National Poetry Month: To A Mouse

Weekly Geeks is celebrating National Poetry Month this week. While searching for a poem for it, I found Robbie Burns' To A Mouse. I chose it not just because it is beautiful but also it fits into Earth Day Week. To A Mouse is a poem Burns wrote after he overturned a mouse's nest with his plow. He has sympathy for this little creature.

Did you know that Steinbeck got the title for Of Mice and Men from To A Mouse?
"But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men"

Here is the entire poem.

To A Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what 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, whyles, 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' wast,
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 monie 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 are 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!
-Robbie Burns

I embedded a Youtube video of To A Mouse being recited. You want to hear it! Believe me. If Jamie Fraser and Desmond from Lost had a baby, this is what that baby would sound like.

BookBlips: vote it up!


  1. I LOVED that reading. So glad I listened to it. Thanks for sharing this poem. I need to read some Burns. I can only think of "Oh my love's like a red red rose" when I think of him.

  2. I love this poem And thanks for sharing the video; I hadn&'t seen it before. Scottish accents are the best.

  3. I have never known that this is the poem Steinbeck took his title from. And Of Mice and Men is my favorite book by him. It's a very difficult poem to read and understand I must say, but definitely worth the time.

  4. Wow, epecially for non-native English speakers this is hard to understand. Thanks for sharing, I never knew that this is Of mice and men comes from.

  5. Monica (aka monnibo)May 5, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    My teacher from Lit 12 read To A Mouse in a Scottish accent and it was brilliant.

  6. Gautami TripathyMay 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    My love for poetry started by reading Browning and Burns. Thanks for sharing this! I wrote a poem: href="" target="_blank">Weekly Geeks: Poetry

  7. Melissa PilakowskiMay 5, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    One of my favorite lines to quote...usually I say it to myself, though, when Murphy' Law disrupts my life :)


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