Address to the Unco Guid

by Robert Burns



My Son, these maxims make a rule,
     An’ lump them ay thegither :
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
     The Rigid Wise anither ;
The cleanest corn that e’er was dight
     May hae some pyles o’ caff in ;
So ne’er a fellow-creature slight
     For random fits o’ daffin
                                 SOLOMON (Eccles.vii. 16)


O ye, wha are sae guid yoursel,
    Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye’ve nought to do but mark and tell
    Your neebours’ fauts and folly ;
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
    Supplied wi’ store o’ water ;
The heapet happer’s ebbing still,
    An’ still the clap plays clatter !
Hear me, ye venerable core,
    As counsel for poor mortals
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,
    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 ?
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
    Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
    That still eternal gallop !
Wi’ wind and tide fair i’ your tail,
    Right on ye scud your sea-way ;
But in the teeth o’ baith to sail,
    It makes an unco lee-way.
See Social-life and Glee sit down
    All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrify’d, they’re grown
    Debauchery and Drinking :
O, would they stay to calculate,
    Th’ eternal consequences,
Or -your more dreaded hell to state -
    Damnation of expenses !
Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
    Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye tie poor Frailty names,
    Suppose a change o’ cases :
A dear-lov’d lad, convenience snug,
    A treach’rous inclination-
But, let me whisper i’ your lug,
    Ye’re ailblins nae temptation.
Then gently scan your brother man,
    Still gentler sister woman ;
Tho’ they may gang a kennin 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
    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 :
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.
Robert Burns | Classic Poems

A Red, Red Rose ] To a Mountain Daisy ] Address to a Haggis ] Address to Edinburgh ] Auld Lang Syne ] Is there for Honest Poverty ] [ Address to the Unco Guid ] The Cotter's Saturday Night ] To a Louse ] My Heart's in the Highlands ] Holy Willie's Prayer ] Tam O'Shanter ] To a Mouse ]






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