Rabbie Burns wrote this poem, Address to a Mouse, when the little mouse's nest was turned up with the plough in the year 1785. Much of his work describes things in nature and the great outdoors. The line is this poem which is quoted so often and of course is SO true is "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley. Of course he wrote many other pieces such as "Address to a Haggis" and of course the one that many of us who have ever had toothache can identify with, "Address To The Toothache". But he also wrote many love poems and songs such as "Mary Morrison", and the beautiful, "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose". Perhaps, however, he is most famous the world over for "Auld Lang Syne" which is sung at New Year around the globe. If you want to know what it means look at my attempt at a translation. Rabbie also paraphrased some of the Psalms including Psalm 1.
But this poem, Address To A Mouse, was one of many Burns' Poems I had to learn when I was at school. One of my teachers was a great lover of Rabbie's work (as was my Mother and Grandmother) - so learning the poems was a natural part of my childhood.
By the way, if YOU know a Scottish Poem that you would like to be included on this site, or indeed if you have written one, why not submit your contribution HERE, so people from around the world can enjoy it.
To a Mouse
Address To A Mouse, by Rabbie Burns
Wee, sleeket, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi' bickerin brattle!
wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve:
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss 't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin
Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here beneath the blast
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble
An' cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy.
Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Now if the words of this poem have confused you, do have a look at this delightful translation.
If you like this poem, 'To a Mouse', please see also the following:-