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Robert Burns

(1759-1796 / Ayrshire / Scotland)

To A Mouse


Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
What makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell -
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects dreaer!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Read poems about / on: winter, sorry, grief, nature, house, green, fear, joy, pain, wind

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  • Rookie Nancy Harris (9/23/2012 3:15:00 PM)

    I remember my mother telling me this and many more of robby burns poems, but this was my favorate, brings back fond memorys (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tyf F. (2/13/2009 11:07:00 PM)

    Robert Burns was a poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He wrote that the best laid plans of mice and men go awry, and financially, that is where a payday loan can come in. Things change, and not being able to be flexible can be a hindrance. It behooves a person to have a Plan B, willing to change with circumstances. A payday loan could be the ticket if you have a sudden expense that can't wait until payday. When things hit the fan, as it were, you have to roll with the punches. If your budget takes a beating with a sudden emergency, then a payday loan might be the Plan B you need. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Calum Findlay (11/16/2005 3:06:00 PM)

    Im a wee bit biaised (being Scottish) but I think this poem is one of the best poems ever written. It shows incredible humility and tenderness - especially the second stanza which often brings me close to tears when i read it. Its no surprise that one of the literary greats, John Steinbeck, used a line from this poem as the title for his most famous novel. The last stanza captures the inherent suffering of the human condition in the most poignant and succinct manner. This really is a GREAT work. Dont be put off by the language if you are not Scottish - go to your library and get a book on Robert Burns and you will find translations of the old Scottish words.....and enjoy! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie J. S. (3/25/2005 1:42:00 PM)

    What do any of you think about this poem? Do you like it and why? Do you dislike it and why?

    I think it is neat how Burns uses scottish dialect and english together.

    Thanks for your opinions! (Report) Reply

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