1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

W. Jos. Walter, "Verses on seeing the Grave of Burns in January last" The Star (15 April 1814).



Sweet Bard of Nature! one who oft has hung
Entranc'd in rapture o'er thy artless lay,
And lingering to the music of the song,
Beguil'd full many a listless hour away—

From Arun's banks — a stream in song unblest—
A southern stream — beheld a stranger come
To view the spot where thy cold relics rest,
And pay his humble tribute at thy tomb.

How hush'd and solemn is this evening hour!
No sounds are heard to break the calm profound,
Save the chill breeze that sighs thro' yonder tower,
And the lorn owl that hovering streams around.

How clear the sharp-horn'd moon is seen to stream
Her cloudless lustre through the frozen air!
And mark where Nith reflects her living beam,
Upon his icy mirror pictur'd fair.

Emblem of thee! in summer's smiling reign
With wanton wave he kiss'd the bending trees,
And sparkling bythesome through the laughing plain,
Flung his wild music to the listening breeze.

But when her floods declining Autumn pour'd,
High swell'd his stream, impatient of controul,
And down the vale with headlong torrent roar'd—
Strong as the wayward passions of thy soul.

Now chill'd he lies, in icy fetters bound,
Powerless like thee! his wonted skill unknown,
That charmed his vale, and woke the echoes round—
Hush'd all his music, all his rage foregone.

Yet Nith again shall burst his icy band,
Well pleased that storms no more his course arrest;
And fondly lingering upon yonder strand,
Murmur a requiem to thy dreams of rest.

What though no sculpture marks this hallowed ground,
To point the spot, and deck thy lowly bed,
Though rude thy grave, and with no herbage crown'd,
Wither'd each flowret, and its lustre dead.

Yet when the zephyrs breathe through soften'd skies,
And spring returns to wake the purple year,
The daisy here in gratitude shall rise,
And weep upon thy grave her early tear.

But while memorials rise to mark the spot
Where sleep the vain, the worthless, and the proud,
Shall he, the pride of Scotland, be forgot,
Nor claim the meed to titled fools allow'd?

He who with pious thrift threw in his mite,
To deck the ashes of his brother Bard;
No kindred feelings shall his fate excite,
Nor Coila's Poet claim a like reward?

O hapless BURNS! will none around display
The bright example, and with pious zeal
Teach every lover of the lowland lay,
The same enthusiastic warmth to feel?

Yes, there are those with virtuous grief inspir'd,
To see thy bones unhonour'd and unblest;
Whom long the stranger's keen reproach has fir'd,
To rouse a kindred flame in Scotia's breast.

And soon that stranger's eye shall joy to view,
By Taste design'd a fond memorial rise,
To pay his injur'd shade the honours due,
And mark the spot where buried Genius lies.

Sweet Bard! farewell! Though narrow is thy bed,
And strait the space that Kings, like thee, must fill;
Yet though the world thy deathless fame shall spread,
Expand with years, and bloom and flourish still.

When Scottish hearts shall lose the power to own
The magic charms of heaven-taught poesy,
Then, when the muse shall sing to ears of stone,
But not till then, thy memory shall die.

No! long as Nith shall view these banks of green,
And kiss the pebbles on her gentle shore;
Long as the Clouden's wizzard stream is seen
Through birken braes her sister wave to pour:

Long as on Cristle's giant height sublime
Thy favourite star shall hang her lamp at eve—
So long, superior to the range of time,
Nor yet less brilliant, shall thy memory live!