.

O for a spunk o' Allan's glee,
Or Fergusson's, the bauld and slee,
Or bright Lapraik’s, my friend to be,

If I can hit it!
That would be lear enough for me,

If I could get it'

Now, sir, if ye hae friends enow,
Tho' real friends, I b’lieve, are few,
Yet, if your catalogue be fou,

I'se no insist;
But gif ye want a friend that's true,

I'm on your list.

I winna blaw about mysel;
As ill I like my fauts to tell ;
But friends and folk that wish me well,

They sometimes roose me, Tho' I maun own, as monie still

As far abuse me.

There's ae wee faut they whyles lay to me-
I like the lasses -Gude forgie me!
For monie a plack they wheedle frae me,

At dance or fair;
May be, some ither thing they gie me,

They weel can spare.

But Mauchline race, or Mauchline fair, I should be proud to meet you there; We’se gie ae night's discharge to care,

If we forgather, An' hae a swap o' rhymin-ware

Wi' ane anither.

The four-gill chap, we'se gar hım clatter,
An' kirsen him wi' reekin water;
Syne we'll sit down an' tak our whitter,

To cheer our heart;
An' faith, we'se be acquainted better

Before we part.

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