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It was one Sunday while sitting behind a young lady in church that Robert Burns noticed a head louse roaming over her hat and hair.  Little did she know that she would, with her parasitic companion, be the subject of one of Burns' poems.

To A Louse
On seeing one on a lady's bonnet at church
 
by: Robert Burns
 

Ha! Where are you going, you crawling wonder?
Your impudence protects you sorely,
I can not say but you swagger rarely
Over gauze and lace,
Though faith! I fear you dine but sparingly
On such a place

You ugly, creeping, blasted wonder,
Detested, shunned by saint and sinner,
How dare you set your foot upon her -
Such fine a lady!
Go somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body

Off! in some beggar's temples squat:
There you may creep, and sprawl, and scramble,
With other kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Where horn nor bone never dare unsettle
Your thick plantations

Now hold you there! you are out of sight,
Below the falderals, snug and tight;
No, faith you yet! you will not be right,
Until you have got on it ---
The very topmost, towering height
Of misses bonnet.

My sooth! right bold you set your nose out,
As plump and gray as any gooseberry:
O for some rank, mercurial resin,
Or deadly, red powder,
I would give you such a hearty dose of it,
Would dress your breech!

I would not have been surprised to spy
You on an old wife's flannel cap:
Or maybe some small ragged boy,
On his undervest;
But Miss's fine balloon bonnet! fye!
How dare you do it.

O Jenny do not toss your head,
And set your beauties all abroad!
You little know what cursed speed
The blastie's making!
Those winks and finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takiing!

O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

2001 WBC

 

 

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2017 marks 34 years of Service.

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