1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

Ebenezer Picken, in The Laurel Disputed (1791) 11-12.



Eager the Muse for Caledonia's fame,
Blest fair Edina with a later bard;
He, with the charms of young rising plant,
In the gay morn that nods its head in dew,
Rose lovely; fraught with every grace of youth,
And promising the fairest of the field.
Thrice happy hours! too happy long to last;
Short is the reign of Nature's choicest blooms.
From the green stem the blushing rose depends,
Child of a day! full fondly we admire
Its hue, its fragrance: Soon the noontide ray
Preys on its life, or withering breezes blast
Its bloom, and blot its beauties from the year.

Ah! hapless fate! yet such a fate was thine,
Such, Ferguson! that nipp'd thy rising shoot
In pride of youth, and reft thee from the love
The care, the hearts, the wishes of thy friends.

What genius was, and what it would have been,
The mind may judge. With him are wide extremes.
Ramsay's sweet lines have won the tongue of praise,
Far as report has fam'd the Scottish song;
Where hapless Ferguson's poetic lay
Is nameless. Not the fault of sterling worth,
But chance unkindly. He had merit too.