Address to the Toothache by Robert Burns

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Address to the Toothache by Robert Burns ANOTHER COLUMN ABOUT SCOTTISH POETRY. WARNING: DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU HAVE ANY DENTAL APPOINTMENTS COMING UP. ADDRESS TO THE TOOTHACHE BY ROBERT BURNS My curse upon your venom sting, That shoots my tortured gums along And through my lug gig utter a twang With gnawing vengeance, Tearing my nerves with bitter pang, Like racking engines? A down my beard the slavers trickle, I throw the wee stools over the mickle, While round the fire the giglets keckle, To see me loup, An' raving mad, I wish a heckle Were i' their doup! When fevers burn or ague freezes, Rheumatics gnaw or colic squeezes, Our neebors sympathise to ease us Wi' pitying moan; But thee! - the hell o' a' diseases, They mock our groan! Of a' the num'rous human dools - Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools, Or worthy frien's laid i' the mools, - Sad sight to see! - The tricks o' knaves or fash o' fools - Thou bear'st the gree! Whare'er that place be priests ca' Hell, Whare a' the tones o' misery yell, An' ranked plagues their numbers tell In dreadfu' raw, Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell Amang them a'! O thou grim, mischief-making chiel, That gars the notes o' discord squeel Till humankind aft dance a reel In gore a shoe-thick, Gie a' the faes o' Scotland's weal A towmond's toothache. What a great idea, a poem addressed to Toothache. I can only imagine what 18th Century Toothache would be like. No novocaine then! Anyway, Stanza One is a fairly accurate description of the pain, the "venom'd stang" which shoots through gooms (gums) and lugs (ears). Like having your whole face on fire, I'm sure you'll agree. Sounds like Burns knew what he was talking about: words like "gnawing" and "racking" give you a fair idea. I'm sure they still used the "racking engines" to stretch and torture people in 18th Century Scotland. Stanza Two has a fairly

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