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One great poem a day

Someone requested that I bring this back, so I thought I would give it a shot. I can't remember the spiel from when I did it before, but it's something about one great poem a day, with a potted critique at the end - so here goes...


Epistle To a Young Friend

I lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend, A something to have sent you, Tho' it should serve nae ither end Than just a kind momento: But how the subject-theme may gang, Let time and change determine; Perhaps it may turn out a sang: Perhaps turn out a sermon.


Ye'll try the world soon my lad; And, Andrew dear, believe me, Ye'll find mankind an unco squad, And muckle they may grieve ye. For care and trouble set your thought, Ev'n when your end's attained; And a' your views may come to nought, Where ev'ry nerve is strained.


I'll no say, men are villains a'; The real, harden'd wicked, What hae nae check but human law, Are to a few restricked; But, och! mankind are unco weak, An' little to be trusted; If self the wavering balance shake, It's rarely right adjusted!


Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife, Their fate we shouldna censure; For still, th'important end of life They equally may answer; A man may hae in honest heart, Tho' poortith hourly stare him; A man may tak a neibor's part, Yet hae nae cash to spare him.


Aye free, aff-han', your story tell, When wi' a bosom crony; But still keep something to yoursel', Ye scarcely tell to ony: Conceal yoursel' as weel's ye can Frae critical dissection; But keek thro' ev'ry other man, Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.


The sacred lowe o' well-plac'd love, Luxuriantly indulge it; But never tempt th' illicit rove, Tho' naething should divulge it: I waive the quantum o' the sin, The hazard of concealing; But, och! it hardens a' within, And petrifies the feeling!


To catch dame Fortune's golden smile, Assiduous wait upon her; And gather gear by ev'ry wile That's justified by honour; Not for to hide it in a hedge, Nor for a train attendant; But for the glorious privilege Of being independent.


The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip, To haud the wretch in order; But where ye feel your honour grip, Let that aye be your border; Its slightest touches, instant pause-- Debar a' side-pretences; And resolutely keep its laws, Uncaring consequences.


The great Creator to revere, Must sure become the creature; But still the preaching cant forbear, And ev'n the rigid feature: Yet ne'er with wits profane to range, Be complaisance extended; An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange For Deity offended!


When ranting round in pleasure's ring, Religion may be blinded; Or if she gie a random sting, It may be little minded; But when on life we're tempest-driv'n-- A conscience but a canker, A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n, Is sure a noble anchor!


Adieu, dear, amiable youth! Your heart can ne'er be wanting! May prudence, fortitude, and truth, Erect your brow undaunting! In ploughman phrase, ``God send you speed,'' Still daily to grow wiser; And may ye better reck the rede, Than ever did th' adviser!  Robert Burns.   Timeless observation and wisdom....