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Charlotte Bleh’s Collection of Favourite  Nursery  Rhymes, Poems and Prose Book
Robert Burns

The Heart of Honesty and Integrity

O Thou! Whatever title suit thee –
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie –
Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sootie,
Clo’sd under hatches,
Spairges about the burnstane cootie,
To scaud poor wretches!

. . . Lang syne in Eden’s bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,
An’ all the soul of love they shar’d
The raptur’d hour,
Sweet on the fragrant flow’ry swaird,
In shady bow’r.

Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
An’ play’d on man a cursed brogue
(Black be your fa’!),
An’ gied the infant warld a shog,
‘Maist ruin’d a’.

. . . An’ now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinking,
A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
To your black Pit;
But, faith! He’ll turn a corner jinkin,
An’ cheat you yet.

But fare-you-weel, Auld Nickie-Ben!
O’ wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins might – I dinna ken –
Still hae a stake:
I’m wae to think upo’ yon den,
Ev’n for your sake!

Address to the Deil


. . . It’s no’ in titles, nor in rank:
It’s no in wealth like Lon’on Bank,
To purchase peace and rest.
It’s no in makin muckle, mair;
It’s no in books, it’s no in lear,
To make us truly blest:
If happiness hae not her seat
An centre in the breast,
We may be wise, or rich, or great,
But never can be blest!

Nae treasures nor pleasures
Could make us happy lang;
The heart ay’s the part ay’
That makes us right or wrang.

Epistle to Davy
(A lesson learned in a late primary class at Hill Street School, Dundee)


My Son, these maxims make a rule,
An’ lump them ay thegither:
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise anither:
The cleanest corn that e’er was dight
May hae some byles o’ caff in;
So ne’er a fellow –creature slight
For random fits o’ daffin. . . .
Solomon (Eccles. Vii. 16)

. . . Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho’ they may gang a kennin wrang,
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.
Address to the Unco Guid

Be not righteous over much;
neither make thyself over wise:
why shouldest thou destroy thyself?


Ha! Where ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly,
I canna say but ye strunt rarely
Owre gauze and lace,
Tho, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her –
Sae fina lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar’s hauffet squattle:
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whare horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.
Naw haud you there! ye‘re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rills, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! Ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it –
The vera tapmost, tow’ring height
O’ Miss’s bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as onie grozet:
O for some rank, ermercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie ye sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum!
I wad na been surpis’d to spy
You on an auld wif’es flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’s fin Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do’t?
O Jenny, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin!
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin!
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An ‘ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An ev’n devotion!

To a Louse On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church


O Thou that in the Heavens does dwell,
Wha, as it pleases best Thysel,
Sends ane to Heaven an’ ten to Hell
A’ for Thy glory, And no for one guid or ill
They’ve done before Thee!
. . . But, Lord, remember me and mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine
Excell’d by name;
And a’ the glory shall be Thine –Amen, Amen!

Holy Willie’s Prayer


. . . Welcome, my bonie , sweet, wee dochter!
Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,
And tho’ your comin I hae fought for
Baith kirk and Queir;
Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for –
That I shall swear . . .

. . . Gude grant that thou may ay inherit
Thy mither’s looks an’ gracefu’ merit,
An’ thy poor, worthless daddie’s spirit
Without his failins!
‘Twill please me mair to see the heir it
Than stocket mailins.

And if thou be what I wad hae thee,
An’ tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I’ll never rue my trouble wi’ thee –
The cost nor shame o’t –
But be a loving father to thee,
And brag the name o’t.
Welcome to a Bastart Wean


The Deil’s awa, the Dei’s awa,
The Deil’s awa wi’ th’ Exciseman!
He’s danc’d awa, he’s danc’d awa,
He’s danc’d awa wi’ th’ Exciseman!

The Deil cam fiddling thro the town,
And danc’d awa wi’ th’ Exciseman,
And ilka wife ccries: - ‘Auld Mahoun,
I wish you luck o’ the prize man!

‘We’ll mak our maut, and we’ll brew our drink,
We’ll laugh, sing and rejoice, man,
And monie braw thanks to the meikle black Deil,
That danc’d awa wi’ th’ Exciseman.

‘There’s threesome reels, there’s foursome reels,
Theres’ hornpipes and strathspeys, man,
But the ae best dance ere cam to the land
Was The Deil’s Away wi’ the Exciseman!’


My curse upon your venom’d stang,
That shoots my tortur’d gooms alang,
An’ thro’ my lug gies monie a twang
Wi’ gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi’ bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

A’ down my beard the slavers trickle,
I throw the wee stools o’er the mickle,
While round the fire the giglets keckle
To see me loup,
An’ raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were i’ their doup!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathise to ease us
Wi’ pitying moan;
But thee! – thou hell o’ a diseases,
They mock our groan!

Of a’ the num’rous human dools -
Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien’s laid i’ the mools,
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o’ knaves, or fash o’ fools -
Thou bear’st the gree!

Whare’er that place be priests ca’ Hell,
Whare a’ the tones o’ misery yell,
An’ ranket plagues their numbers tell
In dreadful’ raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bea’st the bell
Amang them a’!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o’ discord squeal,
Till humankind aft dance a reel
In gore a shoe-thick,
Gie a’ the faes o’ Scotland’s weal
A towmond’s toothache.


Contented wi’ little and cantie wi’ mair,
Whene’er I forgather wi’ Sorrow and Care,
I gie them a skelp, as they’re creepin alang,
Wi’ a cog o’ guid swats and an auld Scottish sang.

I whyles claw the elbow o’ troublesome Thought;
But Man is a soger, and Life is a faught.
My mirth and guid humour are coin in my pouch,
And my Freedom’s my lairdship nae monarch daur touch.

A towmond o’ trouble, should that be my fa’,
A night o’ guid fellowship sowthers it a’;
When at the blythe end o’ our journey at last,
Wha the Deil ever thinks o’ the road he has past?

Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way,
Be ‘t to me, be’t frae me, e’en let the jade gae!
Come Ease or come Travail, come Pleasure or Pain,
My warst word is:- ‘Welcome, and welcome again!’

(A competition piece I took 2nd Place at the Arbroath Festival in 1965, the year I met and married John -
Miss Angus was really upset with me, she said I should have taken first but that I lost because of my mistake: interesting isn’t it that she made it my responsibility and not an error in judgement which seems to be the case so often in our society today!)


Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that?
The coward slave, we pass him by –
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Our toils obscure, an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine.
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that?
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine –
A man’s a man for a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that,
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie ca’d ‘a lord,’
Wha struts, an’ stares, an a’ that?
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
H’es but a cuif for a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that,
The man o’ independent mind,
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that!
But an honest man’s aboon his might –
Guid faith, he mauna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that,
The pith o’ sense an’ pride o’ worth
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a’ that)
That Sense and Worth o’er a’ the earth
Shell bear the gree an’ a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s comin yet for a’ that,
That man to man the world o’er
Shall brithers be for a’ that.

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