Bright guardian o' the thoughts o' men!
Sin I maun fasten up, an' sen'
To either een, the things my pen
Has been about,
I wish ye, just for surety's sake,
To blaze an' rin, then stap an' take
My seal, to bind ye na to break,
An' let them out.
For, be my whimsies great or sma',
I wad na let them loose, to fa'
Where a' the idle wins that blaw,
To whirl the stoure,
May toss them round from mou to mou,
Wi' different nature, form an' hue,
To come frae ilk they're hurried through,
An' a' ground o'er.
This warld's a curious ane enough;
An', weel supplied wi' kindling-stuff,
It winna quench, while it can puff
The reekin flax.
An' what could pass through smoke an' flame,
An' like yoursel, come out the same,
In beauty, virtue, hue an' name,
My cannie wax?
I wadna ca' the warld unfair,
Or wrang it in a single hair;
But, wha kens maist o't, kens the mair
How oft it slips,
For want o' rectitude or thought,
Sae far upon the side o' faut,
That truth is seldom pure or straught
Between its lips.
I winna judge the warld's intent;
But then, its een are sae asklent,
The fairest things leuk foul an' bent,
The foulest, fair.
I canna, therefore, now foresee
What sort o' things my thoughts wad be,
If robbed o' their identity
By gettin' air.
Gin folk wad kindly let alane
A neighbor's wark, to tent their ain,
Ye wad na hae to thus sustain
A martyr's fate,
By bein' burnt to prove how fast
Ye'll haud your virtue to the last,
Like precious gowd, until ye're past
Your distant gate.
But, sin I hope the world will men',
We winna let it ever ken
What I hae whispered as a frien',
Tho' strictly true.
Gang now, an' guard these secrets weel!
May ane, who breaks ye, ca' ye "leal,"
For what, when broken, ye reveal!