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I sit at Robert Frost Farm
On a bench so tall my feet can’t touch ground
I move them around and pretend I’m sitting on a cliff
But I’m surrounded by twigs
And dead yellow grass

It feels like spring but it looks like autumn
The trees are still bare and the landscape barren
Stripped down and beaten
Like a hollow survivor
Waiting for sunlight and just a little water

I sit here blindly like a silent on looker
I stare right through the tattered survivors
An old lady in the distance yells something friendly
But I can’t hear her so I stare and smile
Copyright Barry Pietrantonio
Äŧül Jun 10
Robert Clive.
He was an agent of the Brutish British,
And he brought misery to my Bhaarat.
My HP Poem #1854
©Atul Kaushal
Banks o' Doon
by Robert Burns
modern English translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, banks and hills of lovely Doon,
How can you bloom so fresh and fair;
How can you chant, diminutive birds,
When I'm so weary, full of care!
You'll break my heart, small warblers,
Flittering through the flowering thorn:
Reminding me of long-lost joys,
Departed―never to return!

I've often wandered lovely Doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And as the lark sang of its love,
Just as fondly, I sang of mine.
Then gaily-hearted I plucked a rose,
So fragrant upon its thorny tree;
And my false lover stole my rose,
But, ah!, he left the thorn in me.

“The Banks o’ Doon” is a Scots song written by Robert Burns in 1791. It is based on the story of Margaret (Peggy) Kennedy, a girl Burns knew. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, song, Doon, banks, Scots, Scottish, Scotland, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English
Auld Lange Syne
by Robert Burns
modern English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days for which we pine?

For times we shared, my darling,
Days passed, once yours and mine,
We’ll raise a cup of kindness yet,
To those fond-remembered times!

Have you ever wondered just exactly what you're singing? "Auld lang syne" means something like "times gone by" or "times long since passed" and in the context of the song means something like "times long since passed that we shared together and now remember fondly." In my translation, which is not word-for-word, I try to communicate what I believe Burns was trying to communicate: raising a toast to fond recollections of times shared in the past. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, auld lang syne, old acquaintance, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, song

Original Scots Dialect Lyrics

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

CHORUS
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

REPEAT CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.

REPEAT CHORUS

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn
Frae mornin' sun till dine.
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.

REPEAT CHORUS

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid ***** waught,
For auld lang syne.
To a Louse
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hey! Where're you going, you crawling hair-fly?
Your impudence protects you, barely;
I can only say that you swagger rarely
Over gauze and lace.
Though faith! I fear you dine but sparely
In such a place.

You ugly, creeping, blasted wonder,
Detested, shunned by both saint and sinner,
How dare you set your feet upon her—
So fine a lady!
Go somewhere else to seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Off! around some beggar's temple shamble:
There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble,
With other kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Where horn nor bone never dare unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now hold you there! You're out of sight,
Below the folderols, snug and tight;
No, faith just yet! You'll not be right,
Till you've got on it:
The very topmost, towering height
Of miss's bonnet.

My word! right bold you root, contrary,
As plump and gray as any gooseberry.
Oh, for some rank, mercurial resin,
Or dread red poison;
I'd give you such a hearty dose, flea,
It'd dress your noggin!

I wouldn't be surprised to spy
You on some housewife's flannel tie:
Or maybe on some ragged boy's
Pale undervest;
But Miss's finest bonnet! Fie!
How dare you jest?

Oh Jenny, do not toss your head,
And lash your lovely braids abroad!
You hardly know what cursed speed
The creature's making!
Those winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice-taking!

O would some Power with vision teach us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notions:
What airs in dress and carriage would leave us,
And even devotion!

One Sunday while sitting behind a young lady in church, Robert Burns noticed a louse roaming through the bows and ribbons of her bonnet. The poem "To a Louse" resulted from his observations. The poor woman had no idea that she would be the subject of one of Burns' best poems about how we see ourselves, compared to how other people see us at our worst moments. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, louse, church, bonnet, lace, Scotland, Scots, dialect, translation
Comin Thro the Rye
by Robert Burns
modern English translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, Jenny's all wet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry;
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Should a body meet a body
Comin' through the rye,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need anybody cry?

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

Should a body meet a body
Comin' through the glen,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need all the world know, then?

Comin' through the rye, poor body,
Comin' through the rye.
She's draggin' all her petticoats
Comin' through the rye.

The poem "Comin Thro the Rye" by Robert Burns may be best-known today because of Holden Caulfield's misinterpretation of it in "The Catcher in the Rye." In the book, Caulfield relates his fantasy to his sister, Phoebe: he's the "catcher in the rye," rescuing children from falling from a cliff. Phoebe corrects him, pointing out that poem is not about a "catcher" in the rye, but about a girl who has met someone in the rye for a kiss (or more), got her underclothes wet (not for the first time), and is dragging her way back to a polite (i.e., Puritanical) society that despises girls who are "easy." Robert Burns, an honest man, was exhibiting empathy for girls who were castigated for doing what all the boys and men longed to do themselves. Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, Jenny, rye, petticoats, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, song, wet, body, kiss, gossip, puritanism, prudery
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch

Oh, my love is like a red, red rose
that's newly sprung in June
and my love is like the melody
that's sweetly played in tune.

And you're so fair, my lovely lass,
and so deep in love am I,
that I will love you still, my dear,
till all the seas run dry.

Till all the seas run dry, my dear,
and the rocks melt with the sun!
And I will love you still, my dear,
while the sands of life shall run.  

And fare you well, my only love!
And fare you well, awhile!
And I will come again, my love,
though it were ten thousand miles!

Keywords/Tags: Robert Burns, red, rose, translation, modernization, update, interpretation, modern English, melody, tune, seas, dry, rocks, melt, sun, ten thousand miles

Original Scots Dialect Poem:

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.
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
Not Elves, Exactly
by Michael R. Burch

(after Robert Frost's "Mending Wall")

Something there is that likes a wall,
that likes it spiked and likes it tall,

that likes its pikes’ sharp rows of teeth
and doesn’t mind its victims’ grief

(wherever they come from, far or wide)
as long as they fall on the other side.

Keywords/Tags: Robert Frost, mending, wall, fences, good, neighbors, southern, border, spikes, pikes, barbed, wire, electrical
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