Robert Burns

Extempore to Mr Gavin Hamilton

written in 1786

To you, Sir, this summons I've sent, Pray whip till the pownie is fraething; But if you demand what I want, I honestly answer you, naething. Ne'er scorn a poor Poet like me, For idly just living and breathing, While people of every degree Are busy employed about - naething. Poor Centum per centum may fast, And grumble his hurdies their claithing; He'll find, when the balance is cast, He's gane to the devil for - naething. The Courtier cringes and bows, Ambition has likewise its plaything; A Coronet beams in his brows, And what is a Coronet? naething. Some quarrel the presbyter gown, Some quarrel Episcopal graithing, But every good fellow will own Their quarrel is all about - naething. The lover may sparkle and glow, Approaching his bonie bit gay thing; But marriage will soon let him know, He's gotten a buskit up naething. The Poet may jingle and rhyme, In hopes of a laureate wreathing, And when he has wasted his time, He's kindly rewarded with naething. The thundering bully may rage, And swagger and swear like a heathen; But collar him fast, I'll engage You'll find that his courage is naething. Last night with a feminine whig, A Poet she could na put faith in, But soon we grew lovingly big, I taught her, her terrors were naething. Her whigship was wonderful pleased, But charmingly tickled wi' ae thing; Her fingers I lovingly squeezed, And kissed her and promised her - naething. The Priest anathemas may threat, Predicament, Sir, that we're baith in; But when honor's reveille is beat, The holy artillery's naething. And now I must mount on the wave, My voyage perhaps there is death in; But what of a watery grave! The drowning a Poet is naething. And now as grim death's in my thought, To you, Sir, I make this bequeathing: My service as lang as ye've ought, And my friendship, by God, when ye've naething.

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