Robert Burns

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The happy think a lifetime short, but to the unhappy one night can be an eternity.
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Robert Burns.

Robert Burns (January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796) was a poet and pioneer of the Romantic movement and after his death became an important source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.


  • Beauty's of a fading nature
    Has a season and is gone!
    • Will Ye Go and Marry Katie? (1764)
  • Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
    O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    Wi' bickering brattle!
  • I'm truly sorry man's dominion
    Has broken Nature's social union.
    • To a Mouse, st. 2 (1785)
  • The best laid schemes o' mice and men
    Gang aft a-gley;
    And leave us naught but grief and pain
    For promised joy.
    • To a Mouse, st. 7 (1785)
  • Nature's law,
    That man was made to mourn.
    • Man Was Made to Mourn, st. 4 (1786)
  • Man's inhumanity to man
    Makes countless thousands mourn.
    Man was made to Mourn.
    • Man was Made to Mourn (1786)
  • He wales a portion with judicious care;
    And "Let us worship God" he says, with solemn air.
    • The Cotter's Saturday Night, st. 12 (1786)
  • From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs,
    That makes her loved at home, revered abroad:
    Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
    "An honest man's the noblest work of God."
    • The Cotter's Saturday Night, st. 19 (1786)
  • Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire,
    That's a' the learning I desire.
    • First Epistle to J. Lapraik, st. 13 (1786)
  • The social, friendly, honest man,
    Whate'er he be,
    'Tis he fulfills great Nature's plan,
    And none but he!
    • Second Epistle to J. Lapraik, st. 15 (1786)
  • On ev'ry hand it will allowed be,
    He's just—nae better than he should be.
    • A Dedication to Gavin Hamilton (1786)
  • It's hardly in a body's pow'r,
    To keep, at times, frae being sour.
    • Epistle to Davie, st. 2 (1786)
  • Misled by fancy's meteor ray,
    By passion driven;
    But yet the light that led astray
    Was light from heaven.
    • The Vision, II, st. 18 (1786)
  • His lockèd, lettered, braw brass collar
    Showed him the gentleman an' scholar.
    • The Twa Dogs, st. 3 (1786)
  • An' there began a lang digression
    About the lords o' the creation.
    • The Twa Dogs, st. 6 (1786)
  • O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion.
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
    An' ev'n Devotion
  • Wee, modest, crimson-tippèd flow'r,
    Thou's met me in an evil hour;
    For I maun crush amang the stoure
    Thy slender stem:
    To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
    Thou bonie gem.
    • To a Mountain Daisy, st. 1 (1786)
  • Stern Ruin's plowshare drives elate,
    Full on thy bloom.
    • To a Mountain Daisy, st. 9 (1786)
  • Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
    Perhaps turn out a sermon.
    • Epistle to a Young Friend, st. 1 (1786)
  • I waive the quantum o' the sin,
    The hazard of concealing:
    But, och! it hardens a' within,
    And petrifies the feeling!
    • Epistle to a Young Friend, st. 6 (1786)
  • An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange
    For Deity offended.
    • Epistle to a Young Friend, st. 9 (1786)
  • There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
    In every hour that passes, O:
    What signifies the life o' man,
    An' then she made the lasses, O.
    • Green Grow the Rashes, O, st. 1 (1787)
  • Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
    Her noblest work she classes, O:
    Her prentice han' she tried on man,
    An' then she made the lasses, O.
    • Green Grow the Rashes, O, st. 5 (1787)
  • Green grow the rashes, O;
    Green grow the rashes, O;
    The sweetest hours that e'er I spend
    Are spent among the lasses, O.
    • Green Grow the Rashes, O, chorus (1787)
  • Some books are lies frae end to end.
    • Death and Dr. Hornbook, st. 1 (1787)
  • I was na fou, but just had plenty.
    • Death and Dr. Hornbook, st. 3 (1787)
  • John Barleycorn got up again,
    And sore surprised them all.
    • John Barleycorn, st. 3 (1787)
  • The heart benevolent and kind
    The most resembles God.
    • A Winter Night (1787)
  • Ye're aiblins nae temptation.
    • Address to the Unco Guid, st. 6 (1787)
  • Then gently scan your brother man,
    Still gentler sister woman;
    Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
    To step aside is human.
    • Address to the Unco Guid, st. 7 (1787)
  • If naebody care for me,
    I'll care for naebody.
    • I Hae a Wife o' my Ain (1788)
  • Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And never brought to min'?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days o' auld lang syne?
  • For auld lang syne, my dear,
    For auld lang syne,
    We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
    For auld lang syne!
    • Auld Lang Syne, chorus (1788)
  • Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
    Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise.
    My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
    Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.
    • Sweet Afton, st. 1 (1789)
  • This day, Time winds th' exhausted chain,
    To run the twelvemonth's length again.
    • New Year's Day, st. 1 (1790)
  • The voice of Nature loudly cries,
    And many a message from the skies,
    That something in us never dies.
    • New Year's Day, st. 3 (1790)
  • When Nature her great masterpiece designed,
    And framed her last, best work, the human mind,
    Her eye intent on all the wondrous plan,
    She formed of various stuff the various Man.
    • To Robert Graham, st. 1 (1791)
  • Suspense is worse than disappointment.
    • Letter to Thomas Sloan, September 1, 1791.
  • While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
    The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
    While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
    And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
    Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
    The Rights of Woman merit some attention.
    • The Rights of Woman, st. 1 (1792)
  • She is a winsome wee thing,
    She is a handsome wee thing,
    She is a lo'esome wee thing,
    This sweet wee wife o' mine.
    • My Wife's a Winsome Wee Thing, chorus (1792)
  • The golden Hours on angel wings
    Flew o'er me and my Dearie;
    For dear to me as light and life
    Was my sweet Highland Mary.
    • Highland Mary, st. 2 (1792)
  • But, oh! fell death's untimely frost,
    That nipt my flower sae early.
    • Highland Mary, st. 3 (1792)
  • O whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad:
    Tho' father and mither and a' should gae mad.
    • Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad, chorus (1793)
  • If there's a hole in a' your coats,
    I rede you tent it;
    A chield's aman you takin' notes,
    And faith he'll prent it.
    • On the Late Captain Grose's Peregrinations Thro' Scotland, st. 1 (1793)
  • Some hae meat and cann eat,
    And some wad eat that want it;
    But we hae meat, and we can eat,
    And sae the Lord be thankit.
    • The Selkirk Grace (1793)
  • O Mary, at thy window be!
    It is the wished, the trysted hour.
    • Mary Morison, st. 1 (1793)
  • Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
    Welcome to your gory bed
    Or to Victorie!

    Now's the day, and now's the hour;
    See the front o' battle lour!
    See approach proud Edward's power—
    Chains and slaverie!
    • Scots Wha Hae, st. 1, 2 (1794)
  • Lay the proud usurpers low!
    Tyrants fall in every foe!
    Liberty's in every blow—
    Let us do or die!
    • Scots Wha Hae, st. 5 (1794)
  • The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
    The man's the gowd for a' that.
    For a' that an a' that.
    • A Man's A Man For A' That, st. 1 (1795)
  • A prince can mak a belted knight,
    A marquis, duke, and a' that;
    But an honest man's aboon his might,
    Guid faith, he mauna fa' that.
    • A Man's A Man For A' That, st. 4 (1795)
  • For a' that and a' that,
    It's coming yet, for a' that,
    That man to man the world o'er
    Shall brothers be for a' that.
    • A Man's A Man For A' That, st. 5 (1795)

Johnson's Musical Museum (1787-1796)

  • Oh, my Luve is like a red, red rose,
    That's newly sprung in June.
    O, my Luve is like the melodie,
    That's sweetly played in tune.
  • Contented wi' little and cantie wi' mair.
    • Contented wi' Little, st. 1
  • Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon,
    How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
    How can ye chant, ye little birds,
    And I sae weary fu' o' care!
    Thou'll break my heart, thou warbling bird,
    That wantons thro' the flowering thorn!
    Thou minds me o' departed joys,
    Departed never to return.
    • The Banks o' Doon, st. 1
  • Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure
    Thrill the deepest notes of woe.
    • Sensibility How Charming, st. 4
  • Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae farewell, alas, forever!
    • Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever, st. 1
  • But to see her was to love her;
    Love but her, and love for ever.
    Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
    Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
    Never met—or never parted,
    We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
    • Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever, st. 2
  • It was a' for our rightfu' King
    We left fair Scotland's strand.
    • It Was A' for Our Rightfu' King, st. 1
  • Now a' is done that men can do,
    And a' is done in vain.
    • It Was A' for Our Rightfu' King, st. 2
  • He turn'd him right and round about
    Upon the Irish shore;
    And gae his bridle reins a shake,
    With adieu forevermore,
    My dear—
    And adieu forevermore!
    • It Was A' for Our Rightfu' King, st. 3
  • John Anderson, my jo, John,
    When we were first acquent,
    Your locks were like the raven,
    Your bonie brow was brent;
    But now your brow is beld, John,
    Your locks are like the snaw,
    But blessings on your frosty pow,
    John Anderson, my jo!
    • John Anderson, My Jo, st. 1
  • My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
    My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
    A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
    My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.
    • My Heart's in the Highlands, st. 1

Tam o' Shanter (1793)

  • Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
    Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
    Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
    • Line 10
  • Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet
    To think how monie counsels sweet,
    How monie lengthened, sage advices,
    The husband frae the wife despises!
    • Line 33
  • His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony:
    Tam lo'ed him like a vera brither—
    They had been fou for weeks thegither.
    • Line 43
  • Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious,
    O'er a' the ills o' life victorious.
    • Line 57
  • But pleasures are like poppies spread—
    You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed;
    Or like the snow falls in the river—
    A moment white—then melts forever.
    • Line 59
  • Nae man can tether time or tide.
    • Line 67
  • That hour, o' night's black arch the keystane.
    • Line 69
  • Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!
    What dangers thou canst make us scorn!
    Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil;
    Wi' usquabae, we'll face the devil!
    • Line 105
  • As Tammie glow'red, amazed, and curious,
    The mirth and fun grew fast and furious.
    • Line 143
  • Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn,
    That while a lassie she had worn,
    In longitude tho' sorely scanty,
    It was her best, and she was vauntie.
    • Line 171
  • "Weel done, Cutty Sark!"
    • Line 189
  • Ah, Tam! Ah! Tam! Thou'll get thy fairin!
    In hell they'll roast you like a herrin!
    • Line 201

Posthumous Pieces (1799)

  • For a' that, and a' that
    An' twice as muckle 's a' that,
    I've lost but ane, I've twa behin',
    I've wife eneugh for a' that.
    • The Jolly Beggars, chorus
  • God knows, I'm no the thing I should be,
    Nor am I even the thing I could be.
    • To The Reverend John M'Math, st. 8
  • If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
    If there is none, he made the best of this.
    • Epitaph on William Muir
  • In durance vile here must I wake and weep,
    And all my frowsy couch in sorrow steep.
    • Epistle from Esopus to Maria
  • It's guid to be merry and wise,
    It's guid to be honest and true,
    It's guid to support Caledonia's cause
    And bide by the buff and the blue.
    • Here's a Health to Them That's Awa', st. 1

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