1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Leigh Hunt, "Ode to the Memory of Burns" Morning Chronicle (27 June 1802).



Adieu, with all thy wood-notes wild,
Thy rural pipe so sweetly mild,
Thy song that many a sigh beguil'd
In sorrow's breast;
Adieu, Misfortune's tuneful child;
Thou'rt gone to rest!

Tho' Wealth, and simple Pride refuse
To weep a persecuted Muse,
Love, who lit up thine eye, tear-dews
Thy rural tomb,
And o'er thee many a flow'ret strews
Of gayest bloom.

Fond spring for thee around the plough
Shall wreathe her willow's greenest bough;
And smiling love's warm hallow'd vow,
Breathe on thy grave;
Or whisper where yon hill below
The dark trees wave.

Oft when the dying breeze shall seek
With murm'ring kiss the ev'ning's cheek,
And rustling whispers fitful break
The twilight grove,
Remembrance o'er the wild shall wake
Thy pipe of love.

And oft where Tilt's hoarse-dashing wave
Hears round the rock it's wild stream rave,
Yon woods, that, as the storm they brave,
Mourn o'er the flood,
Shall murmur to each sullen cave,
In music rude.

Then if thy songs of freedom sound,
The mighty spirits pour around,
Of Scots* who once on patriot ground,
With WALLACE bled;
The groves with solemn grandeur crown'd
Bow to the dead!

The flood's majestic genius rears,
His furrow'd front sublime in years;
And as the swelling pomp he hears,
Rolls his dark eye,
And shakes the reeds wreath'd o'er his ears,
Tumbling from high.

Night silent comes; the hero band
Sit pond'ring on their native land;
Tilt half enchains with rugged hand
His moon-lit wave;
The woods in sullen murmurs grand
Soothe the stern brave!

How solemn thus, when Life's aw'd sight
Looks in the grave, the day once bright
Spread with dark clouds, to view its light,
Steal from the eye;
And ponder on the coming night,
Futurity!

But night is gone; the smiling morn
Beams o'er Tilt's rock-broken burn;
Away the fairy vision's torn;
And truth severe
Points where is laid his harp forlorn,
The charm of AYR!

Ah (blush, ye rich, who court the day!)
The tune of life had sighed away,
While yet upon his harp could play
The blithsome strain;
His warbling lips were pleasure gay,
His heart was pain!

But in the grave no wealthy scorn
Frowns on the Muse's blushing morn;
Nor from her fearful brow is torn
The wither'd wreath,
That cherish'd by no dews, forlorn,
Shrunk into death!

Yet shouldst thou scorn a hundred deaths!
On SCOTIA'S wild red-blossom'd heaths,
For Burns they weave immortal wreaths;
And his blest lay
From Love's empurpled lip soft breathes,
Scenting the day!

Sweet Pity still in simplest blue,
Shall o'er thy grave her myrtles strew;
And still while each affection true
Mourns where they twine,
Eternity thy laurels dew
With tear divine!

* The following anecdote of Burns (which I give from memory only) exhibits all the enthusiasm of a poetic spirit: — He was returning home one evening over a heath with an acquaintance during a violent thunder-storm; his companion happening to urge some conversation, found the Bard totally dumb, nor could all his endeavours rouse him from the deep contemplation in which he was solemnly buried; he was in fact addressing the soldiers of Bruce amidst the storm, and composing that animated Ode which begins — "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled," &c.