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To a Mouse

To a Mouse

by Robert Burns

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring 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!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss ’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the Fields Laid Bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Summary of To a Mouse

  • Popularity of “To a Mouse”: Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and lyricist, wrote ‘To a Mouse’ It is a narrative poem famous for its themes of sorrow and regret. It was first published in 1785. The poem speaks about his encounter with a shiny and miserable mouse. The illustrates how a tiny creature makes the poet feel sorry for the damage he has done to it.
  • “To a Mouse” As a Representative of Sorrow: This poem is about a tiny mouse living near the poet’s house. The poet accidentally destroys the mouse’ house while plowing the fields. Due to his mistake, the mouse doesn’t have a house during winter. The speaker first consoles the terrified mouse and later apologizes on behalf of the whole of mankind. To him, that rule has disturbed the law of natural union. He knows the mouse steals, but he understands this action is essential for his survival. He imagines how the mouse has thought to spend its winter happily, but the poet ruined it by mistake. Moreover, he argues men and mice are the same in this regard. Their plans are often tumbledown similarly. What stays in the readers’ mind is the poet’s concern for the unfortunate creature.
  • Major Themes in “To a Mouse”: Suffering, nature, and destruction are the major themes of this poem. The poet unintentionally destroys the house of a mouse and realizes that humans dominate over the earth and break the harmony of the natural order. He also compares his sufferings with that mouse and concludes that the mouse is better than him because he lives only in the present moment. On the other hand, human beings carry the weight of their past and also seriously think about the future. Therefore, they suffer a lot in life.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “To a Mouse”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. Robert Burns has also used some literary devices in this poem to bring depth in his text. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to perceive things involving five senses. For example, “Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste, An’ weary winter comin fast, An’ cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell- Till crash! the cruel coulter past, Out thro’ thy cell.”
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /a/ in “Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste” and the sound of /ee/ in “That wee bit heap o’ leaves and stibble”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /n/ in “I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion”.
  4. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /c/ in “Till crash! the cruel coulter past” and the sound of /w/ in “An’ weary Winter comin fast”.
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism means to use symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. For example, ‘bleak December’s winds’ are the symbol of destruction.
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poem is the metaphor of the speaker’s life. He used a mouse’s life to describe his own ups and downs.
  7. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, mouse’ fear is personified mouse in the poem.
  8. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues to the next line. For example,

I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “To a Mouse”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this rhyme. 

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some verses. There are eight six lined stanzas in the poem.
  2. Sestet: A sestet is a six-lined stanza. Here, each stanza is a sestet.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows AAABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues till the end.
  4. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter having five iambs per line. The poem follows iambic pentameter such as, “Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beast
  5. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in it such as, “dribble/trouble”, “vain/pain”, “me/thee” and “union/opinion.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used in a speech when talking about how man’s unchecked interference has ruined the natural world. You may also use these lines to express climate change and current environmental issues.

“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.”

The post To a Mouse appeared first on Literary Devices.



This post first appeared on Literary Devices | Definition And Examples Of Lite, please read the originial post: here

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