1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

James Boswell the Younger, "Verses sung at the Burns Anniversary at Alloway Kirk, in Ayrshire" The Star (4 February 1820).



Vain thought! but had BURNS ever witness'd a meeting
Of souls so congenial, and warm'd with such fire,
The wild flow of fancy in extacy greeting,
Ah! what might have been the bold notes of his lyre?

As rays, by reflection, are doubled and doubled,
His bosom had swell'd to your cheering reply,
Soft sympathy soothing the heart that was troubled;
A smile for his mirth, for his sorrow a sigh!

Admir'd, but unaided, how dark was his story,
His struggles we know, and his efforts we prize,
From murky neglect, as the flame bursts to glory,
He rose, self-embalm'd, and detraction defies!

A Ploughman he was — would that smiles of false favour
Had never decoy'd him from home and his team;
And taught all his hopes and his wishes to waver,
And snatching reality, left him a — dream!

To rank and to title, due deference owing,
We bow, as befitting Society's plan;
But judgment awaken'd, and sympathy glowing,
We pass all distinctions, and rest upon — Man!

And, from the poor hind, who, his day's task completed,
With Industry's pride to his hovel returns,
To him, who in Royalty's splendour is seated,
If soul independent be found, 'twas in BURNS!

His birthright, his Muse! like the lark in the morning,
How blithely he caroll'd in praise of the fair:
With Nature enraptur'd, and artifice scorning,
How sweet were his notes on the banks of the Ayr!

And near to that spot where his kindred dust slumbers,
And mark'd by the Bard on the tablets of fame,
And near the thatch'd shed, where he first lisp'd in numbers,
We'll raise a proud tribute to honour his name!