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FINTRY, my stay in wordly strife,
Friend o’ my muse, friend o’ my life,
Are ye as idle’s I am?
Come then, wi’ uncouth kintra fleg,
O’er Pegasus I’ll fling my leg,
And ye shall see me try him.
But where shall I go rin a ride,
That I may splatter nane beside?
I wad na be uncivil:
In manhood’s various paths and ways
There’s aye some doytin’ body strays,
And I ride like the devil.
Thus I break aff wi’ a’ my birr,
And down yon dark, deep alley spur,
Where Theologics daunder:
Alas! curst wi’ eternal fogs,
And damn’d in everlasting bogs,
As sure’s the creed I’ll blunder!
I’ll stain a band, or jaup a gown,
Or rin my reckless, guilty crown
Against the haly door:
Sair do I rue my luckless fate,
When, as the Muse an’ Deil wad hae’t,
I rade that road before.
Suppose I take a spurt, and mix
Amang the wilds o’ Politics—
Electors and elected,
Where dogs at Court (sad sons of bitches!)
Septennially a madness touches,
Till all the land’s infected.
All hail! Drumlanrig’s haughty Grace,
Discarded remnant of a race
Once godlike-great in story;
Thy forbears’ virtues all contrasted,
The very name of Douglas blasted,
Thine that inverted glory!
Hate, envy, oft the Douglas bore,
But thou hast superadded more,
And sunk them in contempt;
Follies and crimes have stain’d the name,
But, Queensberry, thine the virgin claim,
From aught that’s good exempt!
I’ll sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears,
Who left the all-important cares
Of princes, and their darlings:
And, bent on winning borough touns,
Came shaking hands wi’ wabster-loons,
And kissing barefit carlins.
Combustion thro’ our boroughs rode,
Whistling his roaring pack abroad
Of mad unmuzzled lions;
As Queensberry blue and buff unfurl’d,
And Westerha’ and Hopetoun hurled
To every Whig defiance.
But cautious Queensberry left the war,
Th’ unmanner’d dust might soil his star,
Besides, he hated bleeding:
But left behind him heroes bright,
Heroes in C&æsarean fight,
Or Ciceronian pleading.
O for a throat like huge Mons-Meg,
To muster o’er each ardent Whig
Beneath Drumlanrig’s banners;
Heroes and heroines commix,
All in the field of politics,
To win immortal honours.
M’Murdo and his lovely spouse,
(Th’ enamour’d laurels kiss her brows!)
Led on the Loves and Graces:
She won each gaping burgess’ heart,
While he, sub rosa, played his part
Amang their wives and lasses.
Craigdarroch led a light-arm’d core,
Tropes, metaphors, and figures pour,
Like Hecla streaming thunder:
Glenriddel, skill’d in rusty coins,
Blew up each Tory’s dark designs,
And bared the treason under.
In either wing two champions fought;
Redoubted Staig, who set at nought
The wildest savage Tory;
And Welsh who ne’er yet flinch’d his ground,
High-wav’d his magnum-bonum round
With Cyclopeian fury.
Miller brought up th’ artillery ranks,
The many-pounders of the Banks,
While Maxwelton, that baron bold,
’Mid Lawson’s port entrench’d his hold,
And threaten’d worse damnation.
To these what Tory hosts oppos’d
With these what Tory warriors clos’d
Surpasses my descriving;
Squadrons, extended long and large,
With furious speed rush to the charge,
Like furious devils driving.
What verse can sing, what prose narrate,
The butcher deeds of bloody Fate,
Amid this mighty tulyie!
Grim Horror girn’d, pale Terror roar’d,
As Murder at his thrapple shor’d,
And Hell mix’d in the brulyie.
As Highland craigs by thunder cleft,
When lightnings fire the stormy lift,
Hurl down with crashing rattle;
As flames among a hundred woods,
As headlong foam from a hundred floods,
Such is the rage of Battle.
The stubborn Tories dare to die;
As soon the rooted oaks would fly
Before th’ approaching fellers:
The Whigs come on like Ocean’s roar,
When all his wintry billows pour
Against the Buchan Bullers.
Lo, from the shades of Death’s deep night,
Departed Whigs enjoy the fight,
And think on former daring:
The muffled murtherer of Charles
The Magna Charter flag unfurls,
All deadly gules its bearing.
Nor wanting ghosts of Tory fame;
Bold Scrimgeour follows gallant Graham;
Auld Covenanters shiver—
Forgive! forgive! much-wrong’d Montrose!
Now Death and Hell engulph thy foes,
Thou liv’st on high for ever.
Still o’er the field the combat burns,
The Tories, Whigs, give way by turns;
But Fate the word has spoken:
For woman’s wit and strength o’man,
Alas! can do but what they can;
The Tory ranks are broken.
O that my een were flowing burns!
My voice, a lioness that mourns
Her darling cubs’ undoing!
That I might greet, that I might cry,
While Tories fall, while Tories fly,
And furious Whigs pursuing!
What Whig but melts for good Sir James,
Dear to his country, by the names,
Friend, Patron, Benefactor!
Not Pulteney’s wealth can Pulteney save;
And Hopetoun falls, the generous, brave;
And Stewart, bold as Hector.
Thou, Pitt, shalt rue this overthrow,
And Thurlow growl a curse of woe,
And Melville melt in wailing:
Now Fox and Sheridan rejoice,
And Burke shall sing, “O Prince, arise!
Thy power is all-prevailing!”
For your poor friend, the Bard, afar
He only hears and sees the war,
A cool spectator purely!
So, when the storm the forest rends,
The robin in the hedge descends,
And sober chirps securely.
Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes,
And for my dear-lov’d Land o’ Cakes,
I pray with holy fire:
Lord, send a rough-shod troop o’ Hell
O’er a’ wad Scotland buy or sell,
To grind them in the mire!
Top Robert Burns Poems