Scottish Poetry Selection
- Lines Written on a Bank-note

In his early days, Robert Burns (1759-1796) frequently didn't have any bank-notes on which to write even a short poem such as this one. This work was written in 1786 when the poet was seriously thinking about emigration to resolve his financial and other problems. The work was written on a one-guinea bank-note issued by the Bank of Scotland, dated 1 March 1780. Despite his financial predicament, Burns' sense of humour comes through strongly.

      Lines Written on a Bank-note

Wae worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o’ a’ my woe and grief!
For lack o’ thee I’ve lost my lass!
For lack o’ thee I scrimp my glass!
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy curst restriction.
I’ve seen the oppressor’s cruel smile
Amid his hapless victim’s spoil;
And for thy potence vainly wished,
To crush the villain in the dust.
For lack o’ thee, I leave this much-lov’d shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.

R. B.

Meaning of unusual words:
Wae worth=woe betide

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