View site in Scots

Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

'To a Louse' by Robert Burns

25th January 2010

To a Louse: On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church.

HA! Whare ye gaun, ye crowlan ferlie!
Your impudence protects you sairly:
I canna say but ye strut rarely
                Owre gauze and lace,
Tho' faith, I fear ye dine but sparely
                On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepan, blastet 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;
Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
                Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
Below the fatt'rels, snug an' tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
                Till ye've got on it,
The vera tapmost, tow'ring height
                O' Miss's bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out
As plump an' grey as onie grozet:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
                Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie ye 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 duddie boy,
                On 's wylecoat;
But Miss's fine Lunardi, fye!
                How daur ye do't?

O Jenny, dinna toss your head,
An' set your beauties a' abread!
You little ken what cursed speed
                The blastie's makin!
Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
                Are notice takin'!

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
                An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
                An' ev'n Devotion!

Poem of the month was selected by the Scottish Poetry Library.