Address to the Deil

Address to the Deil

O Thou, whatever title suit thee!
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie,
Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sooty
		Clos’d under hatches,
Spairges about the brunstane cootie,
		To scaud poor wretches!

Hear me, auld Hangie, for a wee,
An’ let poor, damned bodies bee;
I’m sure sma’ pleasure it can gie,
		Ev’n to a deil,
To skelp an’ scaud poor dogs like me,
		An’ hear us squeel! 

Great is thy pow’r, an’ great thy fame;
Far ken’d, an’ noted is thy name;
An’ tho’ yon lowan heugh’s thy hame,
		Thou travels far;
An’ faith! thou’s neither lag nor lame,
		Nor blate nor scaur.

Whyles, ranging like a roaring lion,
For prey, a’ holes an’ corners tryin;
Whyles, on the strong-win’d Tempest flyin,
		Tirlan the kirks;
Whyles, in the human bosom pryin,
		Unseen thou lurks.

I’ve heard my rev’rend Graunie say,
In lanely glens ye like to stray;
Or where auld, ruin’d castles, gray,
		Nod to the moon,
Ye fright the nightly wand’rer’s way,
		Wi’ eldritch croon.

When twilight did my Graunie summon,
To say her pray’rs, douse, honest woman,
Aft ’yont the dyke she’s heard you bumman,
		Wi’ eerie drone;
Or, rustling, thro’ the boorties coman,
		Wi’ heavy groan.

Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
The stars shot down wi’ sklentan light,
Wi’ you, mysel, I gat a fright
		Ayont the lough;
Ye, like a rash-buss, stood in sight,
		Wi’ waving sugh:

The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
Each bristl’d hair stood like a stake,
When wi’ an eldritch, stoor, quaick, quaick,
		Amang the springs,
Awa ye squatter’d like a drake,
On whistling wings.

Let Warlocks grim, an’ wither’d Hags,
Tell, how wi’ you, an ragweed nags,
They skim the muirs an’ dizzy crags,
		Wi’ wicked speed;
And in kirk-yards renew their leagues,
		Owre howcket dead.

Thence, countra wives, wi’ toil an’ pain,
May plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain;
For Och! the yellow treasure’s taen,
		By witching skill;
An’ dawtit, twal-pint Hawkie’s gane
		As yell’s the Bill.

Thence, mystic knots mak great absue,
On Young-Guidman, fond, keen an’ croose;
When the best warklum i’ the house,
		By cantraip wit,
Is instant made no worth a louse,
		Just at the bit.

When thowes dissove the snawy hoord,
An’ float the jinglan icy boord,
Then, Water-kelpies haunt the foord,
		By your direction,
An’ nighted Trav’llers are allur’d
		To their destruction.

An ’aft your moss-traversing Spunkies
Decoy the wight that late an’ drunk is;
The bleezan, curst, mischievous monkies
		Delude his eyes,
Till in some miry slough he sunk is,
		Ne’er mair to rise.

When Masons’ mystic word an’ grip,
In storms an’ tempests raise you up,
Some cock, or cat, your rage maun stop,
		Or, strange to tell!
The youngest Brother ye wad whip
		Aff straught to H–ll.

Lang syne in Eden’s bonie yard,
When youthfu’ lovers first were pair’d,
An’ all the Soul of Love they shar’d,
		The raptur’d hour,
Sweet on the fragrant, flow’ry swaird,
		In shady bow’r:

Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog!
Ye cam to Paradise incog,
An’ play’d on a man a cursed brogue,
		(Black be your fa’!)
An’ gied the infant warld a shog,
		’Maist ruin’d a’.

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

An’ how ye gat him i’ your thrall,
An’ brak him out o’ house an’ hal’.
While scabs an’ botches did him gall,
		Wi’ bitter claw,
An’ lows’d his ill-tongu’d, wicked Scawl
		Was warst ava?

But a’ your doings to rehearse,
Your wily snares an’ fechtin fierce,
Sin’ that day Michael did you pierce,
		Down to this time,
Wad ding a’ Lallan tongue, or Erse,
		In Prose or Rhyme.

An’ now, auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkan,
A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin,
Some luckless hour will send him linkan,
		To your black pit;
But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkan,
		An’ cheat you yet.

But fare you weel, auld Nickie-ben!
O wad ye tak a thought an’ men’!
Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken—
		Still hae a stake—
I’m wae to think upo’ yon den,
		Ev’n for your sake.
Robert Burns
Print Poem