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The Deil's Reply to Robert Burns

I was sent in this poem by Ian Fergusson in which he said...

I found it in a book of Burns works given to me after my grandfather died. The paper is very yellow with age and is suffering from the folding. We have tried various methods of preparing the page for transmission, finally photographically repairing the ''fold'' damage which made reading difficult. It would be a discussion point with the "Robert Burns" supporters as to whether he did or did not write this poem.

The Deil's Reply to Robert Burns

Burns himself is supposed to be the author of the following verses. They appeared for the first time in The Greenock News, a journal published during the Poet's lifetime. On their own merits, yet more in connection with the Bard and his times they are considered worthy of resuscita-tion.

Oh, wae's me, Rab! hae ye gane gyte?
What is't that gars ye tak' delight
To jeer at me. and ban and flyte
In Scottish rhyme,
And, fausely, gie me a' the wyte
O' ilka crime?

O' auld nicknames ye' hae a fouth,
O' sharp sarcastic rhymes a routh.
And as you're bent to gie them scouth,
'Twere just as weel
For you to tell the honest truth,
And shame the Deil!

I dinna mean to note the whole
O' your unfounded rigmarole;
I'd rather haud my tongue, and thole
Your clishmaclavers,
Than try to plod through sic a scroll
O' senseless havers.

O' warlocks and o' witches a',
O' spunkies, kelpies, great or sma',
There isna ony truth ava
In what you say,
Forsiccan frichts I never saw
Up to this day.

The truth is, Rab, that wicked men,
When caught in crimes that are their am.
To find a help are unco fain
To share the shame,
And so they shout wi' might and main,
The Deil's to blame!

Thus I am blamed for Adam's fa'.
You say that I maist ruined a';
I tell ye ae thing, that's no twa,
It's just a lee,
I fashtna wi' the pair ava
But loot them be.

I'd nae mair haun in that transgression
You deem the source o' a' oppression,
And wae, and death, and man's damnation
Than you yoursel':
I filled a decent situation
When Adam fell.

And, Rab, gin ye'll just read your Bible
Instead o' blin' Jock Milton's fable
I'll plank a croon on ony table,
Against a groat,
To fin' my name ye'll no' be able
In a' the plot.

Your mother, Eve, I kent her brawly,
A dainty quean she was and wally,
But destitute o' prudence wholly.
The witless hizzie,
Aye bent on fun, and whiles on folly
And mischief busy.

Her Father had a bonny tree,
The apples on't allured
her e'e;
He warned her no' the .fruit to pree,
Nor climb the wa'.
For if she did she'd surely dee,
And leave it a'.

As for that famous serpent story,
To lee I'd baith be shamed and sorry,
It's just a clever allegory,
And weel writ doon;
The wark o' an Egyptian Tory,
I kent the loon.

Your tale o' Job. the man o' Uz,
Wi' reekit claes and rented gizz,
My hornie hooves and smouthie phiz,
Wi' ither clatter,
Is maistly, after a' the biz,
A moonshine matter.

Auld Job. I kent the carle right weel,
An honest, decent kintra chiel,
Wi' head to plan and heart to feel
An'-han' to gi'e;
He wadna wrang'd the verra Deil
A broon bawbee.

The man was geyan weel to do,
Had horse and kye and ousen too,
And sheep and stots and stirks enow
To fill a byre,
O' meat and claes, a' maistly new,
His heart's desire.

Forbye, he had within the dwallings,
Three winsome queans and five braw callans
Ye wadna in the hale braid Lallans
Hae fand their marrow,
Were ye to search frae auld Tantallans
To Braes o' Yarrow.

It happen'd that three breekless bands
O' caterans cam' frae distant lands,
An' took what fell among their hands.
O' sheep and duddies,
Just like your reivin' Heilan clans
O Border bodies.

I tell ye, Rab, I hae nae share
In a' the tulzie. here or there;
I lookit on. I do declare.
A mere spectator,
Nor said nor acted, less or mair,
Aboot the maitter.

Job had a minstrel o' his ain,
A genius rare, and somewhat vain
Of rhyme and lear; but then, again,
Just like yersel',
O' drink and lasses unco fain,
The ne'er-do-weel.

He'd sing o' lads and leddies fair,
O' love and hope and mirk despair.
And wond'rous tales wad whiles prepare,
An string thegither:
For a' he wanted was a hair
To mak' a tether.

So, with intention fully bent
My doing to misrepresent,
That Book o' Job he did invent,
And then his rhymes
Got published in Arabic prent
To suit the times.

You, poets, Rab, are a' the same,
Of ilka coutry, age and name;
Nae maitter what may be your aim
Or your intentions,
Maist a' your characters o' fame
Are pure invention's.

Your dogs are baith debaters rare,
Wi' sense galore and some to spare;
While e'en the very Brigs o' Ayr
Ye gar them quarrel;
Tak' Coila ben to deck your hair
Wi' Scottish laurel.

Yet, Robin, lad, for a' your spite,
And taunts and jeers and wrangfu' wyte,
I find, before you end your fiyte,
And wind yer pirn.
Ye'er nae sae cankered in the bite
As in the girn.

For when ye think he's doom'd to dwell
The lang-for-ever-mair in hell.
Ye come and bid a kind farewell,
And, guid be here,
E'en for the verra Deil himsel'
Let fa' a tear.

And, Rab, I'm just as wae for thee
As ever thou canst be for me;
For less ye let the drink abee,
I'll tak' by aith
Ye'll a' gang wrang. and maybe dee
A drunkard's death.

Sure as ye mourned the daisy's fate,
That fate is thine nae distant date,
Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives elate
Full on thy bloom
And crushed beneath the furrow's weight
May be thy doom.

Note: We've pretty much figured that this is not a Burns poem.

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