1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Alexis, "Lines on the late Scotch Poet" New-York Weekly Magazine 2 (21 December 1796) 200.



The brightest rays of genius fail
To guard its Sons from earthly grief,
Wisdom alas! can naught avail,
Or to the suff'rer yield relief.

The sons of Genius, hapless race,
Too often are the sons of woe;
The dreary path of want they trace,
Or to the grave unheeded go.

Such, BURNS, was thy unhappy fate,
Such the reward of worth like thine;
The muse deplores thine humble state,
Which thy bright talents could confine.

Offspring of nature — self-taught Bard,
Thy memory respect commands:
And though on earth thy lot was hard,
Thy shade th' applauding lay demands.

To thee, the muses lov'd to bring,
The sweets of Poetry resign'd:
'Twas thine in humble strains to sing,
The mild effusions of thy mind.

Seduc'd by nature's pleasing sway,
Her influence fashion'd ev'ry line—
Her beauties shone throughout thy lay,
Her beauties made the lay divine.

But many a gem, both rich and bright,
Th' unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
And dark seclusion hides from sight
Full many a flow'ret, sweet and fair.
New-York, Dec. 6, 1796.