Verse > Harvard Classics > Robert Burns > Poems and Songs
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Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
89. The Ordination
 
 
“For sense they little owe to frugal Heav’n—
To please the mob, they hide the little giv’n.”
 
 
KILMARNOCK wabsters, fidge an’ claw,
  An’ pour your creeshie nations;
An’ ye wha leather rax an’ draw,
  Of a’ denominations;
Swith to the Ligh Kirk, ane an’ a’        5
  An’ there tak up your stations;
Then aff to Begbie’s in a raw,
  An’ pour divine libations
                      For joy this day.
 
Curst Common-sense, that imp o’ hell,        10
  Cam in wi’ Maggie Lauder; 1
But Oliphant 2 aft made her yell,
  An’ Russell 3 sair misca’d her:
This day Mackinlay 4 taks the flail,
  An’ he’s the boy will blaud her!        15
He’ll clap a shangan on her tail,
  An’ set the bairns to daud her
                      Wi’ dirt this day.
 
Mak haste an’ turn King David owre,
  And lilt wi’ holy clangor;        20
O’ double verse come gie us four,
  An’ skirl up the Bangor:
This day the kirk kicks up a stoure;
  Nae mair the knaves shall wrang her,
For Heresy is in her pow’r,        25
  And gloriously she’ll whang her
                      Wi’ pith this day.
 
Come, let a proper text be read,
  An’ touch it aff wi’ vigour,
How graceless Ham 5 leugh at his dad,        30
  Which made Canaan a nigger;
Or Phineas 6 drove the murdering blade,
  Wi’ whore-abhorring rigour;
Or Zipporah, 7 the scauldin jad,
  Was like a bluidy tiger        35
                      I’ th’ inn that day.
 
There, try his mettle on the creed,
  An’ bind him down wi’ caution,
That stipend is a carnal weed
  He taks by for the fashion;        40
And gie him o’er the flock, to feed,
  And punish each transgression;
Especial, rams that cross the breed,
  Gie them sufficient threshin;
                      Spare them nae day.        45
 
Now, auld Kilmarnock, cock thy tail,
  An’ toss thy horns fu’ canty;
Nae mair thou’lt rowt out-owre the dale,
  Because thy pasture’s scanty;
For lapfu’s large o’ gospel kail        50
  Shall fill thy crib in plenty,
An’ runts o’ grace the pick an’ wale,
  No gi’en by way o’ dainty,
                      But ilka day.
 
Nae mair by Babel’s streams we’ll weep,        55
  To think upon our Zion;
And hing our fiddles up to sleep,
  Like baby-clouts a-dryin!
Come, screw the pegs wi’ tunefu’ cheep,
  And o’er the thairms be tryin;        60
Oh, rare to see our elbucks wheep,
  And a’ like lamb-tails flyin
                      Fu’ fast this day.
 
Lang, Patronage, with rod o’ airn,
  Has shor’d the Kirk’s undoin;        65
As lately Fenwick, sair forfairn,
  Has proven to its ruin: 8
Our patron, honest man! Glencairn,
  He saw mischief was brewin;
An’ like a godly, elect bairn,        70
  He’s waled us out a true ane,
                      And sound, this day.
 
Now Robertson 9 harangue nae mair,
  But steek your gab for ever;
Or try the wicked town of Ayr,        75
  For there they’ll think you clever;
Or, nae reflection on your lear,
  Ye may commence a shaver;
Or to the Netherton 10 repair,
  An’ turn a carpet weaver        80
                      Aff-hand this day.
 
Mu’trie 11 and you were just a match,
  We never had sic twa drones;
Auld Hornie did the Laigh Kirk watch,
  Just like a winkin baudrons,        85
And aye he catch’d the tither wretch,
  To fry them in his caudrons;
But now his Honour maun detach,
  Wi’ a’ his brimstone squadrons,
                      Fast, fast this day.        90
 
See, see auld Orthodoxy’s faes
  She’s swingein thro’ the city!
Hark, how the nine-tail’d cat she plays!
  I vow it’s unco pretty:
There, Learning, with his Greekish face,        95
  Grunts out some Latin ditty;
And Common-sense is gaun, she says,
  To mak to Jamie Beattie
                      Her plaint this day.
 
But there’s Morality himsel’,        100
  Embracing all opinions;
Hear, how he gies the tither yell,
  Between his twa companions!
See, how she peels the skin an’ fell,
  As ane were peelin onions!        105
Now there, they’re packed aff to hell,
  An’ banish’d our dominions,
                      Henceforth this day.
 
O happy day! rejoice, rejoice!
  Come bouse about the porter!        110
Morality’s demure decoys
  Shall here nae mair find quarter:
Mackinlay, Russell, are the boys
  That heresy can torture;
They’ll gie her on a rape a hoyse,        115
  And cowe her measure shorter
                      By th’ head some day.
 
Come, bring the tither mutchkin in,
  And here’s—for a conclusion—
To ev’ry New Light 12 mother’s son,        120
  From this time forth, Confusion!
If mair they deave us wi’ their din,
  Or Patronage intrusion,
We’ll light a spunk, and ev’ry skin,
  We’ll rin them aff in fusion        125
                      Like oil, some day.
 
Note 1. Alluding to a scoffing ballad which was made on the admission of the late reverend and worthy Mr. Lihdsay to the “Laigh Kirk.”—R. B. [back]
Note 2. Rev. James Oliphant, minister of Chapel of Ease, Kilmarnock. [back]
Note 3. Rev. John Russell of Kilmarnock. [back]
Note 4. Rev. James Mackinlay. [back]
Note 5. Genesis ix. 22.—R. B. [back]
Note 6. Numbers xxv. 8.—R. B. [back]
Note 7. Exodus iv. 52.—R. B. [back]
Note 8. Rev. Wm. Boyd, pastor of Fenwick. [back]
Note 9. Rev. John Robertson. [back]
Note 10. A district of Kilmarnock. [back]
Note 11. The Rev. John Multrie, a “Moderate,” whom Mackinlay succeeded. [back]
Note 12. “New Light” is a cant phrase in the west of Scotland for those religious opinions which Dr. Taylor of Norwich has so strenuously defended.—R. B. [back]
 

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