Burns: always the right address

I try not to let January 25th pass without a nod to Robert Burns.  Lately I find good counsel in his Address to the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous

My Son, these maxims make a rule,
An’ lump them aye thegither;
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise anither:
The cleanest corn that ere was dight
May hae some pyles o’ caff in;
(bits of chaff)
So ne’er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o’ daffin.
— Solomon: Eccles. ch. vii. verse 16.

O ye wha are sae guid yoursel’,
Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye’ve nought to do but mark and tell
Your neibours’ fauts and folly!
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,  (nicely running mill)
Supplied wi’ store o’ water;
The heaped happer’s ebbing still, (even though the hopper is ebbing)
An’ still the clap plays clatter.  (it’s making lots of noise)

Hear me, ye venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals
That frequent pass douce Wisdom’s door  (sober Wisdom’s)
For glaikit Folly’s portals:  (thoughtless)
I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
Would here propone defences-
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,  (stupid tricks)
Their failings and mischances.

Ye see your state wi’ theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer;  (contrast)
But cast a moment’s fair regard,
What maks the mighty differ;  (what accounts for the difference)
Discount what scant occasion gave,  (take away your luck)
That purity ye pride in;
And (what’s aft mair than a’ the lave),  (often more than all the risk)
Your better art o’ hidin.  (your greater skill at concealment)

Think, when your castigated pulse  (If even your often-punished pulse)
Gies now and then a wallop!  (still jumps at times)
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop!
Wi’ wind and tide fair i’ your tail,  (with the wind and current in your favor)
Right on ye scud your sea-way;  (you glide over the waves)
But in the teeth o’ baith to sail,  (sailing against both)
It maks a unco lee-way.  (makes for an uncommonly offcourse voyage)

See Social Life and Glee sit down,  (sit down, as in to drink)
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrified, they’re grown  (they’ve turn into)
Debauchery and Drinking:
O would they stay to calculate  (oh, if only they’d wait and figure)
Th’ eternal consequences;
Or your more dreaded hell to state,  (what you fear worse)
Damnation of expenses!  (the cost)

Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
Suppose a change o’ cases;
A dear-lov’d lad, convenience snug,
A treach’rous inclination-
But let me whisper i’ your lug,  (in your ear)
Ye’re aiblins nae temptation.  (maybe you’re no temptation)

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho’ they may gang a kennin wrang,  (a little wrong)
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark, –
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart, ’tis He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let’s be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What’s done we partly may compute,
But know not what’s resisted.