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To a Mouse

To a Mouse


by Robert Burns

Stanza 8 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 43-48

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!

  • In spite of all the mouse's little mouse problems, though, the speaker says that she's "blest" compared with him, because she lives only in the present moment.
  • But alas! says the speaker. ("Och!" is a common Scottish exclamation ranging from annoyance to despair.)
  • The speaker, unlike the mouse, casts his eye backward to look at the past, when his outlook was dreary.
  • (Note that Burns uses yet another weird contraction here—"e'e" instead of "eye.")
  • And the speaker, unlike the mouse, also looks forward, to the future—although he cannot ("canna") see it, he guesses and fears what the future might hold.
  • Yikes.

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