1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

An English Lady, "Written for the Commemoration of Burns" The Sun (30 May 1816).



O Thou, too early and too sadly lost,
Enchanting Bard! by fate, by passion tost,
Whose hardy genius forced its tangled way,
And would expand, and struggled into day;—
At length we hail thee, cenotaphed, inurned,
At length with mourn thee, as thou should'st be mourned;
Art waits at length upon thy honoured tomb,
And Poesy recording weeps thy doom.

Yet fame was thine, and tears. Thy native plains,
The hills, the rivers, echoed to thy strains,
For bright though changeful, as his Scottish clime,
The Peasant minstrel's wild and vigorous rhyme;
Where smiles and tears contest the varying hour,
Or sweetly blend like April's sunny shower;
Where lightsome airs come fresh and fancy-driven,
Like white clouds whirling o'er the deep blue Heaven.
And many a lovely sound thy name has brought,
Many a fair sight awakened thy dear thought.

Oh! who could see the mountain daisy spring,
Or hear high-poised the early laverock sing,
Or loitering tread the pleasant banks of Ayr,
Or list the milking maid sooth her evening care
With some old, wild, yet sweetest melody,
Nor inly breathe that strain divinely free,
Which gives to each its immortality!

And when, long ages hence, grey moss shall spread
Destructive o'er each column's trophied head,
And every stone confused and broken lie,
And e'en the Mausoleum's self shall die;—
Then, if perchance some mouldering letters tell
Whose reliques in its ruined precincts dwell;—
Then shall that fresh, that unforgotten name
Repay the arrear of monumental fame,
As oft the Traveller, oft the Poet turns
To muse and linger o'er the Tomb of BURNS.