Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from An Epistle to John Lapraik, an Old Scottish Bard
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
(See full text.)

I AM nae Poet, in a sense,
But just a Rhymer like, by chance,
An’ hae to learning nae pretence,
                Yet, what the matter?
Whene’er my Muse does on me glance,        5
                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?’        10
But, by your leaves, my learned foes,
                Ye ’re maybe wrang.
 
What ’s a’ your jargon o’ your schools,
Your Latin names for horns an’ stools;
If honest nature made you fools,        15
                What sairs 1 your grammars?
Ye ’d better taen up spades and shools, 2
                Or knappin 3-hammers.
 
A set o’ dull, conceited hashes, 4
Confuse their brains in college classes!        20
They gang in stirks, 5 and come out asses,
                Plain truth to speak;
An’ syne 6 they think to climb Parnassus
                By dint o’ Greek!
 
Gie me ae spark o’ Nature’s fire,        25
That ’s a’ the learning I desire;
Then tho’ I drudge thro’ dub 7 an’ mire
                At pleugh or cart,
My Muse, though hamely in attire,
                May touch the heart.        30
 
O for a spunk 8 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 9 eneugh for me,        35
                If I could get it.
 
Note 1. serves. [back]
Note 2. shovels. [back]
Note 3. stone-breaking. [back]
Note 4. louts. [back]
Note 5. year-old cow or bullock. [back]
Note 6. then. [back]
Note 7. pond. [back]
Note 8. spark. [back]
Note 9. learning. [back]
 
 
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