Say, ye, oppressed by some fantastic woes, Some jarring nerve that baffles your repose; Who press the downy couch, while slaves advance With timid eye to read the distant glance; Who with sad prayers the weary doctor tease To name the nameless, ever-new, disease; Who with mock patience dire complaints endure, Which real pain, and that alone, can cure; How would ye bear in real pain to lie, Despised, neglected, left alone to die? How would, ye bear to draw your latest breath Where all that's wretched paves the way for death?
Such is that room which one rude beam divides, And naked rafters form the sloping sides; Where the vile bands that bind the thatch are seen, And lath and mud are all that lie between, Save one dull pane that, coarsely patched, gives way To the rude tempest, yet excludes the day: Here on a matted flock, with dust o'erspread, The drooping wretch reclines his languid head; For him no hand the cordial cup applies, Or wipes the tear that stagnates in his eyes; No friends with soft discourse his pain beguile, Or promise hope till sickness wears a smile.
But soon a load and hasty summons calls, Shakes the thin roof, and echoes round the walls; Anon, a figure enters, quaintly neat, All pride and business, bustle and conceit; With looks unaltered by these scenes of woe, With speed that, entering, speaks his haste to go, He bids the gazing throng around him fly, And carries fate and physic in his eye: A potent quack, long versed in human ills, Who first insults the victim whom he kills; Whose murderous hand a drowsy Bench protect, And whose most tender mercy is neglect. Paid by the parish for attendance here, He wears contempt upon his sapient sneer; In haste he seeks the bed where misery lies, Impatience marked in his averted eyes; And, some habitual queries hurried o'er, Without reply he rushes on the door: His drooping patient, long inured to pain, And long unheeded, knows remonstrance vain; He ceases now the feeble help to crave Of man; and silent sinks into the grave.
But ere his death some pious doubts arise, Some simple fears, which 'bold bad' men despise; Fain would he ask the parish-priest to prove His title certain to the joys above: For this he sends the murm'ring nurse, who calls The holy stranger to these dismal walls: And doth not he, the pious man, appear, He, 'passing rich with forty pounds a year?' Ah! no; a shepherd of a different stock, And far unlike him, feeds this little flock: A jovial youth, who thinks his Sunday's task As much as God or man can fairly ask; The rest he gives to loves and labours light, To fields the morning, and to feasts the night; None better skilled the noisy pack to guide, To urge their chase, to cheer them or to chide; A sportsman keen, he shoots through half the day, And, skilled at whist, devotes the night to play: Then, while such honours bloom around his head, Shall he sit sadly by the sick man's bed, To raise the hope he feels not, or with zeal To combat fears that e'en the pious feel?
* * * * *
And hark! the riots of the green begin, That sprang at first from yonder noisy inn; What time the weekly pay was vanished all, And the slow hostess scored the threatening wall; What time they asked, their friendly feast to close, A final cup, and that will make them foes; When blows ensue that break the arm of toil, And rustic battle ends the boobies' broil.
Save when to yonder hall they bend their way, Where the grave justice ends the grievous fray; He who recites, to keep the poor in awe, The law's vast volume—for he knows the law:— To him with anger or with shame repair The injured peasant and deluded fair. Lo! at his throne the silent nymph appears, Frail by her shape, but modest in her tears; And while she stands abashed, with conscious eye, Some favourite female of her judge glides by, Who views with scornful glance the strumpet's fate, And thanks the stars that made her keeper great; Near her the swain, about to bear for life One certain, evil, doubts 'twixt war and wife; But, while the faltering damsel takes her oath, Consents to wed, and so secures them both.
Yet why, you ask, these humble crimes relate, Why make the poor as guilty as the great? To show the great, those mightier sons of pride, How near in vice the lowest are allied; Such are their natures and their passions such, But these disguise too little, those too much: So shall the man of power and pleasure see In his own slave as vile a wretch as he; In his luxurious lord the servant find His own low pleasures and degenerate mind; And each in all the kindred vices trace Of a poor, blind, bewildered, erring race; Who, a short time in varied fortune past, Die, and are equal in the dust at last.
A VISION OF LIFE IN DEATH
In evil long I took delight, Unawed by shame or fear, Till a new object struck my sight, And stopped my wild career; I saw One hanging on a Tree In agonies and Blood, Who fixed His languid eyes on me, As near His cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath Can I forget that look: It seemed to charge me with His death, Though not a word he spoke: My conscience felt and owned the guilt, And plunged me in despair; I saw my sins His blood had spilt, And helped to nail Him there.
Alas! I know not what I did! But now my tears are vain: Where shall my trembling soul be hid? For I the Lord have slain! A second look He gave, which said, 'I freely all forgive; The blood is for thy ransom paid; I die, that thou may'st live.'
Thus, while His death my sin displays In all its blackest hue, Such is the mystery of grace, It seals my pardon too. With pleasing grief and mournful joy, My spirit now is filled That I should such a life destroy,— Yet live by Him I killed.
From TABLE TALK
[THE POET AND RELIGION]
Pity Religion has so seldom found A skilful guide into poetic ground! The flowers would spring where'er she deigned to stray, And every muse attend her in her way. Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend, And many a compliment politely penned, But unattired in that becoming vest Religion weaves for her, and half undressed, Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn, A wintry figure, like a withered thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped, Hackneyed and worn to the last flimsy thread; Satire has long since done his best, and curst And loathsome Ribaldry has done his worst; Fancy has sported all her powers away In tales, in trifles, and in children's play; And 'tis the sad complaint, and almost true, Whate'er we write, we bring forth nothing new. 'Twere new indeed to see a bard all fire, Touched with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre, And tell the world, still kindling as he sung, With more than mortal music on his tongue, That He who died below, and reigns above, Inspires the song, and that his name is Love.
[THE DUBIOUS AND THE POSITIVE]
Dubious is such a scrupulous good man,— Yes, you may catch him tripping if you can. He would not with a peremptory tone Assert the nose upon his face his own; With hesitation admirably slow, He humbly hopes—presumes—it may be so. His evidence, if he were called by law To swear to some enormity he saw, For want of prominence and just relief, Would hang an honest man, and save a thief. Through constant dread of giving truth offence, He ties up all his hearers in suspense; Knows what he knows, as if he knew it not; What he remembers seems to have forgot; His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall, Centering at last in having none at all. Yet though he tease and baulk your listening ear, He makes one useful point exceeding clear; Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme A sceptic in philosophy may seem, Reduced to practice, his beloved rule Would only prove him a consummate fool; Useless in him alike both brain and speech, Fate having placed all truth above his reach; His ambiguities his total sum, He might as well be blind and deaf and dumb.
Where men of judgment creep and feel their way, The positive pronounce without dismay, Their want of light and intellect supplied By sparks absurdity strikes out of pride: Without the means of knowing right from wrong, They always are decisive, clear, and strong; Where others toil with philosophic force, Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course, Flings at your head conviction in the lump, And gains remote conclusions at a jump; Their own defect, invisible to them, Seen in another, they at once condemn, And, though self-idolized in every case, Hate their own likeness in a brother's face. The cause is plain and not to be denied, The proud are always most provoked by pride; Few competitions but engender spite, And those the most where neither has a right.
TO A YOUNG LADY
Sweet stream, that winds through yonder glade, Apt emblem of a virtuous maid— Silent and chaste she steals along, Far from the world's gay busy throng: With gentle yet prevailing force, Intent upon her destined course; Graceful and useful all she does. Blessing and blest where'er she goes; Pure-bosomed as that watery glass And Heaven reflected in her face.
O happy shades! to me unblest! Friendly to peace, but not to me! How ill the scene that offers rest, And heart that cannot rest, agree!
This glassy stream, that spreading pine, Those alders quivering to the breeze, Might soothe a soul less hurt than mine, And please, if anything could please.
But fixed unalterable Care Foregoes not what she feels within, Shows the same sadness everywhere, And slights the season and the scene.
For all that pleased in wood or lawn While Peace possessed these silent bowers, Her animating smile withdrawn, Has lost its beauties and its powers.
The saint or moralist should tread This moss-grown alley, musing, slow, They seek like me the secret shade, But not, like me, to nourish woe!
Me, fruitful scenes and prospects waste Alike admonish not to roam; These tell me of enjoyments past, And those of sorrows yet to come.
From THE TASK
[Love of Familiar Scenes]
Scenes that soothed Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find Still soothing and of power to charm me still. And witness, dear companion of my walks, Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love, Confirmed by long experience of thy worth And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire, Witness a joy that them hast doubled long. Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere, And that my raptures are not conjured up To serve occasions of poetic pomp, But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, While admiration feeding at the eye, And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned The distant plough slow moving, and beside His labouring team, that swerved not from the track, The sturdy swain diminished to a boy. Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, Conducts the eye along his sinuous course Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms, That screen the herdsman's solitary hut; While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, The sloping land recedes into the clouds; Displaying on its varied side the grace Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower, Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells Just undulates upon the listening ear; Groves, heaths, and smoking villages remote. Scenes must be beautiful which, daily viewed, Please daily, and whose novelty survives Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years: Praise justly due to those that I describe.
Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where rumour of oppression and deceit, Of unsuccessful or successful war, Might never reach me more! My ear is pained, My soul is sick, with every day's report Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled. There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart, It does not feel for man; the natural bond Of brotherhood is severed as the flax That falls asunder at the touch of fire. He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not coloured like his own, and, having power T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey, Lands intersected by a narrow frith. Abhor each other. Mountains interposed Make enemies of nations who had else Like kindred drops been mingled into one. Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys; And worse than all, and most to be deplored, As human nature's broadest, foulest blot, Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat With stripes that Mercy, with a bleeding heart, Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast. Then what is man? And what man seeing this, And having human feelings, does not blush And hang his head, to think himself a man? I would not have a slave to till my ground, To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth That sinews bought and sold have ever earned. No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's Just estimation prized above all price, I had much rather be myself the slave And wear the bonds than fasten them on him. We have no slaves at home: then why abroad? And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave That parts us, are emancipate and loosed. Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs Receive our air, that moment they are free; They touch our country, and their shackles fall. That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud And jealous of the blessing. Spread it, then, And let it circulate through every vein Of all your empire; that where Britain's power Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.
[LOVE OF ENGLAND]
England, with all thy faults, I love thee still, My country! and, while yet a nook is left Where English minds and manners may be found, Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year, most part, deformed With dripping rains, or withered by a frost, I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies And fields without a flower, for warmer France With all her vines; nor for Ausonia's groves Of golden fruitage, and her myrtle bowers. To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime Of patriot eloquence to flash down fire Upon thy foes, was never meant my task; But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake Thy joys and sorrows with as true a heart As any thunderer there. And I can feel Thy follies too, and with a just disdain Frown at effeminates, whose very looks Reflect dishonour on the land I love. How, in the name of soldiership and sense, Should England prosper, when such things, as smooth And tender as a girl, all-essenced o'er With odours, and as profligate as sweet, Who sell their laurel for a myrtle wreath, And love when they should fight,—when such as these Presume to lay their hand upon the ark Of her magnificent and awful cause? Time was when it was praise and boast enough In every clime, and travel where we might, That we were born her children; praise enough To fill the ambition of a private man, That Chatham's language was his mother tongue, And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own. Farewell those honours, and farewell with them The hope of such hereafter! They have fallen Each in his field of glory, one in arms, And one in council—Wolfe upon the lap Of smiling Victory that moment won, And Chatham, heart-sick of his country's shame! They made us many soldiers. Chatham still Consulting England's happiness at home, Secured it by an unforgiving frown If any wronged her. Wolfe, where'er he fought, Put so much of his heart into his act, That his example had a magnet's force, And all were swift to follow whom all loved.
Those suns are set. Oh, rise some other such! Or all that we have left is empty talk Of old achievements, and despair of new.
[COWPER, THE RELIGIOUS RECLUSE]
I was a stricken deer that left the herd Long since; with many an arrow deep infixed My panting side was charged, when I withdrew To seek a tranquil death in distant shades. There was I found by One who had Himself Been hurt by th' archers. In His side He bore, And in His hands and feet, the cruel scars. With gentle force soliciting the darts, He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live. Since then, with few associates, in remote And silent woods I wander, far from those My former partners of the peopled scene, With few associates, and not wishing more. Here much I ruminate, as much I may, With other views of men and manners now Than once, and others of a life to come. I see that all are wanderers, gone astray Each in his own delusions; they are lost In chase of fancied happiness, still wooed And never won; dream after dream ensues, And still they dream that they shall still succeed, And still are disappointed: rings the world With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind. And add two-thirds of the remaining half, And find the total of their hopes and fears Dreams, empty dreams.
[THE ARRIVAL OF THE POST]
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn! O'er yonder bridge, That with its wearisome but needful length Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright, He comes, the herald of a noisy world, With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks, News from all nations lumbering at his back, True to his charge, the close-packed load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern Is to conduct it to the destined inn, And, having dropped th' expected bag, pass on. He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, Cold and yet cheerful; messenger of grief Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some, To him indifferent whether grief or joy. Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks, Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet With tears that trickled down the writers cheeks Fast as the periods from his fluent quill, Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains Or nymphs responsive, equally affect His horse and him, unconscious of them all. But oh th' important budget, ushered in With such heart-shaking music, who can say What are its tidings? Have our troops awaked, Or do they still, as if with opium drugged, Snore to the murmurs of th' Atlantic wave? Is India free, and does she wear her plumed And jewelled turban with a smile of peace, Or do we grind her still? The grand debate, The popular harangue, the tart reply, The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit, And the loud laugh—I long to know them all; I burn to set th' imprisoned wranglers free, And give them voice and utterance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round; And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn Throws up a steamy column, and the cups That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Then shame to manhood, and opprobrious more To France than all her losses and defeats Old or of later date, by sea or land, Her house of bondage worse than that of old Which God avenged on Pharaoh—the Bastile! Ye horrid towers, th' abode of broken hearts, Ye dungeons and ye cages of despair, That monarchs have supplied from age to age With music such as suits their sovereign ears— The sighs and groans of miserable men, There's not an English heart that would not leap To hear that ye were fallen at last, to know That even our enemies, so oft employed In forging chains for us, themselves were free: For he that values liberty, confines His zeal for her predominance within No narrow bounds; her cause engages him Wherever pleaded; 'tis the cause of man. There dwell the most forlorn of human kind, Immured though unaccused, condemned untried. Cruelly spared, and hopeless of escape. There, like the visionary emblem seen By him of Babylon, life stands a stump, And filleted about with hoops of brass, Still lives, though all its pleasant boughs are gone. To count the hour-bell and expect no change; And ever as the sullen sound is heard, Still to reflect that though a joyless note To him whose moments all have one dull pace, Ten thousand rovers in the world at large Account it music—that it summons some To theatre, or jocund feast, or ball; The wearied hireling finds it a release From labour; and the lover, who has chid Its long delay, feels every welcome stroke Upon his heart-strings trembling with delight: To fly for refuge from distracting thought To such amusements as ingenious woe Contrives, hard-shifting and without her tools— To read engraven on the muddy walls, In staggering types, his predecessor's tale, A sad memorial, and subjoin his own; To turn purveyor to an overgorged And bloated spider, till the pampered pest Is made familiar, watches his approach, Comes at his call, and serves him for a friend; To wear out time in numbering to and fro The studs that thick emboss his iron door, Then downward and then upward, then aslant And then alternate, with a sickly hope By dint of change to give his tasteless task Some relish, till, the sum exactly found In all directions, he begins again:— Oh comfortless existence! hemmed around With woes, which who that suffers would not kneel And beg for exile or the pangs of death? That man should thus encroach on fellow-man, Abridge him of his just and native rights, Eradicate him, tear him from his hold Upon th' endearments of domestic life And social, nip his fruitfulness and use, And doom him for perhaps an heedless word To barrenness and solitude and tears, Moves indignation; makes the name of king (Of king whom such prerogative can please) As dreadful as the Manichean god, Adored through fear, strong only to destroy.
[MEDITATION IN WINTER]
The night was winter in his roughest mood, The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon, Upon the southern side of the slant hills, And where the woods fence off the northern blast, The season smiles, resigning all its rage, And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendour of the scene below. Again the harmony comes o'er the vale, And through the trees I view the embattled tower Whence all the music. I again perceive The soothing influence of the wafted strains, And settle in soft musings as I tread The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, Whose outspread branches overarch the glade. The roof, though moveable through all its length As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed, And intercepting in their silent fall The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought. The redbreast warbles still, but is content With slender notes, and more than half suppressed: Pleased with, his solitude, and flitting light From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, That tinkle in the withered leaves below. Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft, Charms more than silence. Meditation here May think down hours to moments. Here the heart May give a useful lesson to the head, And learning wiser grow without his books. Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells In heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, 'Till smoothed and squared and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. Books are not seldom talismans and spells, By which the magic art of shrewder wits Holds an unthinking multitude enthralled. Some to the fascination of a name Surrender judgment hoodwinked. Some the style Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds Of error leads them, by a tune entranced. While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear The insupportable fatigue of thought, And swallowing therefore, without pause or choice, The total grist unsifted, husks and all. But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer, And sheepwalks populous with bleating lambs, And lanes in which the primrose ere her time Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root, Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and Truth, Not shy as in the world, and to be won By slow solicitation, seize at once The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
[KINDNESS TO ANIMALS]
I would not enter on my list of friends, Though graced with polished manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility, the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. An inadvertent, step may crush the snail That crawls at evening in the public path; But he that has humanity, forewarned, Will tread aside and let the reptile live. The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight, And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes, A visitor unwelcome, into scenes Sacred to neatness and repose—th' alcove, The chamber, or refectory,—may die: A necessary act incurs no blame. Not so when, held within their proper bounds And guiltless of offence, they range the air, Or take their pastime in the spacious field: There they are privileged; and he that hunts Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong, Disturbs th' economy of Nature's realm, Who, when she formed, designed them an abode.
ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE
O that those lips had language! Life has passed With me but roughly since I heard thee last. Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see, The same that oft in childhood solaced me; Voice only fails, else how distinct they say, 'Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!' The meek intelligence of those dear eyes (Blest be the art that can immortalize, The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim To quench it) here shines on me still the same.
Faithful remembrancer of one so dear, O welcome guest, though unexpected here! Who bidd'st me honour with an artless song, Affectionate, a mother lost so long, I will obey, not willingly alone, But gladly, as the precept were her own: And, while that face renews my filial grief, Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief, Shall steep me in Elysian revery, A momentary dream that thou art she.
My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead, Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed? Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unfelt, a kiss; Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss— Ah, that maternal smile! it answers 'Yes,' I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day, I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, And, turning from my nursery window, drew A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu! But was it such? It was: where thou art gone Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more! Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern, Oft gave me promise of thy quick return. What ardently I wished I long believed, And, disappointed still, was still deceived, By expectation every day beguiled, Dupe of to-morrow even from a child. Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went, Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent, I learnt at last submission to my lot, But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more: Children not thine have trod my nursery floor; And where the gardener Robin, day by day, Drew me to school along the public way, Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapped In scarlet, mantle warm, and velvet-capped, 'Tis now become a history little known That once we called the pastoral house our own. Short-lived possession! But the record fair That memory keeps, of all thy kindness there, Still outlives many a storm that has effaced A thousand other themes less deeply traced. Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, That thou mightst know me safe and warmly laid; Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, The biscuit or confectionary plum; The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed; All this, and, more endearing still than all, Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall, Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and breaks That humour interposed too often makes; All this, still legible on memory's page, And still to be so to my latest age, Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay Such honours to thee as my numbers may, Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere, Not scorned in heaven though little noticed here.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, The violet, the pink, the jessamine, I pricked them into paper with a pin (And thou wast happier than myself the while, Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head and smile), Could those few pleasant days again appear, Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here? I would not trust my heart—the dear delight Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might. But no—what here we call our life is such, So little to be loved, and thou so much, That I should ill requite thee to constrain Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast, The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed, Shoots into port at some well-havened isle, Where spices breathe and brighter seasons smile, There sits quiescent on the floods, that show Her beauteous form reflected clear below, While airs impregnated with incense play Around her, fanning light her streamers gay, So thou, with sails how swift, hast reached the shore 'Where tempests never beat nor billows roar,' And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide Of life long since has anchored by thy side.
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Always from port withheld, always distressed, Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest-tossed, Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass lost, And day by day some current's thwarting force Sets me more distant from a prosperous course. Yet, oh, the thought that thou art safe, and he, That thought is joy, arrive what may to me. My boast is not that I deduce my birth From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth; But higher far my proud pretensions rise— The son of parents passed into the skies!
And now, farewell. Time unrevoked has run His wonted course, yet what I wished is done: By contemplation's help, not sought in vain, I seem t' have lived my childhood o'er again, To have renewed the joys that once were mine, Without the sin of violating thine; And while the wings of Fancy still are free, And I can view this mimic show of thee, Time has but half succeeded in his theft— Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left.
The twentieth year is well-nigh past, Since first our sky was overcast; Ah, would that this might be the last! My Mary!
Thy spirits have a fainter flow, I see thee daily weaker grow; 'Twas my distress that brought thee low, My Mary!
Thy needles, once a shining store, For my sake restless heretofore, Now rust disused, and shine no more, My Mary!
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil The same kind office for me still, Thy sight now seconds not thy will, My Mary!
But well thou playedst the housewife's part, And all thy threads with magic art Have wound themselves about this heart, My Mary!
Thy indistinct expressions seem Like language uttered in a dream; Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme, My Mary!
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright, Are still more lovely in my sight Than golden beams of orient light, My Mary!
For, could I view nor them nor thee, What sight worth seeing could I see? The sun would rise in vain for me, My Mary!
Partakers of thy sad decline, Thy hands their little force resign, Yet, gently pressed, press gently mine, My Mary!
Such feebleness of limbs thou provest, That now at every step thou movest Upheld by two, yet still thou lovest, My Mary!
And still to love, though pressed with ill, In wintry age to feel no chill, With me is to be lovely still, My Mary!
But ah! by constant heed I know, How oft the sadness that I show Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe, My Mary!
And should my future lot be cast With much resemblance of the past, Thy worn-out heart will break at last, My Mary!
Obscurest night involved the sky, The Atlantic billows roared, When such a destined wretch as I, Washed headlong from on board, Of friends, of hope, of all bereft, His floating home forever left.
No-braver chief could Albion boast Than he with whom he went, Nor ever ship left Albion's coast With warmer wishes sent. He loved them both, but both in vain, Nor him beheld, nor her again,
Not long beneath the whelming brine, Expert to swim, he lay; Nor soon he felt his strength decline, Or courage die away; But waged with death a lasting strife, Supported by despair of life.
He shouted: nor his friends had failed To check the vessel's course, But so the furious blast prevailed, That, pitiless perforce, They left their outcast mate behind, And scudded still before the wind.
Some succour yet they could afford; And such as storms allow, The cask, the coop, the floated cord, Delayed not to bestow. But he (they knew) nor ship nor shore, Whate'er they gave, should visit more.
Nor, cruel as it seemed, could he Their haste himself condemn, Aware that flight, in such a sea, Alone could rescue them; Yet bitter felt it still to die Deserted, and his friends so nigh.
He long survives, who lives an hour In ocean, self-upheld; And so long he, with unspent power, His destiny repelled; And ever, as the minutes flew, Entreated help, or cried 'Adieu!'
At length, his transient respite past, His comrades, who before Had heard his voice in every blast, Could catch the sound no more: For then, by toil subdued, he drank The stifling wave, and then he sank.
No poet wept him; but the page Of narrative sincere, That tells his name, his worth, his age, Is wet with Anson's tear: And tears by bards or heroes shed Alike immortalize the dead.
I therefore purpose not, or dream, Descanting on his fate, To give the melancholy theme A more enduring date: But misery still delights to trace Its semblance in another's case.
No voice divine the storm allayed, No light propitious shone, When, snatched from all effectual aid, We perished, each alone: But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.
WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES
Evening! as slow thy placid shades descend, Veiling with gentlest hush the landscape still, The lonely battlement, the farthest hill And wood, I think of those who have no friend; Who now, perhaps, by melancholy led, From the broad blaze of day, where pleasure flaunts, Retiring, wander to the ringdove's haunts Unseen; and watch the tints that o'er thy bed Hang lovely; oft to musing Fancy's eye Presenting fairy vales, where the tired mind Might rest beyond the murmurs of mankind, Nor hear the hourly moans of misery! Alas for man! that Hope's fair views the while Should smile like you, and perish as they smile!
On these white cliffs, that calm above the flood Uprear their shadowing heads, and at their feet Hear not the surge that has for ages beat, How many a lonely wanderer has stood! And, whilst the lifted murmur met his ear, And o'er the distant billows the still eve Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave To-morrow; of the friends he loved most dear; Of social scenes, from which he wept to part! Oh! if, like me, he knew how fruitless all The thoughts that would full fain the past recall, Soon would he quell the risings of his heart, And brave the wild winds and unhearing tide— The world his country, and his God his guide.
O Mary, at thy window be; It is the wished, the trysted hour! Those smiles and glances let me see That make the miser's treasure poor! How blythely wad I bide the stoure, A weary slave frae sun to sun, Could I the rich reward secure, The lovely Mary Morison.
Yestreen, when to the trembling string The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha', To thee my fancy took its wing; I sat, but neither heard nor saw: Tho' this was fair, and that was braw, And yon the toast of a' the town, I sighed, and said amang them a', 'Ye are na Mary Morison.'
O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace Wha for thy sake wad gladly die? Or canst thou break that heart of his Whase only faut is loving thee? If love for love thou wilt na gie, At least be pity to me shown! A thought ungentle canna be The thought o' Mary Morison.
THE HOLY FAIR
Upon a simmer Sunday morn, When Nature's face is fair, I walked forth to view the corn, An' snuff the caller air. The rising sun, owre Galston muirs, Wi' glorious light was glintin; The hares were hirplin down the furs, The lav'rocks they were chantin Fu' sweet that day.
As lightsomely I glowered abroad, To see a scene sae gay, Three hizzies, early at the road, Cam skelpin up the way. Twa had manteeles o' dolefu' black, But ane wi' lyart lining; The third, that gaed a wee a-back, Was in the fashion shining Fu' gay that day.
The twa appeared like sisters twin, In feature, form, an' claes; Their visage withered, lang an'thin, An' sour as onie slaes: The third cam up, hap-step-an'-lowp, As light as onie lambie, An' wi' a curchie low did stoop, As soon as e'er she saw me, Fu' kind that day.
Wi' bonnet aff, quoth I, 'Sweet lass, I think ye seem to ken me; I'm sure I've seen that bonie face, But yet I canna name ye.' Quo' she, an' laughin as she spak, An'taks me by the han's, 'Ye, for my sake, hae gi'en the feck Of a' the Ten Comman's A screed some day.
'My name is Fun—your cronie dear, The nearest friend ye hae; An'this is Superstition here, An'that's Hypocrisy. I'm gaun to Mauchline Holy Fair, To spend an hour in daffin: Gin ye'll go there, yon runkled pair, We will get famous laughin At them this day.'
Quoth I, 'Wi' a' my heart, I'll do't: I'll get my Sunday's sark on, An' meet you on the holy spot; Faith, we'se hae fine remarkin!' Then I gaed hame at crowdie-time, An' soon I made me ready; For roads were clad frae side to side Wi' monie a wearie body, In droves that day.
Here farmers gash, in ridin graith, Gaed hoddin by their cotters; There swankies young, in braw braid-claith, Are springin owre the gutters. The lasses, skelpin barefit, thrang, In silks an' scarlets glitter; Wi' sweet-milk cheese in monie a whang, An' farls baked wi' butter, Fu' crump that day.
When by the plate we set our nose, Weel heaped up wi' ha'pence, A greedy glowr black-bonnet throws, An' we maun draw our tippence. Then in we go to see the show: On every side they're gath'rin, Some carrying dails, some chairs an' stools, An' some are busy bleth'rin Right loud that day.
Here stands a shed to fend the showers, An' screen our countra gentry, There Racer Jess, and twa-three whores, Are blinkin' at the entry. Here sits a raw of tittlin' jads, Wi' heavin breasts an' bare neck; An'there a batch o' wabster lads. Blackguarding frae Kilmarnock, For fun this day.
Here some are thinkin on their sins, An' some upo' their claes; Ane curses feet that fyled his shins, Anither sighs and prays; On this hand sits a chosen swatch, Wi' screwed-up grace-proud faces; On that a set o' chaps, at watch, Thrang winkln on the lasses To chairs that day.
O happy is that man an' blest (Nae wonder that it pride him!) Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best, Conies clinkin down beside him! Wi' arm reposed on the chair-back, He sweetly does compose him; Which, by degrees, slips round her neck, An's loof upon her bosom, Unkend that day.
Now a' the congregation o'er Is silent expectation; For Moodie speels the holy door Wi' tidings o' damnation. Should Hornie, as in ancient days, 'Mang sons o' God present him, The vera sight o' Moodie's face To 's ain het hame had sent him Wi' fright that day.
Hear how he clears the points o' faith Wi' rattlin an wi' thumpin! Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath, He's stampin an' he's jumpin! His lengthened chin, his turned-up snout, His eldritch squeel an' gestures, O how they fire the heart devout— Like cantharidian plaisters, On sic a day!
But hark! the tent has changed its voice; There's peace an' rest nae langer; For a' the real judges rise, They canna sit for anger: Smith opens out his cauld harangues On practice and on morals; An' aff the godly pour in thrangs, To gie the jars an' barrels A lift that day.
What signifies his barren shine Of moral pow'rs an' reason? His English style an' gesture fine Are a' clean out o' season. Like Socrates or Antonine, Or some auld pagan heathen, The moral man he does define, But ne'er a word o' faith in That's right that day.
In guid time comes an antidote Against sic poisoned nostrum; For Peebles, frae the water-fit, Ascends the holy rostrum: See, up he's got the word o' God, An' meek an' mim has viewed it, While Common Sense has taen the road, An' aff, an' up the Cowgate Fast, fast that day.
Wee Miller niest the guard relieves, An' orthodoxy raibles, Tho' in his heart he weel believes An'thinks it auld wives' fables; But faith! the birkie wants a manse, So cannilie he hums them, Altho' his carnal wit an' sense Like hafflins-wise o'ercomes him At times that day,
Now butt an' ben the change-house fills Wi' yill-caup commentators; Here's crying out for bakes an' gills, An'there the pint-stowp clatters; While thick an'thrang, an' loud an' lang, Wi' logic an' wi' Scripture, They raise a din that in the end Is like to breed a rupture O' wrath that day.
Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair Than either school or college; It kindles wit, it waukens lear, It pangs us fou o' knowledge. Be 't whisky-gill or penny-wheep, Or onie stronger potion, It never fails, on drinkin deep, To kittle up our notion, By night or day.
The lads an' lasses, blythely bent To mind baith saul an' body, Sit round the table weel content, An' steer about the toddy. On this ane's dress an'that ane's leuk They're makin observations; While some are cozie i' the neuk, An' formin assignations To meet some day.
But now the Lord's ain trumpet touts, Till a' the hills are rairin, And echoes back return the shouts; Black Russell is na spairin: His piercin words, like Highlan' swords, Divide the joints an' marrow; His talk o' hell, whare devils dwell, Our verra 'sauls does harrow' Wi' fright that day!
A vast, unbottomed, boundless pit, Filled fou o' lowin brunstane, Whase ragin flame an' scorchin heat Wad melt the hardest whun-stane! The half-asleep start up wi' fear, An'think they hear it roarin, When presently it does appear 'Twas but some neebor snorin, Asleep that day.
'Twad be owre lang a tale to tell How monie stories passed, An' how they crouded to the yill, When they were a' dismissed; How drink gaed round, in cogs an' caups, Amang the furms an' benches, An' cheese an' bread, frae women's laps, Was dealt about in lunches An' dawds that day.
In comes a gawsie, gash guidwife, An' sits down by the fire, Syne draws her kebbuck an' her knife; The lasses they are shyer; The auld guidmen about the grace Frae side to side they bother, Till some ane by his bonnet lays And gi'es them 't, like a tether, Fu' lang that day.
Waesueks for him that gets nae lass, Or lasses that hae naething! Sma' need has he to say a grace, Or melvie his braw claithing! O wives, be mindfu', ance yoursel How bonie lads ye wanted, An' dinna for a kebbuck-heel Let lasses be affronted On sic a day!
Now Clinkumbell, w' rattlin tow, Begins to jow an' croon; Some swagger hame the best they dow, Some wait the afternoon, At slaps the billies halt a blink, Till lasses strip their shoon; Wi' faith an' hope, an' love an' drink, They're a' in famous tune For crack that day.
How monie hearts this day converts O' sinners and o' lasses! Their hearts o' stane, gin night, are gaen As saft as onie flesh is. There's some are fou o' love divine, There's some are fou o' brandy; An' monie jobs that day begin, May end in houghmagandie Some ither day.
TO A LOUSE
ON SEEING ONE ON A LADY'S BONNET AT CHURCH
Ha! whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie? Your impudence protects you sairly; I canna say but ye strunt rarely Ower gauze and lace, Tho', faith, I fear ye dine but sparely On sic a place,
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner, Detested, shunned by saunt an' sinner, How daur ye set your fit upon her, Sae fine a lady! Gae somewhere else, and seek your dinner On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar's hauffet squattle; There ye may creep and sprawl and sprattle Wi' ither kindred jumping cattle, In shoals and nations, Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle Your thick plantations.
Now haud you there! ye're out o' sight, Below the fatt'rils, snug an'tight; Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right Till ye've got on it, The vera tapmost, tow'ring height O' Miss's bonnet.
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out, As plump an' grey as onie grozet; O for some rank, mercurial rozet Or fell red smeddum! I'd gie ye sic a hearty dose o't Wad dress your droddum!
I wad na been surprised to spy You on an auld wife's flainen toy, Or aiblins some bit duddie boy, On's wyliecoat; But Miss's fine Lunardi—fie! How daur ye do't!
O Jenny, dinna toss your head, An' set your beauties a' abread! Ye little ken what cursed speed The blastie's makin! Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread, Are notice takin!
O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion; What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, An' ev'n devotion!
FROM EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK
I am nae poet, in a sense, But just a rhymer like by chance, An' hae to learning nae pretence; Yet what the matter? Whene'er my Muse does on me glance, I jingle at her.
Your critic-folk may cock their nose, And say, 'How can you e'er propose, You wha ken hardly verse frae prose, To mak a sang?' But, by your leaves, my learned foes, Ye're maybe wrang.
What's a' your jargon o' your schools, Your Latin names for horns an' stools? If honest Nature made you fools, What sairs your grammers? Ye'd better taen up spades and shools Or knappin-hammers.
A set o' dull, conceited hashes Confuse their brains in college classes; They gang in stirks, and come out asses, Plain truth to speak; An' syne they think to climb Parnassus By dint o' Greek!
Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire, That's a' the learning I desire; Then, tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire At pleugh or cart, My Muse, tho' hamely in attire, May touch the heart.
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT
My loved, my honoured, much respected friend! No mercenary bard his homage pays; With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end, My dearest meed a friend's esteem and praise: To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays, The lowly train in life's sequestered scene; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways, What Aiken in a cottage would have been; Ah, though his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween!
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh; The shortening winter-day is near a close; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh; The blackening trains o' craws to their repose: The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goes— This night his weekly moil is at an end,— Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view, Beneath the shelter of an aged tree; Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noise and glee. His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie, His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile, The lisping infant, prattling on his knee, Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile, And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.
Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in, At service out amang the farmers roun'; Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin. A cannie errand to a neebor town. Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown, In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e, Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown, Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee, To help her parents dear if they in hardship be.
With joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet, And each for other's weelfare kindly spiers; The social hours, swift-winged, unnoticed fleet; Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears. The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years; Anticipation forward points the view. The mother, wi' her needle and her sheers, Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due:
Their master's and their mistress's command The younkers a' are warned to obey, And mind their labours wi' an eydent hand, And ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play: 'And O be sure to fear the Lord alway, And mind your duty duly, morn and night; Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray, Implore His counsel and assisting might: They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright!'
But hark! a rap comes gently to the door. Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, Tells how a neebor lad came o'er the moor, To do some errands and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek; With heart-struck anxious care enquires his name, While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak; Weel-pleased the mother hears it's nae wild, worthless rake.
With kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben: A strappin' youth, he takes the mother's eye; Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill-taen; The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye. The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy, But blate and laithfu', scarce can weel behave; The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy What makes the youth sae bashfu' and sae grave, Weel-pleased to think her bairn's respected like the lave.
Oh happy love, where love like this is found! Oh heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare! I've paced much this weary, mortal round, And sage experience bids me this declare: 'If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare, One cordial in this melancholy vale, 'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair In other's arms breathe out the tender tale, Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale.'
Is there, in human form, that bears a heart, A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth! That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art, Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth? Curse on his perjured arts! dissembling smooth! Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exiled? Is there no pity, no relenting ruth, Points to the parents fondling o'er their child? Then paints the ruined maid, and their distraction wild?
But now the supper crowns their simple hoard: The healsome parritch, chief o' Scotia's food: The soupe their only hawkie does afford, That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood. The dame brings forth, in complimental mood, To grace the lad, her weel-hained kebbuek, fell; And aft he's prest, and aft he ca's it guid; The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell How 'twas a towmond auld sin' lint was i' the bell.
The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face They round the ingle form a circle wide; The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace, The big ha'-Bible, ance his father's pride; His bonnet reverently is laid aside, His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare; Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide, He wales a portion with judicious care, And 'Let us worship God!' he says, with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise; They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim: Perhaps 'Dundee's' wild-warbling measures rise, Or plaintive 'Martyrs,' worthy of the name; Or noble 'Elgin' beets the heavenward flame, The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays. Compared with these, Italian trills are tame; The tickled ears no heart-felt raptures raise; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page; How Abram was the friend of God on high; Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage With Amalek's ungracious progeny; Or how the royal bard did groaning lie Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire; Or Job's pathetic plaint and wailing cry; Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire; Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme: How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; How He Who bore in Heaven the second name Had not on earth whereon to lay His head; How His first followers and servants sped; The precepts sage they wrote to many a land; How he, who lone in Patmos banished, Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand, And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounced by Heaven's command.
Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King, The saint, the father, and the husband prays; Hope 'springs exulting on triumphant wing,' That thus they all shall meet in future days, There ever bask in uncreated rays, No more to sigh or shed the bitter tear, Together hymning their Creator's praise, In such society, yet still more dear, While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.
Compared with this, how poor Religion's pride, In all the pomp of method and of art, When men display to congregations wide Devotion's ev'ry grace except the heart! The Power, incensed, the pageant will desert, The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole; But haply, in some cottage far apart, May hear, well pleased, the language of the soul, And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.
Then homeward all take off their several way; The youngling cottagers retire to rest; The parent-pair their secret homage pay, And proffer up to Heaven the warm request And He who stills the raven's clamorous nest, And decks the lily fair in flowery pride, Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best, For them and for their little ones provide, But chiefly in their hearts with grace divine preside.
From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs, That makes her loved at home, revered abroad: Princes and lords are but the breath of kings, 'An honest man's the noblest work of God.' And certes in fair virtue's heavenly road, The cottage leaves the palace far behind: What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load, Disguising oft the wretch of human kind, Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refined!
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil! For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent! Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil Be blest with health and peace and sweet content! And O may Heaven their simple lives prevent From luxury's contagion, weak and vile! Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent, A virtuous populace may rise the while, And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved isle.
O Thou, Who poured the patriotic tide That streamed thro' Wallace's undaunted heart, Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride, Or nobly die, the second glorious part! (The patriot's God peculiarly Thou art, His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!) Oh never, never Scotia's realm desert, But still the patriot and the patriot-bard In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!
TO A MOUSE
ON TURNING HER UP IN HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, O what a panic's in thy breastie! Thou need na start awa sae hasty, Wi' bickering brattle! I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, Wi' murdering pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union, An' justifies that ill opinion Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An' fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! A daimen icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request; I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave, An' never miss 't!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin! Its silly wa's the win's are strewin! An' naething now to big a new ane, O' foggage green! An' bleak December's win's ensuin, Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste, An' weary winter comin fast, An' cozie here, beneath the blast, Thou thought to dwell— Till, crash! the cruel coulter passed Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble Has cost thee monie a weary nibble! Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble, But house or hald, To thole the winter's sleety dribble, An' cranreuch cauld!
But mousie, thou art no thy lane In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us naught but grief an' pain For promised joy!
Still, thou art bleat compared 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!
TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY
ON TURNING ONE DOWN WITH THE PLOUGH IN APRIL, 1786
Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flow'r, Thou's met me in an evil hour, For I maun crush amang the stoure Thy slender stem; To spare thee now is past my pow'r, Thou bonie gem.
Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet, The bonie lark, companion meet, Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet, Wi' spreckled breast, When upward springing, blythe, to greet The purpling east.
Cauld blew the bitter-biting north Upon thy early, humble birth; Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth Amid the storm, Scarce reared above the parent-earth Thy tender form.
The flaunting flow'rs our gardens yield, High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield; But thou, beneath the random bield O' clod or stane, Adorns the histie stibble-field, Unseen, alane.
There, in thy scanty mantle clad, Thy snawie bosom sunward spread, Thou lifts thy unassuming head In humble guise; But now the share uptears thy bed, And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless maid, Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade! By love's simplicity betray'd, And guileless trust, Till she, like thee, all soiled is laid, Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard, On life's rough ocean luckless starred! Unskilful he to note the card Of prudent lore, Till billows rage, and gales blow hard, And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n, Who long with wants and woes has striv'n, By human pride or cunning driv'n To mis'ry's brink; Till, wrench'd of ev'ry stay but Heav'n, He, ruined, sink!
Ev'n thou who mourn'st the daisy's fate, That fate is thine—no distant date; Stern Ruin's plough-share drives, elate, Full on thy bloom, Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight Shall be thy doom!
EPISTLE TO A YOUNG FRIEND
I lang hae thought, my youthfu' friend A something to have sent you, Tho' it should serve nae ither end Than just a kind memento. But how the subject-theme may gang, Let time and chance determine; Perhaps it may turn out a sang, Perhaps turn out a sermon.
Ye'll try the world soon, my lad; And, Andrew dear, believe me, Ye'll find mankind an unco squad, And muckle they may grieve ye: For care and trouble set your thought, Ev'n when your end's attained; And a' your views may come to nought, Where ev'ry nerve is strained.
I'll no say men are villains a'; The real, harden'd wicked, Wha hae nae check but human law, Are to a few restricket; But, och! mankind are unco weak, An' little to be trusted; If self the wavering balance shake, It's rarely right adjusted!
Yet they wha fa' in fortune's strife, Their fate we shouldna censure, For still th' important end of life They equally may answer; A man may hae an honest heart, Tho' poortith hourly stare him; A man may tak a neebor's part, Yet hae nae cash to spare him.
Aye free, aff-han', your story tell, When wi a bosom crony; But still keep something to yoursel Ye scarcely tell to ony. Conceal yoursel as weel's ye can Frae critical dissection; But keek thro' ev'ry other man, Wi' sharpen'd, sly inspection.
The sacred lowe o' weel-placed love, Luxuriantly indulge it; But never tempt th' illicit rove, Tho' naething should divulge it; I ware the quantum o' the sin, The hazard of concealing; But, och! it hardens a' within, And petrifies the feeling!
To catch dame Fortune's golden smile, Assiduous wait upon her; And gather gear by ev'ry wile That's justified by honour; Not for to hide it in a hedge, Nor for a train attendant; But for the glorious privilege Of being independent.
The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip, To haud the wretch in order; But where ye feel your honour grip, Let that aye be your border; Its slightest touches, instant pause;— Debar a' side-pretences; And resolutely keep its laws, Uncaring consequences.
The great Creator to revere, Must sure become the creature; But still the preaching cant forbear, And ev'n the rigid feature; Yet ne'er with wits profane to range, Be complaisance extended; An atheist-laugh's a poor exchange For Deity offended!
When ranting round in pleasure's ring, Religion may be blinded; Or, if she gie a random sting, It may be little minded; But when on life we're tempest-driv'n— A conscience but a canker, A correspondence fix'd wi' Heav'n Is sure a noble anchor!
Adieu, dear amiable Youth! Your heart can ne'er be wanting! May prudence, fortitude, and truth, Erect your brow undaunting! In ploughman phrase, 'God send you speed,' Still daily to grow wiser; And may you better reck the rede, Than ever did th' adviser!
A BARD'S EPITAPH
Is there a whim-inspired fool, Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule, Owre blate to seek, owre proud to snool? Let him draw near; And owre this grassy heap sing dool, And drap a tear.
Is there a bard of rustic song, Who, noteless, steals the crowds among, That weekly this area throng?— Oh, pass not by! But with a frater-feeling strong Here heave a sigh.
Is there a man whose judgment clear Can others teach the course to steer, Yet runs himself life's mad career Wild as the wave?— Here pause—and thro' the starting tear Survey this grave.
The poor inhabitant below Was quick to learn and wise to know, And keenly felt the friendly glow And softer flame; But thoughtless follies laid him low, And stain'd his name!
Reader, attend! whether thy soul Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole, Or darkling grubs this earthly hole In low pursuit; Know, prudent, cautious self-control Is wisdom's root.
ADDRESS TO THE UNCO GUID OR THE RIGIDLY RIGHTEOUS
O ye wha are sae guid yoursel, Sae pious and sae holy, Ye've nought to do but mark and tell Your neebour's fauts and folly! Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill, Supplied wi' store o' water, The heapet happer's ebbing still, And still the clap plays clatter,—
Hear me, ye venerable core, As counsel for poor mortals That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door For glaikit Folly's portals; I for their thoughtless, careless sakes Would here propone defences— Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes, Their failings and mischances.
Ye see your state wi' theirs compar'd, And shudder at the niffer; But cast a moment's fair regard, What maks the mighty differ? Discount what scant occasion gave, That purity ye pride in, And (what's aft mair than a' the lave) Your better art o' hidin.
Think, when your castigated pulse Gies now and then a wallop, What ragings must his veins convulse That still eternal gallop: Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail, Right on ye scud your sea-way; But in the teeth o' baith to sail, It maks an unco leeway.
See Social Life and Glee sit down, All joyous and unthinking, Till, quite transmugrify'd, they're grown Debauchery and Drinking: O would they stay to calculate Th' eternal consequences, Or—your more dreaded hell to state— Damnation of expenses!
Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames, Tied up in godly laces, Before ye gie poor Frailty names, Suppose a change o' cases: A dear-lov'd lad, convenience snug, A treach'rous inclination— But, let me whisper i' your lug, Ye're aiblins nae temptation.
Then gently scan your brother man, Still gentler sister woman; Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang, To step aside is human: One point must still be greatly dark, The moving why they do it; And just as lamely can ye mark How far perhaps they rue it.
Who made the heart, 'tis He alone Decidedly can try us; He knows each chord, its various tone, Each spring, its various bias: Then at the balance, let's be mute, We never can adjust it; What's done we partly may compute, But know not what's resisted.
JOHN ANDEKSON, MY JO
John Anderson, my jo, John, When we were first acquent, Your locks were like the raven, Your bonie brow was brent: But now your brow is beld, John, Your locks are like the snaw; But blessings on your frosty pow, John Anderson, my jo!
John Anderson, my jo, John, We clamb the hill thegither; And monie a cantie day, John, We've had wi' ane anither: Now we maun totter down, John, And hand in hand we'll go, And sleep thegither at the foot, John Anderson, my jo!
THE LOVELY LASS OF INVERNESS
The lovely lass of Inverness, Nae joy nor pleasure can she see; For e'en to morn she cries, 'Alas!' And aye the saut tear blin's her e'e:
'Drumossie moor—Drumossie day— A waefu' day it was to me! For there I lost my father dear, My father dear, and brethren three.
'Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay, Their graves are growing green to see: And by them lies the dearest lad That ever blest a woman's e'e!
'Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord, A bluidy man I trow thou be; For mony a heart thou hast made sair That ne'er did wrang to thine or thee!'
A RED, RED ROSE
O, my luv is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June: O, my luv is like the melodie That's sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I; And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry:
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun; And I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve! And fare thee weel awhile! And I will come again, my luve, Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
AULD LANG SYNE
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne!
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp, And surely I'll be mine; And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes, And pou'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd monie a weary fit Sin' auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn, Frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin' auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere, And gie's a hand o' thine; And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught, For auld lang syne!
Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes! Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise! My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!
Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds through the glen, Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den, Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear, I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair!
How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills, Far marked with the courses of clear winding rills! There daily I wander as noon rises high, My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.
How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below, Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow! There oft, as mild evening weeps over the lea, The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.
Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides, And winds by the cot where my Mary resides! How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave, As gathering sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave!
Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes! Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays! My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream!
THE HAPPY TRIO
O, Willie brew'd a peck o' maut, And Bob and Allan cam to see; Three blyther hearts, that lee-lang night, Ye wad na found in Christendie.
We are na fou, we're nae that fou, But just a drappie in our e'e; The cock may craw, the day may daw, And ay we'll taste the barley bree!
Here are we met, three merry boys, Three merry boys, I trow, are we; And mony a night we've merry been, And mony mae we hope to be!
It is the moon, I ken her horn, That's blinkin in the lift sae hie; She shines sae bright to wyle us hame, But, by my sooth, she'll wait a wee!
Wha first shall rise to gang awa, A cuckold, coward loun is he! Wha first beside his chair shall fa', He is the King amang us three!
TO MARY IN HEAVEN
Thou lingering star, with lessening ray, That lov'st to greet the early morn, Again thou usher'st in the day My Mary from my soul was torn, O Mary! dear departed shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest? See'st thou thy lover lowly laid? Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
That sacred hour can I forget, Can I forget the hallowed grove, Where by the winding Ayr we met To live one day of parting love? Eternity cannot efface Those records dear of transports past, Thy image at our last embrace— Ah! little thought we 'twas our last!
Ayr, gurgling, kissed his pebbled shore, O'erhung with wild woods, thickening green; The fragrant birch and hawthorn hoar Twined amorous round the raptured scene: The flowers sprang wanton to be pressed, The birds sang love on every spray, Till too, too soon the glowing west Proclaimed the speed of winged day.
Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes, And fondly broods with miser care! Time but th' impression stronger makes, As streams their channels deeper wear. My Mary, dear departed shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest? See'st thou thy lover lowly laid? Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
TAM O' SHANTER: A TALE
Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this buke. —GAWIN DOUGLAS.
When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors neebors meet, As market-days are wearing late, An' folk begin to tak the gate, While we sit bousing at the nappy, An' getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles, That lie between us and our hame, Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam o' Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses For honest men and bonie lasses).
O Tam, had'st thou but been sae wise As taen thy ain wife Kate's advice! She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum, That frae November till October Ae market-day thou was nae sober; That ilka melder wi' the miller Thou sat as lang as thou had siller; That ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on The smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday, Thou drank wi' Kirkton Jean till Monday. She prophesied that, late or soon, Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon, Or catched wi' warlocks in the mirk By Alloway's auld, haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames, it gars me greet To think how monie counsels sweet, How monie lengthened, sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises!
But to our tale. Ae market-night Tam had got planted unco right, Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely; And at his elbow, Souter Johnie, His ancient, trusty, drouthy cronie: Tam lo'ed him like a very brither; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter, And ay the ale was growing better; The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi' secret favours, sweet and precious; The souter tauld his queerest stories, The landlord's laugh was ready chorus; The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drowned himself amang the nappy. As bees flee hame wi' lades o' treasure, The minutes winged their way wi' pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread— You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white—then melts forever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form, Evanishing amid the storm. Nae man can tether time or tide: The hour approaches Tam maun ride; That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour Tam mounts his beast in, And sic a night he taks the road in As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 't wad blawn its last: The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed; Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed: That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand.
Weel-mounted on his gray mare Meg, A better never lifted leg, Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire, Despising wind and rain and fire; Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet, Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet, While glow'ring round wi' prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.
By this time he was cross the ford, Whare in the snaw the chapman smoored; And past the birks and meikle stane, Whare drunken Charlie brak's neck-bane; And thro' the whins and by the cairn, Whare hunters fand the murdered bairn; And near the thorn, aboon the well, Whare Mungo's mither hanged hersel. Before him Doon pours all his floods; The doubling storm roars thro' the woods; The lightnings flash from pole to pole; Near and more near the thunders roll; When, glimmering thro' the groaning trees, Kirk-Alloway seemed in a bleeze: Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing, And loud resounded mirth and dancing.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn, What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi' tippenny, we fear nae evil; Wi' usquebae, we'll face the Devil! The swats sae reamed in Tammie's noddle, Fair play, he cared na deils a boddle. But Maggie stood, right sair astonished, Till, by the heel and hand admonished, She ventured forward on the light; And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance; Nae cotillion, brent new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, Put life and mettle in their heels. A winnock-bunker in the east, There sat Auld Nick, in shape o' beast; A towsie tyke, black, grim, and large, To gie them music was his charge: He screwed the pipes and gart them skirl, Till roof and rafters a' did dirl. Coffins stood round, like open presses, That shawed the dead in their last dresses, And, by some devilish cantraip sleight, Each in its cauld hand held a light: By which heroic Tam was able To note, upon the haly table, A murderer's banes, in gibbet-airns; Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns; A thief, new-cutted frae a rape— Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; Five tomahawks, wi' bluid red-rusted; Five scimitars, wi' murder crusted; A garter which a babe had strangled; A knife a father's throat had mangled, Whom, his ain son o' life bereft— The grey-hairs yet stack to the heft; Wi' mair of horrible and awfu', Which even to name wad be unlawfu'.
As Tammie glowered, amazed and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious: The piper loud and louder blew, The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reeled, they set, they crossed, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linket at it in her sark!
Now Tam, O Tam! had thae been queans, A' plump and strapping in their teens! Their sarks, instead o' creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen-hunder linen! Thir breeks o' mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o' guid blue hair, I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies, For ae blink o' the bonie burdies!
But withered beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Louping and flinging on a crummock, I wonder didna turn thy stomach!
But Tam kend what was what fu' brawlie: There was ae winsome wench and wawlie, That night enlisted in the core, Lang after kend on Carrick shore (For monie a beast to dead she shot, An' perished monie a bonie boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the country-side in fear). Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho' sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie.— Ah, little kend thy reverend grannie That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi' twa pund Scots ('twas a' her riches), Wad ever graced a dance o' witches!
But here my Muse her wing maun cour; Sic flights are far beyond her power: To sing how Nannie lap and flang (A souple jad she was and strang), And how Tam stood like ane bewitched, And thought his very een enriched. Even Satan glowered and fidged fu' fain, And hotched and blew wi' might and main; Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a' thegither, And roars out, 'Weel done, Cutty-sark!' And in an instant all was dark; And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie's mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When 'Catch the thief' resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' monie an eldritch skriech and hollo.
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin! In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin! Kate soon will be a woefu' woman! Now do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig; There at them thou thy tail may toss— A running stream they dare na cross! But ere the key-stane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake! For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle; But little wist she Maggie's mettle! Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain grey tail: The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man and mother's son, take heed: Whene'er to drink you are inclined, Or cutty sarks run in your mind, Think ye may buy the joys o'er dear; Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare.
AE FOND KISS
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae farewell, and then forever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee; Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. Who shall say that Fortune grieves him While the star of hope she leaves him? Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me, Dark despair around benights me.
I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy; Naething could resist my Nancy: But to see her was to love her, Love but her and love forever. Had we never loved sae kindly, Had we never loved sae blindly, Never met, or never parted, We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest! Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure! Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; Ae farewell, alas, forever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee; Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
Duncan Gray cam here to woo (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!), On blythe Yule Night when we were fou (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!). Maggie coost her head fu' high, Looked asklent and unco skeigh, Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh— Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
Duncan fleeched, and Duncan prayed (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!); Meg was deaf as Ailsa craig (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!). Duncan sighed baith out and in, Grat his een baith bleer't an' blin', Spak o' lowpin o'er a linn— Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
Time and chance are but a tide (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!): Slighted love is sair to bide (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!). 'Shall I, like a fool,' quoth he, 'For a haughty hizzie die? She may gae to—France for me!'— Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
How it comes let doctors tell (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!): Meg grew sick as he grew hale (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!); Something in her bosom wrings, For relief a sigh she brings; And O her een, they spak sic things!— Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
Duncan was a lad o' grace (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!). Maggie's was a piteous case (Ha, ha, the wooing o't!): Duncan could na be her death, Swelling pity smoored his wrath; Now they're crouse and canty baith— Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
Ye banks and braes and streams around The castle o' Montgomery, Green be your woods and fair your flowers, Your waters never drumlie! There Summer first unfald her robes, And there the langest tarry! For there I took the last fareweel O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk, How rich the hawthorn's blossom, As, underneath their fragrant shade, I clasped her to my bosom! The golden hours, on angel wings, Flew o'er me and my dearie; For dear to me as light and life Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Wi' monie a vow and locked embrace, Our parting was fu' tender; And, pledging aft to meet again, We tore oursels asunder. But O fell Death's untimely frost, That nipt my flower sae early! Now green's the sod and cauld's the clay That wraps my Highland Mary!
O pale, pale now those rosy lips I aft hae kissed sae fondly! And closed for ay the sparkling glance That dwelt on me sae kindly! And mouldering now in silent dust That heart that lo'ed me dearly! But still within my bosom's core Shall live my Highland Mary!
SCOTS, WHA HAE
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie!
Now's the day, and now's the hour! See the front o' battle lour! See approach proud Edward's power— Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave? Wha can fill a coward's grave? Wha sae base as be a slave? Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freeman stand or freeman fa', Let him follow me!
By Oppression's woes and pains! By your sons in servile chains! We will drain our dearest veins, But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low! Tyrants fall in every foe! Liberty's in every blow! Let us do or die!
IS THERE FOR HONEST POVERTY
[A MAN'S A MAN FOR A' THAT]
Is there for honest poverty That hings his head, an' a' that? The coward slave, we pass him by,— We dare be poor for a' that! For a' that, an' a' that, Our toils obscure, an' a' that: The rank is but the guinea's stamp; The man's the gowd for a' that.
What though on hamely fare we dine, Wear hoddin grey, an' a' that? Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,— A man's a man for a' that, For a' that, an' a' that, Their tinsel show, an' a' that: The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor, Is king o' men for a' that.
Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a lord,' Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that; Tho' hundreds worship at his word, He's but a cuif for a' that, For a' that, an' a' that, His ribband, star, an' a' that: The man o' independent mind, He looks an' laughs at a' that.
A prince can mak a belted knight, A marquis, duke, an' a' that! But an honest man's aboon his might; Guid faith, he mauna fa' that! For a' that, an' a' that, Their dignities, an' a' that: The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may (As come it will for a' that), That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, Shall bear the gree, an' a' that: For a' that, an' a' that, It's comin yet for a' that, That man to man, the world o'er, Shall brithers be for a' that.
LAST MAY A BRAW WOOER
Last May a braw wooer cam down the lang glen, And sair wi' his love he did deave me: I said there was naething I hated like men; The deuce gae wi'm to believe me, believe me, The deuce gae wi'm to believe me!
He spak o' the darts in my bonie black een, And vowed for my love he was dyin: I said he might die when he liket for Jean; The Lord forgie me for lyin, for lyin, The Lord forgie me for lyin!
A weel-stoeket mailen, himsel for the laird, And marriage aff-hand, were his proffers: I never loot on that I kenned it or cared; But thought I might hae waur offers, waur offers, But thought I might hae waur offers.
But what wad ye think? in a fortnight or less— The Deil tak his taste to gae near her!— He up the Gate Slack to my black cousin Bess: Guess ye how, the jad, I could bear her, could bear her! Guess ye how, the jad, I could bear her!
But a' the niest week as I petted wi' care, I gaed to the tryste o' Dalgarnock, And wha but my fine fickle lover was there? I glowered as I'd seen a warlock, a warlock, I glowered as I'd seen a warlock.
But owre my left shouther I gae him a blink, Lest neebours might say I was saucy: My wooer he capered as he'd been in drink, And vowed I was his dear lassie, dear lassie, And vowed I was his dear lassie!
I spiered for my cousin fu' couthy and sweet, Gin she had recovered her hearin, And how her new shoon fit her auld shachled feet— But, heavens, how he fell a swearin, a swearin! But, heavens, how he fell a swearin!
He begged, for Gudesake, I wad be his wife, Or else I wad kill him wi' sorrow; So, e'en to preserve the poor body in life, I think I maun wed him to-morrow, to-morrow, I think I maun wed him to-morrow!
O, WERT THOU IN THE CAULD BLAST
O, wert thou in the cauld blast, On yonder lea, on yonder lea, My plaidie to the angry airt, I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee;
Or did misfortune's bitter storms Around thee blaw, around thee blaw, Thy bield should be my bosom, To share it a', to share it a'.
Or were I in the wildest waste, Sae black and bare, sae black and bare, The desert were a paradise If thou wert there, if thou wert there; Or were I monarch of the globe, Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign, The brightest jewel in my crown Wad be my queen, wad be my queen.
FROM THE BOTANIC GARDEN
[PROCUL ESTE, PROFANI]
Stay your rude steps! whose throbbing breasts infold The legion-fiends of glory or of gold! Stay! whose false lips seductive simpers part, While cunning nestles in the harlot-heart!— For you no Dryads dress the roseate bower, For you no Nymphs their sparkling vases pour; Unmarked by you, light Graces swim the green, And hovering Cupids aim their shafts, unseen.
But thou! whose mind the well-attempered ray Of taste and virtue lights with purer day; Whose finer sense each soft vibration owns With sweet responsive sympathy of tones; (So the fair flower expands its lucid form To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm); For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath, My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe;
Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly Smooths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye; On twinkling fins my pearly nations play, Or win with sinuous train their trackless way; My plumy pairs, in gay embroidery dressed, Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest, To love's sweet notes attune the listening dell, And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell.
And if with thee some hapless maid should stray, Disastrous love companion of her way, Oh, lead her timid steps to yonder glade, Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade; There, as meek evening wakes her temperate breeze, And moonbeams glimmer through the trembling trees, The rills that gurgle round shall soothe her ear, The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear; There as sad Philomel, alike forlorn, Sings to the night from her accustomed thorn; While at sweet intervals each falling note Sighs in the gale, and whispers round the grot; The sister-woe shall calm her aching breast, And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.
[THE SENSITIVE PLANT]
Weak with nice sense, the chaste Mimosa stands, From each rude touch withdraws her timid hands; Oft as light clouds o'erpass the summer-glade, Alarmed she trembles at the moving shade; And feels, alive through all her tender form, The whispered murmurs of the gathering storm; Shuts her sweet eyelids to approaching night, And hails with freshened charms the rising light. Veiled, with gay decency and modest pride, Slow to the mosque she moves, an eastern bride, There her soft vows unceasing love record, Queen of the bright seraglio of her lord.
'O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors: The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs, Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.'
He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep Rides heavy; his storms are unchained, sheathed In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes, For he hath reared his sceptre o'er the world.
Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks: He withers all in silence, and in his hand Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.
He takes his seat upon the cliffs,—the mariner Cries in vain. Poor little wretch, that deal'st With storms!—till heaven smiles, and the monster Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.
Fresh from the dewy hill, the merry year Smiles on my head and mounts his flaming car; Round my young brows the laurel wreathes a shade, And rising glories beam around my head.
My feet are winged, while o'er the dewy lawn, I meet my maiden risen like the morn: O bless those holy feet, like angels' feet; O bless those limbs, beaming with heavenly light.
Like as an angel glittering in the sky In times of innocence and holy joy; The joyful shepherd stops his grateful song To hear the music of an angel's tongue.
So when she speaks, the voice of Heaven I hear; So when we walk, nothing impure comes near; Each field seems Eden, and each calm retreat; Each village seems the haunt of holy feet.
But that sweet village where my black-eyed maid Closes her eyes in sleep beneath night's shade, Whene'er I enter, more than mortal fire Burns in my soul, and does my song inspire.
TO THE MUSES
Whether on Ida's shady brow, Or in the chambers of the East, The chambers of the sun, that now From ancient melody have ceased;
Whether in Heaven ye wander fair, Or the green corners of the earth, Or the blue regions of the air, Where the melodious winds have birth;
Whether on crystal rocks ye rove, Beneath the bosom of the sea Wandering in many a coral grove Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry!
How have you left the ancient love That bards of old enjoyed in you! The languid strings do scarcely move! The sound is forced, the notes are few!
INTRODUCTION TO SONGS OF INNOCENCE
Piping down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee, On a cloud I saw a child, And he laughing said to me:
'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' So I piped with merry cheer. 'Piper, pipe that song again;' So I piped: he wept to hear.
'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; Sing thy songs of happy cheer:' So I sang the same again, While he wept with joy to hear.
'Piper, sit thee down and write In a book, that all may read.' So he vanished from my sight, And I plucked a hollow reed,