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Old 29th July 2010, 19:30
Saorsa1 Saorsa1 is offline
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The story : apparently a farmhand on Robert Burn's family's rented farmstead discovered a nest of mice. The farmhand was about to kill the mice as vermin when Burns (original family name Burness) stopped him. The farmhand thought it was daft not killing the mice since they were vermin.

Burns later that day (or soon after) showed him /recited to him (?) the poem (only 2 verses here) and after he'd absorbed it said, "What do you think of your wee mice now?".

I find the 2 verses here relevant to today's troubled ecological times.

The English translation is underneath but it's interesting to note that Burns chose to write in the Scots dialect because he said it gave the English verse a "lift". He could speak and write perfect standard English but I agree with his choices.

To a mouse.

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
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' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!


STANDARD ENGLISH :

Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!


As an English teacher myself (albeit to French school kids) I would use images from Google image to link the vocabulary to the pictures if I were to ever do something like.
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