1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A. W., "A Pastoral Elegy, in the Scotch Dialect, on the Death of Robert Burns" Scots Magazine 59 (September 1797) 689-90.



WILLIE.
Come tell me, Jamie, what's the wyte ye mourn?
Why ha'e your thoughts tain sic' a doolsom' turn?
That us'd to be sae fu' o' spunk an' glee,
An' lang sae sweet, sae blyth an' cantilie;
I canna thole to see ye look sae wae;
Lilt up a sang to chace your grief away.

JAMIE.
To tak' my reed, or mint to play a spring,
Or yet to try to whistle or to sing,
Is baith aboon my bind an' 'yont my art,
An' wou'd be mair nar fit to break my heart:
Sae Willie say nae mair. — This monie a day
I mak' ye sure I'll neither sing nor play.

WILLIE.
I ferlie man what mak's your heart to dunt!
Has Mainie turn'd her back, an' taen the strunt?
Or ha'e the blastin' winds come o'er your fields?
Or are your ouffen elf-shot i' their bields?
Or are your kye gaen yiel' to gar you weep?
Or has Tod Lowrie worri'd a' your sheep?

JAMIE.
Sic things as thae, though weightie they would be,
Wou'd no' be have's gien siccan grief to me;
Nor Mainie, nor my ouffen wou'd I mind,
Nor sheep, nor kye, nor tods, nor blightin' wind.—
Far war nor that's faun' out! O wae's me!
For Rob, our hind, that sang sae cheerullie,
Wha's charmin' music drave awa' our pain,
An' cheer'd our hearts, alake! is dead an' gane.

WILLIE.
Is Robie dead? Weel may we a' be wae,
An' dowie too, for year an' month an' day!
An' is he gaen indeed? the blythest he
That ever plew'd or whissl'd o'er the lee.—
Sair fair we'll miss him an' his cantie springs,
Nae mair he he whissles now, alake! nor sings:
Sae sweetlie did his cheerie music's cling,
His meltin' notes made a' the vallies ring.
Lang days an' nights we'll ha'e o' grief an' care,
For cantie Robin plays an' sings nae mair.

JAMIE.
I ferlie muckle what can be the wyte,
That Heav'n sae aften shortens our delight?
Is our north clime sae dour an' sae severe,
That charmin' fingers mak' nae thriven here?
We anes had Allan, cantie blyth an' gay,
That wi' sweet singin' bore the gree away;
At last he fell. — Rob Fergusson appear'd,
Whase thrillin' music hills and valley cheer'd,
Death tuik him too. — Then ilka glen was sad,
Till Robin cam' an' made our shielins glad;
Sae sweet he sang, wi' sic melodious air,
But now, alake! he'll sing an' play nae mair.

WILLIE.
Had I no' been a stupit doitit ass,
I might hae lear'd frae what has come to pass;
For but the other ouk' nae farder gaen,
I thought the vera brutes did a' complain,
The corbies croupit, an' the dogs did yowl,
Hail nights I sleptna' for the skirling owl.
Loud at the door cam' monie fearsom' raps,
The vera pyets raive our shielin' taps:
Thae a' might stood for warnins sad an' fair,
That daintie Robin was to sing nae mair.

JAMIE.
O me! may never ane get sic a fright,
As I gat wi' a dream that awfu' night.
What think ye did I see? — Wi' fearsom' glow,
I saw my house a' bleezin' in a low!
I raiz I thaught, an' try'd to get it smoor'd,
An' muckle pain an' trouble I endur'd:
Till wi' a waff a reek, whan gaun about,
I thought indeed I gat an eye dung out.
An' whan I waken'd, troth to tell ye now,
I thought for lang that a' I saw was true.
I lay a while, an' swatt wi' perfect fright,
But glad was I to see the mornin' light.
I saddlie find my dream true and read to me:
For I wi' him hae lost my best tae eye.
I might hae thaught be this, had I ta'en care,
That daintie Rob was ne'er to whissle mair.

WILLIE.
We poor short-sightit mortals canna see
A single inch into futurity.—
What can we do but wi' fell grief be tosst,
An' mourn baith night an' day for him we've lost.
How cantie ha'e I been, on our sheep-gangs,
To lean me down an' read his bonnie sangs;
How he had simple dogs to crack sae nice,
An' wi' their crackin' crub the ways o' vice.
It would gar simple fokes, o' little wight,
A maist believe he had the secon' sight—
Now may we count our haudins toom and bare,
Whan he that us'd to cheer them sings nae mair.

JAMIE.
To see I've monie a time been blyth enough,
His horse an' ouffen drawin' i' the pleugh;
An' then he whissl'd ay' wi' sic a glee,
As gart them rock an' row alang the lee.
Mong sweepin' rigs o' corn, I can declare,
I've seen i' hairst our wenches shearin' fair,
Aftimes, for a' their brulziein kemps an' bangs,
Haud still their hooks an' lissen till his sangs;
At which he had sae nice a gait an' knack
As made the vera Briggs o' Ayr to crack.
An' argue steevely, opnin' to our view
Auld warld things, as weel as things that's new.
Mourn Coila, mourn! let sons an' daughters share,
For Rob your darling ne'er will whissle mair.