Holy Willie’s Prayer

O Thou that in the Heavens does dwell,
Wha, as it pleases best Thysel,
Sends ane to Heaven, an ten to Hell,
A’ for Thy glory,
And no for onie guid or ill
They’ve done before Thee!

I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
When thousands Thou has left in night,
That I am here before Thy sight,
For gifts an grace
A burning and a shining light
To a’ this place.

What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation?
I, wha deserv’d most just damnation
For broken laws,
Sax thousand years ere my creation,
Thro Adam’s cause!

When from my mither’s womb I fell,
Thou might hae plung’d me deep in Hell,
To gnash my gooms, and weep and wail,
In burning lakes,
Whare damned devils roar and yell,
Chain’d to their stakes.

Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show Thy grace is great and ample:
I’m here a pillar o Thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a’ Thy flock!

But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
At times I’m fash’d wi fleshy lust;
An sometimes, too, in warldly trust,
Vile self gets in;
But Thou remembers we are dust,
Defil’d wi sin.

O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi Meg
Thy pardon I sincerely beg
O, may’t ne’er be a livin plague
To my dishonour!
An I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.

Besides, I farther maun avow,
Wi Leezie’s lass, three times I trow
But, Lord, that Friday I was fou,
When I cam near her,
Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true
Wad never steer her.

Maybe Thou lets this fleshly thorn
Buffet Thy servant e’en and morn,
Lest he owre proud and high should turn,
That he’s sae gifted:
If sae, Thy han’ maun e’en be borne,
Until Thou lift it.

Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
For here Thou has a chosen race!
But God confound their stubborn face,
An blast their name,
Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
An open shame.

Lord, mind Gau’n Hamilton’s deserts:
He drinks, an swears, an plays at cartes,
Yet has sae monie takin arts,
Wi great and sma’,
Frae God’s ain Priest the people’s hearts
He steals awa.

And when we chasten’d him therefore,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
And set the warld in a roar
O laughin at us;
Curse Thou his basket and his store,
Kail an potatoes!

Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r,
Against that Presbyt’ry o Ayr!
Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak it bare
Upo’ their heads!
Lord, visit them, an dinna spare,
For their misdeeds!

O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu’d Aiken,
My vera heart and flesh are quakin,
To think how we stood sweatin, shakin,
An pish’d wi dread,
While he, wi hingin lip, an snakin,
Held up his head.

Lord, in Thy day o vengeance try him!
Lord, visit them wha did employ him!
And pass not in Thy mercy by them,
Nor hear their pray’r,
But for Thy people’s sake destroy them,
An dinna spare.

But, Lord, remember me and mine
Wi mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine
Amen, Amen!

Epitaph on Holy Willie

Here Holy Willie’s sair worn clay
Taks up its last abode;
His soul has ta’en some other way
I fear, the left-hand road.

Stop! there he is as sure’s a gun!
Poor, silly body, see him!
Nae wonder he’s as black’s the grun
Observe wha’s standing wi him!

Your brunstane Devilship, I see
Has got him there before ye!
But haud your nine-tail cat a wee,
Till ance you’ve heard my story.

Your pity I will not implore,
For pity ye have nane,
Justice, alas! has gi’en him o’er,
And mercy’s day is gane.

But hear me, Sir, Deil as ye are,
Look something to your credit:
A cuif like him wad stain your name,
If it were kent ye did it!

Robert Burns

(British Poets)     (Scottish Poets)     (Robert Burns Poems)