It is Robert Burns' 255th birthday today so, obviously, he must be our featured poet for Poetry Sunday.
But which of his poems will it be? There are so many from which to choose - "A Red, Red Rose," "Tam o' Shanter," "A Fond Kiss," "A Man's a Man for A' That," "To a Mouse," "Auld Lang Syne" - the list seems endless.
I must confess though that when I think of Burns' verse, the first poem that springs to mind is "To A Louse." What other poet could take such a lowly creature and derive so much meaning from its existence and drive home a philosophical lesson for us all? Namely, if only we had the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us, it would free us from many a blunder and foolish notion and we would not give ourselves such airs or think so highly of ourselves. Yes, indeed, Robbie Burns was a philosopher as well as a poet.
To a Louse
On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church
by Robert Burns
Ha! whare 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 beggar's hauffet 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'rils, snug an tight,
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
Till ye've got on it---
The vera tapmost, tow'rin 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 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 duddie boy,
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 blastie'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 airs in dress an gait wad lea'es us,
An ev'n devotion!