Poem: Robbie's Statue by Henry Lawson

Grown tired of mourning for my sins --
    And brooding over merits --
The other night with bothered brow
   I went amongst the spirits;
And I met one that I knew well:
   "Oh, Scotty's Ghost, is that you?
And did you see the fearsome crowd
   At Robbie Burns's statue?

"They hurried up in hansom cabs,
   Tall-hatted and frock-coated;
They trained it in from all the towns,
   The weird and hairy-throated;
They spoke in some outlandish tongue,
   They cut some comic capers,
And ilka man was wild to get
   His name in all the papers.

"They showed no gleam of intellect,
   Those frauds who rushed before us;
They knew one verse of 'Auld Lang Syne --'
   The first one and the chorus:
They clacked the clack o' Scotlan's Bard,
   They glibly talked of 'Rabby;'
But what if he had come to them
   Without a groat and shabby?

"They drank and wept for Robbie's sake,
   They stood and brayed like asses
(The living bard's a drunken rake,
   The dead one loved the lasses);
If Robbie Burns were here, they'd sit
   As still as any mouse is;
If Robbie Burns should come their way,
   They'd turn him out their houses.

"Oh, weep for bonny Scotland's bard!
   And praise the Scottish nation,
Who made him spy and let him die
   Heart-broken in privation:
Exciseman, so that he might live
   Through northern winters' rigours --
Just as in southern lands they give
   The hard-up rhymer figures.

"We need some songs of stinging fun
   To wake the States and light 'em;
I wish a man like Robert Burns
   Were here to-day to write 'em!
But still the mockery shall survive
   Till the Day o' Judgment crashes --
The men we scorn when we're alive
   With praise insult our ashes."

And Scotty's ghost said: "Never mind
   The fleas that you inherit;
The living bard can flick them off --
   They cannot hurt his spirit.
The crawlers round the bardie's name
   Shall crawl through all the ages;
His work's the living thing, and they
   Are fly-dirt on the pages."

First published in The Bulletin, 23 Februay 1905

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