Robert Burns on setbacks

I couldn’t let the bardie’s 250th birthday pass without some recognition.  Here’s David Sibbald reciting on of Burns’ most famous poems.  Lyrics, and a bit of annotation, follow.

To A Mouse.
On turning her up in her nest with the plough, November 1785.

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!  (hurried noise)
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.  (plow-staff)

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; (sometimes)
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! (must)
A daimen icker in a thrave
(one ear of corn out of two dozen sheaves)
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.
(..from the remainder, and never miss what you take.)

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! (tiny)
Its silly wa’s the win’s are strewin! (feeble walls)
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane, (to build a new one)
O’ foggage green! (dried grass)
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen! (cold and sharp)

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past (plow-blade [lit., nose] )
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald, (out of house and home)
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble, (to bear)
An’ cranreuch cauld. (hoarfrost)

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane, (are not alone)
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley, (amiss)
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!