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My Conscience

by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1885

Of a' the ills that flesh can bear,
The loss o' frien's, the lack o' gear,
A yowlin' tyke, a glandered mear,
      A lassie's nonsense—
There's just ae thing I cannae bear,
      An' that's my conscience.

Whan day (an' a' excüse) has gane,
An' wark is düne, and duty's plain,
An' to my chalmer a' my lane
      I creep apairt,
My conscience! hoo the yammerin' pain
      Stends to my heart!

A' day wi' various ends in view,
The hairsts o' time I had to pu',
An' made a hash wad staw a soo,
      Let be a man!—
My conscience! whan my han's were fu',
      Whaur were ye then?

An' there were a' the lures o' life,
There pleesure skirlin' on the fife,
There anger, wi' the hotchin' knife
      Ground shairp in Hell—
My conscience!—you that's like a wife—
      Whaur was yoursel'?

I ken it fine: just waitin' here,
To gar the evil waur appear,
To clart the guid, confüse the clear,
      Misca' the great,
My conscience! an' to raise a steer
      When a's ower late.

Sic-like, some tyke grawn auld and blind,
Whan thieves brok' through the gear to p'ind,
Has lain his dozened length an' grinned
      At the disaster;
An' the morn's mornin', wud's the wind,
      Yokes on his master.

Published in A Child's Garden of Verses

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