1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "Ode on the Anniversary of Burns's Birth-day" Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 21 (February 1803) 136.



Let others, enamour'd of seasons more gay,
Their harps to the primrosy April attune,
Let them carol the sweets of the lily-rob'd May,
Or garnish their lays with the rose-bud of June.

Not the season of beauty, the prime of the year,
So charming, so lovely, to me can appear,
As the day when the Poet, to Scotia dear,
First open'd his eyes on the banks of the Doon.

O! that the lov'd Bard, ere his spirit was flown,
Ere he bade a short life of misfortune adieu!
Wide over my shoulders his mantle had thrown,
I'd breath'd a strain worthy of him and of you.

But, alas! cold for ever's the soul-kindling fire:
Mute the tongue that could captivate, ravish, inspire,
While the hands of the feeble awaken the lyre,
And the Muses sigh out, "Our adorers are few."

Yet duly will we, as this season returns,
With joy to the lowly-roof'd cottage repair,
And, as we pour out a libation to BURNS,
We'll toast the sweet dames of the Doon and the Ayr!

And sing 'till each river, his woodlands among,
Bid his rocks and his caverns re-echo the song,
And the winds, on their wings, waft delighted along—
Our esteem of the Bard, and our love to the Fair.

On the 29th Jan. 1803, a select party of the Patrons of the Ayrshire Poet BURNS, met to dinner at Alloway, in the room in which he was born, to celebrate his Birth-day, when the following Ode, composed for the occasion by one of the company, was read; but a doubt having arisen whether the 25th or the 29th of January was his birth-day, the register for births for the parish of Ayr was searched; and it thereby appears, that the 25th, and not the 29th, as has hitherto been most generally believed, was the birth-day of the Poet, and in the year 1759.