Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
To a Louse
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church

HA! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin’ ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
        Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely        5
        On sic a place.
 
Ye ugly, creepin’, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her,
        Sae fine a lady?        10
Gae somewhere else, and seek your dinner
        On some poor body.
 
Swith! in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,        15
        In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
        Your thick plantations.
 
Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug and tight;        20
Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,
        Till ye’ve got on it—
The verra tapmost, tow’rin’ height
        O’ Miss’s bonnet.
 
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,        25
As plump an’ grey as ony grozet:
Oh, for some rank, mercurial rozet,
        Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,
        Wad dress your droddum!        30
 
I wadna been surpris’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
        On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’s fine Lunardi! fy!        35
        How daur ye do’t?
 
Oh Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what curséd speed
        The blastie’s makin’:        40
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
        Are notice takin’.
 
Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,        45
        An’ foolish notion.
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
        An’ ev’n devotion!
 
 
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