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TO WILLIAM STEWART

Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/words-of-burns/to-william-stewart

While Robert Burns’s early biographers painted a picture of the poet as a hopeless drunkard, later sources reflected that while he undoubtedly enjoyed a drink and good company, his behaviour wasn’t generally excessive and much in keeping with the habits of the times. Like anyone who has enjoyed a good party the night before, he would on occasion feel somewhat jaded on the morning after. In the following poem, he writes to a friend, describing the horrors of the hangover.

"Brownhill Monday even:

Dear Sir,

In honest Bacon's ingle-neuk, Here maun I sit and think; Sick o' the warld and warld's fock, And sick, damned sick o' drink!

I see, I see there is nae help, But still down I maun sink; Till some day, laigh enough, I yelp, 'Wae worth that cursed drink!'

Yestreen, alas! I was sae fu', I could but yisk and wink; And now, this day, sair, sair I rue, The weary, weary drink.

Satan, I fear thy sooty claws, I hate thy brunstane stink, And ay I curse the luckless cause, The wicked soup o' drink.

In vain I would forget my woes In idle rhyming clink, For past redemption damn'd in Prose I can do nought but drink.

For you, my trusty, well-try'd friend, May Heaven still on you blink; And may your life flow to the end, Sweet as a dry man's drink!

Robt Burns"

https://soundcloud.com/words-of-burns/to-william-stewart

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© 2014 Neil Macgillivray