Name this (Burns?) poem?
December 20, 2007 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Hello. Does anybody recall the title or the rest of this scrap of probably Robert Burns poetry? goes something like: "... nor duke that ye dined with yester'een. A crab louse is still but (or yet) a crab (or louse) tho' perched on the c*** of a (or o' a) queen." I would like to know for a friend who is writing a book on Scottish nationalism. Thanks!
posted by runincircles to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it "To a Louse"?
posted by ErWenn at 5:51 PM on December 20, 2007

More completely titled "To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet At Church". Sorry bout the double post. Slipped and hit the wrong button.
posted by ErWenn at 5:52 PM on December 20, 2007

To A Louse
posted by benzo8 at 5:53 PM on December 20, 2007

The line "O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!" is rather well-known.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:38 PM on December 20, 2007

thanks for all the answers so far, but the poem I'm after definitely had that last couplet I quoted in it... maybe the text I remeber was some obscure unexpurgated version of To a Louse.....
posted by runincircles at 6:43 PM on December 20, 2007

The Toadeater
posted by nonane at 6:51 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

...and he's wrong. That would make it a Royal Louse.
posted by pompomtom at 7:32 PM on December 20, 2007

From nonane's link:
The Toadeater—1

Of Lordly acquaintance you boast,
And the Dukes that you dined with yestreen,
Yet an insect's an insect at most,
Tho' it crawl on the curl of a Queen!

The Toadeater—2

No more of your titled acquaintances boast,
Nor of the gay groups you have seen;
A crab louse is but a crab louse at last,
Tho' stack to the c[unt] of a Queen.

Burns is supposed to have written several variations of this epigram, although the variants may be more a symptom of editorial and censorial squeamishness.
Good old Rabbie Burns!
posted by languagehat at 7:39 AM on December 21, 2007

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