To a Mouse
By: Robert Burns
Chad Scott & Olivia Haag
To a Mouse
Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.
You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!
That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.
I doubt not, sometimes, but you may
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.
But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Your small house, too, in ruin!
It's feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!
Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
Literal Sense
What is the literal sense of the
You are a small nervous mouse. You should
slow down. I will not hurt you. I’m sorry
that man has ruined nature and given you
a reason to be scared. You are a fellow
friend. Your house is in ruin. Wind comes
through the walls. You can’t build a new
one. Winter is coming. Winter is coming;
you are cozy till you crash. Small leaves
have made you nibble. Now you have to
endure the cold. Mouse you are not alone.
Plans fail and leave us nothing but pain.
You are blessed compared to me. You only
see present. I think about the future. I
guess and fear.
Literal Sense
What does the poem mean?
The poem is a metaphor for the speaker’s
life. He is using a mouse’s life to describe
his own life. The mouse and small and
scared, and so is the speaker. The speaker
is mad at men and society for ruining
nature. The speaker has a house he
cannot improve. Winter and hard times
are coming their way. They have to
endure the hard times means that they
don’t enjoy it and just try and get by
without enjoying life. The speaker feels
that even a mouse has it better off than
himself. He does not look forward to the
future, he has no hope.
• Diction
To a Mouse by: Robert
This man is hopeless and scared for
the future, just like it talks about in the
This poem uses formal language, abstract language,
and also vivid details. In the poem, Robert Burns does
innovative ideas by manipulating syntax words such as,
“At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!” In modern days, no one talks like
that, therefore it catches the readers attention. We did
not find any connotations in our poem, but many
words that we were uncertain of. I chose to define,
Dominion, which means the power or right of
governing and controlling; sovereign authority. The
author has no authority and he is a hopeless man,
saying that he is “Sorry man’s dominion has broken
nature’s social union.”
• Rhetorical Situations
• The author is speaking to the us, the
audience. He is talking about how he is very
unhappy with his life. The occasion of which
is he is speaking on is to tell the audience
about his life and the struggles he has been
through. The relationship between the
reader and author is the author is informing
us about his life and how hard it has been.
We are being spoken to directly, and are
overhearing the speaker.
To a Mouse
expresses a sad
hopeless tone
throughout the
poem. It creates
the a hopeless
What does the author make you feel?
While reading to a mouse, I felt sad
and gloomy. The author try's to make
you feel helpless and hopeless, he
succeeds because you feel sad while
reading this poem.
Literary Devices
To a Mouse Contains only a few
Literary devices. The poem as a
whole is a metaphor
comparing the speaker’s life to
a mouse’s life. This is the only
metaphor in the poem, there
are also no similes in the poem.
There is one example of
personification that gives
nature a human like
characteristic. The only other
literary devices are alliteration
found throughout the poem.
Sound and Rhyme
The Rhyme scheme of “To a Mouse” is
very unique. It does not follow a pattern
and in some stanza’s does not rhyme at
all while others rhyme every word. Burns
also uses a lot of slant rhyme in this
The poem uses a lot of alliteration, and
repetition. The poem does not contain
any other types of sound like: assonance,
onomatopoeia, or cacophony.
Poem Structure
• Our poem is not a
sonnet, but does have a
somewhat formal
structure to it. There
are 8 stanzas with 6
lines in each stanza.
Some rhyme and some
do not.
This poem creates pictures
of a cold windy day, and a
little mouse struggling to
keep warm. You hear the
winds gust, and you can
imagine the little house
swaying in the wind because
of the huge gusts of wind.
You also have a visual image
of the “sleety dribbles” of
melting snow, and can
imagine how cold something
like that is.

File - Mrs. O`s Brit Lit Webpage