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To J. Lapraik
(Third Epistle


Burns Original

Standard English Translation


Guid speed and furder to you, Johnie,
Guid health, hale han's, an' weather bonie!
Now, when ye're nickin down fu' cannie
The staff o' bread,
May ye ne'er want a stoup o' bran'y
To clear your head!
May Boreas never thresh your rigs,
Nor kick your rickles aff their legs,
Sendin the stuff o'er muirs an' haggs
Like driven wrack!
But may the tapmost grain that wags
Come to the sack!
I'm bizzie, too, an' skelpin at it;
But bitter, daudin showers hae wat it;
Sae my auld stumpie-pen, I gat it,
Wi' muckle wark,
An' took my jocteleg, an' whatt it
Like onie clark.
It's now twa month that I'm your debtor
For your braw, nameless, dateless letter,
Abusin me for harsh ill-nature
On holy men,
While deil a hair yoursel ye're better,
But mair profane!
But let the kirk-folk ring their bells!
Let's sing about our noble sel's:
We'll cry nae jads frae heathen hills
To help or roose us,
But browster wives an' whisky stills -
They are the Muses!
Your friendship, sir, I winna quat it;
An' if ye mak' objections at it,
Then hand in nieve some day we'll knot it,
An' witness take;
An', when wi' asquabae we've wat it,
It winna break.
But if the beast and branks be spar'd
Till kye be gaun without the herd,
And a' the vittel in the yard
An' theckit right,
I mean your ingle-side to guard
Ae winter night.
Then Muse-inspirin aqua-vitae
Shall mak us baith sae blythe an' witty,
Till ye forget ye're auld an' gatty,
And be as canty
As ye were nine years less than thretty -
Sweet ane an' twenty!
But stooks are cowpet wi' the blast,
And now the sinn keeks in the wast;
Then I maun rin amang the rest,
An' quat my chanter;
Sae I subscribe mysel in haste,
Yours, Rab the Ranter.
Sept. 13, 1785.

Good speed and further to you, Johnie,
Good health, whole hands, and weather pleasant!
Now, when you are cutting down full expertly
The stuff of bread (corn),
May you never want a cup of brandy
To clear your head!

May the North Wind never thrash your corn ridges,
Nor kick your stacks of corn off their legs,
Sending the stuff over moorlands and broken bogs
Like driven wreck!
But may the topmost grain that wags
Come to the sack!

I am busy, too, and driving at it;
But bitter, pelting showers have wet it;
So my old mutilated-pen, I got it,
With much work (effort to find it),
And took my clasp-knife, and sharpened it (the quill pen)
Like any clerk.

It is now two month that I am your debtor
For your fine, nameless, dateless letter,
Abusing me for harsh ill-nature
On holy men,
While devil a hair yourself you are better,
But more profane!

But let the church-folk ring their bells!
Let us sing about our noble selves:
We will cry no scurvy women from heathen hills
To help or inspire us,
But ale wives and whisky stills -
They are the Muses!

Your friendship, sir, I would not quit it (give it up);
And if you make objections to it,
Then hand in fist some day we will knot it,
And witness take;
And, when with whisky we have wet it,
It will not break.

But if the horse and bridle be spared
Till cattle be going without the herd (herdsman),
And all the grain in the yard
And thatched (stacked) right,
I mean your fire-side to guard
One winter night.

Then Muse-inspiring aqua-vitae (water of life, whisky)
Shall make us both so blithe and witty,
Till you forget you are old and enervated,
And be as jolly
As you were nine years less than thirty -
Sweet one and twenty!

But stacks are tumbled by the blast,
And now the sun peeps in the west;
Then I must run among the rest,
And quit my song;
So I subscribe myself in haste,
Yours, Rab the Ranter (Robert the Rhymer).


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