Address to the unco Guid (Poem by Robert Burns)

the Old Poems

Address to the unco Guid, or the rigidly Righteous
By Robert Burns

(1)

O ye wha are sae guid yoursel’,
    Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye’ve nought to do but mark and tell
    Your neibor’s fauts and folly!
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
    Supply’d wi’ store o’ water,
The heaped happer’s ebbing still,
    And still the clap plays clatter.


(2)

Hear me, ye venerable core,
    As counsel for poor mortals,
That frequent pass douce Wisdom’s door
    For glaikit Folly’s portals;
I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
    Would here propone defences,
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
    Their failings and mischances.


(3)

Ye see your state wi’ theirs compar’d,
    And shudder at the niffer,
But cast a moment’s fair regard,
    What maks the mighty differ?
Discount what scant occasion gave,
    That purity ye pride in,
And (what’s aft mair than a’ the lave)
    Your better art o’ hiding.


(4)

Think, when your castigated pulse
    Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
    That still eternal gallop:
Wi’ wind and tide fair i’ your tail,
    Right on ye scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth o’ baith to sail,
    It makes an unco lee-way.


(5)

See social life and glee sit down,
    All joyous and unthinking,
’Till, quite transmugrify’d, they’re grown
Debauchery and drinking;
O would they stay to calculate
    Th’ eternal consequences;
Or your more dreaded hell to state,
D — mnation of expenses!


(6)

Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
    Ty’d up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor frailty names,
    Suppose a change o’ cases;
A dear lov’d lad, convenience snug,
    A treacherous inclination — 
But, let me whisper, i’ your lug,
    Ye’re aiblins nae temptation.


(7)

Then gently scan your brother man,
    Still gentler sister woman;
Though they may gang a kennin’ wrang,
    To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
    The moving why they do it:
And just as lamely can ye mark,
    How far perhaps they rue it.


(8)

Who made the heart, ’tis He alone
    Decidedly can try us,
He knows each chord — its various tone,
    Each spring — its various bias:
Then at the balance let’s be mute,
    We never can adjust it;
What’s done we partly may compute,
    But know not what’s resisted.

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