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Epistle to William Creech

[A storm of rain detained Burns one day, during his border tour, at
Selkirk, and he employed his time in writing this characteristic
epistle to Creech, his bookseller. Creech was a person of education
and taste; he was not only the most popular publisher in the north,
but he was intimate with almost all the distinguished men who, in
those days, adorned Scottish literature. But though a joyous man, a
lover of sociality, and the keeper of a good table, he was close and
parsimonious, and loved to hold money to the last moment that the law

_Selkirk_, 13 _May_, 1787.

Auld chukie Reekie's[69] sair distrest,
Down droops her ance weel-burnisht crest,
Nae joy her bonnie buskit nest
Can yield ava,
Her darling bird that she lo'es best,
Willie's awa!

O Willie was a witty wight,
And had o' things an unco slight;
Auld Reekie ay he keepit tight,
An' trig an' braw:
But now they'll busk her like a fright,
Willie's awa!

The stiffest o' them a' he bow'd;
The bauldest o' them a' he cow'd;
They durst nae mair than he allow'd,
That was a law;
We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd,
Willie's awa!

Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks, and fools,
Frae colleges and boarding-schools,
May sprout like simmer puddock stools
In glen or shaw;
He wha could brush them down to mools,
Willie's awa!

The brethren o' the Commerce-Chaumer[70]
May mourn their loss wi' doofu' clamour;
He was a dictionar and grammar
Amang them a';
I fear they'll now mak mony a stammer,
Willie's awa!

Nae mair we see his levee door
Philosophers and poets pour,[71]
And toothy critics by the score
In bloody raw!
The adjutant o' a' the core,
Willie's awa!

Now worthy Gregory's Latin face,
Tytler's and Greenfield's modest grace;
Mackenzie, Stewart, sic a brace
As Rome n'er saw;
They a' maun meet some ither place,
Willie's awa!

Poor Burns--e'en Scotch drink canna quicken,
He cheeps like some bewilder'd chicken,
Scar'd frae its minnie and the cleckin
By hoodie-craw;
Grief's gien his heart an unco kickin',
Willie's awa!

Now ev'ry sour-mou'd girnin' blellum,
And Calvin's fock are fit to fell him;
And self-conceited critic skellum
His quill may draw;
He wha could brawlie ward their bellum,
Willie's awa!

Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped,
And Eden scenes on crystal Jed,
And Ettrick banks now roaring red,
While tempests blaw;
But every joy and pleasure's fled,
Willie's awa!

May I be slander's common speech;
A text for infamy to preach;
And lastly, streekit out to bleach
In winter snaw;
When I forget thee! Willie Creech,
Tho' far awa!

May never wicked fortune touzle him!
May never wicked man bamboozle him!
Until a pow as auld's Methusalem
He canty claw!
Then to the blessed New Jerusalem,
Fleet wing awa!


[Footnote 69: Edinburgh.]

[Footnote 70: The Chamber of Commerce in Edinburgh, of which Creech was

[Footnote 71: Many literary gentlemen were accustomed to meet at Mr.
Creech's house at breakfast.]

Robert Burns