1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A Literary Gentleman, "Ode for the Glasgow Ayrshire Society" New England Galaxy [Boston] 2 (14 May 1819) 123.



As when the accents of an angel's tongue
Seem still to vibrate on the ravish'd ear,
Of him, who on the lips seraphic hung,
And fain, fain would such notes forever hear;
So he, the Bard, to all our bosoms dear,
Tho' from these regions he has wing'd his flight,
Still lives in song, and bids us still revere,
Those heav'n born strains that minister delight.

O could I to the Empyrean soar,
And catch the music of the Cherub Choir!
I'd teach our hills and vallies to adore
With all their echoing rocks, the living lyre;
But oh! the steep acclivity is higher,
Than I with daring energy can climb!
For 'tis a soul of flame — a tongue of fire,
That may essay to scan the height sublime.

Of Poesy — it better me beseems,
Lapt in the bosom of the twilight grove,
To list the cadence of the murmuring streams,
And pen a sonnet to the maid I love;
For she to me all other maids above,
Seems grac'd in beauty far beyond compare,
Pride of those maids, 'mong which I want to rove,
And loveliest blossom on the banks of Ayr.

We'll duly meet, as wheels the circling year,
And niffer greeting when this day returns,
The while, with tender, but "exulting tear,"
Her darling's fate poor Caledonia mourns;
And when our ashes centre in their urns,
The sympathizing passenger will say,
"There rest the Relics of the friends of Burns,"
And weeping, onward wind his weary way.

By Glotta's side, the monumental pile,
Towers high, and animates the soul to war,
Sacred to him who triumph'd on the Nile,
And died the Hero's death at Trafalgar.
But loftier still, and worshipp'd from afar,
Amid the grove, hard by yon hallow'd fane,*
Soon shall arise the Patriot's leading star,
To tell that Wallace has not bled in vain.

* Alluding to the intended erection of a Monument to WALLACE in the Fir Park, opposite the Cathedral, from which may be seen not only the place of his birth, the spot where he was betrayed, but also the scene of some of his brightest achievements. It may be gratifying to our readers to learn, that Subscriptions for this Monument are rapidly filling up.
[From the Glasgow Herald, Feb. 1.]