1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

David Macbeth Moir, "Stanzas for the Burns Festival" 1844; Poetical Works of David Macbeth Moir (1852; 1860) 1:347-52.



I.
Stir the beal-fire, wave the banner,
Bid the thundering cannon sound,
Rend the skies with acclamation,
Stun the woods and waters round,
Till the echoes of our gathering
Turn the world's admiring gaze
To this act of duteous homage
Scotland to her Poet pays.
Fill the banks and braes with music,
Be it loud and low by turns—
That we owe the deathless glory,
This the hapless fate of Burns.

II.
Born within the lowly cottage
To a destiny obscure,
Doom'd through youth's exulting spring-time
But to labour and endure—
Yet Despair he elbow'd from him;
Nature breath'd with holy joy,
In the hues of morn and evening,
On the eyelids of the boy;
And his country's Genius bound him
Laurels for his sunburnt brow,
When inspired and proud she found him,
Like Elisha, at the plough.

III.
On, exulting in his magic,
Swept the gifted peasant on—
Though his feet were on the greensward,
Light from Heaven around him shone;
At his conjuration, demons
Issued from their darkness drear;
Hovering round on silver pinions,
Angels stoop'd his son gs to hear;
Bow'd the Passions to his bidding,
Terror gaunt, and Pity calm;
Like the organ pour'd his thunder,
Like the lute his fairy psalm.

IV.
Lo! — when clover-swathes lay round him,
Or his feet the furrow press'd,
He could mourn the sever'd daisy,
Or the mouse's ruin'd nest;
Woven of gloom and glory, visions
Haunting throng'd his twilight hour;
Birds enthrall'd him with sweet music,
Tempests with their tones of power;
Eagle-wing'd, his mounting spirit
Custom's rusty fetters spurn'd;
Tasso-like, for Jean he melted,
Wallace-like, for Scotland burn'd!

V.
Scotland! — dear to him was Scotland,
In her sons and in her daughters,
In her Highlands, Lowlands, Islands,
Regal woods, and rushing waters;
In the glory of her story,
When her tartans fired the field,—
Scotland! oft betray'd — beleaguer'd—
Scotland! never known to yield!
Dear to him her Doric language,
Thrill'd his heart-strings at her name;
And he left her more than rubies,
In the riches of his fame.

VI.
Sons of England — sons of Erin!
Ye who, journeying from afar,
Throng with us the shire of Coila,
Led fly Burns's guiding-star—
Proud we greet you — ye will join us,
As, on this triumphant day,
To the champions of his genius
Grateful thanks we duly pay—
Currie — Chambers — Lockhart — Wilson—
Carlyle — who his bones to save
From the wolfish fiend, Detraction,
Couch'd like lions round his grave.

VII.
Daughter of the Poet's mother!
Here we hail thee with delight;
Shower'd be every earthly blessing
On thy locks of silver white!—
Sons of Burns, a hearty welcome,
Welcome home from India's strand,
To a heart-loved land far dearer,
Since your glorious Father's land!—
Words are worthless — look around you—
Labour'd tomes far less could say
To the sons of such a father,
Than the sight of such a day!

VIII.
Judge not ye, whose thoughts are fingers
Of the hands that witch the lyre—
Greenland has its mountain icebergs,
Aetna has its heart of fire;
Calculation has its plummet;
Self-control its iron rules;
Genius has its sparkling fountains;
Dulness has its stagnant pools;
Like a halcyon on the waters,
Burns's chart disdain'd a plan—
In his soarings he was Heavenly,
In his sinkings he was man.

IX.
As the Sun from out the orient
Pours a wider, warmer light,
Till he floods both earth and ocean,
Blazing from the zenith's height;
So the glory of our Poet,
In its deathless power serene,
Shines, as rolling time advances,
Warmer felt, and wider seen:
First Doon's banks and braes contain'd it,
Then his country form'd its span;
Now the wide world is its empire,
And its throne the heart of man.

X.
Home returning each will carry
Proud remembrance of this day,
When exulted Scotland's bosom
Homage to her Bard to pay;—
When our jubilee to brighten,
Eglinton with Wilson vied,
Wealth's regards and Rank's distinctions
For the season set aside;
And the peasant, peer, and poet,
Each put forth an equal claim,
For the twining of his laurel
In the wreath of Burns's fame!