Poem on Life
Addressed to Colonel De Peyster, Dumfries, 1796.

MY honored colonel, deep I feel
Your interest in the Poet's weal;
Ah! now sma' heart hae I to speel
The steep Parnassus,
Surrounded thus by bolus pill,
And potion glasses.

O what a canty world were it,
Would pain and care and sickness spare it;
And Fortune favour worth and merit
As they deserve:
(And aye a rowth, roast-beef and claret;
Syne wha wad starve?)

Dame life, tho' fiction out may trick her,
And in paste gems and frippery deck her;
Oh! flickering, feeble, and unsicker
I've found her still,
Ay wavering like the willow wicker,
'Tween good and ill.

Then that curst carmagnole, auld Satan,
Watches, like bawd’rons by a rattan,
Our sinfu' saul to get a claute on,
Wi' felon ire;
Syne, whip! his tail ye'll ne'er cast saut on,
He 's off like fire.

Ah! Nick, ah Nick it is na fair,
First shewing us the tempting ware,
Bright wines, and bonnie lasses rare,
To put us daft;
Syne weave, unseen, thy spider snare
O’ hell's damned waft.

Poor man the flie, aft bizzes bye,
And aft as chance he comes thee nigh,
Thy damn'd auld elbow yeuks wi'joy
And hellish pleasure;
Already in thy fancy's eye,
Thy sicker treasure.

Soon, heels o'er gowdie! in he gangs,
And like a sheep-head on a tangs,
Thy girning laugh enjoys his pangs
And murdering wrestle,
As dangling in the wind he hangs,
A gibbet's tassel.

But lest you think I am uncivil,
To plague you with this draunting drivel,
Abjuring a' intentions evil,
I quat my pen:
The Lord preserve us frae the devil!
Amen! Amen!