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To Davie


Burns Original

Standard English Translation


Auld Neebor,
I'm three times doubly o'er your debtor
For your auld-farrant, frien'ly letter;
Tho' I maun say't, I doubt ye flatter,
Ye speak sae fair:
For my puir, silly, rhymin clatter
Some less maun sair.
Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle!
Lang may your elbuck jink an' diddle
To cheer you thro' the weary widdle
O' war'ly cares,
Till bairns' bairns kindly cuddle
Your auld grey hairs!
But Davie, lad, I'm red ye're glaikit:
I'm tauld the Muse ye hae negleckit;
An' gif it's sae, ye sud be lickit
Until ye fyke;
Sic han's as you sud ne'er be faiket,
Be hain't wha like.
For me, I'm on Parnassus' brink,

(Note:- Parnassus, a mountain in Greece,
sacred to Apollo and the Muses.)

Riven the words to gar them clink;
Whyles daez't wi' love, whyles daez't wi' drink
Wi' jads or Masons,
An' whyles, but ay owre late I think,
Braw sober lessons.
Of a' the thoughtless sons o' man
Commen' me to the Bardie clan:
Except it be some idle plan
O' rhymin clink -
The devil-haet that I sud ban! -
They never think.
Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o' livin,
Nae cares to gie us joy or grievin,
But just the pouchie put the nieve in,
An' while ought's there,
Then, hiltie-skiltie, we gae scrievin,
An' fash nae mair.
Leeze me on rhyme! It's ay a treasure,
My chief, amaist my only pleasure;
At hame, a-fiel, at wark or leisure,
The Muse, poor hizzie!
Tho' rough an' raploch be her measure,
She's seldom lazy.
Haud to the Muse, my dainty Davie:
The warl' may play you monie a shavie,
But for the Muse, she'll never leave ye,
Tho' e'er sae puir;
Na, even tho' limpin wi' the spavie
Frae door to door!



Old Neighbour
I am three times doubly over your debtor
For your old-fashioned friendly letter,
Though I must say it, I doubt you flatter,
You speak so fair:
For my poor, silly, rhyming clatter
Some less must serve.

Whole be your heart, whole be your fiddle!
Long may your elbow dance and shake
To cheer you through the weary wriggle
Of worldly cares,
Till childrens' children (grand-children) kindly embrace
Your old grey hairs!

But Davie, lad, I am afraid you are foolish:
I am told the Muse you have neglected;
And should it be so, you should be whipped
Until you fidget;
Such hands as yours should never be excused,
Be spared who like.

For me, I am on Parnassus' brink,

Tearing the words to make them rhyme;
Sometimes dazed with love, sometimes dazed with drink
With scurvy women or Masons,
And sometimes, but always too late I think,
Fine sober lessons.

Of all the thoughtless sons of man
Commend me to the Bard's clan:
Except it be some idle plan
Of rhyming jingle -
The devil-have it that I should curse! -
They never think.

No thought, no view, no scheme of living,
No cares to give us joy or grieving,
But just the pocket put the fist in,
And while anything is there,
Then, helter-skelter, we go careering,
And worry no more.

Dear is to me on rhyme! It is always a treasure,
My chief, almost my only pleasure;
At home, afield, at work or leisure,
The Muse, poor girl!
Though rough and homespun be her measure,
She is seldom lazy.

Hold (stick) to the Muse, my dainty Davie:
The world may play you many an ill turn,
But for the Muse, she will never leave you,
Though ever so poor;
No, even though limping with the spavin
From door to door!


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