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Address To The Deil.


Burns Original

Standard English Translation

O Prince! O Chief of many throned pow'rs!
That led th' embattl'd seraphim to war.

O Thou! Whatever title suit thee --
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie --
Wha in yon cavern grim an' sootie,
Clos'd under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie,
To scaud poor wretches!
Hear me, Auld Hangie, for a wee,
An' let poor damn'd bodies be;
I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
Ev'n to a deil,
To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me
An' hear us squeel.
Great is thy pow'r an' great thy fame;
Far kend an' noted is thy name;
An' tho' yon lowin heugh's thy name,
Thou travels far;
An' faith! thou's neither lag, nor lame,
Nor blate, nor scaur.
Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
For prey, a' holes an' corners trying;
Whyles, on the strong-wing'd tempest flyin,
Tirlin the kirks;
Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,
Unseen thou lurks.
I've heard my rev'rend graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or, where auld ruin'd castles grey
Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way
Wi' eldritch croon.
When twilight did my graunie summon,
To say her pray'rs, douce, honest woman.
Aft yont the dyke she's heard you bummin,
Wi' eerie drone;
Or, rustlin, thro' the boortrees comin,
Wi' heavy groan.
Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
Wi you mysel, I gat a fright:
Ayont the lough,
Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,
Wi' waving sugh.
The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each bristl'd hair stood like a stake;
When wi' an eldritch, stoor 'quaick, quaick,'
Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter'd like a drake,
On whistling wings.
Let warlocks grim, an' wither'd hags,
Tell how wi' you, on ragweed nags,
They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags,
Wi' wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
Owre howkit dead.
Thence, countra wives, wi' toil an' pain,
May plunge an' plunge the kirn in vain;
For O! the yellow treasure's taen
By witching skill;
An' dawtit, twal-pint hawkie's gaen
As yell's the bill.
Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse
On young guidmen, fond, keen an' croose;
When the best wark-lume i' the house,
By cantraip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,
Just at the bit.
When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord.
An' float the jinglin icy boord,
Then, water-kelpies haunt the foord,
By your direction,
An' nighted trav'llers are allur'd
To their destruction.
And aft your moss-traversing spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an' drunk is:
The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkies
Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
Ne'er mair to rise.
When Masons' mystic word an' grip
In storms an' tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brother ye wad whip
Aff straught to hell.
Lang syne in Eden's bonie yard,
When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
An' all the soul of love they shar'd,
The raptur'd hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow'ry swaird,
In shady bow'r.
Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
An' play'd on man a cursed brogue
(Black be your fa'!),
An' gied the infant warld a shog,
'Maist ruin'd a'.
D'ye mind that day when in a bizz
Wi' reekit duds, an' reestit gizz,
Ye did present your smoutie phiz
'Mang better folk;
An' sklented on the man of Uzz
Your spitefu' joke?
An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
An' brak him out o' house an' hal',
While scabs an' botches did him gall,
Wi' bitter claw;
An' lows'd his ill-tongu'd wicked scaul --
Was warst ava?
But a' your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an' fechtin fierce,
Sin' that day Michael did you pierce
Down to this time,
Wad ding a Lallan tongue, or Erse,
In prose or rhyme.
An' now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
A certain Bardie's rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
To your black Pit;
But, faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
An' cheat you yet.
But fare-you-weel, Auld Nickie-Ben!
O' wad ye tak a thought an' men'!
Ye aiblins might - I dinna ken --
Still hae a stake:
I'm wae to think upo' yon den,
Ev'n for your sake!

O Prince! O Chief of many throned powers!
That led the embattled seraphim to war.

O You! Whatever title suit you -
Old Horny, Satan, Nick, or Hoofy -
Who in yonder cavern grim and sooty,
Closed under hatches,
Splashes about the brimstone dish,
To scald poor wretches!

Hear me, Old Hangman, for a little,
And let poor damned bodies be;
I am sure small pleasure it can give,
Even to a devil,
To spank and scald poor dogs like me
And hear us squeal.

Great is your power and great your fame;
Far known and noted is your name;
And though yon flaming hollow is your home,
You travels far;
And faith! you are neither backward, nor lame,
Nor backward, nor afraid.

Sometimes, ranging like a roaring lion,
For prey, all holes and corners trying;
Sometimes, on the strong-winged tempest flying,
Stripping the churches;
sometimes, in the human bosom prying,
Unseen you lurks.

I have heard my reverend grandmother say,
In lonely glens you like to stray;
Or, where old ruined castles grey
Nod to the moon,
You fright the nightly wanderer's way
With unearthly croon.

When twilight did my grandmother summon,
To say her prayers, sedate, honest woman.
Often beyond the wall she has heard you bumming,
With eerie drone;
Or, rustling, through the alder trees coming,
With heavy groan.

One dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down with squinting light,
With you myself, I got a fright:
Beyond the pond,
You, like a clump of rushes, stood in sight,
With waving moan.

The cudgel in my fist did shake,
Each bristled hair stood like a stake;
When with an unearthly, harsh 'quack, quack,'
Among the springs,
Away you flew like a drake,
On whistling wings.

Let wizards grim, and withered old women,
Tell how with you, on ragwort horses,
They skim the moors and dizzy clifs,
With wicked speed;
And in church yards renew their leagues,
Over dug-up dead.

Thence, country wives, with toil and pain,
May plunge and plunge the (butter) churn in vain;
For O! the yellow treasure's taken
By witching skill;
And petted, twelve pint cow is gone
As dry as the bull.

Thence, mystic knots make great abuse
On young husbands, fond, keen and confident;
When the best work tool in the house,
By magic wit,
Is instantly made not worth a louse,
Just at that instant.

When thaws dissolve the snowy hoard.
And float the jingling icy surface,
Then, water fairies haunt the ford,
By your direction,
And travelers in the night are lured
To their destruction.

And often your bog traversing jack-o'-lanterns
Decoy the person that late and drunk is:
The blazing, cursed, mischievous monkeys
Delude his eyes,
Until in some miry bog he sunk is,
Never more to rise.

When Masons' mystic word and grip (hand shake)
In storms and tempests raise you up,
Some cock or cat your rage must stop,
Or, strange to tell!
The youngest brother you wood whip
Off straight to hell.

Long past in Eden's bonny garden,
When youthful lovers first were paired,
And all the soul of love they shared,
The raptured hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flowery sward,
In shady bower.

Then you, you old, scheming dog!
You came to Paradise incognito,
An played on man a cursed trick
(Black be your fall!),
And gave the infant world a shake,
And almost ruined all.

Do you mind that day when in a flurry
With smoky clothes, and scorched wig,
You did present your smutty face
Among better folk;
And squinted on the man of Uzz (Job)
Your spiteful joke?

And how you got him in your bondage,
And broke him out of house and hall,
While scabs and blotches did him gall,
With bitter claw;
And loosed his ill-tongued wicked scold -
Was worst of all?

But all your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares and fighting fierce,
Since that day Michael did you pierce
Down to this time,
Would ding a Lowland tongue, or Gaelic,
In prose or rhyme.

And now, Old Hoofs, I know you are thinking,
A certain Bard's roistering, drinking,
Some luckless hour will send him hurrying,
To your black Pit;
But, faith! he will turn a corner dodging,
And cheat you yet.

But fare-you-well, Old Nickie-Ben (Devil)!
O would you take a thought and mend!
You perhaps might - I do not know -
Still have a stake:
I am sad to think upon yon den,
Even for your sake!


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