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THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT

In this poem Burns gives a true and beautiful picture of the life of a God-fearing Scotch family.

My lov'd, my honor'd, much respected friend! 1
No mercenary bard his homage pays:
With honest pride I scorn each selfish end,

My dearest meed a friend's esteem and praise:
To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;

The native feelings strong, the guileless ways;
What Aiken in a cottage would have been
Ah! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I

ween.

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November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh; The short'ning winter-day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh; The black'ning trains o' craws to their repose: The toil-worn Cotter frae his labor goes, 15. This night his weekly moil is at an end,

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Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward

bend.

1 Friend, William Aiken, a poet, named in the eighth line.

2 Sugh, here pronounced " sooch."

3 Miry, dirty.

4 Pleugh, pronounced " plooch," plow.

At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin', stacher 1

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through

To meet their Dad, wi' flichterin' 2 noise and glee.
His wee bit ingle,3 blinkin' bonilie,

His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary carping care beguile,
And makes him quite forget his labor and his toil.

Belyve, the elder bairns came drapping in,
At service out,5 amang the farmers roun';

Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie 7 rin 30 A cannie errand to a neibor town;

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Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown, In youthful bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,

Comes hame, perhaps to show a braw new gown, Or deposit her sair-worn penny-fee, To help her parents deal if they in hardship be.

With joy unfeign'd brothers and sisters meet,

An' each for other's weelfare kindly spiers: 9 The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnoticed fleet;

1 Stacher, stagger, toddle.

2 Flichterin', fluttering, birdlike.

* Ingle, fire.

4 Belyve, by and by.

5 At service out, working out.

6 Ca', drive.

7 Tentie, heedful.

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Cannie, careful. • Spiers, inquires.

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Each tells the uncos 1 that he sees or hears;
Anticipation forward points the view.

The mother, wi' her needle an' her sheers, Gars 2 auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.

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Their master's an' their mistress's command,
The younkers a' are warnéd to obey;
An' mind their labors wi' an eydent hand,
And ne'er tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play:
"And O! be sure to hear the Lord alway,
An' mind your duty, duly morn an' night!

Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord

aright!"

But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
Tells how a neibor lad cam o'er the moor,

To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek;

Wi' heart-struck anxious care, inquires his name.
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Weel pleased the mother hears, it's nae wild, worthless

rake.

1 Uncos, news. 2 Gars, makes.

Eydent, diligent.

4 Hafflins, half.

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Wi' kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;

A strappan' youth; he takes the mother's eye; Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;

The father cracks ? of horses, pleughs, and kye.

The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy, But blate 3 and laithfu’, 4 scarce can weel behave;

The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy What makes the youth sae bashfu' an' sae grave; Well pleased to think her bairn's respected like the

lave.

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O happy love! where love like this is found;

O heart-felt raptures ! bliss beyond compare !
I've pacéd much this weary mortal round,

And sage experience makes me this declare —
“If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure

spare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale,

'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair In other's arms breathe out the tender tale, Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the eve

ning gale.”

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But now the supper crowns their simple board,

The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food: The soupe 6 their only hawkie? does afford,

1 Ben, into the room.
2 Cracks, talks.
* Blate, diffident.
• Laithfu', bashful.

5 Lave, others.
Soupe, sop

- of milk.
Hawkie, cow.

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That 'yont the hallan? snugly chows her cood;

1 The dame brings forth in complimental mood, To grace the lad, her weel-hain'd ? kebbuck, fell; 4

And aft he's prest, and aft he ca's it good; The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell How 'twas a towmond 5 auld sin' lint was i' the bell.?

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The cheerful supper done, wi' serious face

They round the ingle form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,

The big 8 ha’-bible, ance his father's pride:

His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,
His lyart 'haffets 10 wearing thin an' bare;

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Those strains that once did sweet in Zion

glide He wales 11 a portion with judicious care, And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn

air.

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They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest

aim:
Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling measures rise,

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;

1 Hallan, wall.
2 Weel-hained, carefully saved.
3 Kebbuck, cheese.
4 Fell, sharp, strong.
5 Towmond, twelvemonth.
6 Lint, flax.

? Bell, flower.
8 Ha', hall.

Lyart, gray.
10 Haffets, temples.
11 Wales, chooses.

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