1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

William Yates, "To Mr. Robert Burns, on his celebrated Poem of the Whistle" Literary Magazine and British Review 10 (March 1793) 236-37.



Hail! son of Apollo, chief bard of our isle,
Whose verses make sober and wanton to smile;
Your fancy high tow'ring and lofty in rhimes,
So pat to the purpose and taste of the times.

Ye friend of the Muses, your genius surpasses
All rhimes that e'er set a foot on Parnassus;
Through all Caledonia is sounded your praise,
Obtaining the laurels, and wearing the bays.

Of all the grand strains that have flow'd from your gristle,
None more to the life than the old Danish whistle;
This whistle that's famed in old Scottish songs,
No less than the hero to whom it belongs.

When the son of great Loda appear'd in this land,
Defying our chiefs at the bottle to stand;
He found to his cost tho' he challeng'd his fate,
That the sons of old Scotia were not to be beat.

'Tis strange that a Dane should thus daringly think,
Our heroes would bow to his godship in drink—
A Brave Caledonian despises to yield,
To rivals in drinking, or foes in the field.

'Tis told us, however, that victor at first,
Ne'er blacksmith at work was possess'd of such thirst;
But noble Glenriddle well season'd with wine,
Soon vanquish'd the hero, he drank so divine.

This whistle possessing for centuries past,
What pity! to lose such a trophy at last;
Glenriddle! Glenriddle as ye've done before,
Apply to the bottle, and drink for't once more.

Draw cork after cork, and let bumpers o'erflow,
Disdaining to yield up the prize to your foe;
Convince brave Graigdarroct e'er vanquish'd you'd be,
You'd wallow in claret as deep as the sea.

Ye brave Caledonians let joys now abound,
And the fame of this whistle thro' Scotland resound;
The bottle's the friend that can banish despair,
The sweetener of life, and the curer of care.

Sing on, ye great bard, may your verse be sublime,
And long may you flourish immortal in rhime;
May virtue arise, and may vice fall below,
And Britons victorious wherever they go.
Airdrie.