To a Louse

by Rabbie Burns

This poem is by Rabbie Burns and is one of my favourites by the Scottish bard.

Watch out in the last stanza for those well known words 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us..'

In other words ' Oh for the gift to see ourselves as others see us!'


On seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church

By Rabbi Burns

Ha! Whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly:
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith, I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit 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 beggars's haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi'ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

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

My sooth! Right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an' grey as ony groset;
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie you 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 dubbie boy,
On's wyliecoat;
But Miss's fine Lunardi! Fye!
How daur ye do't?

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

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion;
What air in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Contributed by Edwyn Petit - Fife

Comments for To a Louse

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Sep 16, 2007
Food for thought
by: Jennifer

I like, another reader had heard the last verse but not the rest of the peom. Its a peom which is food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

Sep 14, 2007
its good to see it all
by: Susan

..I remember the last verse as my dad always quoted it but dont remember having read the whole thing before. I like this being able to read others ideas of fav poety/recipes and being able to respond!

Sep 14, 2007
Church will never be the same!
by: Katie

This poem really tickled me. It is so typical of Burns - he had an amazing ability to see things in 'nature' that others might not have appreciated.
What a profound statement - "oh the gift to see ourself as others see us!"

Thanks for including this poem

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