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Poor Mailie's Elegy

[Burns, when he calls on the bards of Ayr and Doon to join in the
lament for Mailie, intimates that he regards himself as a poet. Hogg
calls it a very elegant morsel: but says that it resembles too closely
"The Ewie and the Crooked Horn," to be admired as original: the
shepherd might have remembered that they both resemble Sempill's "Life
and death of the Piper of Kilbarchan."]

Lament in rhyme, lament in prose,
Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose;
Our bardie's fate is at a close,
Past a' remead;
The last sad cape-stane of his woes;
Poor Mailie's dead.

It's no the loss o' warl's gear,
That could sae bitter draw the tear,
Or mak our bardie, dowie, wear
The mourning weed;
He's lost a friend and neebor dear,
In Mailie dead.

Thro' a' the toun she trotted by him;
A long half-mile she could descry him;
Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him,
She run wi' speed:
A friend mair faithfu' ne'er cam nigh him,
Than Mailie dead.

I wat she was a sheep o' sense,
An' could behave hersel wi' mense:
I'll say't, she never brak a fence,
Thro' thievish greed.
Our bardie, tamely, keeps the spence
Sin' Mailie's dead.

Or, if he wonders up the howe,
Her living image in her yowe
Comes bleating to him, owre the knowe,
For bits o' bread;
An' down the briny pearls rowe
For Mailie dead.

She was nae get o' moorland tips,[3]
Wi' tawted ket, an hairy hips;
For her forbears were brought in ships
Frae yont the Tweed:
A bonnier fleesh ne'er cross'd the clips
Than Mailie dead.

Wae worth the man wha first did shape
That vile, wanchancie thing--a rape!
It maks guid fellows girn an' gape,
Wi' chokin dread;
An' Robin's bonnet wave wi' crape,
For Mailie dead.

O, a' ye bards on bonnie Doon!
An' wha on Ayr your chanters tune!
Come, join the melancholious croon
O' Robin's reed!
His heart will never get aboon!
His Mailie's dead!


[Footnote 3: VARIATION.

'She was nae get o' runted rams,
Wi' woo' like goats an' legs like trams;
She was the flower o' Farlie lambs,
A famous breed!
Now Robin, greetin, chews the hams
O' Mailie dead.']

Robert Burns