Robert Burns

Here you will find the Long Poem Epistle To A Young Friend of poet Robert Burns

Epistle To A Young Friend

I lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend, 
A something to have sent you, 
Tho' it should serve nae ither end 
Than just a kind momento: 
But how the subject-theme may gang, 
Let time and change determine; 
Perhaps it may turn out a sang: 
Perhaps turn out a sermon. 

Ye'll try the world soon my lad; 
And, Andrew dear, believe me, 
Ye'll find mankind an unco squad, 
And muckle they may grieve ye. 
For care and trouble set your thought, 
Ev'n when your end's attained; 
And a' your views may come to nought, 
Where ev'ry nerve is strained. 

I'll no say, men are villains a'; 
The real, harden'd wicked, 
What hae nae check but human law, 
Are to a few restricked; 
But, och! mankind are unco weak, 
An' little to be trusted; 
If self the wavering balance shake, 
It's rarely right adjusted! 

Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife, 
Their fate we shouldna censure; 
For still, th'important end of life 
They equally may answer; 
A man may hae in honest heart, 
Tho' poortith hourly stare him; 
A man may tak a neibor's part, 
Yet hae nae cash to spare him. 

Aye free, aff-han', your story tell, 
When wi' a bosom crony; 
But still keep something to yoursel', 
Ye scarcely tell to ony: 
Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can 
Frae critical dissection; 
But keek thro' ev'ry other man, 
Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection. 

The sacred lowe o' well-plac'd love, 
Luxuriantly indulge it; 
But never tempt th' illicit rove, 
Tho' naething should divulge it: 
I waive the quantum o' the sin, 
The hazard of concealing; 
But, och! it hardens a' within, 
And petrifies the feeling! 

To catch dame Fortune's golden smile, 
Assiduous wait upon her; 
And gather gear by ev'ry wile 
That's justified by honour; 
Not for to hide it in a hedge, 
Nor for a train attendant; 
But for the glorious privilege 
Of being independent. 

The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip, 
To haud the wretch in order; 
But where ye feel your honour grip, 
Let that aye be your border; 
Its slightest touches, instant pause- 
Debar a' side-pretences; 
And resolutely keep its laws, 
Uncaring consequences. 

The great Creator to revere, 
Must sure become the creature; 
But still the preaching cant forbear, 
And ev'n the rigid feature: 
Yet ne'er with wits profane to range, 
Be complaisance extended; 
An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange 
For Deity offended! 

When ranting round in pleasure's ring, 
Religion may be blinded; 
Or if she gie a random sting, 
It may be little minded; 
But when on life we're tempest-driv'n- 
A conscience but a canker, 
A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n, 
Is sure a noble anchor! 

Adieu, dear, amiable youth! 
Your heart can ne'er be wanting! 
May prudence, fortitude, and truth, 
Erect your brow undaunting! 
In ploughman phrase, ``God send you speed,'' 
Still daily to grow wiser; 
And may ye better reck the rede, 
Than ever did th' adviser!