1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "Stanzas written to commemorate the Anniversary of the Birth of Burns" The Star (3 February 1814).



Again we meet to hail th' auspicious day
Which gave to Scotia her immortal Bard,
Again we offer up the votive lay
The humble tribute of our fond regard:—
Accept, lov'd, honour'd shade, the homage due
To worth, to wit, to genius such as thine,
And O! may each succeeding year renew
The heart-felt off'ring at thy sacred shrine,
Thou first of Scottish Bards, though long the illustrious line!

What though no sculptur'd pile to thee arise,
No "storied urn" to deck thy humble grave,
No lofty column, tow'ring to the skies,
Nor o'er thine ashes drooping willows wave;
Thy virtues live — engraven on our hearts—
Thy wit exists — to charm the social round—
Thy genius beams — Its dazzling light imparts
A ray that shoots to Earth's remotest bound—
While borne on every gale thy magic strains resound.

Dear to thy Country are thy "wood-notes wild,"
The patriot song — the Cottar's tender tale—
The simple loves of Nature's rustic child,
Meek, humble tenant of the hawthorn vale.
And worthy of our meed thy Satire bright,
For still thy nervous grasp undaunted drew
The base-born, wretched hypocrite to light,
With all the vices of the venal crew,
And Superstition's core expos'd to abject view.

Friends of the Bard — who was to all a friend—
O! cherish long the mem'ry of his worth,
Think on his bright career, his mournful end,
Untimely wedded to his parent Earth.
Be to the Patriot and the Poet just,
Nor let it by a future race be said,
While treading all unconscious o'er his dust,
"Where rests th' illustrious peasant's head?
Where, Scotia, sleeps thy BURNS — where are his ashes laid?"
Greenock, 25th January, 1814.