Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth (1828)
To a Mouse is a poem written by Robert Burns in 1785. The poem is written in Scots and was included in the Kilmarnock volume.
The narrator, often identified as Burns himself, was plowing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest that it needed in order to survive the winter. The mouse is shaking and frightened, so the man stops his work and tries to comfort the mouse.
The speaker starts thinking about what happened. The speaker apologizes on behalf of all humankind.
He imagines the mouse planning ahead carefully for the winter. She worked so hard to make her nice little nest, and then, the man destroys it.
But that is life, claims the speaker. Whether you’re a mouse or a man, your plans, however well prepared, often get damaged. And after all, the mouse is luckier, if compared to a human. Mice live in the present moment, while humans look to the past with regret and to the future with fear.
While reading this beautiful poem the first thing that popped into my mind was the great novel Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937.