Address To A Mouse

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

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,
An' fellow-mortal!

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:-

My Love is Like a Red Red Rose - This lovely romantic poem/song by Rabbie Burns.
The Collier Laddie - Believed to be one of the oldest of Fife's songs.
Address to a Haggis - Rabbie Burns' famous poem, recited at Burn's Suppers throughout the world.
Auld Lang Syne - Rabbie Burns' famous song, traditionally sung to bring in the New Year.
Poem Mary Morrison - Another love poem by Rabbie Burns. I've dedicated this page to my Aunt, also called Mary Morrison who passed away in 2007.
The Boy in The Train - This delightful poem describes one young lads arrival by train to Kirkcaldy with smell of the linoleum factories.
Titanic Poem - Answers this question followed by a poem about that tragedy written by my Grandmother (from Scotland, of course!)
Translation Auld Lang Syne - Find out what the words of Auld Lang Syne mean?
Address To The Toothache - This descriptive Poem says it all!
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens - This ballad mentions Dunfermline, the ancient capital of Scotland.
Psalm 1 - This Psalm was paraphrased by Rabbie Burns.
The The Carls o Dysart - This Poem/song was written by Rabbie Burns on a journey through Fife.
Burns Supper - Learn a bit more about a Burns Supper and get the Menu and recipe for Haggis, chappit potatoes and bashed neeps.
Hogmanay - See how we bring in the New Year in Scotland.
Scottish Custom and Traditions - Learn a bit more about some of our customs and traditions.
Language, Customs and Culture Bookstore - Browse through our Bookstore for Scots-English Dictionaries, and plenty books on the works of Rabbie Burns.

See also poems contributed by visitors:
I Love The Lomonds, Cheeseboard, The Silver Trail to Crail , This Public Bar in Ladybank, A Friendly Fife Said "Hello", They walked all the way from Glasgow, Aberdour Greets Me Kindly, A Glimpse of Gold in Kirkcaldy, Kingskettle Cemetery, The Bonnie Bonnie Sand of St Andrews Bay, Thomas Joseph Harris, The Tay Bridge Disaster, Sojourn in St Andrews, When I walked to Leven, I should have played for Ladybank Violet, The Old Scottish Stone, Collessie, The Kingdom of Fife, Lady Mary Ann, The Village of Tayport & its Surroundings, Loch Leven, Grace Before Dinner, Holy Willie's Prayer, Will Ye No' Come Back Again, The Rights of Woman, Scots Wha Hae, Tam o' Shanter, The Star o' Rabbie Burns, Robert Burns, Ae Fond Kiss, Ballade of the Royal Game of Golf, A Man's a Man for A' That, To A Louse, Cuddle Doon, Scotch Drink

Share Scottish Poetry - Poems contributed by visitors to this site. Do contribute YOUR poems and have them published on this site!

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To A Mouse


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