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Their gun's a burthen on their shouther ;
To stan' or rin,
To save their skin.
And there's the foe;
Twa at a blow.
And when he fa's,
In faint huzzas !
THE AULD FARMER'S NEW-YEAR MORNING SALUTATION
TO HIS AULD MARE MAGGIE,
ON GIVING HER THE ACCUSTOMED RIP OF CORN TO HANSEL IN
THE NEW YEAR.
A GUID New-Year I wish thee, Maggie !
I've seen the day
1 They cannot stand.
4 Eyes may shut.
7 A handful of corn in the stalk. 8 Bent-backed and ridged.
Thou could hae gaen like ony staggie
Out-owre the lay."
A bonny gray :
Ance in a day.
As e'er tread yird; 6
Like ony bird.
And fifty mark ;
And thou was stark.'
Ye ne'er was donsie ; 11
And unco sonsie. 13
Wi' maiden air !
For sic a pair.
For heels and win'!
Far, far, behin'!
11 Mischievous. 2 Low-spirited.
12 Good-natured. 3 Shining.
13 Engaging. 4 Excite.
14 Challenged. 5 Stately, strong, active. 10 Mother. 15 Can but limp and totter.
17 Runner. 16 Twist about like the lumbering boat used in salmon fishing.
20 Lengthy. 18 Stagger-being done-up.
* The district between the Ayr and the Doon,
How thou would prance, and snore and skreigh,
And tak the road !
And ca't thee mad.
For pith and speed ;
Whare'er thou gaed.
And gar't them whaizle 5
O'saugh or hazle.
In guid March weather,
For days thegither. Thou never braindg't, and fech't, and fliskit,8 But thy auld tail thou wad hae whiskit,9 And spread abreed thy well-fill'd brisket, 10
Wi' pith and power,
And slypet owre.*
Aboon the timmer;
For that, or simmer.
Then stood to blaw ;
Thou snoov't awa'.
5 Wheeze. 4 Might perhaps have beaten thee in a short run. 6 A switch. 7 The near horse of the hindmost pair in the plough.
9 Shaken. 8 Never pulled by fits or starts, or fretted. 10 Breast. 11 Corn measure.
12 Stopped. 13 Steepest. 14 Never leaped, reared, or started forward. * This is a magnificent description. Till hard knolls would open with a crackling sound, the earth falling gently over in the wake of the resistless ploughshare.
My pleugh is now thy bairn-time a';1
That thou hast nurst :
The vera warst.
We wad be beat !
Wi' something yet.
For my last fou,
Laid by for you.
To some hain'd rig, 5
Wi' sma' fatigue.
THE TWA DOGS:
GILBERT BURNS says, -- "The tale of 'The Twa Dogs' was composed after the resolution of publishing was nearly taken. Robert had a dog, which he called Luath, that was a great favourite. The dog had been killed by the wanton cruelty of some person, the night before my father's death. Robert said to me that he should like to confer such immortality as he could bestow on his old friend Luath, and that he had a great mind to introduce something into the book under the title of 'Stanzas to the Memory of a Quadruped Friend:' but this plan was given up for the poem as it now stands. Cæsar was merely the creature of the poet's imagination, created for the purpose of holding chat with his favourite Luath.” The factor who stood for his portrait here was the same of whom he writes to Dr. Moore in 1787 :-"My indignation yet boils at the scoundrel factor's insolent threatening letters, which used to set us all in tears.
'Twas in that place o' Scotland's isle,
1 My plough team are all thy children.
2 Day's labour. 3 A measure of corn.
5 Saved ridge of grass. 6 Stretch.
7 The middle district of Ayrshire.
His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,
I've often wonder'd, honest Luath,
2 A petty oath="the devil a bit o'." 3 Cur. 5 Ragged.
7 Knowing. 4 Matted and dirty. 6 Pissed.
10 Shaggy: 9 His honest, comely, white-marked face. 11 Bushy.
13 Fond of each other, 15 Scented.
14 Very close and friendly. 16 Sometimes for mice and moles they scraped, 11 Sporting.
18 Knoll. * Cuchullin's dog in Ossian's "Fingal.” –B.