Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,It was a game attempt, but amongst all the rolling rrrrs played for comedy effect, the poetry was lost. And though wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rouse beastie is a fine line, bursting with imagery and the delight of language, it is not the first stanza of To a Mouse that reveals Burns' genius. It is the final two:
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!
But, Mousie, thou art no alane,Hope you all had a good Burns night last night.
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An' leave 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!