To A Louse, To Robbie Burns, To Scotland

To A Louse,

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

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?

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,

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;

Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,

Till ye’ve got on it-

The verra tapmost, tow’rin height

O’ Miss’ bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,

As plump an’ grey as ony groset:

O for some rank, mercurial rozet,

Or fell, red smeddum,

I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,

Wad dress your droddum.

I wad na been surpris’d to spy

You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;

Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,

On’s wyliecoat;

But Miss’ fine Lunardi! fye!

How daur ye do’t?

O Jeany, dinna toss your head,

An’ set your beauties a’ abread!

Ye little ken what cursed speed

The blastie’s makin:

Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,

Are notice takin.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An’ foolish notion:

What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,

An’ ev’n devotion!”

robert_burns-Robert Burns, 1786

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2 thoughts on “To A Louse, To Robbie Burns, To Scotland

  1. Your post today caused me to do a little research and I discovered a louse in plural is lice. The second reading of this poem after the research gave me a much better enjoyment and mental picture. Lice get on the rich and poor the good and the criminal. We are not above the plight of them and probably every person had to experience them at one time or other. Since Robert saw this lady at church the lady in finery might have reminded him of those who would act as though they were without sin and above it and the louse seen like sin. “if we could see ourselves as others see us ” is a well known quote I have heard for many years. Thanks for your post, but my head now feels itchy :-).

    Liked by 1 person

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