Grown tired of mourning for my sins,
And brooding over merits,
The other night with aching heart
I went amongst the spirits;
And I met one that I knew well:
“O Scotty’s Ghost! is that you?
And did you see the fearsome crowd
At Bobbie 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 sign 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 Rabbie’s sake,
They stood and brayed like asses
(The living bard’s a drunken rake,
The dead one loved the lasses);
If Bobbie Burns were here, they’d sit
As still as any mouse is;
If Bobbie Bums should come their way,
They’d turn him out their houses.
“O 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 Day o’ Judgement 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 ’em off,
They cannot hurt his spirit.
The crawlers round the poet’s name
Shall crawl through all the ages;
His work’s the living thing, and they
Are fly-dirt on the pages.”