Poem On Life, Addressed To Colonel De Peyster. Dumfries, 1796.

A poem by Robert Burns

My honoured colonel, deep I feel
Your interest in the Poet's weal;
Ah! now sma' heart hae I to speel
The steep Parnassus,
Surrounded thus by bolus, pill,
And potion glasses.

O what a canty warld were it,
Would pain and care and sickness spare it;
And fortune favour worth and merit,
As they deserve!
(And aye a rowth, roast beef and claret;
Syne, wha wad starve?)

Dame Life, tho' fiction out may trick her,
And in paste gems and frippery deck her;
Oh! flickering, feeble, and unsicker
I've found her still,
Ay wavering like the willow-wicker,
'Tween good and ill.

Then that curst carmagnole, auld Satan,
Watches, like baudrons by a rattan,
Our sinfu' saul to get a claut on
Wi' felon ire;
Syne, whip! his tail ye'll ne'er cast saut on-,
He's aff like fire.

Ah Nick! ah Nick! it is na fair,
First shewing us the tempting ware,
Bright wines and bonnie lasses rare,
To put us daft;
Syne, weave, unseen, thy spider snare
O' hell's damn'd waft.

Poor man, the flie, aft bizzes bye,
And aft as chance he comes thee nigh,
Thy auld danm'd elbow yeuks wi' joy,
And hellish pleasure;
Already in thy fancy's eye,
Thy sicker treasure!

Soon heels-o'er gowdie! in he gangs,
And like a sheep head on a tangs,
Thy girning laugh enjoys his pangs
And murd'ring wrestle,
As, dangling in the wind, he hangs
A gibbet's tassel.

But lest you think I am uncivil,
To plague you with this draunting drivel,
Abjuring a' intentions evil,
I quat my pen:
The Lord preserve us frae the devil,
Amen! amen!

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