To A Mouse Poem by Robert Burns

To A Mouse

Rating: 3.7


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!

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Calum Findlay 16 November 2005

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!

25 4 Reply
J. S. 25 March 2005

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!

18 5 Reply
Nancy Harris 23 September 2012

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

17 5 Reply
Bill Wright 17 April 2016

As a schoolboy in Scotland the works of Burns featured heavily in our English lessons. This was always one of my favourites and I can still recite it from memory nearly 50 years later.

7 1 Reply
Kenneth Bowen 30 June 2016

The audio rendition of To a Mouse is absolutely horrendous. The reader spells word contractions instead of pronouncing the shortened word. For example, wi is spelled out as N A, instead of pronounced wi as in with. I expected a true Scottish rendition instead of some amateurish attempt. Additionally, the reader knows nothing about reading poetry. You should really remove the audio. It's embarrassing.

6 2 Reply
Helen Serrick 03 September 2020

Och but he was sich a grand humanitarian. I hope tae meet him one day! ! !

1 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 28 October 2019

An insightful creation written in persuasive expressions with conviction.......................................

1 0 Reply
Adeeb Alfateh 04 July 2019

'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! its' a great expression great 10+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

2 0 Reply
victor sinclair 28 January 2019

Rember reading this poem in school, many years ago and the teacher had to explain most of the words as we had no idea what it meant. I understood the message in the poem but reading it again after 60 years I still dont kow what half of the words mean. I am not trying to put Rabi down as I am sure he was a genius and probably the best scottish poet ever.

1 0 Reply
Carol DeAngelis 05 October 2018

Here the poet brings us to a different perspective. We see the ironies of life that face all.... great and small. So precious!

3 1 Reply
Robert Burns

Robert Burns

Ayrshire / Scotland
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