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    The Twa Herds

    by Robert Burns
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    [The actors in this indecent drama were Moodie, minister of Ricartoun,
    and Russell, helper to the minister of Kilmarnock: though apostles of
    the "Old Light," they forgot their brotherhood in the vehemence of
    controversy, and went, it is said, to blows. "This poem," says Burns,
    "with a certain description of the clergy as well as laity, met with a
    roar of applause."]

    O a' ye pious godly flocks,
    Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
    Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
    Or worrying tykes,
    Or wha will tent the waifs and crocks,
    About the dykes?

    The twa best herds in a' the wast,
    That e'er ga'e gospel horn a blast,
    These five and twenty simmers past,
    O! dool to tell,
    Ha'e had a bitter black out-cast
    Atween themsel.

    O, Moodie, man, and wordy Russell,
    How could you raise so vile a bustle,
    Ye'll see how New-Light herds will whistle
    And think it fine:
    The Lord's cause ne'er got sic a twistle
    Sin' I ha'e min'.

    O, sirs! whae'er wad ha'e expeckit
    Your duty ye wad sae negleckit,
    Ye wha were ne'er by lairds respeckit,
    To wear the plaid,
    But by the brutes themselves eleckit,
    To be their guide.

    What flock wi' Moodie's flock could rank,
    Sae hale and hearty every shank,
    Nae poison'd sour Arminian stank,
    He let them taste,
    Frae Calvin's well, ay clear they drank,--
    O sic a feast!

    The thummart, wil'-cat, brock, and tod,
    Weel kend his voice thro' a' the wood,
    He smelt their ilka hole and road,
    Baith out and in,
    And weel he lik'd to shed their bluid,
    And sell their skin.

    What herd like Russell tell'd his tale,
    His voice was heard thro' muir and dale,
    He kend the Lord's sheep, ilka tail,
    O'er a' the height,
    And saw gin they were sick or hale,
    At the first sight.

    He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
    Or nobly fling the gospel club,
    And New-Light herds could nicely drub,
    Or pay their skin;
    Could shake them o'er the burning dub,
    Or heave them in.

    Sic twa--O! do I live to see't,
    Sic famous twa should disagreet,
    An' names, like villain, hypocrite,
    Ilk ither gi'en,
    While New-Light herds, wi' laughin' spite,
    Say neither's liein'!

    An' ye wha tent the gospel fauld,
    There's Duncan, deep, and Peebles, shaul,
    But chiefly thou, apostle Auld,
    We trust in thee,
    That thou wilt work them, hot and cauld,
    Till they agree.

    Consider, Sirs, how we're beset;
    There's scarce a new herd that we get
    But comes frae mang that cursed set
    I winna name;
    I hope frae heav'n to see them yet
    In fiery flame.

    Dalrymple has been lang our fae,
    M'Gill has wrought us meikle wae,
    And that curs'd rascal call'd M'Quhae,
    And baith the Shaws,
    That aft ha'e made us black and blae,
    Wi' vengefu' paws.

    Auld Wodrow lang has hatch'd mischief,
    We thought ay death wad bring relief,
    But he has gotten, to our grief,
    Ane to succeed him,
    A chield wha'll soundly buff our beef;
    I meikle dread him.

    And mony a ane that I could tell,
    Wha fain would openly rebel,
    Forbye turn-coats amang oursel,
    There's Smith for ane,
    I doubt he's but a grey-nick quill,
    An' that ye'll fin'.

    O! a' ye flocks o'er a' the hills,
    By mosses, meadows, moors, and fells,
    Come, join your counsel and your skills
    To cow the lairds,
    And get the brutes the powers themsels
    To choose their herds;

    Then Orthodoxy yet may prance,
    And Learning in a woody dance,
    And that fell cur ca'd Common Sense,
    That bites sae sair,
    Be banish'd o'er the sea to France:
    Let him bark there.

    Then Shaw's and Dalrymple's eloquence,
    M'Gill's close nervous excellence,
    M'Quhae's pathetic manly sense,
    And guid M'Math,
    Wi' Smith, wha thro' the heart can glance,
    May a' pack aff.
    If you're writing a The Twa Herds essay and need some advice, post your Robert Burns essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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