Shame fa' the fun, wi' sword and gun To slap mankind like lumber! I sing his name, and nobler fame, Wha multiplies our number.
Great Nature spoke, with air benign, "Go on, ye human race; This lower world I you resign; Be fruitful and increase. The liquid fire of strong desire I've pour'd it in each bosom; Here, on this had, does Mankind stand, And there is Beauty's blossom."
The Hero of these artless strains, A lowly bard was he, Who sung his rhymes in Coila's plains, With meikle mirth an'glee; Kind Nature's care had given his share Large, of the flaming current; And, all devout, he never sought To stem the sacred torrent.
He felt the powerful, high behest Thrill, vital, thro' and thro'; And sought a correspondent breast, To give obedience due: Propitious Powers screen'd the young flow'rs, From mildews of abortion; And low! the bard—a great reward— Has got a double portion!
Auld cantie Coil may count the day, As annual it returns, The third of Libra's equal sway, That gave another Burns, With future rhymes, an' other times, To emulate his sire: To sing auld Coil in nobler style With more poetic fire.
Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song, Look down with gracious eyes; And bless auld Coila, large and long, With multiplying joys; Lang may she stand to prop the land, The flow'r of ancient nations; And Burnses spring, her fame to sing, To endless generations!
Mr. Chalmers, a gentleman in Ayrshire, a particular friend of mine, asked me to write a poetic epistle to a young lady, his Dulcinea. I had seen her, but was scarcely acquainted with her, and wrote as follows:—
Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride, And eke a braw new brechan, My Pegasus I'm got astride, And up Parnassus pechin; Whiles owre a bush wi' donwward crush, The doited beastie stammers; Then up he gets, and off he sets, For sake o' Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na, lass, that weel ken'd name May cost a pair o' blushes; I am nae stranger to your fame, Nor his warm urged wishes. Your bonie face sae mild and sweet, His honest heart enamours, And faith ye'll no be lost a whit, Tho' wair'd on Willie Chalmers.
Auld Truth hersel' might swear yer'e fair, And Honour safely back her; And Modesty assume your air, And ne'er a ane mistak her: And sic twa love-inspiring een Might fire even holy palmers; Nae wonder then they've fatal been To honest Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na fortune may you shore Some mim-mou'd pouther'd priestie, Fu' lifted up wi' Hebrew lore, And band upon his breastie: But oh! what signifies to you His lexicons and grammars; The feeling heart's the royal blue, And that's wi' Willie Chalmers.
Some gapin', glowrin' countra laird May warsle for your favour; May claw his lug, and straik his beard, And hoast up some palaver: My bonie maid, before ye wed Sic clumsy-witted hammers, Seek Heaven for help, and barefit skelp Awa wi' Willie Chalmers.
Forgive the Bard! my fond regard For ane that shares my bosom, Inspires my Muse to gie 'm his dues For deil a hair I roose him. May powers aboon unite you soon, And fructify your amours,— And every year come in mair dear To you and Willie Chalmers.
Reply To A Trimming Epistle Received From A Tailor
What ails ye now, ye lousie bitch To thresh my back at sic a pitch? Losh, man! hae mercy wi' your natch, Your bodkin's bauld; I didna suffer half sae much Frae Daddie Auld.
What tho' at times, when I grow crouse, I gie their wames a random pouse, Is that enough for you to souse Your servant sae? Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse, An' jag-the-flea!
King David, o' poetic brief, Wrocht 'mang the lasses sic mischief As filled his after-life wi' grief, An' bluidy rants, An' yet he's rank'd amang the chief O' lang-syne saunts.
And maybe, Tam, for a' my cants, My wicked rhymes, an' drucken rants, I'll gie auld cloven's Clootie's haunts An unco slip yet, An' snugly sit amang the saunts, At Davie's hip yet!
But, fegs! the session says I maun Gae fa' upo' anither plan Than garrin lasses coup the cran, Clean heels ower body, An' sairly thole their mother's ban Afore the howdy.
This leads me on to tell for sport, How I did wi' the Session sort; Auld Clinkum, at the inner port, Cried three times, "Robin! Come hither lad, and answer for't, Ye're blam'd for jobbin!"
Wi' pinch I put a Sunday's face on, An' snoov'd awa before the Session: I made an open, fair confession— I scorn't to lee, An' syne Mess John, beyond expression, Fell foul o' me.
A fornicator-loun he call'd me, An' said my faut frae bliss expell'd me; I own'd the tale was true he tell'd me, "But, what the matter? (Quo' I) I fear unless ye geld me, I'll ne'er be better!"
"Geld you! (quo' he) an' what for no? If that your right hand, leg or toe Should ever prove your sp'ritual foe, You should remember To cut it aff—an' what for no Your dearest member?"
"Na, na, (quo' I,) I'm no for that, Gelding's nae better than 'tis ca't; I'd rather suffer for my faut A hearty flewit, As sair owre hip as ye can draw't, Tho' I should rue it.
"Or, gin ye like to end the bother, To please us a'—I've just ae ither— When next wi' yon lass I forgather, Whate'er betide it, I'll frankly gie her 't a' thegither, An' let her guide it."
But, sir, this pleas'd them warst of a', An' therefore, Tam, when that I saw, I said "Gude night," an' cam' awa', An' left the Session; I saw they were resolved a' On my oppression.
The Brigs Of Ayr
Inscribed to John Ballantine, Esq., Ayr.
The simple Bard, rough at the rustic plough, Learning his tuneful trade from ev'ry bough; The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush, Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn bush; The soaring lark, the perching red-breast shrill, Or deep-ton'd plovers grey, wild-whistling o'er the hill; Shall he—nurst in the peasant's lowly shed, To hardy independence bravely bred, By early poverty to hardship steel'd. And train'd to arms in stern Misfortune's field— Shall he be guilty of their hireling crimes, The servile, mercenary Swiss of rhymes? Or labour hard the panegyric close, With all the venal soul of dedicating prose? No! though his artless strains he rudely sings, And throws his hand uncouthly o'er the strings, He glows with all the spirit of the Bard, Fame, honest fame, his great, his dear reward. Still, if some patron's gen'rous care he trace, Skill'd in the secret, to bestow with grace; When Ballantine befriends his humble name, And hands the rustic stranger up to fame, With heartfelt throes his grateful bosom swells, The godlike bliss, to give, alone excels.
'Twas when the stacks get on their winter hap, And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap; Potatoe-bings are snugged up frae skaith O' coming Winter's biting, frosty breath; The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils, Unnumber'd buds an' flow'rs' delicious spoils, Seal'd up with frugal care in massive waxen piles, Are doom'd by Man, that tyrant o'er the weak, The death o' devils, smoor'd wi' brimstone reek: The thundering guns are heard on ev'ry side, The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide; The feather'd field-mates, bound by Nature's tie, Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie: (What warm, poetic heart but inly bleeds, And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!) Nae mair the flow'r in field or meadow springs, Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings, Except perhaps the Robin's whistling glee, Proud o' the height o' some bit half-lang tree: The hoary morns precede the sunny days, Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide blaze, While thick the gosamour waves wanton in the rays.
'Twas in that season, when a simple Bard, Unknown and poor—simplicity's reward!— Ae night, within the ancient brugh of Ayr, By whim inspir'd, or haply prest wi' care, He left his bed, and took his wayward route, And down by Simpson's^1 wheel'd the left about: (Whether impell'd by all-directing Fate, To witness what I after shall narrate; Or whether, rapt in meditation high, He wander'd out, he knew not where or why:) The drowsy Dungeon-clock^2 had number'd two, and Wallace Tower^2 had sworn the fact was true: The tide-swoln firth, with sullen-sounding roar, Through the still night dash'd hoarse along the shore. All else was hush'd as Nature's closed e'e; The silent moon shone high o'er tower and tree; The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam, Crept, gently-crusting, o'er the glittering stream— When, lo! on either hand the list'ning Bard, The clanging sugh of whistling wings is heard; Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air; Swift as the gos^3 drives on the wheeling hare; Ane on th' Auld Brig his airy shape uprears, The other flutters o'er the rising piers: Our warlock Rhymer instantly dexcried The Sprites that owre the Brigs of Ayr preside. (That Bards are second-sighted is nae joke, And ken the lingo of the sp'ritual folk; Fays, Spunkies, Kelpies, a', they can explain them, And even the very deils they brawly ken them). Auld Brig appear'd of ancient Pictish race, The very wrinkles Gothic in his face; He seem'd as he wi' Time had warstl'd lang, Yet, teughly doure, he bade an unco bang.
[Footnote 1: A noted tavern at the Auld Brig end.—R. B.]
[Footnote 2: The two steeples.—R. B.]
[Footnote 3: The Gos-hawk, or Falcon.—R. B.]
New Brig was buskit in a braw new coat, That he, at Lon'on, frae ane Adams got; In 's hand five taper staves as smooth 's a bead, Wi' virls and whirlygigums at the head. The Goth was stalking round with anxious search, Spying the time-worn flaws in every arch; It chanc'd his new-come neibor took his e'e, And e'en a vexed and angry heart had he! Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien, He, down the water, gies him this guid-e'en:—
"I doubt na, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheepshank, Ance ye were streekit owre frae bank to bank! But gin ye be a brig as auld as me— Tho' faith, that date, I doubt, ye'll never see— There'll be, if that day come, I'll wad a boddle, Some fewer whigmaleeries in your noddle."
"Auld Vandal! ye but show your little mense, Just much about it wi' your scanty sense: Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin'd, formless bulk o' stane and lime, Compare wi' bonie brigs o' modern time? There's men of taste wou'd tak the Ducat stream,^4 Tho' they should cast the very sark and swim, E'er they would grate their feelings wi' the view O' sic an ugly, Gothic hulk as you."
"Conceited gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride! This mony a year I've stood the flood an' tide; And tho' wi' crazy eild I'm sair forfairn, I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn! As yet ye little ken about the matter, But twa—three winters will inform ye better. When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains,
[Footnote 4: A noted ford, just above the Auld Brig.—R. B.]
Wi' deepening deluges o'erflow the plains; When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil, Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil; Or where the Greenock winds his moorland course. Or haunted Garpal draws his feeble source, Aroused by blustering winds an' spotting thowes, In mony a torrent down the snaw-broo rowes; While crashing ice, borne on the rolling spate, Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate; And from Glenbuck,^5 down to the Ratton-key,^6 Auld Ayr is just one lengthen'd, tumbling sea— Then down ye'll hurl, (deil nor ye never rise!) And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies! A lesson sadly teaching, to your cost, That Architecture's noble art is lost!"
"Fine architecture, trowth, I needs must say't o't, The Lord be thankit that we've tint the gate o't! Gaunt, ghastly, ghaist-alluring edifices, Hanging with threat'ning jut, like precipices; O'er-arching, mouldy, gloom-inspiring coves, Supporting roofs, fantastic, stony groves; Windows and doors in nameless sculptures drest With order, symmetry, or taste unblest; Forms like some bedlam Statuary's dream, The craz'd creations of misguided whim; Forms might be worshipp'd on the bended knee, And still the second dread command be free; Their likeness is not found on earth, in air, or sea! Mansions that would disgrace the building taste Of any mason reptile, bird or beast: Fit only for a doited monkish race, Or frosty maids forsworn the dear embrace, Or cuifs of later times, wha held the notion, That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion: Fancies that our guid Brugh denies protection, And soon may they expire, unblest wi' resurrection!"
[Footnote 5: The source of the River Ayr.—R. B.]
[Footnote 6: A small landing place above the large quay.—R. B.]
"O ye, my dear-remember'd, ancient yealings, Were ye but here to share my wounded feelings! Ye worthy Proveses, an' mony a Bailie, Wha in the paths o' righteousness did toil aye; Ye dainty Deacons, and ye douce Conveners, To whom our moderns are but causey-cleaners Ye godly Councils, wha hae blest this town; ye godly Brethren o' the sacred gown, Wha meekly gie your hurdies to the smiters; And (what would now be strange), ye godly Writers; A' ye douce folk I've borne aboon the broo, Were ye but here, what would ye say or do? How would your spirits groan in deep vexation, To see each melancholy alteration; And, agonising, curse the time and place When ye begat the base degen'rate race! Nae langer rev'rend men, their country's glory, In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story; Nae langer thrifty citizens, an' douce, Meet owre a pint, or in the Council-house; But staumrel, corky-headed, graceless Gentry, The herryment and ruin of the country; Men, three-parts made by tailors and by barbers, Wha waste your weel-hain'd gear on damn'd new brigs and harbours!"
"Now haud you there! for faith ye've said enough, And muckle mair than ye can mak to through. As for your Priesthood, I shall say but little, Corbies and Clergy are a shot right kittle: But, under favour o' your langer beard, Abuse o' Magistrates might weel be spar'd; To liken them to your auld-warld squad, I must needs say, comparisons are odd. In Ayr, wag-wits nae mair can hae a handle To mouth 'a Citizen,' a term o' scandal; Nae mair the Council waddles down the street, In all the pomp of ignorant conceit; Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops and raisins, Or gather'd lib'ral views in Bonds and Seisins: If haply Knowledge, on a random tramp, Had shor'd them with a glimmer of his lamp, And would to Common-sense for once betray'd them, Plain, dull Stupidity stept kindly in to aid them."
What farther clish-ma-claver aight been said, What bloody wars, if Sprites had blood to shed, No man can tell; but, all before their sight, A fairy train appear'd in order bright; Adown the glittering stream they featly danc'd; Bright to the moon their various dresses glanc'd: They footed o'er the wat'ry glass so neat, The infant ice scarce bent beneath their feet: While arts of Minstrelsy among them rung, And soul-ennobling Bards heroic ditties sung.
O had M'Lauchlan,^7 thairm-inspiring sage, Been there to hear this heavenly band engage, When thro' his dear strathspeys they bore with Highland rage; Or when they struck old Scotia's melting airs, The lover's raptured joys or bleeding cares; How would his Highland lug been nobler fir'd, And ev'n his matchless hand with finer touch inspir'd! No guess could tell what instrument appear'd, But all the soul of Music's self was heard; Harmonious concert rung in every part, While simple melody pour'd moving on the heart. The Genius of the Stream in front appears, A venerable Chief advanc'd in years; His hoary head with water-lilies crown'd, His manly leg with garter-tangle bound. Next came the loveliest pair in all the ring, Sweet female Beauty hand in hand with Spring; Then, crown'd with flow'ry hay, came Rural Joy, And Summer, with his fervid-beaming eye;
[Footnote 7: A well-known performer of Scottish music on the violin.—R. B.]
All-cheering Plenty, with her flowing horn, Led yellow Autumn wreath'd with nodding corn; Then Winter's time-bleach'd locks did hoary show, By Hospitality with cloudless brow: Next followed Courage with his martial stride, From where the Feal wild-woody coverts hide;^8 Benevolence, with mild, benignant air, A female form, came from the tow'rs of Stair;^9 Learning and Worth in equal measures trode, From simple Catrine, their long-lov'd abode:^10 Last, white-rob'd Peace, crown'd with a hazel wreath, To rustic Agriculture did bequeath The broken, iron instruments of death: At sight of whom our Sprites forgat their kindling wrath.
Fragment Of Song
The night was still, and o'er the hill The moon shone on the castle wa'; The mavis sang, while dew-drops hang Around her on the castle wa'; Sae merrily they danced the ring Frae eenin' till the cock did craw; And aye the o'erword o' the spring Was "Irvine's bairns are bonie a'."
Epigram On Rough Roads
I'm now arrived—thanks to the gods!— Thro' pathways rough and muddy, A certain sign that makin roads Is no this people's study: Altho' Im not wi' Scripture cram'd, I'm sure the Bible says That heedless sinners shall be damn'd, Unless they mend their ways.
[Footnote 8: A compliment to the Montgomeries of Coilsfield, on the Feal or Faile, a tributary of the Ayr.]
[Footnote 9: Mrs. Stewart of Stair, an early patroness of the poet.]
[Footnote 10: The house of Professor Dugald Stewart.]
Prayer—O Thou Dread Power
Lying at a reverend friend's house one night, the author left the following verses in the room where he slept:—
O Thou dread Power, who reign'st above, I know thou wilt me hear, When for this scene of peace and love, I make this prayer sincere.
The hoary Sire—the mortal stroke, Long, long be pleas'd to spare; To bless this little filial flock, And show what good men are.
She, who her lovely offspring eyes With tender hopes and fears, O bless her with a mother's joys, But spare a mother's tears!
Their hope, their stay, their darling youth. In manhood's dawning blush, Bless him, Thou God of love and truth, Up to a parent's wish.
The beauteous, seraph sister-band— With earnest tears I pray— Thou know'st the snares on ev'ry hand, Guide Thou their steps alway.
When, soon or late, they reach that coast, O'er Life's rough ocean driven, May they rejoice, no wand'rer lost, A family in Heaven!
Farewell Song To The Banks Of Ayr
"I composed this song as I conveyed my chest so far on my road to Greenock, where I was to embark in a few days for Jamaica. I meant it as my farewell dirge to my native land."—R. B.
The gloomy night is gath'ring fast, Loud roars the wild, inconstant blast, Yon murky cloud is foul with rain, I see it driving o'er the plain; The hunter now has left the moor. The scatt'red coveys meet secure; While here I wander, prest with care, Along the lonely banks of Ayr.
The Autumn mourns her rip'ning corn By early Winter's ravage torn; Across her placid, azure sky, She sees the scowling tempest fly: Chill runs my blood to hear it rave; I think upon the stormy wave, Where many a danger I must dare, Far from the bonie banks of Ayr.
'Tis not the surging billow's roar, 'Tis not that fatal, deadly shore; Tho' death in ev'ry shape appear, The wretched have no more to fear: But round my heart the ties are bound, That heart transpierc'd with many a wound; These bleed afresh, those ties I tear, To leave the bonie banks of Ayr.
Farewell, old Coila's hills and dales, Her healthy moors and winding vales; The scenes where wretched Fancy roves, Pursuing past, unhappy loves! Farewell, my friends! farewell, my foes! My peace with these, my love with those: The bursting tears my heart declare— Farewell, the bonie banks of Ayr!
Address To The Toothache
My curse upon your venom'd stang, That shoots my tortur'd gums alang, An' thro' my lug gies mony a twang, Wi' gnawing vengeance, Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang, Like racking engines!
When fevers burn, or argues freezes, Rheumatics gnaw, or colics squeezes, Our neibor's sympathy can ease us, Wi' pitying moan; But thee—thou hell o' a' diseases— Aye mocks our groan.
Adown my beard the slavers trickle I throw the wee stools o'er the mickle, While round the fire the giglets keckle, To see me loup, While, raving mad, I wish a heckle Were in their doup!
In a' the numerous human dools, Ill hairsts, daft bargains, cutty stools, Or worthy frien's rak'd i' the mools,— Sad sight to see! The tricks o' knaves, or fash o'fools, Thou bear'st the gree!
Where'er that place be priests ca' hell, Where a' the tones o' misery yell, An' ranked plagues their numbers tell, In dreadfu' raw, Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell, Amang them a'!
O thou grim, mischief-making chiel, That gars the notes o' discord squeel, Till daft mankind aft dance a reel In gore, a shoe-thick, Gie a' the faes o' Scotland's weal A townmond's toothache!
Lines On Meeting With Lord Daer^1
This wot ye all whom it concerns, I, Rhymer Robin, alias Burns, October twenty-third,
[Footnote 1: At the house of Professor Dugald Stewart.]
A ne'er-to-be-forgotten day, Sae far I sprackl'd up the brae, I dinner'd wi' a Lord.
I've been at drucken writers' feasts, Nay, been bitch-fou 'mang godly priests— Wi' rev'rence be it spoken!— I've even join'd the honour'd jorum, When mighty Squireships of the quorum, Their hydra drouth did sloken.
But wi' a Lord!—stand out my shin, A Lord—a Peer—an Earl's son! Up higher yet, my bonnet An' sic a Lord!—lang Scoth ells twa, Our Peerage he o'erlooks them a', As I look o'er my sonnet.
But O for Hogarth's magic pow'r! To show Sir Bardie's willyart glow'r, An' how he star'd and stammer'd, When, goavin, as if led wi' branks, An' stumpin on his ploughman shanks, He in the parlour hammer'd.
I sidying shelter'd in a nook, An' at his Lordship steal't a look, Like some portentous omen; Except good sense and social glee, An' (what surpris'd me) modesty, I marked nought uncommon.
I watch'd the symptoms o' the Great, The gentle pride, the lordly state, The arrogant assuming; The fient a pride, nae pride had he, Nor sauce, nor state, that I could see, Mair than an honest ploughman.
Then from his Lordship I shall learn, Henceforth to meet with unconcern One rank as weel's another; Nae honest, worthy man need care To meet with noble youthful Daer, For he but meets a brother.
Tune—"Shawn-boy," or "Over the water to Charlie."
Ye sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie, To follow the noble vocation; Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another To sit in that honoured station. I've little to say, but only to pray, As praying's the ton of your fashion; A prayer from thee Muse you well may excuse 'Tis seldom her favourite passion.
Ye powers who preside o'er the wind, and the tide, Who marked each element's border; Who formed this frame with beneficent aim, Whose sovereign statute is order:— Within this dear mansion, may wayward Contention Or withered Envy ne'er enter; May secrecy round be the mystical bound, And brotherly Love be the centre!
Tam Samson's Elegy
An honest man's the noblest work of God—Pope.
When this worthy old sportman went out, last muirfowl season, he supposed it was to be, in Ossian's phrase, "the last of his fields," and expressed an ardent wish to die and be buried in the muirs. On this hint the author composed his elegy and epitaph.—R.B., 1787.
Has auld Kilmarnock seen the deil? Or great Mackinlay^1 thrawn his heel? Or Robertson^2 again grown weel, To preach an' read? "Na' waur than a'!" cries ilka chiel, "Tam Samson's dead!"
[Footnote 1: A certain preacher, a great favourite with the million. Vide "The Ordination." stanza ii.—R. B.]
[Footnote 2: Another preacher, an equal favourite with the few, who was at that time ailing. For him see also "The Ordination," stanza ix.—R.B.]
Kilmarnock lang may grunt an' grane, An' sigh, an' sab, an' greet her lane, An' cleed her bairns, man, wife, an' wean, In mourning weed; To Death she's dearly pay'd the kane— Tam Samson's dead!
The Brethren, o' the mystic level May hing their head in woefu' bevel, While by their nose the tears will revel, Like ony bead; Death's gien the Lodge an unco devel; Tam Samson's dead!
When Winter muffles up his cloak, And binds the mire like a rock; When to the loughs the curlers flock, Wi' gleesome speed, Wha will they station at the cock? Tam Samson's dead! When Winter muffles up his cloak, He was the king o' a' the core, To guard, or draw, or wick a bore, Or up the rink like Jehu roar, In time o' need; But now he lags on Death's hog-score— Tam Samson's dead!
Now safe the stately sawmont sail, And trouts bedropp'd wi' crimson hail, And eels, weel-ken'd for souple tail, And geds for greed, Since, dark in Death's fish-creel, we wail Tam Samson's dead!
Rejoice, ye birring paitricks a'; Ye cootie muircocks, crousely craw; Ye maukins, cock your fud fu' braw Withouten dread; Your mortal fae is now awa; Tam Samson's dead!
That woefu' morn be ever mourn'd, Saw him in shooting graith adorn'd, While pointers round impatient burn'd, Frae couples free'd; But och! he gaed and ne'er return'd! Tam Samson's dead!
In vain auld age his body batters, In vain the gout his ancles fetters, In vain the burns cam down like waters, An acre braid! Now ev'ry auld wife, greetin, clatters "Tam Samson's dead!"
Owre mony a weary hag he limpit, An' aye the tither shot he thumpit, Till coward Death behind him jumpit, Wi' deadly feid; Now he proclaims wi' tout o' trumpet, "Tam Samson's dead!"
When at his heart he felt the dagger, He reel'd his wonted bottle-swagger, But yet he drew the mortal trigger, Wi' weel-aimed heed; "Lord, five!" he cry'd, an' owre did stagger— Tam Samson's dead!
Ilk hoary hunter mourn'd a brither; Ilk sportsman youth bemoan'd a father; Yon auld gray stane, amang the heather, Marks out his head; Whare Burns has wrote, in rhyming blether, "Tam Samson's dead!"
There, low he lies, in lasting rest; Perhaps upon his mould'ring breast Some spitefu' muirfowl bigs her nest To hatch an' breed: Alas! nae mair he'll them molest! Tam Samson's dead!
When August winds the heather wave, And sportsmen wander by yon grave, Three volleys let his memory crave, O' pouther an' lead, Till Echo answer frae her cave, "Tam Samson's dead!"
Heav'n rest his saul whare'er he be! Is th' wish o' mony mae than me: He had twa fauts, or maybe three, Yet what remead? Ae social, honest man want we: Tam Samson's dead!
Tam Samson's weel-worn clay here lies Ye canting zealots, spare him! If honest worth in Heaven rise, Ye'll mend or ye win near him.
Go, Fame, an' canter like a filly Thro' a' the streets an' neuks o' Killie;^3 Tell ev'ry social honest billie To cease his grievin'; For, yet unskaithed by Death's gleg gullie. Tam Samson's leevin'!
Epistle To Major Logan
Hail, thairm-inspirin', rattlin' Willie! Tho' fortune's road be rough an' hilly To every fiddling, rhyming billie, We never heed, But take it like the unback'd filly, Proud o' her speed.
[Footnote 3: Kilmarnock.—R. B.]
When, idly goavin', whiles we saunter, Yirr! fancy barks, awa we canter, Up hill, down brae, till some mischanter, Some black bog-hole, Arrests us; then the scathe an' banter We're forced to thole.
Hale be your heart! hale be your fiddle! Lang may your elbuck jink and diddle, To cheer you through the weary widdle O' this wild warl'. Until you on a crummock driddle, A grey hair'd carl.
Come wealth, come poortith, late or soon, Heaven send your heart-strings aye in tune, And screw your temper-pins aboon A fifth or mair The melancholious, lazy croon O' cankrie care.
May still your life from day to day, Nae "lente largo" in the play, But "allegretto forte" gay, Harmonious flow, A sweeping, kindling, bauld strathspey— Encore! Bravo!
A blessing on the cheery gang Wha dearly like a jig or sang, An' never think o' right an' wrang By square an' rule, But, as the clegs o' feeling stang, Are wise or fool.
My hand-waled curse keep hard in chase The harpy, hoodock, purse-proud race, Wha count on poortith as disgrace; Their tuneless hearts, May fireside discords jar a base To a' their parts.
But come, your hand, my careless brither, I' th' ither warl', if there's anither, An' that there is, I've little swither About the matter; We, cheek for chow, shall jog thegither, I'se ne'er bid better.
We've faults and failings—granted clearly, We're frail backsliding mortals merely, Eve's bonie squad, priests wyte them sheerly For our grand fa'; But still, but still, I like them dearly— God bless them a'!
Ochone for poor Castalian drinkers, When they fa' foul o' earthly jinkers! The witching, curs'd, delicious blinkers Hae put me hyte, And gart me weet my waukrife winkers, Wi' girnin'spite.
By by yon moon!—and that's high swearin— An' every star within my hearin! An' by her een wha was a dear ane! I'll ne'er forget; I hope to gie the jads a clearin In fair play yet.
My loss I mourn, but not repent it; I'll seek my pursie whare I tint it; Ance to the Indies I were wonted, Some cantraip hour By some sweet elf I'll yet be dinted; Then vive l'amour!
Faites mes baissemains respectueuses, To sentimental sister Susie, And honest Lucky; no to roose you, Ye may be proud, That sic a couple Fate allows ye, To grace your blood.
Nae mair at present can I measure, An' trowth my rhymin ware's nae treasure; But when in Ayr, some half-hour's leisure, Be't light, be't dark, Sir Bard will do himself the pleasure To call at Park.
Robert Burns. Mossgiel, 30th October, 1786.
Fragment On Sensibility
Rusticity's ungainly form May cloud the highest mind; But when the heart is nobly warm, The good excuse will find.
Propriety's cold, cautious rules Warm fervour may o'erlook: But spare poor sensibility Th' ungentle, harsh rebuke.
A Winter Night
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm! How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides, Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these?—Shakespeare.
When biting Boreas, fell and dour, Sharp shivers thro' the leafless bow'r; When Phoebus gies a short-liv'd glow'r, Far south the lift, Dim-dark'ning thro' the flaky show'r, Or whirling drift:
Ae night the storm the steeples rocked, Poor Labour sweet in sleep was locked, While burns, wi' snawy wreaths up-choked, Wild-eddying swirl; Or, thro' the mining outlet bocked, Down headlong hurl:
List'ning the doors an' winnocks rattle, I thought me on the ourie cattle, Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle O' winter war, And thro' the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle Beneath a scar.
Ilk happing bird,—wee, helpless thing! That, in the merry months o' spring, Delighted me to hear thee sing, What comes o' thee? Whare wilt thou cow'r thy chittering wing, An' close thy e'e?
Ev'n you, on murdering errands toil'd, Lone from your savage homes exil'd, The blood-stain'd roost, and sheep-cote spoil'd My heart forgets, While pityless the tempest wild Sore on you beats!
Now Phoebe in her midnight reign, Dark-muff'd, view'd the dreary plain; Still crowding thoughts, a pensive train, Rose in my soul, When on my ear this plantive strain, Slow, solemn, stole:—
"Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust! And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost! Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows! Not all your rage, as now united, shows More hard unkindness unrelenting, Vengeful malice unrepenting. Than heaven-illumin'd Man on brother Man bestows!
"See stern Oppression's iron grip, Or mad Ambition's gory hand, Sending, like blood-hounds from the slip, Woe, Want, and Murder o'er a land! Ev'n in the peaceful rural vale, Truth, weeping, tells the mournful tale, How pamper'd Luxury, Flatt'ry by her side, The parasite empoisoning her ear, With all the servile wretches in the rear, Looks o'er proud Property, extended wide; And eyes the simple, rustic hind, Whose toil upholds the glitt'ring show— A creature of another kind, Some coarser substance, unrefin'd— Plac'd for her lordly use thus far, thus vile, below!
"Where, where is Love's fond, tender throe, With lordly Honour's lofty brow, The pow'rs you proudly own? Is there, beneath Love's noble name, Can harbour, dark, the selfish aim, To bless himself alone? Mark maiden-innocence a prey To love-pretending snares: This boasted Honour turns away, Shunning soft Pity's rising sway, Regardless of the tears and unavailing pray'rs! Perhaps this hour, in Misery's squalid nest, She strains your infant to her joyless breast, And with a mother's fears shrinks at the rocking blast!
"Oh ye! who, sunk in beds of down, Feel not a want but what yourselves create, Think, for a moment, on his wretched fate, Whom friends and fortune quite disown! Ill-satisfy'd keen nature's clamorous call, Stretch'd on his straw, he lays himself to sleep; While through the ragged roof and chinky wall, Chill, o'er his slumbers, piles the drifty heap! Think on the dungeon's grim confine, Where Guilt and poor Misfortune pine! Guilt, erring man, relenting view, But shall thy legal rage pursue The wretch, already crushed low By cruel Fortune's undeserved blow? Affliction's sons are brothers in distress; A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!"
I heard nae mair, for Chanticleer Shook off the pouthery snaw, And hail'd the morning with a cheer, A cottage-rousing craw. But deep this truth impress'd my mind— Thro' all His works abroad, The heart benevolent and kind The most resembles God.
Song—Yon Wild Mossy Mountains
Yon wild mossy mountains sae lofty and wide, That nurse in their bosom the youth o' the Clyde, Where the grouse lead their coveys thro' the heather to feed, And the shepherd tends his flock as he pipes on his reed.
Not Gowrie's rich valley, nor Forth's sunny shores, To me hae the charms o'yon wild, mossy moors; For there, by a lanely, sequestered stream, Besides a sweet lassie, my thought and my dream.
Amang thae wild mountains shall still be my path, Ilk stream foaming down its ain green, narrow strath; For there, wi' my lassie, the day lang I rove, While o'er us unheeded flie the swift hours o'love.
She is not the fairest, altho' she is fair; O' nice education but sma' is her share; Her parentage humble as humble can be; But I lo'e the dear lassie because she lo'es me.
To Beauty what man but maun yield him a prize, In her armour of glances, and blushes, and sighs? And when wit and refinement hae polish'd her darts, They dazzle our een, as they flie to our hearts.
But kindness, sweet kindness, in the fond-sparkling e'e, Has lustre outshining the diamond to me; And the heart beating love as I'm clasp'd in her arms, O, these are my lassie's all-conquering charms!
Address To Edinburgh
Edina! Scotia's darling seat! All hail thy palaces and tow'rs, Where once, beneath a Monarch's feet, Sat Legislation's sov'reign pow'rs: From marking wildly scatt'red flow'rs, As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the lingering hours, I shelter in they honour'd shade.
Here Wealth still swells the golden tide, As busy Trade his labours plies; There Architecture's noble pride Bids elegance and splendour rise: Here Justice, from her native skies, High wields her balance and her rod; There Learning, with his eagle eyes, Seeks Science in her coy abode.
Thy sons, Edina, social, kind, With open arms the stranger hail; Their views enlarg'd, their liberal mind, Above the narrow, rural vale: Attentive still to Sorrow's wail, Or modest Merit's silent claim; And never may their sources fail! And never Envy blot their name!
Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn, Gay as the gilded summer sky, Sweet as the dewy, milk-white thorn, Dear as the raptur'd thrill of joy! Fair Burnet strikes th' adoring eye, Heaven's beauties on my fancy shine; I see the Sire of Love on high, And own His work indeed divine!
There, watching high the least alarms, Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar; Like some bold veteran, grey in arms, And mark'd with many a seamy scar: The pond'rous wall and massy bar, Grim—rising o'er the rugged rock, Have oft withstood assailing war, And oft repell'd th' invader's shock.
With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears, I view that noble, stately Dome, Where Scotia's kings of other years, Fam'd heroes! had their royal home: Alas, how chang'd the times to come! Their royal name low in the dust! Their hapless race wild-wand'ring roam! Tho' rigid Law cries out 'twas just!
Wild beats my heart to trace your steps, Whose ancestors, in days of yore, Thro' hostile ranks and ruin'd gaps Old Scotia's bloody lion bore: Ev'n I who sing in rustic lore, Haply my sires have left their shed, And fac'd grim Danger's loudest roar, Bold-following where your fathers led!
Edina! Scotia's darling seat! All hail thy palaces and tow'rs; Where once, beneath a Monarch's feet, Sat Legislation's sovereign pow'rs: From marking wildly-scatt'red flow'rs, As on the banks of Ayr I stray'd, And singing, lone, the ling'ring hours, I shelter in thy honour'd shade.
Address To A Haggis
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! Aboon them a' yet tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o'a grace As lang's my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin was help to mend a mill In time o'need, While thro' your pores the dews distil Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight, An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Like ony ditch; And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin', rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive, Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve Are bent like drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, Bethankit! hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or fricassee wad make her spew Wi' perfect sconner, Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash, As feckles as wither'd rash, His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash; His nieve a nit; Thro' blody flood or field to dash, O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread. Clap in his walie nieve a blade, He'll mak it whissle; An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned, Like taps o' trissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, And dish them out their bill o' fare, Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer Gie her a haggis!
To Miss Logan, With Beattie's Poems, For A New-Year's Gift, Jan. 1, 1787.
Again the silent wheels of time Their annual round have driven, And you, tho' scarce in maiden prime, Are so much nearer Heaven.
No gifts have I from Indian coasts The infant year to hail; I send you more than India boasts, In Edwin's simple tale.
Our sex with guile, and faithless love, Is charg'd, perhaps too true; But may, dear maid, each lover prove An Edwin still to you.
Mr. William Smellie—A Sketch
Shrewd Willie Smellie to Crochallan came; The old cock'd hat, the grey surtout the same; His bristling beard just rising in its might, 'Twas four long nights and days to shaving night: His uncomb'd grizzly locks, wild staring, thatch'd A head for thought profound and clear, unmatch'd; Yet tho' his caustic wit was biting-rude, His heart was warm, benevolent, and good.
Rattlin', Roarin' Willie^1
As I cam by Crochallan, I cannilie keekit ben; Rattlin', roarin' Willie Was sittin at yon boord-en'; Sittin at yon boord-en, And amang gude companie; Rattlin', roarin' Willie, You're welcome hame to me!
My blessin's upon thy sweet wee lippie! My blessin's upon thy e'e-brie! Thy smiles are sae like my blythe sodger laddie, Thou's aye the dearer, and dearer to me!
But I'll big a bow'r on yon bonie banks, Whare Tay rins wimplin' by sae clear; An' I'll cleed thee in the tartan sae fine, And mak thee a man like thy daddie dear.
Extempore In The Court Of Session
He clenched his pamphlet in his fist, He quoted and he hinted, Till, in a declamation-mist, His argument he tint it: He gaped for't, he graped for't, He fand it was awa, man; But what his common sense came short, He eked out wi' law, man.
Collected, Harry stood awee, Then open'd out his arm, man;
[Footnote 1: William Dunbar, W. S., of the Crochallan Fencibles, a convivial club.]
His Lordship sat wi' ruefu' e'e, And ey'd the gathering storm, man: Like wind-driven hail it did assail' Or torrents owre a lin, man: The Bench sae wise, lift up their eyes, Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man.
Inscription For The Headstone Of Fergusson The Poet^1
No sculptured marble here, nor pompous lay, "No storied urn nor animated bust;" This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way, To pour her sorrows o'er the Poet's dust.
She mourns, sweet tuneful youth, thy hapless fate; Tho' all the powers of song thy fancy fired, Yet Luxury and Wealth lay by in state, And, thankless, starv'd what they so much admired.
This tribute, with a tear, now gives A brother Bard—he can no more bestow: But dear to fame thy Song immortal lives, A nobler monument than Art can shew.
Inscribed Under Fergusson's Portrait
Curse on ungrateful man, that can be pleased, And yet can starve the author of the pleasure. O thou, my elder brother in misfortune, By far my elder brother in the Muses, With tears I pity thy unhappy fate! Why is the Bard unpitied by the world, Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?
[Footnote 1: The stone was erected at Burns' expenses in February—March, 1789.]
Epistle To Mrs. Scott
Gudewife of Wauchope—House, Roxburghshire.
I Mind it weel in early date, When I was bardless, young, and blate, An' first could thresh the barn, Or haud a yokin' at the pleugh; An, tho' forfoughten sair eneugh, Yet unco proud to learn: When first amang the yellow corn A man I reckon'd was, An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn Could rank my rig and lass, Still shearing, and clearing The tither stooked raw, Wi' claivers, an' haivers, Wearing the day awa.
E'en then, a wish, (I mind its pow'r), A wish that to my latest hour Shall strongly heave my breast, That I for poor auld Scotland's sake Some usefu' plan or book could make, Or sing a sang at least. The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide Amang the bearded bear, I turn'd the weeder-clips aside, An' spar'd the symbol dear: No nation, no station, My envy e'er could raise; A Scot still, but blot still, I knew nae higher praise.
But still the elements o' sang, In formless jumble, right an' wrang, Wild floated in my brain; 'Till on that har'st I said before, May partner in the merry core, She rous'd the forming strain; I see her yet, the sonsie quean, That lighted up my jingle, Her witching smile, her pawky een That gart my heart-strings tingle; I fired, inspired, At every kindling keek, But bashing, and dashing, I feared aye to speak.
Health to the sex! ilk guid chiel says: Wi' merry dance in winter days, An' we to share in common; The gust o' joy, the balm of woe, The saul o' life, the heaven below, Is rapture-giving woman. Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name, Be mindfu' o' your mither; She, honest woman, may think shame That ye're connected with her: Ye're wae men, ye're nae men That slight the lovely dears; To shame ye, disclaim ye, Ilk honest birkie swears.
For you, no bred to barn and byre, Wha sweetly tune the Scottish lyre, Thanks to you for your line: The marled plaid ye kindly spare, By me should gratefully be ware; 'Twad please me to the nine. I'd be mair vauntie o' my hap, Douce hingin owre my curple, Than ony ermine ever lap, Or proud imperial purple. Farewell then, lang hale then, An' plenty be your fa; May losses and crosses Ne'er at your hallan ca'!
R. Burns March, 1787
Verses Intended To Be Written Below A Noble Earl's Picture^1
Whose is that noble, dauntless brow? And whose that eye of fire? And whose that generous princely mien, E'en rooted foes admire?
Stranger! to justly show that brow, And mark that eye of fire, Would take His hand, whose vernal tints His other works admire.
Bright as a cloudless summer sun, With stately port he moves; His guardian Seraph eyes with awe The noble Ward he loves.
Among the illustrious Scottish sons That chief thou may'st discern, Mark Scotia's fond-returning eye,— It dwells upon Glencairn.
Spoken by Mr. Woods on his benefit-night, Monday, 16th April, 1787.
When, by a generous Public's kind acclaim, That dearest meed is granted—honest fame; Waen here your favour is the actor's lot, Nor even the man in private life forgot; What breast so dead to heavenly Virtue's glow, But heaves impassion'd with the grateful throe?
Poor is the task to please a barb'rous throng, It needs no Siddons' powers in Southern's song; But here an ancient nation, fam'd afar, For genius, learning high, as great in war. Hail, Caledonia, name for ever dear! Before whose sons I'm honour'd to appear?
[Footnote 1: The Nobleman is James, Fourteenth Earl of Glencairn.]
Where every science, every nobler art, That can inform the mind or mend the heart, Is known; as grateful nations oft have found, Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound. Philosophy, no idle pedant dream, Here holds her search by heaven-taught Reason's beam; Here History paints with elegance and force The tide of Empire's fluctuating course; Here Douglas forms wild Shakespeare into plan, And Harley rouses all the God in man. When well-form'd taste and sparkling wit unite With manly lore, or female beauty bright, (Beauty, where faultless symmetry and grace Can only charm us in the second place), Witness my heart, how oft with panting fear, As on this night, I've met these judges here! But still the hope Experience taught to live, Equal to judge—you're candid to forgive. No hundred—headed riot here we meet, With decency and law beneath his feet; Nor Insolence assumes fair Freedom's name: Like Caledonians, you applaud or blame.
O Thou, dread Power! whose empire-giving hand Has oft been stretch'd to shield the honour'd land! Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire; May every son be worthy of his sire; Firm may she rise, with generous disdain At Tyranny's, or direr Pleasure's chain; Still Self-dependent in her native shore, Bold may she brave grim Danger's loudest roar, Till Fate the curtain drop on worlds to be no more.
The Bonie Moor-Hen
The heather was blooming, the meadows were mawn, Our lads gaed a-hunting ae day at the dawn, O'er moors and o'er mosses and mony a glen, At length they discover'd a bonie moor-hen.
Chorus.—I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men, I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men; Take some on the wing, and some as they spring, But cannily steal on a bonie moor-hen.
Sweet—brushing the dew from the brown heather bells Her colours betray'd her on yon mossy fells; Her plumage outlustr'd the pride o' the spring And O! as she wanton'd sae gay on the wing. I rede you, &c.
Auld Phoebus himself, as he peep'd o'er the hill, In spite at her plumage he tried his skill; He levell'd his rays where she bask'd on the brae— His rays were outshone, and but mark'd where she lay. I rede you,&c.
They hunted the valley, they hunted the hill, The best of our lads wi' the best o' their skill; But still as the fairest she sat in their sight, Then, whirr! she was over, a mile at a flight. I rede you, &c.
Song—My Lord A-Hunting
Chorus.—My lady's gown, there's gairs upon't, And gowden flowers sae rare upon't; But Jenny's jimps and jirkinet, My lord thinks meikle mair upon't.
My lord a-hunting he is gone, But hounds or hawks wi' him are nane; By Colin's cottage lies his game, If Colin's Jenny be at hame. My lady's gown, &c.
My lady's white, my lady's red, And kith and kin o' Cassillis' blude; But her ten-pund lands o' tocher gude; Were a' the charms his lordship lo'ed. My lady's gown, &c.
Out o'er yon muir, out o'er yon moss, Whare gor-cocks thro' the heather pass, There wons auld Colin's bonie lass, A lily in a wilderness. My lady's gown, &c.
Sae sweetly move her genty limbs, Like music notes o'lovers' hymns: The diamond-dew in her een sae blue, Where laughing love sae wanton swims. My lady's gown, &c.
My lady's dink, my lady's drest, The flower and fancy o' the west; But the lassie than a man lo'es best, O that's the lass to mak him blest. My lady's gown, &c.
Epigram At Roslin Inn
My blessings on ye, honest wife! I ne'er was here before; Ye've wealth o' gear for spoon and knife— Heart could not wish for more. Heav'n keep you clear o' sturt and strife, Till far ayont fourscore, And while I toddle on thro' life, I'll ne'er gae by your door!
Epigram Addressed To An Artist
Dear , I'll gie ye some advice, You'll tak it no uncivil: You shouldna paint at angels mair, But try and paint the devil.
To paint an Angel's kittle wark, Wi' Nick, there's little danger: You'll easy draw a lang-kent face, But no sae weel a stranger.—R. B.
Through and through th' inspir'd leaves, Ye maggots, make your windings; But O respect his lordship's taste, And spare his golden bindings.
On Elphinstone's Translation Of Martial's Epigrams
O Thou whom Poetry abhors, Whom Prose has turned out of doors, Heard'st thou yon groan?—proceed no further, 'Twas laurel'd Martial calling murther.
Song—A Bottle And Friend
There's nane that's blest of human kind, But the cheerful and the gay, man, Fal, la, la, &c.
Here's a bottle and an honest friend! What wad ye wish for mair, man? Wha kens, before his life may end, What his share may be o' care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly, And use them as ye ought, man: Believe me, happiness is shy, And comes not aye when sought, man.
Lines Written Under The Picture Of The Celebrated Miss Burns
Cease, ye prudes, your envious railing, Lovely Burns has charms—confess: True it is, she had one failing, Had a woman ever less?
Epitaph For William Nicol, Of The High School, Edinburgh
Ye maggots, feed on Nicol's brain, For few sic feasts you've gotten; And fix your claws in Nicol's heart, For deil a bit o't's rotten.
Epitaph For Mr. William Michie
Schoolmaster of Cleish Parish, Fifeshire.
Here lie Willie Michie's banes; O Satan, when ye tak him, Gie him the schulin o' your weans, For clever deils he'll mak them!
Boat song—Hey, Ca' Thro'
Up wi' the carls o' Dysart, And the lads o' Buckhaven, And the kimmers o' Largo, And the lasses o' Leven.
Chorus.—Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro', For we hae muckle ado. Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro', For we hae muckle ado;
We hae tales to tell, An' we hae sangs to sing; We hae pennies tae spend, An' we hae pints to bring. Hey, ca' thro', &c.
We'll live a' our days, And them that comes behin', Let them do the like, An' spend the gear they win. Hey, ca' thro', &c.
Address To Wm. Tytler, Esq., Of Woodhouselee
With an Impression of the Author's Portrait.
Revered defender of beauteous Stuart, Of Stuart, a name once respected; A name, which to love was the mark of a true heart, But now 'tis despis'd and neglected.
Tho' something like moisture conglobes in my eye, Let no one misdeem me disloyal; A poor friendless wand'rer may well claim a sigh, Still more if that wand'rer were royal.
My fathers that name have rever'd on a throne: My fathers have fallen to right it; Those fathers would spurn their degenerate son, That name should he scoffingly slight it.
Still in prayers for King George I most heartily join, The Queen, and the rest of the gentry: Be they wise, be they foolish, is nothing of mine; Their title's avow'd by my country.
But why of that epocha make such a fuss, That gave us th' Electoral stem? If bringing them over was lucky for us, I'm sure 'twas as lucky for them.
But, loyalty, truce! we're on dangerous ground; Who knows how the fashions may alter? The doctrine, to-day, that is loyalty sound, To-morrow may bring us a halter!
I send you a trifle, a head of a bard, A trifle scarce worthy your care; But accept it, good Sir, as a mark of regard, Sincere as a saint's dying prayer.
Now life's chilly evening dim shades on your eye, And ushers the long dreary night: But you, like the star that athwart gilds the sky, Your course to the latest is bright.
Epigram To Miss Ainslie In Church
Who was looking up the text during sermon.
Fair maid, you need not take the hint, Nor idle texts pursue: 'Twas guilty sinners that he meant, Not Angels such as you.
Burlesque Lament For The Absence Of William Creech, Publisher
Auld chuckie Reekie's^1 sair distrest, Down droops her ance weel burnish'd crest, Nae joy her bonie buskit nest Can yield ava, Her darling bird that she lo'es best— Willie's awa!
O Willie was a witty wight, And had o' things an unco' sleight, Auld Reekie aye he keepit tight, And trig an' braw: But now they'll busk her like a fright,— Willie's awa!
The stiffest o' them a' he bow'd, The bauldest o' them a' he cow'd; They durst nae mair than he allow'd, That was a law: We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd; Willie's awa!
Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks and fools, Frae colleges and boarding schools, May sprout like simmer puddock-stools In glen or shaw; He wha could brush them down to mools— Willie's awa!
[Footnote 1: Edinburgh.]
The brethren o' the Commerce-chaumer May mourn their loss wi' doolfu' clamour; He was a dictionar and grammar Among them a'; I fear they'll now mak mony a stammer; Willie's awa!
Nae mair we see his levee door Philosophers and poets pour, And toothy critics by the score, In bloody raw! The adjutant o' a' the core— Willie's awa!
Now worthy Gregory's Latin face, Tytler's and Greenfield's modest grace; Mackenzie, Stewart, such a brace As Rome ne'er saw; They a' maun meet some ither place, Willie's awa!
Poor Burns ev'n Scotch Drink canna quicken, He cheeps like some bewilder'd chicken Scar'd frae it's minnie and the cleckin, By hoodie-craw; Grieg's gien his heart an unco kickin, Willie's awa!
Now ev'ry sour-mou'd girnin blellum, And Calvin's folk, are fit to fell him; Ilk self-conceited critic skellum His quill may draw; He wha could brawlie ward their bellum— Willie's awa!
Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped, And Eden scenes on crystal Jed, And Ettrick banks, now roaring red, While tempests blaw; But every joy and pleasure's fled, Willie's awa!
May I be Slander's common speech; A text for Infamy to preach; And lastly, streekit out to bleach In winter snaw; When I forget thee, Willie Creech, Tho' far awa!
May never wicked Fortune touzle him! May never wicked men bamboozle him! Until a pow as auld's Methusalem He canty claw! Then to the blessed new Jerusalem, Fleet wing awa!
Note To Mr. Renton Of Lamerton
Your billet, Sir, I grant receipt; Wi' you I'll canter ony gate, Tho' 'twere a trip to yon blue warl', Whare birkies march on burning marl: Then, Sir, God willing, I'll attend ye, And to his goodness I commend ye.
Elegy On "Stella"
The following poem is the work of some hapless son of the Muses who deserved a better fate. There is a great deal of "The voice of Cona" in his solitary, mournful notes; and had the sentiments been clothed in Shenstone's language, they would have been no discredit even to that elegant poet.—R.B.
Strait is the spot and green the sod From whence my sorrows flow; And soundly sleeps the ever dear Inhabitant below.
Pardon my transport, gentle shade, While o'er the turf I bow; Thy earthy house is circumscrib'd, And solitary now.
Not one poor stone to tell thy name, Or make thy virtues known: But what avails to me—to thee, The sculpture of a stone?
I'll sit me down upon this turf, And wipe the rising tear: The chill blast passes swiftly by, And flits around thy bier.
Dark is the dwelling of the Dead, And sad their house of rest: Low lies the head, by Death's cold arms In awful fold embrac'd.
I saw the grim Avenger stand Incessant by thy side; Unseen by thee, his deadly breath Thy lingering frame destroy'd.
Pale grew the roses on thy cheek, And wither'd was thy bloom, Till the slow poison brought thy youth Untimely to the tomb.
Thus wasted are the ranks of men— Youth, Health, and Beauty fall; The ruthless ruin spreads around, And overwhelms us all.
Behold where, round thy narrow house, The graves unnumber'd lie; The multitude that sleep below Existed but to die.
Some, with the tottering steps of Age, Trod down the darksome way; And some, in youth's lamented prime, Like thee were torn away:
Yet these, however hard their fate, Their native earth receives; Amid their weeping friends they died, And fill their fathers' graves.
From thy lov'd friends, when first thy heart Was taught by Heav'n to glow, Far, far remov'd, the ruthless stroke Surpris'd and laid thee low.
At the last limits of our isle, Wash'd by the western wave, Touch'd by thy face, a thoughtful bard Sits lonely by thy grave.
Pensive he eyes, before him spread The deep, outstretch'd and vast; His mourning notes are borne away Along the rapid blast.
And while, amid the silent Dead Thy hapless fate he mourns, His own long sorrows freshly bleed, And all his grief returns:
Like thee, cut off in early youth, And flower of beauty's pride, His friend, his first and only joy, His much lov'd Stella, died.
Him, too, the stern impulse of Fate Resistless bears along; And the same rapid tide shall whelm The Poet and the Song.
The tear of pity which he sheds, He asks not to receive; Let but his poor remains be laid Obscurely in the grave.
His grief-worn heart, with truest joy, Shall meet he welcome shock: His airy harp shall lie unstrung, And silent on the rock.
O, my dear maid, my Stella, when Shall this sick period close, And lead the solitary bard To his belov'd repose?
The Bard At Inverary
Whoe'er he be that sojourns here, I pity much his case, Unless he comes to wait upon The Lord their God, His Grace.
There's naething here but Highland pride, And Highland scab and hunger: If Providence has sent me here, 'Twas surely in his anger.
Epigram To Miss Jean Scott
O had each Scot of ancient times Been, Jeanie Scott, as thou art; The bravest heart on English ground Had yielded like a coward.
On The Death Of John M'Leod, Esq,
Brother to a young Lady, a particular friend of the Author's.
Sad thy tale, thou idle page, And rueful thy alarms: Death tears the brother of her love From Isabella's arms.
Sweetly deckt with pearly dew The morning rose may blow; But cold successive noontide blasts May lay its beauties low.
Fair on Isabella's morn The sun propitious smil'd; But, long ere noon, succeeding clouds Succeeding hopes beguil'd.
Fate oft tears the bosom chords That Nature finest strung; So Isabella's heart was form'd, And so that heart was wrung.
Dread Omnipotence alone Can heal the wound he gave— Can point the brimful grief-worn eyes To scenes beyond the grave.
Virtue's blossoms there shall blow, And fear no withering blast; There Isabella's spotless worth Shall happy be at last.
Elegy On The Death Of Sir James Hunter Blair
The lamp of day, with—ill presaging glare, Dim, cloudy, sank beneath the western wave; Th' inconstant blast howl'd thro' the dark'ning air, And hollow whistled in the rocky cave.
Lone as I wander'd by each cliff and dell, Once the lov'd haunts of Scotia's royal train;^1 Or mus'd where limpid streams, once hallow'd well,^2 Or mould'ring ruins mark the sacred fane.^3
Th' increasing blast roar'd round the beetling rocks, The clouds swift-wing'd flew o'er the starry sky, The groaning trees untimely shed their locks, And shooting meteors caught the startled eye.
[Footnote 1: The King's Park at Holyrood House.—R. B.]
[Footnote 2: St. Anthony's well.—R. B.]
[Footnote 3: St. Anthony's Chapel.—R. B.]
The paly moon rose in the livid east. And 'mong the cliffs disclos'd a stately form In weeds of woe, that frantic beat her breast, And mix'd her wailings with the raving storm
Wild to my heart the filial pulses glow, 'Twas Caledonia's trophied shield I view'd: Her form majestic droop'd in pensive woe, The lightning of her eye in tears imbued.
Revers'd that spear, redoubtable in war, Reclined that banner, erst in fields unfurl'd, That like a deathful meteor gleam'd afar, And brav'd the mighty monarchs of the world.
"My patriot son fills an untimely grave!" With accents wild and lifted arms she cried; "Low lies the hand oft was stretch'd to save, Low lies the heart that swell'd with honest pride.
"A weeping country joins a widow's tear; The helpless poor mix with the orphan's cry; The drooping arts surround their patron's bier; And grateful science heaves the heartfelt sigh!
"I saw my sons resume their ancient fire; I saw fair Freedom's blossoms richly blow: But ah! how hope is born but to expire! Relentless fate has laid their guardian low.
"My patriot falls: but shall he lie unsung, While empty greatness saves a worthless name? No; every muse shall join her tuneful tongue, And future ages hear his growing fame.
"And I will join a mother's tender cares, Thro' future times to make his virtues last; That distant years may boast of other Blairs!"— She said, and vanish'd with the sweeping blast.
Impromptu On Carron Iron Works
We cam na here to view your warks, In hopes to be mair wise, But only, lest we gang to hell, It may be nae surprise: But when we tirl'd at your door Your porter dought na hear us; Sae may, shou'd we to Hell's yetts come, Your billy Satan sair us!
To Miss Ferrier
Enclosing the Elegy on Sir J. H. Blair.
Nae heathen name shall I prefix, Frae Pindus or Parnassus; Auld Reekie dings them a' to sticks, For rhyme-inspiring lasses.
Jove's tunefu' dochters three times three Made Homer deep their debtor; But, gien the body half an e'e, Nine Ferriers wad done better!
Last day my mind was in a bog, Down George's Street I stoited; A creeping cauld prosaic fog My very sense doited.
Do what I dought to set her free, My saul lay in the mire; Ye turned a neuk—I saw your e'e— She took the wing like fire!
The mournfu' sang I here enclose, In gratitude I send you, And pray, in rhyme as weel as prose, A' gude things may attend you!
Written By Somebody On The Window
Of an Inn at Stirling, on seeing the Royal Palace in ruin.
Here Stuarts once in glory reigned, And laws for Scotland's weal ordained; But now unroof'd their palace stands, Their sceptre's sway'd by other hands; Fallen indeed, and to the earth Whence groveling reptiles take their birth. The injured Stuart line is gone, A race outlandish fills their throne; An idiot race, to honour lost; Who know them best despise them most.
The Poet's Reply To The Threat Of A Censorious Critic
My imprudent lines were answered, very petulantly, by somebody, I believe, a Rev. Mr. Hamilton. In a MS., where I met the answer, I wrote below:—
With Esop's lion, Burns says: Sore I feel Each other's scorn, but damn that ass' heel!
The Libeller's Self-Reproof^1
Rash mortal, and slanderous poet, thy name Shall no longer appear in the records of Fame; Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible, Says, the more 'tis a truth, sir, the more 'tis a libel!
Verses Written With A Pencil
Over the Chimney—piece in the Parlour of the Inn at Kenmore, Taymouth.
Admiring Nature in her wildest grace, These northern scenes with weary feet I trace; O'er many a winding dale and painful steep, Th' abodes of covey'd grouse and timid sheep,
[Footnote 1: These are rhymes of dubious authenticity.—Lang.]
My savage journey, curious, I pursue, Till fam'd Breadalbane opens to my view.— The meeting cliffs each deep-sunk glen divides, The woods wild scatter'd, clothe their ample sides; Th' outstretching lake, imbosomed 'mong the hills, The eye with wonder and amazement fills; The Tay meand'ring sweet in infant pride, The palace rising on his verdant side, The lawns wood-fring'd in Nature's native taste, The hillocks dropt in Nature's careless haste, The arches striding o'er the new-born stream, The village glittering in the noontide beam—
Poetic ardours in my bosom swell, Lone wand'ring by the hermit's mossy cell; The sweeping theatre of hanging woods, Th' incessant roar of headlong tumbling floods—
Here Poesy might wake her heav'n-taught lyre, And look through Nature with creative fire; Here, to the wrongs of Fate half reconcil'd, Misfortunes lighten'd steps might wander wild; And Disappointment, in these lonely bounds, Find balm to soothe her bitter, rankling wounds: Here heart-struck Grief might heav'nward stretch her scan, And injur'd Worth forget and pardon man.
Song—The Birks Of Aberfeldy
Tune—"The Birks of Abergeldie."
Chorus.—Bonie lassie, will ye go, Will ye go, will ye go, Bonie lassie, will ye go To the birks of Aberfeldy!
Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes, And o'er the crystal streamlets plays; Come let us spend the lightsome days, In the birks of Aberfeldy. Bonie lassie, &c.
While o'er their heads the hazels hing, The little birdies blythely sing, Or lightly flit on wanton wing, In the birks of Aberfeldy. Bonie lassie, &c.
The braes ascend like lofty wa's, The foaming stream deep-roaring fa's, O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws— The birks of Aberfeldy. Bonie lassie, &c.
The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers, White o'er the linns the burnie pours, And rising, weets wi' misty showers The birks of Aberfeldy. Bonie lassie, &c.
Let Fortune's gifts at randoe flee, They ne'er shall draw a wish frae me; Supremely blest wi' love and thee, In the birks of Aberfeldy. Bonie lassie, &c.
The Humble Petition Of Bruar Water
To the noble Duke of Athole.
My lord, I know your noble ear Woe ne'er assails in vain; Embolden'd thus, I beg you'll hear Your humble slave complain, How saucy Phoebus' scorching beams, In flaming summer-pride, Dry-withering, waste my foamy streams, And drink my crystal tide.^1
The lightly-jumping, glowrin' trouts, That thro' my waters play, If, in their random, wanton spouts, They near the margin stray;
[Footnote 1: Bruar Falls, in Athole, are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful; but their effect is much impaired by the want of trees and shrubs.—R.B.]
If, hapless chance! they linger lang, I'm scorching up so shallow, They're left the whitening stanes amang, In gasping death to wallow.
Last day I grat wi' spite and teen, As poet Burns came by. That, to a bard, I should be seen Wi' half my channel dry; A panegyric rhyme, I ween, Ev'n as I was, he shor'd me; But had I in my glory been, He, kneeling, wad ador'd me.
Here, foaming down the skelvy rocks, In twisting strength I rin; There, high my boiling torrent smokes, Wild-roaring o'er a linn: Enjoying each large spring and well, As Nature gave them me, I am, altho' I say't mysel', Worth gaun a mile to see.
Would then my noble master please To grant my highest wishes, He'll shade my banks wi' tow'ring trees, And bonie spreading bushes. Delighted doubly then, my lord, You'll wander on my banks, And listen mony a grateful bird Return you tuneful thanks.
The sober lav'rock, warbling wild, Shall to the skies aspire; The gowdspink, Music's gayest child, Shall sweetly join the choir; The blackbird strong, the lintwhite clear, The mavis mild and mellow; The robin pensive Autumn cheer, In all her locks of yellow.
This, too, a covert shall ensure, To shield them from the storm; And coward maukin sleep secure, Low in her grassy form: Here shall the shepherd make his seat, To weave his crown of flow'rs; Or find a shelt'ring, safe retreat, From prone-descending show'rs.
And here, by sweet, endearing stealth, Shall meet the loving pair, Despising worlds, with all their wealth, As empty idle care; The flow'rs shall vie in all their charms, The hour of heav'n to grace; And birks extend their fragrant arms To screen the dear embrace.
Here haply too, at vernal dawn, Some musing bard may stray, And eye the smoking, dewy lawn, And misty mountain grey; Or, by the reaper's nightly beam, Mild-chequering thro' the trees, Rave to my darkly dashing stream, Hoarse-swelling on the breeze.
Let lofty firs, and ashes cool, My lowly banks o'erspread, And view, deep-bending in the pool, Their shadow's wat'ry bed: Let fragrant birks, in woodbines drest, My craggy cliffs adorn; And, for the little songster's nest, The close embow'ring thorn.
So may old Scotia's darling hope, Your little angel band Spring, like their fathers, up to prop Their honour'd native land! So may, thro' Albion's farthest ken, To social-flowing glasses, The grace be—"Athole's honest men, And Athole's bonie lasses!
Lines On The Fall Of Fyers Near Loch-Ness.
Written with a Pencil on the Spot.
Among the heathy hills and ragged woods The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods; Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds, Where, thro' a shapeless breach, his stream resounds. As high in air the bursting torrents flow, As deep recoiling surges foam below, Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends, And viewles Echo's ear, astonished, rends. Dim-seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show'rs, The hoary cavern, wide surrounding lours: Still thro' the gap the struggling river toils, And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils—
Epigram On Parting With A Kind Host In The Highlands
When Death's dark stream I ferry o'er, A time that surely shall come, In Heav'n itself I'll ask no more, Than just a Highland welcome.
Thickest night, o'erhang my dwelling! Howling tempests, o'er me rave! Turbid torrents, wintry swelling, Roaring by my lonely cave!
[Footnote 1: Burns confesses that his Jacobtism was merely sentimental "except when my passions were heated by some accidental cause," and a tour through the country where Montrose, Claverhouse, and Prince Charles had fought, was cause enough. Strathallan fell gloriously at Culloden.—Lang.]
Crystal streamlets gently flowing, Busy haunts of base mankind, Western breezes softly blowing, Suit not my distracted mind.
In the cause of Right engaged, Wrongs injurious to redress, Honour's war we strongly waged, But the Heavens denied success. Ruin's wheel has driven o'er us, Not a hope that dare attend, The wide world is all before us— But a world without a friend.
Streams that glide in orient plains, Never bound by Winter's chains; Glowing here on golden sands, There immix'd with foulest stains From Tyranny's empurpled hands; These, their richly gleaming waves, I leave to tyrants and their slaves; Give me the stream that sweetly laves The banks by Castle Gordon.
Spicy forests, ever gray, Shading from the burning ray Hapless wretches sold to toil; Or the ruthless native's way, Bent on slaughter, blood, and spoil: Woods that ever verdant wave, I leave the tyrant and the slave; Give me the groves that lofty brave The storms by Castle Gordon.
Wildly here, without control, Nature reigns and rules the whole; In that sober pensive mood, Dearest to the feeling soul, She plants the forest, pours the flood: Life's poor day I'll musing rave And find at night a sheltering cave, Where waters flow and wild woods wave, By bonie Castle Gordon.
Song—Lady Onlie, Honest Lucky
Tune—"The Ruffian's Rant."
A' The lads o' Thorniebank, When they gae to the shore o' Bucky, They'll step in an' tak a pint Wi' Lady Onlie, honest Lucky.
Chorus.—Lady Onlie, honest Lucky, Brews gude ale at shore o' Bucky; I wish her sale for her gude ale, The best on a' the shore o' Bucky.
Her house sae bien, her curch sae clean I wat she is a daintie chuckie; And cheery blinks the ingle-gleed O' Lady Onlie, honest Lucky! Lady Onlie, &c.
Theniel Menzies' Bonie Mary
Air—"The Ruffian's Rant," or "Roy's Wife."
In comin by the brig o' Dye, At Darlet we a blink did tarry; As day was dawnin in the sky, We drank a health to bonie Mary.
Chorus.—Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, Charlie Grigor tint his plaidie, Kissin' Theniel's bonie Mary.
Her een sae bright, her brow sae white, Her haffet locks as brown's a berry; And aye they dimpl't wi' a smile, The rosy cheeks o' bonie Mary. Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, &c.
We lap a' danc'd the lee-lang day, Till piper lads were wae and weary; But Charlie gat the spring to pay For kissin Theniel's bonie Mary. Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, &c.
The Bonie Lass Of Albany^1
My heart is wae, and unco wae, To think upon the raging sea, That roars between her gardens green An' the bonie Lass of Albany.
This lovely maid's of royal blood That ruled Albion's kingdoms three, But oh, alas! for her bonie face, They've wrang'd the Lass of Albany.
In the rolling tide of spreading Clyde There sits an isle of high degree, And a town of fame whose princely name Should grace the Lass of Albany.
But there's a youth, a witless youth, That fills the place where she should be; We'll send him o'er to his native shore, And bring our ain sweet Albany.
Alas the day, and woe the day, A false usurper wan the gree, Who now commands the towers and lands— The royal right of Albany.
We'll daily pray, we'll nightly pray, On bended knees most fervently, The time may come, with pipe an' drum We'll welcome hame fair Albany.
[Footnote 1: Natural daughter of Prince Charles Edward.]
On Scaring Some Water-Fowl In Loch-Turit
A wild scene among the Hills of Oughtertyre.
"This was the production of a solitary forenoon's walk from Oughtertyre House. I lived there, the guest of Sir William Murray, for two or three weeks, and was much flattered by my hospitable reception. What a pity that the mere emotions of gratitude are so impotent in this world. 'Tis lucky that, as we are told, they will be of some avail in the world to come." —R.B., Glenriddell MSS.
Why, ye tenants of the lake, For me your wat'ry haunt forsake? Tell me, fellow-creatures, why At my presence thus you fly? Why disturb your social joys, Parent, filial, kindred ties?— Common friend to you and me, yature's gifts to all are free: Peaceful keep your dimpling wave, Busy feed, or wanton lave; Or, beneath the sheltering rock, Bide the surging billow's shock.
Conscious, blushing for our race, Soon, too soon, your fears I trace, Man, your proud, usurping foe, Would be lord of all below: Plumes himself in freedom's pride, Tyrant stern to all beside.
The eagle, from the cliffy brow, Marking you his prey below, In his breast no pity dwells, Strong necessity compels: But Man, to whom alone is giv'n A ray direct from pitying Heav'n, Glories in his heart humane— And creatures for his pleasure slain!
In these savage, liquid plains, Only known to wand'ring swains, Where the mossy riv'let strays, Far from human haunts and ways; All on Nature you depend, And life's poor season peaceful spend.
Or, if man's superior might Dare invade your native right, On the lofty ether borne, Man with all his pow'rs you scorn; Swiftly seek, on clanging wings, Other lakes and other springs; And the foe you cannot brave, Scorn at least to be his slave.
Blythe Was She^1
Tune—"Andro and his Cutty Gun."
Chorus.—Blythe, blythe and merry was she, Blythe was she but and ben; Blythe by the banks of Earn, And blythe in Glenturit glen.
By Oughtertyre grows the aik, On Yarrow banks the birken shaw; But Phemie was a bonier lass Than braes o' Yarrow ever saw. Blythe, blythe, &c.
Her looks were like a flow'r in May, Her smile was like a simmer morn: She tripped by the banks o' Earn, As light's a bird upon a thorn. Blythe, blythe, &c.
Her bonie face it was as meek As ony lamb upon a lea; The evening sun was ne'er sae sweet, As was the blink o' Phemie's e'e. Blythe, blythe, &c.
[Footnote 1: Written at Oughtertyre. Phemie is Miss Euphemia Murray, a cousin of Sir William Murray of Oughtertyre.—Lang.]
The Highland hills I've wander'd wide, And o'er the Lawlands I hae been; But Phemie was the blythest lass That ever trod the dewy green. Blythe, blythe, &c.
A Rose-Bud By My Early Walk
A Rose-bud by my early walk, Adown a corn-enclosed bawk, Sae gently bent its thorny stalk, All on a dewy morning. Ere twice the shades o' dawn are fled, In a' its crimson glory spread, And drooping rich the dewy head, It scents the early morning.
Within the bush her covert nest A little linnet fondly prest; The dew sat chilly on her breast, Sae early in the morning. She soon shall see her tender brood, The pride, the pleasure o' the wood, Amang the fresh green leaves bedew'd, Awake the early morning.
So thou, dear bird, young Jeany fair, On trembling string or vocal air, Shall sweetly pay the tender care That tents thy early morning. So thou, sweet Rose-bud, young and gay, Shalt beauteous blaze upon the day, And bless the parent's evening ray That watch'd thy early morning.
Epitaph For Mr. W. Cruikshank^1
Honest Will to Heaven's away And mony shall lament him; His fau'ts they a' in Latin lay, In English nane e'er kent them.
Song—The Banks Of The Devon
Tune—"Bhanarach dhonn a' chruidh."
How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon, With green spreading bushes and flow'rs blooming fair! But the boniest flow'r on the banks of the Devon Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr. Mild be the sun on this sweet blushing flower, In the gay rosy morn, as it bathes in the dew; And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower, That steals on the evening each leaf to renew!
O spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes, With chill hoary wing as ye usher the dawn; And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizes The verdure and pride of the garden or lawn! Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded lilies, And England triumphant display her proud rose: A fairer than either adorns the green valleys, Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.
Braving Angry Winter's Storms
Tune—"Neil Gow's Lament for Abercairny."
Where, braving angry winter's storms, The lofty Ochils rise, Far in their shade my Peggy's charms First blest my wondering eyes; As one who by some savage stream A lonely gem surveys, Astonish'd, doubly marks it beam With art's most polish'd blaze.
[Footnote 1: Of the Edinburgh High School.]
Blest be the wild, sequester'd shade, And blest the day and hour, Where Peggy's charms I first survey'd, When first I felt their pow'r! The tyrant Death, with grim control, May seize my fleeting breath; But tearing Peggy from my soul Must be a stronger death.
Song—My Peggy's Charms
Tune—"Tha a' chailleach ir mo dheigh."
My Peggy's face, my Peggy's form, The frost of hermit Age might warm; My Peggy's worth, my Peggy's mind, Might charm the first of human kind.
I love my Peggy's angel air, Her face so truly heavenly fair, Her native grace, so void of art, But I adore my Peggy's heart.
The lily's hue, the rose's dye, The kindling lustre of an eye; Who but owns their magic sway! Who but knows they all decay!
The tender thrill, the pitying tear, The generous purpose nobly dear, The gentle look that rage disarms— These are all Immortal charms.
The Young Highland Rover
Loud blaw the frosty breezes, The snaws the mountains cover; Like winter on me seizes, Since my young Highland rover Far wanders nations over.
Where'er he go, where'er he stray, May heaven be his warden; Return him safe to fair Strathspey, And bonie Castle-Gordon!
The trees, now naked groaning, Shall soon wi' leaves be hinging, The birdies dowie moaning, Shall a' be blythely singing, And every flower be springing; Sae I'll rejoice the lee-lang day, When by his mighty Warden My youth's return'd to fair Strathspey, And bonie Castle-Gordon.
Birthday Ode For 31st December, 1787^1
Afar the illustrious Exile roams, Whom kingdoms on this day should hail; An inmate in the casual shed, On transient pity's bounty fed, Haunted by busy memory's bitter tale! Beasts of the forest have their savage homes, But He, who should imperial purple wear, Owns not the lap of earth where rests his royal head! His wretched refuge, dark despair, While ravening wrongs and woes pursue, And distant far the faithful few Who would his sorrows share.
False flatterer, Hope, away! Nor think to lure us as in days of yore: We solemnize this sorrowing natal day, To prove our loyal truth—we can no more, And owning Heaven's mysterious sway, Submissive, low adore.
Ye honored, mighty Dead, Who nobly perished in the glorious cause, Your King, your Country, and her laws,
[Footnote 1: The last birthday of Prince Charles Edward.]
From great Dundee, who smiling Victory led, And fell a Martyr in her arms, (What breast of northern ice but warms!) To bold Balmerino's undying name, Whose soul of fire, lighted at Heaven's high flame, Deserves the proudest wreath departed heroes claim: Nor unrevenged your fate shall lie, It only lags, the fatal hour, Your blood shall, with incessant cry, Awake at last, th' unsparing Power; As from the cliff, with thundering course, The snowy ruin smokes along With doubling speed and gathering force, Till deep it, crushing, whelms the cottage in the vale; So Vengeance' arm, ensanguin'd, strong, Shall with resistless might assail, Usurping Brunswick's pride shall lay, And Stewart's wrongs and yours, with tenfold weight repay.
Perdition, baleful child of night! Rise and revenge the injured right Of Stewart's royal race: Lead on the unmuzzled hounds of hell, Till all the frighted echoes tell The blood-notes of the chase! Full on the quarry point their view, Full on the base usurping crew, The tools of faction, and the nation's curse! Hark how the cry grows on the wind; They leave the lagging gale behind, Their savage fury, pitiless, they pour; With murdering eyes already they devour; See Brunswick spent, a wretched prey, His life one poor despairing day, Where each avenging hour still ushers in a worse! Such havock, howling all abroad, Their utter ruin bring, The base apostates to their God, Or rebels to their King.
On The Death Of Robert Dundas, Esq., Of Arniston,
Late Lord President of the Court of Session.
Lone on the bleaky hills the straying flocks Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks; Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains, The gathering floods burst o'er the distant plains; Beneath the blast the leafless forests groan; The hollow caves return a hollow moan. Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests, and ye caves, Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves! Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye, Sad to your sympathetic glooms I fly; Where, to the whistling blast and water's roar, Pale Scotia's recent wound I may deplore.
O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear! A loss these evil days can ne'er repair! Justice, the high vicegerent of her God, Her doubtful balance eyed, and sway'd her rod: Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow, She sank, abandon'd to the wildest woe.
Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den, Now, gay in hope, explore the paths of men: See from his cavern grim Oppression rise, And throw on Poverty his cruel eyes; Keen on the helpless victim see him fly, And stifle, dark, the feebly-bursting cry: Mark Ruffian Violence, distained with crimes, Rousing elate in these degenerate times, View unsuspecting Innocence a prey, As guileful Fraud points out the erring way: While subtle Litigation's pliant tongue The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong: Hark, injur'd Want recounts th' unlisten'd tale, And much-wrong'd Mis'ry pours the unpitied wail!
Ye dark waste hills, ye brown unsightly plains, Congenial scenes, ye soothe my mournful strains: Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll! Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul. Life's social haunts and pleasures I resign; Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine, To mourn the woes my country must endure— That would degenerate ages cannot cure.
Sylvander To Clarinda^1
Extempore Reply to Verses addressed to the Author by a Lady, under the signature of "Clarinda" and entitled, On Burns saying he 'had nothing else to do.'
When dear Clarinda, matchless fair, First struck Sylvander's raptur'd view, He gaz'd, he listened to despair, Alas! 'twas all he dared to do.
Love, from Clarinda's heavenly eyes, Transfixed his bosom thro' and thro'; But still in Friendships' guarded guise, For more the demon fear'd to do.
That heart, already more than lost, The imp beleaguer'd all perdue; For frowning Honour kept his post— To meet that frown, he shrunk to do.
His pangs the Bard refused to own, Tho' half he wish'd Clarinda knew; But Anguish wrung the unweeting groan— Who blames what frantic Pain must do?
That heart, where motley follies blend, Was sternly still to Honour true: To prove Clarinda's fondest friend, Was what a lover sure might do.
[Footnote 1: A grass-widow, Mrs. M'Lehose.]
The Muse his ready quill employed, No nearer bliss he could pursue; That bliss Clarinda cold deny'd— "Send word by Charles how you do!"
The chill behest disarm'd his muse, Till passion all impatient grew: He wrote, and hinted for excuse, 'Twas, 'cause "he'd nothing else to do."
But by those hopes I have above! And by those faults I dearly rue! The deed, the boldest mark of love, For thee that deed I dare uo do!
O could the Fates but name the price Would bless me with your charms and you! With frantic joy I'd pay it thrice, If human art and power could do!
Then take, Clarinda, friendship's hand, (Friendship, at least, I may avow;) And lay no more your chill command,— I'll write whatever I've to do.
Love In The Guise Of Friendship
Your friendship much can make me blest, O why that bliss destroy! Why urge the only, one request You know I will deny!
Your thought, if Love must harbour there, Conceal it in that thought; Nor cause me from my bosom tear The very friend I sought.
Go On, Sweet Bird, And Sooth My Care
For thee is laughing Nature gay, For thee she pours the vernal day; For me in vain is Nature drest, While Joy's a stranger to my breast.
Clarinda, Mistress Of My Soul
Clarinda, mistres of my soul, The measur'd time is run! The wretch beneath the dreary pole So marks his latest sun.
To what dark cave of frozen night Shall poor Sylvander hie; Depriv'd of thee, his life and light, The sun of all his joy?
We part—but by these precious drops, That fill thy lovely eyes, No other light shall guide my steps, Till thy bright beams arise!
She, the fair sun of all her sex, Has blest my glorious day; And shall a glimmering planet fix My worship to its ray?
I'm O'er Young To Marry Yet
Chorus.—I'm o'er young, I'm o'er young, I'm o'er young to marry yet; I'm o'er young, 'twad be a sin To tak me frae my mammy yet.
I am my mammny's ae bairn, Wi' unco folk I weary, sir; And lying in a man's bed, I'm fley'd it mak me eerie, sir. I'm o'er young, &c.
My mammie coft me a new gown, The kirk maun hae the gracing o't; Were I to lie wi' you, kind Sir, I'm feared ye'd spoil the lacing o't. I'm o'er young, &c.
Hallowmass is come and gane, The nights are lang in winter, sir, And you an' I in ae bed, In trowth, I dare na venture, sir. I'm o'er young, &c.