1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

William Gillespie, "Verses written for the Anniversary of Burns, celebrated at Dumfries, 25th January, 1823" The Plough Boy [Albany] 4 (6 May 1823) 384.



Again brings round the circling year,
By Genius hail'd as it returns—
The day to Caledonia dear—
The birth-day festival of BURNS.
Hail'd is this day in splendid halls—
Hail'd is this day in cottage walls;
In birchen glen, or mountain's side,
The shepherd hail's his country's pride;
The ploughman greets, with proud acclaim,
The day which marks a ploughman's fame;
On Albion's hills — by wood or stream—
Is heard, this day, one common theme,
To BURNS — the rural echo sounds;
To BURNS — the mantling cup goes round;
And minds most hostile all agree,
With glowing friendship, social glee,
To celebrate his memory!

Him genius nursed, her darling child,
On Coila's breast, romantic, wild;
Where pours the Doon his foaming floods,
'Mongst rocky glens and pendant woods:
Where Alloway's roofless church is seen,
With humble belfry, crusted green;
Where wrinkled hags their cantrips play'd,
Unhallow'd, in the midnight shade,
Her genius braced his manly form,
Amid the rigors of the storm;
And shew'd nought to his youthful eye,
But Nature's wildest scenery—
The scenery of native clime—
The mighty hills — first born of time,
That lift the soul to thoughts sublime,
Proud as the eagle, from her height,
Soars to the heaven, and eyes its light
Undazzled, conscious of her might;
So Genius formed her son of song,
With soul aspiring, bold and strong;
Nor bred in schools, nor cramp'd by art,
His guide was nature and the heart.
With pen dipt in the rainbow hues,
She taught to paint his fervid muse;
And borrow from the torrent course,
Its grandeur, harmony, and force.
The manners of the rustic train
He knew — himself a rustic swain;
Portrayed the passions which he felt
In his own bosom warm and strong,
That wake to love — to pity melt,
And pour'd them glowing in his song.

This day, is hail'd his country's bard,
Where'er a Scottish voice is heart;
Afar, by Delhi's towering halls,
Or by Niag'ra's thundering falls,
Or ice-ribbed coasts of Labradore,
Is fill'd the wine-cup brimming o'er,
To BURNS — or where the bright waves coil,
Round many a blooming Indian isle,
Where spring wears an immortal smile,
Yes! there, O BURNS! thy cherish'd rhyme
Reminds the Scotsman of his clime;
And in the hues of love and truth,
Recals the landscapes of his youth;
The mist crown'd hills — the woodland shade—
The streams on which his boyhood stray'd—
The cot whose wreaths of azure smoke
'Twined o'er the woods, or heath-clad rock;
And faced lov'd and words so dear,
Smile in his view, and charm his ear,
And make him think his country dear.

Ah! dearer then, to him appears
His native heath with blossoms red,
The berries which the rowan bears,
And snow-white blooms the hawthorn's shed,
On banks with tufted primrose clad,
Than richest fruits or gayest flowers;
That blush in Yemen's fragrant bowers;
And sweeter there, the linnet's voice,
Than all the birds of paradise,
Tho' sporting in the noon-tide glow,
With hues that shame the heavenly bow;
Then is the lonely exile blest,
O BURNS! thy melting strain to list;
That bids his home illusive rise,
Fair to his soul, tho' far it lies,
And gives a bliss that fate denies.

And he who tost at sea espies
Nought but the weary waves and skies,
Shall pause this day, beside the sail,
The memory of the bard to hail;
While Fancy, o'er the azure foam,
On eager wings shall waft him home,
To scenes which distance but endears,
View'd through the length of space or years,
When hope was smiling, life was young,
And joy spoke from each laughing tongue,
And BURNS! thy rural theme was sung.

O land of heaths, of mists, and storms!
Beat by the wild waves of the sea,
Tho' here repose not summer's charms,
But spirits robed in vapory forms,
Tho' rude, thou art still dear to me,
Land of my fathers! THOU ART FREE!
And bless the bard that strikes to thee
The enobling harp of Liberty!
Hail BURNS! — and while the patriot fire
That glow'd in Bruce or Wallace-wight,
A Scottish bosom shall inspire,
Or vibrate from a Scottish lyre,
Long shall thy minstrelsy delight,
Yes! while fond love, in rural shade,
Shall bless the swain or melt the maid,
Or friendship cheer, or frolic mirth
Laugh round the social country hearth;
Or Genius, Nature, Fancy claim
The never dying wreath of fame—
So long, sweet Bard! shall live thy name.