1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Thomas Campbell, "Ode to the Memory of Burns, spoken at the Commemoration of Robert Burns, on Saturday, by Mr. Conway" The Sun (27 May 1816).



Soul of the Poet! whereso'er,
Reclaim'd from earth thy genius plume
Her wings of immortality;
Suspend thy harp in happier sphere,
And with thine influence illume
The gladness of our jubilee.

And fly like fiends from secret spell,
Discord and strife, at BURNS'S name,
Exorcis'd by his memory;
For he was chief of bards that swell
The heart with songs of social flame
And high delicious revelry.

And Love's own strain to him was giv'n,
To warble all its ecstasies
With Pythian words unsought, unwill'd,
Love the surviving gift of Heaven,
The choicest sweet of Paradise,
In life's bitter cup distill'd.

Who that has melted o'er his lay
To Mary's soul, in Heav'n above,
But. pictur'd, sees in fancy strong
The landscape and the livelong day
That smil'd upon their mutual love?—
Who that has felt forgets the song?

Nor skill'd one flame alone to fan—
His country's high-soul'd peasantry
What patriot-pride he taught: — how much
To weigh the inborn worth of man!
And rustic life and poverty
Grew beautiful beneath his touch.

Him in his clay-built cot the Muse
Entranc'd and shew'd him all the forms
Of fairy-light and wizard gloom
(That only gifted Poet views,)
The Genii of the floods and storms,
And martial shades from Glory's tomb.

On Bannock-field what thoughts arouse
The Swain whom BURNS'S song inspires!
Beat not his Caledonian veins,
As o'er the heroic turf he ploughs,
With all the spirit of his sires,
And all their scorn of death and chains?

And see the Scottish exile tann'd
By many a far and foreign clime,
Bend, o'er his home-born verse, and weep,
In memory of his native land,
With love that scorns the lapse of time,
And ties that stretch beyond the deep.

Encamp'd by Indian rivers wild,
The soldier, resting on his arms,
In BURNS'S carol sweet recalls
The scenes that blest him when a child,
And glows and gladdens at the charms
Of Scotia's woods and waterfalls.

Oh deem not, 'midst this worldly strife,
And idle art the Poet brings:
Let high Philosophy controul
And sages calm the stream of life,
'Tis he refines its fountain springs,
The nobler passions of the soul.

It is the Muse that consecrates
The native banner of the brave,
Unfurling at the trumpet's breath
Rose, Thistle, Harp, — 'tis she elates
To sweep the field or ride the wave,
A sunburst in the storm of death.

And thou, young Hero, when thy pall
Is cross'd with mournful sword and plume,
When public grief begins to fade
And only tears of kindred fall,
Who but the bard shall dress thy tomb,
And greet with Fame thy gallant shade?

Such was the Soldier — BURNS forgive
That sorrows of mine own intrude
In strains to thy great memory due.
In verse like thine, oh! could he live,
The friend I mourn'd — the brave, the good,
EDWARD, that died at Waterloo!

Farewell, high Chief of Scottish song,
That could'st alternately impart
Wisdom and rapture in thy page,
And brand each vice with satire strong,
Whose lines are mottoes of the heart,
Whose truths electrify the sage.

Farewell! and ne'er may Envy dare
To wring one baleful poison drop!
From the crush'd laurels of thy bust;
But, while the lark sings sweet in air,
Still may the grateful pilgrim stop,
To bless the spot that holds thy dust.