Address To The Unco Guid

by Robert Burns


Burns Original Standard English Translation
Address to the Unco Guid,
Or the Rigidly Righteous.
Address to the Uncommonly Good,
Or the Rigidly Righteous.

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 pyles o' caff in;
So ne'er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o' daffin.
Solomon. (Ecclesiastes vii. 16)*

My son, these maxims make a rule,
And lump them all together:
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise an other;
The cleanest corn that ever was sifted
May have some pieces of chaff in;
So never a fellow creature slight
For random fits of merriment.
Solomon. (Ecclesiastes vii. 16)

O ye, wha are sae guid yoursel,
Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye've nought to do but mark and tell
Your neebours' fauts and folly,
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
Supplied wi' store o' water,
The heapet happer's ebbing still,
An' still the clap plays clatter!
O you, who are so good yourself,
So pious and so holy,
You have nothing to do but mark and tell
Your neighbours' faults and folly,
Whose life is like a well going mill,
Supplied with a store of water,
The heaped hopper's ebbing still,
And still the clap plays clatter!
Hear me, ye venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals
That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door
For glaikit Folly's portals:
I for their thoughtless, careless sakes
Would here propone defences --
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
Their failings and mischances.
Hear me, you venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals
That frequent pass sober Wisdom's door
For thoughtless Folly's portals:
I for their thoughtless, careless sakes
Would here propone defenses -
Their stupid tricks, their black mistakes,
Their failings and mischances.
Ye see your state wi' theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer;
But cast a moment's fair regard,
What makes the mighty differ?
Discount what scant occasion gave;
That purity ye pride in;
And (what's aft mair than a' the lave)
Your better art o' hidin.
You see your state with theirs compared,
And shudder at the exchange;
But cast a moment's fair regard,
What makes the mighty different?
Discount what scant occasion gave;
That purity you pride in;
And (what's often more than all the rest)
Your better art of hiding.
Think, when your castigated pulse
Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop!
Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail,
Right on ye scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth o' baith to sail,
It makes an unco lee-way.
Think, when your castigated pulse
Gives now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop!
With wind and tide fair in your tail,
Right on you scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth of both to sail,
It makes an uncommon leeway.
See Social-life and Glee sit down
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrify'd, they're grown
Debauchery and Drinking:
O, would they stay to calculate,
Th' eternal consequences,
Or - your more dreaded hell to state -
Damnation of expenses!
See Social-life and Glee sit down
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmogrified, they are grown
Debauchery and Drinking:
O, would they stay to calculate,
The eternal consequences,
Or - your more dreaded hell to state -
Damnation of expenses!
Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
Suppose a change o' cases:
A dear-lov'd lad, convenience snug,
A treach'rous inclination--
But, let me whisper i' your lug,
Ye're aiblins nae temptation.
You high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before you give poor Frailty names,
Suppose a change of cases:
A dear-loved lad, convenience snug,
A treacherous inclination--
But, let me whisper in your ear,
You are maybe no temptation.
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.
Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Though they may go a little wrong,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving why they do it;
And just as lamely can you mark
How far perhaps they rue it.
Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us:
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.
Who made the heart, it is He alone
Decidedly can try us:
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let us be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What is done we partly may compute,
But know not what is resisted.

* "Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself?" - Ecclesiastes 7:16

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