Burns, “To a Mouse,” various readers

1) Reader unknown. Source: National Burns Collection. Download link

2) Read by Hannah Gordon. Source: YouTube.com [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/pTUHBhZZJwE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

3) Read by Tom O’Bedlam. Source: YouTube.com. [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Wye0LqV_dAU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

To a Mouse
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

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 art blest, compar’d 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!


  1. This website is of great help of mine
    Helping to read it and keep in time.

    I consider it for the Poetry Aloud contest
    though my poor Scottish accent may make a mess.

    Thank you kindly
    I thank you all.

    Please let my voice not stammer
    Please let it not fall.

  2. One of the most endearing, touching poems e’er written in any language. Burns, ye were genius. Sheer bloody genius.
    Keepin the Immortal Memory alive,
    Fan for Life,
    John Fogarty

  3. blainedickson says:

    I have been asked to recite this poem at our up-coming Robert Burns night celebration on Sat.
    I have done it before but it was most helpful to hear it done by Dawn Steele.
    I love her recitation!!Thank you.

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