Robert Burns

(1759-1796 / Ayrshire / Scotland)

Address to the Devil


1 O thou! whatever title suit thee,--
2 Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
3 Wha in yon cavern, grim an' sootie,
4 Clos'd under hatches,
5 Spairges about the brunstane cootie
6 To scaud poor wretches!

7 Hear me, Auld Hangie, for a wee,
8 An' let poor damned bodies be;
9 I'm sure sma' pleasure it can gie,
10 E'en to a deil,
11 To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me,
12 An' hear us squeel!

13 Great is thy pow'r, an' great thy fame;
14 Far ken'd an' noted is thy name;
15 An' tho' yon lowin heugh's thy hame,
16 Thou travels far;
17 An' faith! thou's neither lag nor lame,
18 Nor blate nor scaur.

19 Whyles, ranging like a roarin lion,
20 For prey a' holes an' corners tryin;
21 Whyles, on the strong-wing'd tempest flyin,
22 Tirlin' the kirks;
23 Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,
24 Unseen thou lurks.

25 I've heard my rev'rend graunie say,
26 In lanely glens ye like to stray;
27 Or whare auld ruin'd castles gray
28 Nod to the moon,
29 Ye fright the nightly wand'rer's way
30 Wi' eldritch croon.

31 When twilight did my graunie summon
32 To say her pray'rs, douce honest woman!
33 Aft yont the dike she's heard you bummin,
34 Wi' eerie drone;
35 Or, rustlin thro' the boortrees comin,
36 Wi' heavy groan.

37 Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
38 The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
39 Wi' you mysel I gat a fright,
40 Ayont the lough;
41 Ye like a rash-buss stood in sight,
42 Wi' waving sugh.

43 The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
44 Each bristl'd hair stood like a stake,
45 When wi' an eldritch, stoor 'Quaick, quaick,'
46 Amang the springs,
47 Awa ye squatter'd like a drake,
48 On whistling wings.

49 Let warlocks grim an' wither'd hags
50 Tell how wi' you on ragweed nags
51 They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags
52 Wi' wicked speed;
53 And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
54 Owre howket dead.

55 Thence, countra wives wi' toil an' pain
56 May plunge an' plunge the kirn in vain;
57 For oh! the yellow treasure's taen
58 By witchin skill;
59 An' dawtet, twal-pint hawkie's gaen
60 As yell's the bill.

61 Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse,
62 On young guidmen, fond, keen, an' croose;
63 When the best wark-lume i' the house,
64 By cantraip wit,
65 Is instant made no worth a louse,
66 Just at the bit.

67 When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord,
68 An' float the jinglin icy-boord,
69 Then water-kelpies haunt the foord
70 By your direction,
71 An' nighted trav'lers are allur'd
72 To their destruction.

73 And aft your moss-traversing spunkies
74 Decoy the wight that late an drunk is:
75 The bleezin, curst, mischievous monkeys
76 Delude his eyes,
77 Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
78 Ne'er mair to rise.

79 When Masons' mystic word an grip
80 In storms an' tempests raise you up,
81 Some cock or cat your rage maun stop,
82 Or, strange to tell!
83 The youngest brither ye wad whip
84 Aff straught to hell!

85 Lang syne, in Eden'd bonie yard,
86 When youthfu' lovers first were pair'd,
87 An all the soul of love they shar'd,
88 The raptur'd hour,
89 Sweet on the fragrant flow'ry swaird,
90 In shady bow'r;

91 Then you, ye auld snick-drawin dog!
92 Ye cam to Paradise incog,
93 And play'd on man a cursed brogue,
94 (Black be your fa'!)
95 An gied the infant warld a shog,
96 Maist ruin'd a'.

97 D'ye mind that day, when in a bizz,
98 Wi' reeket duds an reestet gizz,
99 Ye did present your smoutie phiz
100 Mang better folk,
101 An' sklented on the man of Uz
102 Your spitefu' joke?

103 An' how ye gat him i' your thrall,
104 An' brak him out o' house and hal',
105 While scabs and blotches did him gall,
106 Wi' bitter claw,
107 An' lows'd his ill-tongued, wicked scaul,
108 Was warst ava?

109 But a' your doings to rehearse,
110 Your wily snares an' fechtin fierce,
111 Sin' that day Michael did you pierce,
112 Down to this time,
113 Wad ding a Lallan tongue, or Erse,
114 In prose or rhyme.

115 An' now, Auld Cloots, I ken ye're thinkin,
116 A certain Bardie's rantin, drinkin,
117 Some luckless hour will send him linkin,
118 To your black pit;
119 But faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin,
120 An' cheat you yet.

121 But fare you weel, Auld Nickie-ben!
122 O wad ye tak a thought an' men'!
123 Ye aiblins might--I dinna ken--
124 Still hae a stake:
125 I'm wae to think upo' yon den,
126 Ev'n for your sake!

Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001

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