Address To The Toothache

My curse upon thy venom'd stang,
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang;
An' thro' my lug gies mony a twang,
Wi' gnawing vengeance;
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes;
Our neighbours' sympathy can ease us,
Wi' pitying moan;
But thee–thou hell o' a' diseases,
Aye mocks our groan!

Adown my beard the slavers trickle!
I kick the wee stools o'er the mickle ,
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup;
While, raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were in their doup!

O' a' the num'rous human dools,
hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien's rak'd i' the mools,
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o' knaves, or fash o' fools,
Thou bear'st the gree!

Where'er that place be priests ca' hell,
Where a' the tones o' misery yell,
And ranked plagues their numbers tell,
In dreadfu' raw,
Thou, Tooth-ache, surely bear'st the bell,
Amang them a'!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o' discord squeel,
daft mankind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick;–
Gie a' the faes o' Scotland's weal
A towmond's tooth-ache!

Robert Burns; Scottish Poet.


  • stang: sting
  • alang: along
  • thro: through
  • lug: ear
  • gies: gives
  • mony: many
  • twang: sudden sharp pain
  • wi': with
  • Adown: all down
  • slavers: drool
  • giglets: giggling maids
  • keckle: cackle
  • loup: jump
  • heckle: flax comb
  • doup: bottom
  • dools: lamentations
  • hairst: harvest
  • daft: foolish
  • cutty-stool: chair of shame
  • fash: vexation
  • mools: dirt, sods
  • gree: degree of...
  • raw: row
  • chiel: lad
  • gars: causes
  • daft: foolish
  • aft: often
  • fae: foe
  • weal: well being
  • towmond: twelvemonth
  • kick the wee stools o'er the mickle: probably=throw my toys out of the pram.

Back to the word: Gree.