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Second Epistle to Davie



[David Sillar, to whom these epistles are addressed, was at that time
master of a country school, and was welcome to Burns both as a scholar
and a writer of verse. This epistle he prefixed to his poems printed
at Kilmarnock in the year 1789: he loved to speak of his early
comrade, and supplied Walker with some very valuable anecdotes: he
died one of the magistrates of Irvine, on the 2d of May, 1830, at the
age of seventy.]

I'm three times doubly o'er your debtor,
For your auld-farrent, frien'ly letter;
Tho' I maun say't, I doubt ye flatter,
Ye speak sae fair.
For my puir, silly, rhymin clatter
Some less maun sair.

Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle;
Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle,
To cheer you thro' the weary widdle
O' war'ly cares,
Till bairn's bairns kindly cuddle
Your auld, gray hairs.

But Davie, lad, I'm red ye're glaikit;
I'm tauld the Muse ye hae negleckit;
An' gif it's sae, ye sud be licket
Until yo fyke;
Sic hauns as you sud ne'er be faiket,
Be hain't who like.

For me, I'm on Parnassus' brink,
Rivin' the words to gar them clink;
Whyles daez't wi' love, whyles daez't wi' drink,
Wi' jads or masons;
An' whyles, but ay owre late, I think
Braw sober lessons.

Of a' the thoughtless sons o' man,
Commen' me to the Bardie clan;
Except it be some idle plan
O' rhymin' clink,
The devil-haet, that I sud ban,
They ever think.

Nae thought, nae view, nae scheme o' livin',
Nae cares to gie us joy or grievin';
But just the pouchie put the nieve in,
An' while ought's there,
Then hiltie skiltie, we gae scrievin',
An' fash nae mair.

Leeze me on rhyme! it's aye a treasure,
My chief, amaist my only pleasure,
At hame, a-fiel', at work, or leisure,
The Muse, poor hizzie!
Tho' rough an' raploch be her measure,
She's seldom lazy.

Haud to the Muse, my dainty Davie:
The warl' may play you monie a shavie;
But for the Muse she'll never leave ye,
Tho' e'er so puir,
Na, even tho' limpin' wi' the spavie
Frae door to door.

Robert Burns