1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

J. B., "To Robert Burns" Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (24 March 1787).



Hale be your heart, my winsome BURNS,
For a' your canty hameald turns;
Your sangs can lift the saul that mourns
Aboon its grief;
Cauld be his cast the ever spurns
Sic sweet relief.

But tell me, Rob (I'm no in scorn)
Aneath what planet was ye born?
'Tis pity you should thrash the corn,
Or till the rigs;
Your kintry should your brows adorn
Wi' laurel sprigs.

In whate'er place o' a' the earth
That has the honour o' your birth,
Weel may they craw wi' muckle mirth,
And rooxe your sang;
For nane on ilk side Fortha's firth
Can e'er ye bang.

Ye mind me ay o' the twa callands*
Wha' gat sic praise thro' a' the Lallands
For their weel worded Scottish ballands;
Atween ye three,
To say whilk shows the glibbest tallents
Wha can agree?

Some wrack their brains about Parnassus,
And tell what unco things there passes
Atwish them and the nine bra lasses,
In verse that's flisky;
No worth a privin o' your "Haggies,"
Or "Gill o' whiskey."

Gile me the muse that clad in tartan,
That scoups o'er hills ayont Dumbarton,
Wi' haffet locks bund in a gartan,
What sings sae claarly;
A fig for Roman maid or Spartan!
I'd hugg her dearly.

This is the muse, lad, ye ha' woo'd,
And, lukie cheild! she has ye loo'd;
Then daut her, Rob (she's weel worth goud)
And tent her tale;
She'll lift your pow aboon the croud,
I'se be her bail.

But, Robin, take this ae advice,
In Reekie's town be gayan nice
Wi' whatten birkies ye do splice
Whan it is dark,
Or they'll soon cleed ye by their vice
Wi' wooden sark.

Gin ye, man, had but some spare wook,
To take a trip to Pennycuick,
That stands aside a truntling brook
That ca's our mill,
Frae bottle out o' my best nook
We'd drink our fill.

'Tis no that mickle I can boast
To flee awa the auld year's ghost;
But yet I'd brag ye wi' a roast
O' lusty beef,
And waughts o' ale bra brown toast,
To banish grief.

Meanwhile, my cock, I'm thinking lang
To hear ye gi's another sang;
Then out your muse, and let her gang;
Cast up her head;
O'er braes o' rhyme she'll loup and bang
Wi' bir and speed.

* Ramsay and Fergusson.