Stanzas On Naething (1786)
Extempore Epistle to Gavin Hamilton, Esq.
To you, sir, this summons I've sent,
Pray, whip till the pownie is freathing;
But if you demand what I want,
I honestly answer you-naething.
Ne'er scorn a poor Poet like me,
For idly just living and breathing,
While people of every degree
Are busy employed about-naething.
Poor Centum-per-centum may fast,
And grumble his hurdies their claithing,
He'll find, when the balance is cast,
He's gane to the devil for-naething.
The courtier cringes and bows,
Ambition has likewise its plaything;
A coronet beams on his brows;
And what is a coronet-naething.
Some quarrel the Presbyter gown,
Some quarrel Episcopal graithing;
But every good fellow will own
Their quarrel is a' about-naething.
The lover may sparkle and glow,
Approaching his bonie bit gay thing:
But marriage will soon let him know
He's gotten-a buskit up naething.
The Poet may jingle and rhyme,
In hopes of a laureate wreathing,
And when he has wasted his time,
He's kindly rewarded wi'-naething.
The thundering bully may rage,
And swagger and swear like a heathen;
But collar him fast, I'll engage,
You'll find that his courage is-naething.
Last night wi' a feminine whig-
A Poet she couldna put faith in;
But soon we grew lovingly big,
I taught her, her terrors were naething.
Her whigship was wonderful pleased,
But charmingly tickled wi' ae thing,
Her fingers I lovingly squeezed,
And kissed her, and promised her-naething.
The priest anathemas may threat-
Predicament, sir, that we're baith in;
But when honour's reveille is beat,
The holy artillery's naething.
And now I must mount on the wave-
My voyage perhaps there is death in;
But what is a watery grave?
The drowning a Poet is naething.
And now, as grim death's in my thought,
To you, sir, I make this bequeathing;
My service as long as ye've ought,
And my friendship, by God, when ye've naething.