1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Alexander Wilson, "On seeing the Portrait of Robert Burns. Addressed to the Artist" Literary Magazine and American Register [Philadelphia] 5 (June 1806) 477.



Yes, it is he! the hapless well-known Burns;
His look, his air, his very soul exprest;
That heaven-taught bard whom weeping Genius mourns,
For cold in earth his silent relics rest.

Through tears that ease the anguish of my heart
I view this faithful image of my friend,
And vainly wish, dear Lawson, that thy art
Could life once more to these lov'd features lend.

Who sees not here, in this expressive eye,
The independent soul, the ardent mind,
The boundless fancy, Pity's generous sigh,
The heart to all but its possessor kind.

Alas! I knew him when his country's pride,
Yet left dark Poverty's cold winds to brave;
And those who then the friendly hand deny'd,
Now strew with flowers his green unconscious grave.

The dear remember'd scenes we oft have seen,
The burnies, haughs, and knowes of yellow broom,
The hazel glen, the birk-surrounding linn,
The blossom'd heather, and the hawthorn's bloom.

The simple tales of Scotia's hardy swains,
The loves and sports their circling seasons bring;
Who now will celebrate in equal strains!
What bard like Burns will ever, ever sing?

O he was Nature's genuine warbler born;
Too early lost, from pensive Scotia tore,
Death snatch'd him from us in life's early dawn,
Ere half the raptures of his song was o'er.

Thus soars the thrilling lark at dawn of day,
Sweet to each list'ning swain her warblings flow,
And thus the hawk sweeps down upon his prey,
And leaves the world in solitude below.
Gray's Ferry, April 25, 1806.