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To a Mouse
by Robert Burns
translation/modernization/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sleek, tiny, timorous, cowering beast,
Why’s such panic in your breast?
Why dash away, so quick, so rash,
In a frenzied flash
When I would be loath to run after you
With a murderous plowstaff!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that bad opinion
Which makes you startle,
When I’m your poor, earth-bound companion
And fellow mortal!

I have no doubt you sometimes thieve;
What of it, friend? You too must live!
A random corn-ear in a shock's
A small behest; it-
‘ll give me a blessing to know such a loss;
I’ll never miss it!

Your tiny house lies in a ruin,
Its fragile walls wind-rent and strewn!
Now nothing’s left to construct you a new one
Of mosses green
Since bleak December’s winds, ensuing,
Blow fast and keen!

You saw your fields laid bare and waste
With weary winter closing fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel iron ploughshare passed
Straight through your cell!

That flimsy heap of leaves and stubble
Had cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you’re turned out, for all your trouble,
Less house and hold,
To endure the winter’s icy dribble
And hoarfrosts cold!

But mouse-friend, you are not alone
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes of Mice and Men
Go oft awry,
And leave us only grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still, friend, you’re blessed compared with me!
Only present dangers make you flee:
But, ouch!, behind me I can see
Grim prospects drear!
While forward-looking seers, we
Humans guess and fear!

Published by the English department of St. John’s College High School. Excerpted in an essay by Galkina Karolina, Institute of Humanities, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, Ukraine, and published on the university’s website. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, mouse, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, schemes, mice, men, agley, awry, nature, field, plow, den, home, modern English
Tara Apr 19
Eyes like fire, burning with hunger
She has found her prey in you
Run from her or fight her
You stand no chance,
you are hers.

Body lithe, rigid, focused
She will toy with you
You are powerless in this game
The cat will catch the mouse
and the mouse will submit.

She barely moves, she is confident
You can't escape
She will do as she pleases with you
That is her purpose, her role,
she loves this play.

If you fight her, she grows bored, dull
You don't want that
Her fire excites you, sparks a fear
Fear that sparks a pleasure deep inside,
you do as she bids you.

Pretty little thing, she purrs
Her claws long, her teeth glinting with fresh desire
Her eyes even more so
She wants to taste your pure, soft flesh,
and she will.

She cares little for the aftermath
You are spent, she has just begun
Finished with her prey, her ego craves yet more
The game is won, she is the victor,
time to find another mouse.
vonny Apr 13
the mouse started off like any ordinary mouse

annoying, small, and persistent.

the nymph tried to take good care of him, and he was treasured to her.

the mouse came limping back to her, after his daily battle with the world

she nursed him back to health

as the nymph cared more for the little mouse, she spurted out pellets of blood and flowers

the mouse tried to stop her

but it was too late.
i wrote this about a my friend who i used to think i liked in that way. i wrote this after i realized i didn't really like him, and it was about what our hypothetical relationship might have been. and it obviously wasn't something i wanted.
Poetress2 Mar 27
The anxious Toddler,
***** her right thumb;
The News has just ended,
and soon they will come.
But they will not lay down,
'neath her Mickey Mouse sheets;
They'll take her pure innocence,
and she'll get no sleep.
The things that are done,
to this Child of five;
Will stay with this wee one,
for the rest of her life.
When they are finished,
having her their own way;
She hugs the pink walls,
feeling ***** and ashamed,
Child abuse has got to stop!
TJ Radcliffe Jan 21
The rain is falling down the winter sky
the fog is wrapped like moss around the house
a fire is burning in the stove and I
am curled up in my hole, an elder mouse
who's seen the wars and lived to tell the tale
who's belled the cat and stolen all the cheese
who's climbed the stair and slid down on the rail
who's lived through summer's heat and autumn's freeze.
That is the past, for now the days are warm
even in this winter-time of life
although I'd take the snows to rainy storms,
for burrowing beneath avoids the strife
of dodging hawks and cats, and also owls
but in the sky the future softly growls.
Carmen Jane Sep 2019
The gardener jumped over the grasshopper
That winks and blinks three times
Each dew drop was released from an old dropper,
Held by a smiling child

That smile rolled under a roly poly
And ran barefoot for miles
As all gasped with a Holly Molly
When the grass grew upside-down.

Don't mind all this hurry
Turn your own clock's hands
Who knows,why people worry
They've been writing all in their plans...

The songs were heard in loudest whispers
Sang by the leaves on trees,
Where the cat took rest to lick his whiskers,
Waiting for the mouse to say please.
alexis Sep 2019
You're the light to my darkness,
I'm the darkness to your light,
A never-ending battle,
Our game of cat and mouse.
A Aug 2019
To end a broken star,
Galaxies twist a turn from afar,
Hearts of lions know where they rest,
Upon the lonely plains,
And to end a place, to dream,
Upon the lilies, resting frogs,
A mouse trapped, stinging bog,
As the bird sings and screams.
For this prompt on Write the World by Poets and Wordsmiths: "This prompt is simple, dear poets. Borrow the title from Hilda Raz’s stirring poem, “Narrative Without People” (full poem copied below for further inspiration), and write your own poem—a narrative in which no human characters appear."
Lauren M Jun 2019
Sandbox constructs, talk to me.
Play to me.
Dancing straw, pull on the wind,
give color and shape, give name.
I will be straw too one time, then many times,
and will dance with the straw in the wind.
These are joyful times, all alone, no interference. No you.

Mouse you sneaks in the sandbox,
chews on my straw and nests in my sand.
In possession of some key.

(I want to ask about the key, but I can’t.
I am supposed to be made of straw.)

Perturbed, I chase you out.
My world of sand and straw is too fragile for your beating heart.
It will fall apart, will be rubbed raw and threadbare.
But you sneak in again,
and look at me as if I am not straw,
and the ground as if it is not sand
but solid earth, rich and full.

Clearing the board I start over.
Drive you out
and begin to map out the pattern of this cloth.
Time begins to unspool, following its slow track.
Joyful in this beginning, this gradual awakening.

I never know when (or if) you’re going to appear.
So often the game plays out without a hitch,
or you appear so late that it makes no difference.
But I hear your heartbeat now: the rapid thudding,
and know you are here.
A mouse nuzzling through the straw,
invading the gentle morning of this world
when all may be ruined, all may be averted.

Bold, undisguised you,
and I, perfect shaft of damp straw;
it does not fool you.
Discovered at the worst moment,
tender and caught.
You, unruffled by the wind, realizing the position you’re in.
Realizing the position I’m in:
holding all the keys but unprepared to use them.

You have your own plans and ideas.
You dance around me,
playing provocateur, trying to make me
show my hand, my key.
I pretend I don’t know what you’re up to.
I hope you lose interest and give up.
Hope a chance wind sweeps you up,
like a great swell from the sea,
and I never see you again.
Hope you suddenly doubt yourself, blinking,
finally convinced by my damp posing,
my mute bafflement and loyalty to the wind
and wonder, isn’t this straw?

Dare I play your game?
Dare I nod to your tune?

I use one of my keys.
Walk through a door that shouldn’t open,
you at my heels, all eager to see backstage,
to see the actor who plays me.

You already know what you have known since you saw my face.
The same face you have seen dancing in and out
of pale replicas of borrowed worlds.

And finally I let you hear from my lips
what you have suspected the whole time.
That I am not the straw or the sand or even the wind.
That I know you aren’t either.
That I know that you know.
That yes, it was a character and it was a role.
That it was a game I play, usually alone.

“It was just for light fun and idle amusement,” I say.
“Nothing was at stake.
So why the sabotage?”

Then, in spite of our twin hearts,
I see how different you are from me.
What calms me enrages you.
What worries me soothes you.
What I call “light fun and idle amusement”
you call “life and death.”
“Everything was at stake,” you say.
You say, “this world is full, full to the brim. People just like you.”

Don’t you realize where you are?
Look around, it is a world of sand and straw
blowing in the wind.
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