Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
To the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
O YE wha are sae guid yoursel’,
  Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye’ve nought to do but mark and tell
  Your Neebor’s fauts and folly!
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,        5
  Supplied wi’ store o’ water,
The heapet happer’s ebbing still,
  And still the clap plays clatter.
 
Hear me, ye venerable Core,
  As counsel for poor mortals,        10
That frequent pass douce Wisdom’s door,
  For glaikit Folly’s portals;
I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
  Would here propone defences,
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,        15
  Their failings and mischances.
 
Ye see your state wi’ theirs compared,
  And shudder at the niffer,
But cast a moment’s fair regard,
  What makes the mighty differ?        20
Discount what scant occasion gave
  That purity ye pride in,
And (what’s aft mair than a’ the lave)
  Your better art o’ hidin’.
 
Think, when your castigated pulse        25
  Gies now and then a wallop,
What raging must his veins convulse,
  That still eternal gallop:
Wi’ wind and tide fair i’ your tail,
  Right on ye scud your sea-way:        30
But in the teeth o’ baith to sail,
  It maks an unco leeway.
 
See Social Life and Glee sit down,
  All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrified, they’re grown        35
  Debauchery and Drinking:
O would they stay to calculate
  Th’ eternal consequences;
Or your more dreaded hell to state,
  Damnation of expenses!        40
 
Ye high, exalted, virtuous Dames,
  Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
  Suppose a change o’ cases;
A dear-loved lad, convenience snug,        45
  A treacherous inclination—
But let me whisper i’ your lug,
  Ye’re aiblins nae temptation.
 
Then gently scan your brother Man,
  Still gentler sister Woman,        50
Though they may gang a kennie wrang,
  To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
  The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark        55
  How far perhaps they rue it.
 
Who made the heart, ’tis He alone
  Decidedly can try us,
He knows each chord—its various tone,
  Each spring—its various bias:        60
Then at the balance let’s be mute,
  We never can adjust it:
What’s done we partly may compute,
  But know not what’s resisted.
 
 
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