On many a January 25 I have quoted from Robert Burns’ “To A Louse (On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church).” The final stanza, the most well known from the poem, is full of insight into humanity.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!
Yes, if only we could see ourselves as others see us.
But today, on the 252nd anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, it seems somehow more appropriate to quote from “To A Mouse (On turning her up in her nest with the plough, November 1785).” I won’t quote the entire poem. Those who wish to read it in its entirety can readily find it elsewhere with a translation into more common English. But let us pause for a moment and listen to the last two stanzas.
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
Certainly, in this poem, Burns has captured many of our human fears. The best laid plans of mice and men often do go astray. Yet, in the midst of this we catch a note of hope. For the same God who cares for mice and sparrows cares for you and me. Raise a toast to Scotland’s Bard: Robert Burns.