To a mouse
  • In the words of poet Thomas Carlysle, Burns "rises to the high, stoops to the low, and is brother and playmate to all nature."
  • One of its couplets has now passed into proverbial usage: "The best laid schemes o' Mice and Men, gang aft agley"
  • WEE, sleeket, cowran, timírous beastie,
  • O, what a panicís in thy breastie!
  • Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
  • Wií bickering brattle!
  • I wad be laith to rin aní chase thee,
  • Wií murdíring pattle!
  • Iím truly sorry Manís dominion
  • Has broken Natureís social union,
  • Aní justifies that ill opinion,
  • Which makes thee startle,
  • At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
  • Aní fellow-mortal!
  • I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
  • What then? poor beastie,
  • thou maun live!
  • A daimen-icker in a thrave
  • ĎS a smaí request:
  • Ií11 get a blessin wií the lave,
  • Aní never missít!
  • Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
  • Itís silly waís the winís are strewin!
  • Aní naething, now, to big a new ane,
  • Oí foggage green!
  • Aní bleak Decemberís winds ensuin,
  • Baith snell aní keen!
  • Thou saw the fields laid bare aní wast,
  • Aní weary Winter comin fast,
  • Aní coke here, beneath the blast,
  • Thou thought to dwell,
  • Till crash! the cruel coulter past
  • Out throí thy cell.
  • That wee-bit heap oí leaves aní stibble,
  • Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
  • Now thouís turníd out, for aí thy trouble,
  • But house or hald.
  • To thole the Winterís sleety dribble,
  • Aní crunreuch cauld!
  • But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
  • In proving foresight may be vain:
  • The best laid schemes oí Mice aní Men,
  • Gang aft agley,
  • Aní leaíe us nought but grief aní pain,
  • For promisíd joy!
  • Still, thou art blest, comparíd wií me!
  • The present only toucheth thee:
  • But Och ! I bachward cast my eíe,
  • On prospects drear!
  • Aní forward, thoí I canna see,
  • I guess aní fear!
  • Click to return to our Poets' corner
  • Notes

  • sleeket: sleek
  • brattle: hurry
  • pattle: plough staff
  • A daimen-icker in a thrave: a stray ear of corn out of a sheaf;
  • lave: remainder
  • big: build
  • snell: bitter, biting
  • coulter: iron blade fixed to the plough share
  • thole: suffer, endure; cranreuch: the hoar frost
  • agley: wide of the mark