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Willie Chalmers

[Lockhart first gave this poetic curiosity to the world: he copied it
from a small manuscript volume of Poems given by Burns to Lady Harriet
Don, with an explanation in these words: "W. Chalmers, a gentleman in
Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked me to write a poetic
epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her, but was
scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows." Chalmers was a
writer in Ayr. I have not heard that the lady was influenced by this
volunteer effusion: ladies are seldom rhymed into the matrimonial
snare.]


I.

Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride,
And eke a braw new brechan,
My Pegasus I'm got astride,
And up Parnassus pechin;
Whiles owre a bush wi' downward crush
The doitie beastie stammers;
Then up he gets and off he sets
For sake o' Willie Chalmers.

II.

I doubt na, lass, that weel kenn'd name
May cost a pair o' blushes;
I am nae stranger to your fame,
Nor his warm urged wishes.
Your bonnie face sae mild and sweet
His honest heart enamours,
And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
Tho' waired on Willie Chalmers.

III.

Auld Truth hersel' might swear ye're fair,
And Honour safely back her,
And Modesty assume your air,
And ne'er a ane mistak' her:
And sic twa love-inspiring een
Might fire even holy Palmers;
Nae wonder then they've fatal been
To honest Willie Chalmers.

IV.

I doubt na fortune may you shore
Some mim-mou'd pouthered priestie,
Fu' lifted up wi' Hebrew lore,
And band upon his breastie:
But Oh! what signifies to you
His lexicons and grammars;
The feeling heart's the royal blue,
And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.

V.

Some gapin' glowrin' countra laird,
May warstle for your favour;
May claw his lug, and straik his beard,
And hoast up some palaver.
My bonnie maid, before ye wed
Sic clumsy-witted hammers,
Seek Heaven for help, and barefit skelp
Awa' wi' Willie Chalmers.

VI.

Forgive the Bard! my fond regard
For ane that shares my bosom,
Inspires my muse to gie 'm his dues,
For de'il a hair I roose him.
May powers aboon unite you soon,
And fructify your amours,--
And every year come in mair dear
To you and Willie Chalmers.

Robert Burns


Poetry