Verse > Harvard Classics > Robert Burns > Poems and Songs
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Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
298. Prologue spoken at the Theatre of Dumfries
 
 
On New Year’s Day Evening, 1790.
 
 
  NO song nor dance I bring from yon great city,
That queens it o’er our taste—the more’s the pity:
Tho’ by the bye, abroad why will you roam?
Good sense and taste are natives here at home:
But not for panegyric I appear,        5
I come to wish you all a good New Year!
Old Father Time deputes me here before ye,
Not for to preach, but tell his simple story:
The sage, grave Ancient cough’d, and bade me say,
“You’re one year older this important day,”        10
If wiser too—he hinted some suggestion,
But ’twould be rude, you know, to ask the question;
And with a would-be roguish leer and wink,
Said—“Sutherland, in one word, bid them Think!”
 
  Ye sprightly youths, quite flush with hope and spirit,        15
Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
To you the dotard has a deal to say,
In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way!
He bids you mind, amid your thoughtless rattle,
That the first blow is ever half the battle;        20
That tho’ some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
Yet by the foreclock is the hold to catch him;
That whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
You may do miracles by persevering.
 
  Last, tho’ not least in love, ye youthful fair,        25
Angelic forms, high Heaven’s peculiar care!
To you old Bald-pate smoothes his wrinkled brow,
And humbly begs you’ll mind the important-Now!
To crown your happiness he asks your leave,
And offers, bliss to give and to receive.        30
 
  For our sincere, tho’ haply weak endeavours,
With grateful pride we own your many favours;
And howsoe’er our tongues may ill reveal it,
Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.
 

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