The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, was once sitting in church doing what many of us do — eyeing the congregants rather than listening to the sermon. In this instance, Robert experienced a lesson beyond that which was being presented from the pulpit.
Jeany, a woman wearing a beautiful bonnet, was seated in front of him. Naturally, she was pleased to be dressed in such a fine head-covering. In a sort of perky manner, drawing attention to herself, she flipped her head around so everyone would see the bonnet.
What she didn’t know was that… there was a louse (a wingless usually flattened bloodsucking insect parasitic that attaches itself to warm-blooded animals) on her bonnet. As she tossed her head around, the louse worked itself into hiding and found residence upon the fabric.
Noting this, Burns composed a poem concerning the matter. In the end, he framed a sort of prayer: O how I wish some Power would give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us. This would free us from many blunders and foolish notions. Our proud airs in our walk and the arrogance with which we present ourselves would be gone.
To A Louse
Written by Robert Burns
On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, at Church in 1786
Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.
Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow’rin height
O’ Miss’ bonnet.
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum.
I wad na been surpris’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
But Miss’ fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do’t?
O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin:
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!
Robert Burns rocks. How could it possibly be said more plainly? Is there a spiritual application to this concept?
For a clearer understanding check the site:
You are amazing in your insight. What a gift from God you have. This poem is so rich in truth. Thanks for sharing! Joe
Please stop doing this to us! It was bad enough to have Mom doing it, and now you! Spare us.