1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A Caledonian, "Verses written in 1786, when the celebrated Robert Burns had bid farewell to his native Country, and was about to emigrate to Jamaica" Scots Magazine 71 (November 1809) 845-46.



Hail, sweetest bard! sae lately ken't,
Now formaist on the Thistley bent,
Thy artless notes ding a' in prent,
They gar ane glow'r;
In raptures wi' them aft I've spent,
A happy hour.

When Winter wi' his drouket pow
Howls whistlen o'er the witter'd knowe,
And roaren mak's the burn to rowe;
The frantic form
Thou paints, my fancy, soon taks lowe
And rides the storm.

When smiling Spring, wi' lilies crown'd,
Strews her white daisies thick around,
The woodlands ring, I catch the sound
From every tree;
From glen to glen I skip and bound,
And follow thee.

I follow thee, and fondly stray
Where rosy summer, blyth and gay,
Half naked 'mang the tedded hay,
In mirth and glee,
Dances and sports the hours away,
And sings wi' thee.

And when thou hails, at dewy morn,
The warbler on the spangled thorn,
The winding path and yellow corn,
On wand'ring Ayr,
Away, sweet bard, wi' thee I'm borne,
I know not where.

'Neath yon ag'd Elm at noon I ly,
Doon's bonnie waters wimplin' by,
There mark thy Muse unrivall'd fly
By haunted streams,
Catching the glow that from the eye
Of beauty beams.

And when in sober mantle clad
Sweet Evening comes, celestial maid,
I trace thee to the lowly shed,
The peaceful cot,
Where Cherubs crown the Patriarch's head,
And bless the spot.

Or catch the strains thy fancy pours,
When fairy bands at moon-light hours
Frisk frae yon moul'dring roofless tow'rs
In gowns sae green,
To strew the cottar's path wi' flowers,
At Hallowe'en.

Or when Tam's drouth, sae ill to slocken,
His vera hindmost mate had brocken,
And on his beast, the beast sat rocken,
Through mirk and mire,
The clouds in fury 'round him bocken,
Hail, rain and fire.

The tempest ragen through the wood,
And roaren in the rising flood,
Auld Cloots himsel' in merry mood
Whisken before him,
To right and left, fiends yellen loud
In triumph o'er him.

And Spunkie in the mosses blinken,
Spectres in dizens round him jinken,
And warlocks to their doxies winken,
The Coof to flee,
Safe's man thou'd scaur the hardiest thinken
What drinkers' dree.

Ye tuneful nine, frae moors and fells,
(For there sweet Poesy aft dwells,)
Gae fetch a wreath o' heather-bells,
And vi'lets blue;
Twine gowans in't, and row't in ells
'Round Robin's brow.

O! Fortune, smile and kiss him yet!
Down wi' his sails tho' they be set,
If worth can e'er thy favour get,
Or catch thine e'e,
Or tears can plead, thou'll never let
Burns owr're the sea.

Poor Scotia on the barren wild
Sits weeping o'er her darling child,
Neglected, friendless, starv'd and toil'd,
'Gainst want nae shield,
Forc'd for to seek some climate mild,
Some warmer bield.

Adown the hawthorn blossom'd vale
The lily white, the primrose pale,
May waste their fragrance on the gale,
And drop unseen,
But ah! can suffering merit fail
To find a frien'.

Shall BURNS, immortal, matchless chiel',
Yon sunny heights nae langer speel,
Nor braes, whare he has pip'd sae leel,
And Orpheus-like,
Could charm a' nature round to feel
His music strike.

The shipwreck'd boy benumb'd and wet
Has oft again to life been het,
The slender bark's no aye owre-set
When ocean roars;
May his not find some harbour yet
On these bleak shores.

Ye Embro' lads, sae deep in skill,
Ye hae the art his ail to kill,
Your kindness kirsten'd wi' a gill
Might gi'et the fling,
And yet gar ilka shaw, and hill,
Melodious ring.

It cannot sure attach to you,
To skreen his laurels frae the dew,
Shed then your beams around him now,
Your heat impart;
And foil the storm that would subdue,
An honest heart.

Haste wipe the tear frae Scotland's e'e,
O! keep her dautet bairn a wee,
Sic native worth out owr'e the sea
Maun ne'er be hurl'd,
Rin, hap your Poet coziely,
And brag the world.
E—v—le.