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Best Famous Robert Burns Poems

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Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

114. Versified Note to Dr. Mackenzie Mauchline

 FRIDAY first’s the day appointed
By the Right Worshipful anointed,
 To hold our grand procession;
To get a blad o’ Johnie’s morals,
And taste a swatch o’ Manson’s barrels
 I’ the way of our profession.
The Master and the Brotherhood Would a’ be glad to see you; For me I would be mair than proud To share the mercies wi’ you.
If Death, then, wi’ skaith, then, Some mortal heart is hechtin, Inform him, and storm him, That Saturday you’ll fecht him.
Mossgiel, An.

Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

62. Epistle to William Simson

 I GAT your letter, winsome Willie;
Wi’ gratefu’ heart I thank you brawlie;
Tho’ I maun say’t, I wad be silly,
 And unco vain,
Should I believe, my coaxin billie
 Your flatterin strain.
But I’se believe ye kindly meant it: I sud be laith to think ye hinted Ironic satire, sidelins sklented On my poor Musie; Tho’ in sic phraisin terms ye’ve penn’d it, I scarce excuse ye.
My senses wad be in a creel, Should I but dare a hope to speel Wi’ Allan, or wi’ Gilbertfield, The braes o’ fame; Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel, A deathless name.
(O Fergusson! thy glorious parts Ill suited law’s dry, musty arts! My curse upon your whunstane hearts, Ye E’nbrugh gentry! The tithe o’ what ye waste at cartes Wad stow’d his pantry!) Yet when a tale comes i’ my head, Or lassies gie my heart a screed— As whiles they’re like to be my dead, (O sad disease!) I kittle up my rustic reed; It gies me ease.
Auld Coila now may fidge fu’ fain, She’s gotten poets o’ her ain; Chiels wha their chanters winna hain, But tune their lays, Till echoes a’ resound again Her weel-sung praise.
Nae poet thought her worth his while, To set her name in measur’d style; She lay like some unkenn’d-of-isle Beside New Holland, Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil Besouth Magellan.
Ramsay an’ famous Fergusson Gied Forth an’ Tay a lift aboon; Yarrow an’ Tweed, to monie a tune, Owre Scotland rings; While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an’ Doon Naebody sings.
Th’ Illissus, Tiber, Thames, an’ Seine, Glide sweet in monie a tunefu’ line: But Willie, set your fit to mine, An’ cock your crest; We’ll gar our streams an’ burnies shine Up wi’ the best! We’ll sing auld Coila’s plains an’ fells, Her moors red-brown wi’ heather bells, Her banks an’ braes, her dens and dells, Whare glorious Wallace Aft bure the gree, as story tells, Frae Suthron billies.
At Wallace’ name, what Scottish blood But boils up in a spring-tide flood! Oft have our fearless fathers strode By Wallace’ side, Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod, Or glorious died! O, sweet are Coila’s haughs an’ woods, When lintwhites chant amang the buds, And jinkin hares, in amorous whids, Their loves enjoy; While thro’ the braes the cushat croods With wailfu’ cry! Ev’n winter bleak has charms to me, When winds rave thro’ the naked tree; Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree Are hoary gray; Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee, Dark’ning the day! O Nature! a’ thy shews an’ forms To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms! Whether the summer kindly warms, Wi’ life an light; Or winter howls, in gusty storms, The lang, dark night! The muse, nae poet ever fand her, Till by himsel he learn’d to wander, Adown some trottin burn’s meander, An’ no think lang: O sweet to stray, an’ pensive ponder A heart-felt sang! The war’ly race may drudge an’ drive, Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an’ strive; Let me fair Nature’s face descrive, And I, wi’ pleasure, Shall let the busy, grumbling hive Bum owre their treasure.
Fareweel, “my rhyme-composing” brither! We’ve been owre lang unkenn’d to ither: Now let us lay our heads thegither, In love fraternal: May envy wallop in a tether, Black fiend, infernal! While Highlandmen hate tools an’ taxes; While moorlan’s herds like guid, fat braxies; While terra firma, on her axis, Diurnal turns; Count on a friend, in faith an’ practice, In Robert Burns.
POSTCRIPTMY memory’s no worth a preen; I had amaist forgotten clean, Ye bade me write you what they mean By this “new-light,” ’Bout which our herds sae aft hae been Maist like to fight.
In days when mankind were but callans At grammar, logic, an’ sic talents, They took nae pains their speech to balance, Or rules to gie; But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans, Like you or me.
In thae auld times, they thought the moon, Just like a sark, or pair o’ shoon, Wore by degrees, till her last roon Gaed past their viewin; An’ shortly after she was done They gat a new ane.
This passed for certain, undisputed; It ne’er cam i’ their heads to doubt it, Till chiels gat up an’ wad confute it, An’ ca’d it wrang; An’ muckle din there was about it, Baith loud an’ lang.
Some herds, weel learn’d upo’ the beuk, Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk; For ’twas the auld moon turn’d a neuk An’ out of’ sight, An’ backlins-comin to the leuk She grew mair bright.
This was deny’d, it was affirm’d; The herds and hissels were alarm’d The rev’rend gray-beards rav’d an’ storm’d, That beardless laddies Should think they better wer inform’d, Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair, it gaed to sticks; Frae words an’ aiths to clours an’ nicks; An monie a fallow gat his licks, Wi’ hearty crunt; An’ some, to learn them for their tricks, Were hang’d an’ brunt.
This game was play’d in mony lands, An’ auld-light caddies bure sic hands, That faith, the youngsters took the sands Wi’ nimble shanks; Till lairds forbad, by strict commands, Sic bluidy pranks.
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe, Folk thought them ruin’d stick-an-stowe; Till now, amaist on ev’ry knowe Ye’ll find ane plac’d; An’ some their new-light fair avow, Just quite barefac’d.
Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin; Their zealous herds are vex’d an’ sweatin; Mysel’, I’ve even seen them greetin Wi’ girnin spite, To hear the moon sae sadly lied on By word an’ write.
But shortly they will cowe the louns! Some auld-light herds in neebor touns Are mind’t, in things they ca’ balloons, To tak a flight; An’ stay ae month amang the moons An’ see them right.
Guid observation they will gie them; An’ when the auld moon’s gaun to lea’e them, The hindmaist shaird, they’ll fetch it wi’ them Just i’ their pouch; An’ when the new-light billies see them, I think they’ll crouch! Sae, ye observe that a’ this clatter Is naething but a “moonshine matter”; But tho’ dull prose-folk Latin splatter In logic tulyie, I hope we bardies ken some better Than mind sic brulyie.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

107. Versified Reply to an Invitation

 SIR,Yours this moment I unseal,
 And faith I’m gay and hearty!
To tell the truth and shame the deil,
 I am as fou as Bartie:
But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,
 Expect me o’ your partie,
If on a beastie I can speel,
 Or hurl in a cartie.
MAUCHLIN, Monday night, 10 o’clock.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

96. The Inventory

 SIR, as your mandate did request,
I send you here a faithfu’ list,
O’ gudes an’ gear, an’ a’ my graith,
To which I’m clear to gi’e my aith.
Imprimis, then, for carriage cattle, I hae four brutes o’ gallant mettle, As ever drew afore a pettle.
My hand-afore ’s a guid auld has-been, An’ wight an’ wilfu’ a’ his days been: My hand-ahin ’s a weel gaun fillie, That aft has borne me hame frae Killie.
2 An’ your auld borough mony a time In days when riding was nae crime.
But ance, when in my wooing pride I, like a blockhead, boost to ride, The wilfu’ creature sae I pat to, (L—d pardon a’ my sins, an’ that too!) I play’d my fillie sic a shavie, She’s a’ bedevil’d wi’ the spavie.
My furr-ahin ’s a wordy beast, As e’er in tug or tow was traced.
The fourth’s a Highland Donald hastle, A d—n’d red-wud Kilburnie blastie! Foreby a cowt, o’ cowts the wale, As ever ran afore a tail: Gin he be spar’d to be a beast, He’ll draw me fifteen pund at least.
Wheel-carriages I ha’e but few, Three carts, an’ twa are feckly new; An auld wheelbarrow, mair for token, Ae leg an’ baith the trams are broken; I made a poker o’ the spin’le, An’ my auld mither brunt the trin’le.
For men, I’ve three mischievous boys, Run-deils for ranting an’ for noise; A gaudsman ane, a thrasher t’ other: Wee Davock hauds the nowt in fother.
I rule them as I ought, discreetly, An’ aften labour them completely; An’ aye on Sundays duly, nightly, I on the Questions targe them tightly; Till, faith! wee Davock’s grown sae gleg, Tho’ scarcely langer than your leg, He’ll screed you aff Effectual Calling, As fast as ony in the dwalling.
I’ve nane in female servant station, (L—d keep me aye frae a’ temptation!) I hae nae wife-and thay my bliss is, An’ ye have laid nae tax on misses; An’ then, if kirk folks dinna clutch me, I ken the deevils darena touch me.
Wi’ weans I’m mair than weel contented, Heav’n sent me ane mae than I wanted! My sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess, She stares the daddy in her face, Enough of ought ye like but grace; But her, my bonie, sweet wee lady, I’ve paid enough for her already; An’ gin ye tax her or her mither, By the L—d, ye’se get them a’ thegither! And now, remember, Mr.
Aiken, Nae kind of licence out I’m takin: Frae this time forth, I do declare I’se ne’er ride horse nor hizzie mair; Thro’ dirt and dub for life I’ll paidle, Ere I sae dear pay for a saddle; My travel a’ on foot I’ll shank it, I’ve sturdy bearers, Gude the thankit! The kirk and you may tak you that, It puts but little in your pat; Sae dinna put me in your beuk, Nor for my ten white shillings leuk.
This list, wi’ my ain hand I wrote it, The day and date as under noted; Then know all ye whom it concerns, Subscripsi huic, ROBERT BURNS.
MOSSGIEL, February 22, 1786.
Note 1.
The “Inventory” was addressed to Mr.
Aitken of Ayr, surveyor of taxes for the district.
[back] Note 2.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

142. Epistle to Major Logan

 HAIL, thairm-inspirin’, rattlin’ Willie!
Tho’ fortune’s road be rough an’ hilly
To every fiddling, rhyming billie,
 We never heed,
But take it like the unback’d filly,
 Proud o’ her speed.
When, idly goavin’, whiles we saunter, Yirr! fancy barks, awa we canter, Up hill, down brae, till some mischanter, Some black bog-hole, Arrests us; then the scathe an’ banter We’re forced to thole.
Hale be your heart! hale be your fiddle! Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle, To cheer you through the weary widdle O’ this wild warl’.
Until you on a crummock driddle, A grey hair’d carl.
Come wealth, come poortith, late or soon, Heaven send your heart-strings aye in tune, And screw your temper-pins aboon A fifth or mair The melancholious, lazy croon O’ cankrie care.
May still your life from day to day, Nae “lente largo” in the play, But “allegretto forte” gay, Harmonious flow, A sweeping, kindling, bauld strathspey— Encore! Bravo! A blessing on the cheery gang Wha dearly like a jig or sang, An’ never think o’ right an’ wrang By square an’ rule, But, as the clegs o’ feeling stang, Are wise or fool.
My hand-waled curse keep hard in chase The harpy, hoodock, purse-proud race, Wha count on poortith as disgrace; Their tuneless hearts, May fireside discords jar a base To a’ their parts.
But come, your hand, my careless brither, I’ th’ ither warl’, if there’s anither, An’ that there is, I’ve little swither About the matter; We, cheek for chow, shall jog thegither, I’se ne’er bid better.
We’ve faults and failings—granted clearly, We’re frail backsliding mortals merely, Eve’s bonie squad, priests wyte them sheerly For our grand fa’; But still, but still, I like them dearly— God bless them a’! Ochone for poor Castalian drinkers, When they fa’ foul o’ earthly jinkers! The witching, curs’d, delicious blinkers Hae put me hyte, And gart me weet my waukrife winkers, Wi’ girnin’spite.
By by yon moon!—and that’s high swearin— An’ every star within my hearin! An’ by her een wha was a dear ane! I’ll ne’er forget; I hope to gie the jads a clearin In fair play yet.
My loss I mourn, but not repent it; I’ll seek my pursie whare I tint it; Ance to the Indies I were wonted, Some cantraip hour By some sweet elf I’ll yet be dinted; Then vive l’amour! Faites mes baissemains respectueuses, To sentimental sister Susie, And honest Lucky; no to roose you, Ye may be proud, That sic a couple Fate allows ye, To grace your blood.
Nae mair at present can I measure, An’ trowth my rhymin ware’s nae treasure; But when in Ayr, some half-hour’s leisure, Be’t light, be’t dark, Sir Bard will do himself the pleasure To call at Park.
Mossgiel, 30th October, 1786.

Written by William Topaz McGonagall | Create an image from this poem


 Beautiful city of Glasgow, with your streets so neat and clean,
Your stateley mansions, and beautiful Green!
Likewise your beautiful bridges across the River Clyde,
And on your bonnie banks I would like to reside.
Chorus -- Then away to the west -- to the beautiful west! To the fair city of Glasgow that I like the best, Where the River Clyde rolls on to the sea, And the lark and the blackbird whistle with glee.
'Tis beautiful to see the ships passing to and fro, Laden with goods for the high and the low; So let the beautiful city of Glasgow flourish, And may the inhabitants always find food their bodies to nourish.
Chorus The statue of the Prince of Orange is very grand, Looking terror to the foe, with a truncheon in his hand, And well mounted on a noble steed, which stands in the Trongate, And holding up its foreleg, I'm sure it looks first-rate.
Chorus Then there's the Duke of Wellington's statue in Royal Exchange Square -- It is a beautiful statue I without fear declare, Besides inspiring and most magnificent to view, Because he made the French fly at the battle of Waterloo.
Chorus And as for the statue of Sir Walter Scott that stands in George Square, It is a handsome statue -- few with it can compare, And most elegant to be seen, And close beside it stands the statue of Her Majesty the Queen.
Chorus And then there's the statue of Robert Burns in George Square, And the treatment he received when living was very unfair; Now, when he's dead, Scotland's sons for him do mourn, But, alas! unto them he can never return.
Chorus Then as for Kelvin Grove, it is most lovely to be seen With its beautiful flowers and trees so green, And a magnificent water-fountain spouting up very high, Where the people can quench their thirst when they feel dry.
Chorus Beautiful city of Glasgow, I now conclude my muse, And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse; And, without fear of contradiction, I will venture to say You are the second grandest city in Scotland at the present day!
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

224. Epistle to Hugh Parker

 IN this strange land, this uncouth clime,
A land unknown to prose or rhyme;
Where words ne’er cross’t the Muse’s heckles,
Nor limpit in poetic shackles:
A land that Prose did never view it,
Except when drunk he stacher’t thro’ it;
Here, ambush’d by the chimla cheek,
Hid in an atmosphere of reek,
I hear a wheel thrum i’ the neuk,
I hear it—for in vain I leuk.
The red peat gleams, a fiery kernel, Enhuskèd by a fog infernal: Here, for my wonted rhyming raptures, I sit and count my sins by chapters; For life and ***** like ither Christians, I’m dwindled down to mere existence, Wi’ nae converse but Gallowa’ bodies, Wi’ nae kenn’d face but Jenny Geddes, Jenny, my Pegasean pride! Dowie she saunters down Nithside, And aye a westlin leuk she throws, While tears hap o’er her auld brown nose! Was it for this, wi’ cannie care, Thou bure the Bard through many a shire? At howes, or hillocks never stumbled, And late or early never grumbled?— O had I power like inclination, I’d heeze thee up a constellation, To canter with the Sagitarre, Or loup the ecliptic like a bar; Or turn the pole like any arrow; Or, when auld Phoebus bids good-morrow, Down the zodiac urge the race, And cast dirt on his godship’s face; For I could lay my bread and kail He’d ne’er cast saut upo’ thy tail.
— Wi’ a’ this care and a’ this grief, And sma’, sma’ prospect of relief, And nought but peat reek i’ my head, How can I write what ye can read?— Tarbolton, twenty-fourth o’ June, Ye’ll find me in a better tune; But till we meet and weet our whistle, Tak this excuse for nae epistle.
Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | Create an image from this poem

Old King Cole

 In Tilbury Town did Old King Cole 
A wise old age anticipate, 
Desiring, with his pipe and bowl, 
No Khan’s extravagant estate.
No crown annoyed his honest head, No fiddlers three were called or needed; For two disastrous heirs instead Made music more than ever three did.
Bereft of her with whom his life Was harmony without a flaw, He took no other for a wife, Nor sighed for any that he saw; And if he doubted his two sons, And heirs, Alexis and Evander, He might have been as doubtful once Of Robert Burns and Alexander.
Alexis, in his early youth, Began to steal—from old and young.
Likewise Evander, and the truth Was like a bad taste on his tongue.
Born thieves and liars, their affair Seemed only to be tarred with evil— The most insufferable pair Of scamps that ever cheered the devil.
The world went on, their fame went on, And they went on—from bad to worse; Till, goaded hot with nothing done, And each accoutred with a curse, The friends of Old King Cole, by twos, And fours, and sevens, and elevens, Pronounced unalterable views Of doings that were not of heaven’s.
And having learned again whereby Their baleful zeal had come about, King Cole met many a wrathful eye So kindly that its wrath went out— Or partly out.
Say what they would, He seemed the more to court their candor; But never told what kind of good Was in Alexis and Evander.
And Old King Cole, with many a puff That haloed his urbanity, Would smoke till he had smoked enough, And listen most attentively.
He beamed as with an inward light That had the Lord’s assurance in it; And once a man was there all night, Expecting something every minute.
But whether from too little thought, Or too much fealty to the bowl, A dim reward was all he got For sitting up with Old King Cole.
“Though mine,” the father mused aloud, “Are not the sons I would have chosen, Shall I, less evilly endowed, By their infirmity be frozen? “They’ll have a bad end, I’ll agree, But I was never born to groan; For I can see what I can see, And I’m accordingly alone.
With open heart and open door, I love my friends, I like my neighbors; But if I try to tell you more, Your doubts will overmatch my labors.
“This pipe would never make me calm, This bowl my grief would never drown.
For grief like mine there is no balm In Gilead, or in Tilbury Town.
And if I see what I can see, I know not any way to blind it; Nor more if any way may be For you to grope or fly to find it.
“There may be room for ruin yet, And ashes for a wasted love; Or, like One whom you may forget, I may have meat you know not of.
And if I’d rather live than weep Meanwhile, do you find that surprising? Why, bless my soul, the man’s asleep! That’s good.
The sun will soon be rising.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

295. Epistle to Dr. Blacklock

 ELLISLAND, 21st Oct.
, 1789.
WOW, but your letter made me vauntie! And are ye hale, and weel and cantie? I ken’d it still, your wee bit jauntie Wad bring ye to: Lord send you aye as weel’s I want ye! And then ye’ll do.
The ill-thief blaw the Heron south! And never drink be near his drouth! He tauld myself by word o’ mouth, He’d tak my letter; I lippen’d to the chiel in trouth, And bade nae better.
But aiblins, honest Master Heron Had, at the time, some dainty fair one To ware this theologic care on, And holy study; And tired o’ sauls to waste his lear on, E’en tried the body.
But what d’ye think, my trusty fere, I’m turned a gauger—Peace be here! Parnassian queans, I fear, I fear, Ye’ll now disdain me! And then my fifty pounds a year Will little gain me.
Ye glaikit, gleesome, dainty damies, Wha, by Castalia’s wimplin streamies, Lowp, sing, and lave your pretty limbies, Ye ken, ye ken, That strang necessity supreme is ’Mang sons o’ men.
I hae a wife and twa wee laddies; They maun hae brose and brats o’ duddies; Ye ken yoursels my heart right proud is— I need na vaunt But I’ll sned besoms, thraw saugh woodies, Before they want.
Lord help me thro’ this warld o’ care! I’m weary sick o’t late and air! Not but I hae a richer share Than mony ithers; But why should ae man better fare, And a’ men brithers? Come, Firm Resolve, take thou the van, Thou stalk o’ carl-hemp in man! And let us mind, faint heart ne’er wan A lady fair: Wha does the utmost that he can, Will whiles do mair.
But to conclude my silly rhyme (I’m scant o’ verse and scant o’ time), To make a happy fireside clime To weans and wife, That’s the true pathos and sublime Of human life.
My compliments to sister Beckie, And eke the same to honest Lucky; I wat she is a daintie chuckie, As e’er tread clay; And gratefully, my gude auld cockie, I’m yours for aye.
Written by William Topaz McGonagall | Create an image from this poem

Robert Burns

 Immortal Robert Burns of Ayr,
There's but few poets can with you compare;
Some of your poems and songs are very fine:
To "Mary in Heaven" is most sublime;
And then again in your "Cottar's Saturday Night,"
Your genius there does shine most bright,
As pure as the dewdrops of the night.
Your "Tam O'Shanter" is very fine, Both funny, racy, and divine, From John O'Groats to Dumfries All critics consider it to be a masterpiece, And, also, you have said the same, Therefore they are not to blame.
And in my own opinion both you and they are right, For your genius there does sparkle bright, Which I most solemnly declare To thee, Immortal Bard of Ayr! Your "Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon" Is sweet and melodious in its tune, And the poetry is moral and sublime, And in my opinion nothing can be more fine.
Your "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled" Is most beautiful to hear sung or read; For your genius there does shine as bright, Like unto the stars of night Immortal Bard of Ayr! I must conclude my muse To speak in praise of thee does not refuse, For you were a mighty poet, few could with you compare, And also an honour to Scotland, for your genius it is rare.