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Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie, The

Robert Burns 1759 (Alloway) – 1796 (Dumfries)

The Author's Only Pet Yowe
 
An Unco Mournfu' Tale
 
As Mailie, an' her lambs thegither,
Was ae day nibbling on the tether,
Upon her cloot she coost a hitch,
An owre she warsl'd in the ditch:
There, groaning, dying, she did lie,
When Hughoc he cam doytin by.
 
Wi' glowrin een, and lifted han's
Poor Hughoc like a statue stan's;
He saw her days were near-hand ended,
But, wae's my heart! he could na mend it!
He gaped wide, but naething spak,
At length poor Mailie silence brak.
 
"O thou, whase lamentable face
Appears to mourn my woefu' case!
My dying words attentive hear,
An' bear them to my Master dear.
 
"Tell him, if e'er again he keep
As muckle gear as buy a sheep -
O, bid him never tie them mair,
Wi' wicked strings o' hemp or hair!
But ca' them out to park or hill,
An' let them wander at their will:
So may his flock increase, an' grow
To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'!
 
"Tell him, he was a Master kin',
An' aye was guid to me an' mine;
An now my dying charge I gie him,
My helpless lambs, I trust them wi' him.
 
"O, bid him save their harmless lives,
Frae dogs, an' tods, an' butchers' knives!
But gie them guid cow-milk their fill,
Till they be fit to fend themsel';
An' tent them duly, e'en an' morn,
Wi' taets o' hay an' ripps o' corn.
 
"An' may they never learn the gates,
Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets -
To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!
So may they, like their great forbears,
For mony a year come thro' the shears:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An bairns greet for them when they're dead.
 
"My poor toop-lamb, my son an' heir,
O, bid him breed him up wi' care!
An' if he live to be a beast,
To pit some havins in his breast!
An' warn him - what I winna name -
To stay content wi' yowes at hame;
An' no to rin an' wear his cloots,
Like ither meseless, graceless brutes.
 
"An' neist, my yowie, silly thing,
Gude keep thee frae a tether string!
O, may thou ne'er forgather up,
Wi' ony blastit, moorland toop;
But aye keep mind to moop an' mell,
Wi' sheep o' credit like thysel'!
 
"And now, my bairns, wi' my last breath,
I lea'e my blessin wi' you baith:
An' when you think upo' your mither,
Mind to be kind to ane anither.
 
"Now, honest Hughoc, dinna fail,
To tell my master a' my tale;
An' bid him burn this cursed tether,
An' for thy pains thou'se get my blather."
 
This said, poor Mailie turn'd her head,
An' closed her een amang the dead!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:25 min read
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Robert Burns

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. more…

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