1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Thomas Blacklock, "To Robert Burns" 24 August 1789; Joseph Robertson, Lives of the Scottish Poets (1822) 2:2:44-45.



Dear Burns, thou brother of my heart,
Both for thy virtues and thy art;
If art it may be called in thee,
Which Nature's bounty, large and free,
With pleasure on thy breast diffuses,
And warms thy soul with all the Muses.
Whether to laugh with easy grace,
Thy numbers move the sage's face;
Or bid the softer passions rise,
And ruthless souls with grief surprise;
'Tis Nature's voice distinctly felt,
Through thee, her organ, thus to melt.

Most anxiously I wish to know,
With thee, of late, how matters go?
How keeps thy much-lov'd Jean her health?
What promises thy farm, of wealth?
Whether the Muse persist to smile
And all thy anxious cares beguile?
Whether bright fancy keeps alive?
And how thy darling infants thrive?

For me, with grief and sickness spent;
Since I my journey homeward bent,
Spirit's depress'd, no more I mourn,
But vigour, life, and health, return.
No more to gloomy thoughts a prey,
I sleep all night and live all day;
By turns my books and friend enjoy,
And thus my circling hours employ.
Happy, while yet these hours remain,
If Burns could join the cheerful train;
With wonted zeal, sincere and fervent,
Salutes once more his humble servant.