1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "Ode for the Anniversary of the Birth-Day of Robert Burns" The Star (11 February 1802).



AYR, JAN. 30.
Yesterday a select party of the friends and admirers of our inimitable Ayrshire Bard met to dinner in the room in which the Poet was born, to commemorate his birth-day, when the following Ode, composed for the occasion by one of the Company, was read. The President's toast was given in the following Stanza, and the enthusiasm of the moment gave birth to the beautiful extempore verses also subjoined.

ODE FOR THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH-DAY OF BURNS.
29TH JANUARY, 1802.
Tho' clouds obscure the wint'ry skies,
Tho' wood and honours disappear;
Tho' storms in all their horror rise,
And waste the joyless year;

Yet friendly, social, cheerful, gay,
With wine and song and mirth,
Be't ours to hail the welcome day
That lighted first the heav'nly ray,
And gave true genius birth.

You've heard the Choristers of Spring,
Their little dulcet throats atune,
And far and wide responsive ring,
"The braes of Bonnie Doon."

And, on the bushy banks of Ayre,
You've heard the warbling throng;
But none so 'witching, none so rare,
None half entitled to compare
With ROBIN'S mellow Song.

What tho' far hence entomb'd he lies,
His better part, his Spirit, lives,
The fire of fancy never dies,
But ceaseless rapture gives:

Forbear, then, as this day returns,
To weep his timeless fate;
But learn from Poets' early urns,
The brighter that life's taper burns,
"The shorter is its date."

THE PRESIDENT'S TOAST — THE DOON.
Smooth glide thy pure currents, thou favourite river,
May the loveliest nymphs grace thy margin for ever;
Never fading thy flowers, ever green be thy braes,
Nor a Poet be wanting to warble thy praise;
May the minstrels of spring aye renew in each grove,
The wild hymn of gratitude, pleasure, and love;
Let no thorn in thy thickets e'er savagely dare
The innocent bosom of beauty to tear;
And blest be thy mansions with plenty and peace,
Till arrested by fate thy meanderings cease!

N.B. The above toast, called forth by the occasion, was given by a Gentleman to whom the Bard was dear.
Extempore verses by a Gentleman of the company, suggested by the circumstance of a dark rainy morning, followed by a serene afternoon, as was the case on the anniversary.

Auspicious day, rever'd by Fame,
On which the Muse's favourite came
To bless our native Isle,
The low'ring clouds forget to frown,
The tempests his importance own,
And conscious seasons smile.