Robbie Burns: “To a Louse”

Filippo Bonanni_Drawing of a louse observed under a microscope_1709

Filippo Bonanni_Drawing of a louse observed under a microscope_1709

“To a Louse*:

On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet, at Church”



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,

On’s wyliecoat;

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!



*Louse = the singular of Lice

.     .     .     .     .

Robbie Burns: “A Bottle and Friend”

Balblair Distillery in Scotland

Balblair Distillery in Scotland

“A Bottle and Friend”



There’s nane that’s blest of human kind,

But the cheerful and the gay, man,

Fal, la, la, &c.

Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!

What wad ye wish for mair, man?

Wha kens, before his life may end,

What his share may be o’ care, man?

Then catch the moments as they fly,

And use them as ye ought, man:

Believe me, happiness is shy,

And comes not aye when sought, man.



.     .     .

Scotland’s “Bard”,

Robert Burns (1759-1796),

was born on

this day –  January 25th.

.     .     .     .     .

Mao Zedong: “New Year’s Day”


New Year’s Day (January 29th, 1930)

– to the tune of Ju Meng Ling



Ninghua, Chingliu, Kueihua–
What narrow paths, deep woods and slippery moss!
Whither are we bound today?
Straight to the foot of Wuyi Mountain.
To the mountain, the foot of the mountain,
Red flags stream in the wind in a blaze of glory.




* English translation from Mandarin Chinese *

The New Year…and Crows!

Two poems by Yan Jun (born 1973)

January 2


I thought I wanted to say something

I looked at the snow   then went back to the desk


Or perhaps I counted money    or perhaps I did laundry

Crows flew in the suburbs     flew by the front door


I waited quietly

like a hotpot in winter


There won’t be any more discounted plane tickets

I waited to sacrifice myself    and then it was the new year




January 13


The new year’s bus

shines in the sunlight   the dust shines too


the crows have no eyes

iron’s leaves    the hearts inside of stones


last year   the year before   pale blue shoulders

slide toward the next wave





© Yan Jun

Translations: © 2010, 2011,

Ao Wang  and  Eleanor Goodman

Special Thanks to PIW




Editor’s note:

Yan Jun’s “new year” in these two poems

appears to be of the Western – not the

Lunar/Chinese – Calendar.  But we have

posted them this Chinese New Year’s Day

(January 23rd) so as to contrast them

with Mao Zedong’s poem “New Year’s Day”.



Contemporary Chinese poets: 1

Yan Jun:
Charter Sonnet
(to be read with electric guitar and Marshall amp; also known as ‘Charter 09’)
I demand the abolition of the subway’s automatic ticket checking system,
continuing manual ticket checking until the world ends;
I demand that the whole of mankind have the right to vote for
the president of the United States;
I demand an increase in birth control, the encouragement of
same-sex marriage,and the imposition of fines on heterosexual marriage;
I demand the revision of constitutional law, deleting
all semicolons and series commas;
I demand a ban on mahjong and KTV, the detainment of those who
walk their dogs at 5 a.m., and the holding of regular poetry readings
in police stations;
I demand the abolition of art and of changing one’s life;
I demand that salt be rubbed in wounds, that wine be poisoned, that a
cold ass be pasted on every hot face;
I demand the erection of two amps the size of buildings and the
holding of unattended noise concerts in scenic locales;
I demand that you and I be together, never to be separated;
I demand memories, black flowers, stars that shine above bicycles
and turn into kids’ faces;
I demand the release of imprisoned words like
“your mother’s cunt” and “Jiang Zemin”;
I demand demands, forbidden forbiddenments, annulled annulments,
sneering sneers, and the tying up of the guy who’s always pouring out his heart;
I demand loud singing at the gates of hell and sleeping on the bus;
I demand that we maintain quiet . . .



Born in Lanzhou in 1973, Yan Jun is a poet who’s also

a musician, giving live “hypnotic noise” concerts.

For him, writing poetry is a political act – witness

his list of “demands” in the poem above…



© 2008, Yan Jun

Translation from Chinese:  © 2011, Ao Wang and Eleanor Goodman

Special Thanks to PIW