To a Louse
|Burns original||Standard English translation|
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
And would some Power give us the gift
In this poem the narrator notices an upper class lady in church, with a louse that is roving, unnoticed by her, around in her bonnet. The poet chastises the louse for not realising how important his host is, and then reflects that, to a louse, we are all equal prey, and that we would be disabused of our pretensions if we were to see ourselves through each other's eyes. An alternative interpretation is that the poet is musing to himself how horrified and humbled the pious woman would be if she were aware she was harboring a common parasite in her hair.
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