Sic-like, some tyke grawn auld and blind, Whan thieves brok' through the gear to p'ind, Has lain his dozened length an' grinned At the disaster; An' the morn's mornin', wud's the wind, Yokes on his master.
XV - TO DOCTOR JOHN BROWN
(Whan the dear doctor, dear to a', Was still amang us here belaw, I set my pipes his praise to blaw Wi' a' my speerit; But noo, Dear Doctor! he's awa', An' ne'er can hear it.)
By Lyne and Tyne, by Thames and Tees, By a' the various river-Dee's, In Mars and Manors 'yont the seas Or here at hame, Whaure'er there's kindly folk to please, They ken your name.
They ken your name, they ken your tyke, They ken the honey from your byke; But mebbe after a' your fyke, (The truth to tell) It's just your honest Rab they like, An' no yoursel'.
As at the gowff, some canny play'r Should tee a common ba' wi' care - Should flourish and deleever fair His souple shintie - An' the ba' rise into the air, A leevin' lintie:
Sae in the game we writers play, There comes to some a bonny day, When a dear ferlie shall repay Their years o' strife, An' like your Rab, their things o' clay, Spreid wings o' life.
Ye scarce deserved it, I'm afraid - You that had never learned the trade, But just some idle mornin' strayed Into the schule, An' picked the fiddle up an' played Like Neil himsel'.
Your e'e was gleg, your fingers dink; Ye didnae fash yoursel' to think, But wove, as fast as puss can link, Your denty wab:- Ye stapped your pen into the ink, An' there was Rab!
Sinsyne, whaure'er your fortune lay By dowie den, by canty brae, Simmer an' winter, nicht an' day, Rab was aye wi' ye; An' a' the folk on a' the way Were blithe to see ye.
O sir, the gods are kind indeed, An' hauld ye for an honoured heid, That for a wee bit clarkit screed Sae weel reward ye, An' lend - puir Rabbie bein' deid - His ghaist to guard ye.
For though, whaure'er yoursel' may be, We've just to turn an' glisk a wee, An' Rab at heel we're shure to see Wi' gladsome caper: - The bogle of a bogle, he - A ghaist o' paper!
And as the auld-farrand hero sees In Hell a bogle Hercules, Pit there the lesser deid to please, While he himsel' Dwalls wi' the muckle gods at ease Far raised frae hell:
Sae the true Rabbie far has gane On kindlier business o' his ain Wi' aulder frien's; an' his breist-bane An' stumpie tailie, He birstles at a new hearth stane By James and Ailie.
It's an owercome sooth for age an' youth And it brooks wi' nae denial, That the dearest friends are the auldest friends And the young are just on trial.
There's a rival bauld wi' young an' auld And it's him that has bereft me; For the surest friends are the auldest friends And the maist o' mines hae left me.
There are kind hearts still, for friends to fill And fools to take and break them; But the nearest friends are the auldest friends And the grave's the place to seek them.