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Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
67. Epistle to John Goldie, in Kilmarnock
 
 
Author of the Gospel Recovered.—August, 1785
 
 
O GOWDIE, terror o’ the whigs,
Dread o’ blackcoats and rev’rend wigs!
Sour Bigotry, on her last legs,
          Girns an’ looks back,
Wishing the ten Egyptian plagues        5
          May seize you quick.
 
Poor gapin’, glowrin’ Superstition!
Wae’s me, she’s in a sad condition:
Fye: bring Black Jock, 1 her state physician,
          To see her water;        10
Alas, there’s ground for great suspicion
She’ll ne’er get better.
 
Enthusiasm’s past redemption,
Gane in a gallopin’ consumption:
Not a’ her quacks, wi’ a’ their gumption,        15
          Can ever mend her;
Her feeble pulse gies strong presumption,
          She’ll soon surrender.
 
Auld Orthodoxy lang did grapple,
For every hole to get a stapple;        20
But now she fetches at the thrapple,
          An’ fights for breath;
Haste, gie her name up in the chapel, 2
          Near unto death.
 
It’s you an’ Taylor 3 are the chief        25
To blame for a’ this black mischief;
But, could the L—d’s ain folk get leave,
          A toom tar barrel
An’ twa red peats wad bring relief,
          And end the quarrel.        30
 
For me, my skill’s but very sma’,
An’ skill in prose I’ve nane ava’;
But quietlins-wise, between us twa,
          Weel may you speed!
And tho’ they sud your sair misca’,        35
          Ne’er fash your head.
 
E’en swinge the dogs, and thresh them sicker!
The mair they squeel aye chap the thicker;
And still ’mang hands a hearty bicker
          O’ something stout;        40
It gars an owthor’s pulse beat quicker,
          And helps his wit.
 
There’s naething like the honest nappy;
Whare’ll ye e’er see men sae happy,
Or women sonsie, saft an’ sappy,        45
          ’Tween morn and morn,
As them wha like to taste the drappie,
          In glass or horn?
 
I’ve seen me dazed upon a time,
I scarce could wink or see a styme;        50
Just ae half-mutchkin does me prime,—
          Ought less is little—
Then back I rattle on the rhyme,
          As gleg’s a whittle.
 
Note 1. The Rev. J. Russell, Kilmarnock.—R. B. [back]
Note 2. Mr. Russell’s Kirk.—R. B. [back]
Note 3. Dr. Taylor of Norwich.—R. B. [back]
 

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