Robbie's Statue

A poem by Henry Lawson

Grown tired of mourning for my sins,
And brooding over merits,
The other night with bothered brow
I went amongst the spirits;
And I met one that I knew well:
‘Oh, Scotty’s Ghost, is that you?
‘And did you see the fearsome crowd
‘At Robbie Burns’s statue?
‘They hurried up in hansom cabs,
‘Tall-hatted and frock-coated;
‘They trained it in from all the towns,
‘The weird and hairy-throated;
‘They spoke in some outlandish tongue,
‘They cut some comic capers,
‘And ilka man was wild to get
‘His name in all the papers.

‘They showed no gleam of intellect,
‘Those frauds who rushed before us;
‘They knew one verse of “Auld Lang Syne, ”
‘The first one and the chorus:
‘They clacked the clack o’ Scotlan’s Bard,
‘They glibly talked of “Rabby;”
‘But what if he had come to them
‘Without a groat and shabby?

‘They drank and wept for Robbie’s sake,
‘They stood and brayed like asses
‘(The living bard’s a drunken rake,
‘The dead one loved the lasses);
‘If Robbie Burns were here, they’d sit
‘As still as any mouse is;
‘If Robbie Burns should come their way,
‘They’d turn him out their houses.

‘Oh, weep for bonny Scotland’s bard!
‘And praise the Scottish nation,
‘Who made him spy and let him die
‘Heart-broken in privation:
‘Exciseman, so that he might live
‘Through northern winters’ rigours,
‘Just as in southern lands they give
‘The hard-up rhymer figures.

‘We need some songs of stinging fun
‘To wake the States and light ’em;
‘I wish a man like Robert Burns
‘Were here to-day to write ’em!
‘But still the mockery shall survive
‘Till the Day o’ Judgment crashes,
‘The men we scorn when we’re alive
‘With praise insult our ashes.’

And Scotty’s ghost said: ‘Never mind
‘The fleas that you inherit;
‘The living bard can flick them off,
‘They cannot hurt his spirit.
‘The crawlers round the bardie’s name
‘Shall crawl through all the ages;
‘His work’s the living thing, and they
‘Are fly-dirt on the pages.’

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