Robert Burns: Poems


To Miss Logan, With Beattie's Poems, For A New-Year's Gift, Jan. 1, 1787.

Again the silent wheels of time

Their annual round have driven,

And you, tho' scarce in maiden prime,

Are so much nearer Heaven.

No gifts have I from Indian coasts

The infant year to hail;

I send you more than India boasts,

In Edwin's simple tale.

Our sex with guile, and faithless love,

Is charg'd, perhaps too true;

But may, dear maid, each lover prove

An Edwin still to you.

Mr. William Smellie—A Sketch

Shrewd Willie Smellie to Crochallan came;

The old cock'd hat, the grey surtout the same;

His bristling beard just rising in its might,

'Twas four long nights and days to shaving night:

His uncomb'd grizzly locks, wild staring, thatch'd

A head for thought profound and clear, unmatch'd;

Yet tho' his caustic wit was biting-rude,

His heart was warm, benevolent, and good.

Rattlin', Roarin' Willie^1

As I cam by Crochallan,

I cannilie keekit ben;

Rattlin', roarin' Willie

Was sittin at yon boord-en';

Sittin at yon boord-en,

And amang gude companie;

Rattlin', roarin' Willie,

You're welcome hame to me!

Song—Bonie Dundee

My blessin's upon thy sweet wee lippie!

My blessin's upon thy e'e-brie!

Thy smiles are sae like my blythe sodger laddie,

Thou's aye the dearer, and dearer to me!

But I'll big a bow'r on yon bonie banks,

Whare Tay rins wimplin' by sae clear;

An' I'll cleed thee in the tartan sae fine,

And mak thee a man like thy daddie dear.

Extempore In The Court Of Session


Lord Advocate

He clenched his pamphlet in his fist,

He quoted and he hinted,

Till, in a declamation-mist,

His argument he tint it:

He gaped for't, he graped for't,

He fand it was awa, man;

But what his common sense came short,

He eked out wi' law, man.

Mr. Erskine

Collected, Harry stood awee,

Then open'd out his arm, man;

[Footnote 1: William Dunbar, W. S., of the Crochallan Fencibles,

a convivial club.]

His Lordship sat wi' ruefu' e'e,

And ey'd the gathering storm, man:

Like wind-driven hail it did assail'

Or torrents owre a lin, man:

The Bench sae wise, lift up their eyes,

Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man.

Inscription For The Headstone Of Fergusson The Poet^1

No sculptured marble here, nor pompous lay,

"No storied urn nor animated bust;"

This simple stone directs pale Scotia's way,

To pour her sorrows o'er the Poet's dust.

Additional Stanzas

She mourns, sweet tuneful youth, thy hapless fate;

Tho' all the powers of song thy fancy fired,

Yet Luxury and Wealth lay by in state,

And, thankless, starv'd what they so much admired.

This tribute, with a tear, now gives

A brother Bard—he can no more bestow:

But dear to fame thy Song immortal lives,

A nobler monument than Art can shew.

Inscribed Under Fergusson's Portrait

Curse on ungrateful man, that can be pleased,

And yet can starve the author of the pleasure.

O thou, my elder brother in misfortune,

By far my elder brother in the Muses,

With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!

Why is the Bard unpitied by the world,

Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?

[Footnote 1: The stone was erected at Burns' expenses in

February—March, 1789.]

Epistle To Mrs. Scott

Gudewife of Wauchope—House, Roxburghshire.


I Mind it weel in early date,

When I was bardless, young, and blate,

An' first could thresh the barn,

Or haud a yokin' at the pleugh;

An, tho' forfoughten sair eneugh,

Yet unco proud to learn:

When first amang the yellow corn

A man I reckon'd was,

An' wi' the lave ilk merry morn

Could rank my rig and lass,

Still shearing, and clearing

The tither stooked raw,

Wi' claivers, an' haivers,

Wearing the day awa.

E'en then, a wish, (I mind its pow'r),

A wish that to my latest hour

Shall strongly heave my breast,

That I for poor auld Scotland's sake

Some usefu' plan or book could make,

Or sing a sang at least.

The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide

Amang the bearded bear,

I turn'd the weeder-clips aside,

An' spar'd the symbol dear:

No nation, no station,

My envy e'er could raise;

A Scot still, but blot still,

I knew nae higher praise.

But still the elements o' sang,

In formless jumble, right an' wrang,

Wild floated in my brain;

'Till on that har'st I said before,

May partner in the merry core,

She rous'd the forming strain;

I see her yet, the sonsie quean,

That lighted up my jingle,

Her witching smile, her pawky een

That gart my heart-strings tingle;

I fired, inspired,

At every kindling keek,

But bashing, and dashing,

I feared aye to speak.

Health to the sex! ilk guid chiel says:

Wi' merry dance in winter days,

An' we to share in common;

The gust o' joy, the balm of woe,

The saul o' life, the heaven below,

Is rapture-giving woman.

Ye surly sumphs, who hate the name,

Be mindfu' o' your mither;

She, honest woman, may think shame

That ye're connected with her:

Ye're wae men, ye're nae men

That slight the lovely dears;

To shame ye, disclaim ye,

Ilk honest birkie swears.

For you, no bred to barn and byre,

Wha sweetly tune the Scottish lyre,

Thanks to you for your line:

The marled plaid ye kindly spare,

By me should gratefully be ware;

'Twad please me to the nine.

I'd be mair vauntie o' my hap,

Douce hingin owre my curple,

Than ony ermine ever lap,

Or proud imperial purple.

Farewell then, lang hale then,

An' plenty be your fa;

May losses and crosses

Ne'er at your hallan ca'!

R. Burns

March, 1787

Verses Intended To Be Written Below A Noble Earl's Picture^1

Whose is that noble, dauntless brow?

And whose that eye of fire?

And whose that generous princely mien,

E'en rooted foes admire?

Stranger! to justly show that brow,

And mark that eye of fire,

Would take His hand, whose vernal tints

His other works admire.

Bright as a cloudless summer sun,

With stately port he moves;

His guardian Seraph eyes with awe

The noble Ward he loves.

Among the illustrious Scottish sons

That chief thou may'st discern,

Mark Scotia's fond-returning eye,—

It dwells upon Glencairn.


Spoken by Mr. Woods on his benefit-night, Monday, 16th April, 1787.

When, by a generous Public's kind acclaim,

That dearest meed is granted—honest fame;

Waen here your favour is the actor's lot,

Nor even the man in private life forgot;

What breast so dead to heavenly Virtue's glow,

But heaves impassion'd with the grateful throe?

Poor is the task to please a barb'rous throng,

It needs no Siddons' powers in Southern's song;

But here an ancient nation, fam'd afar,

For genius, learning high, as great in war.

Hail, Caledonia, name for ever dear!

Before whose sons I'm honour'd to appear?

[Footnote 1: The Nobleman is James, Fourteenth Earl of Glencairn.]

Where every science, every nobler art,

That can inform the mind or mend the heart,

Is known; as grateful nations oft have found,

Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound.

Philosophy, no idle pedant dream,

Here holds her search by heaven-taught Reason's beam;

Here History paints with elegance and force

The tide of Empire's fluctuating course;

Here Douglas forms wild Shakespeare into plan,

And Harley rouses all the God in man.

When well-form'd taste and sparkling wit unite

With manly lore, or female beauty bright,

(Beauty, where faultless symmetry and grace

Can only charm us in the second place),

Witness my heart, how oft with panting fear,

As on this night, I've met these judges here!

But still the hope Experience taught to live,

Equal to judge—you're candid to forgive.

No hundred—headed riot here we meet,

With decency and law beneath his feet;

Nor Insolence assumes fair Freedom's name:

Like Caledonians, you applaud or blame.

O Thou, dread Power! whose empire-giving hand

Has oft been stretch'd to shield the honour'd land!

Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire;

May every son be worthy of his sire;

Firm may she rise, with generous disdain

At Tyranny's, or direr Pleasure's chain;

Still Self-dependent in her native shore,

Bold may she brave grim Danger's loudest roar,

Till Fate the curtain drop on worlds to be no more.

The Bonie Moor-Hen

The heather was blooming, the meadows were mawn,

Our lads gaed a-hunting ae day at the dawn,

O'er moors and o'er mosses and mony a glen,

At length they discover'd a bonie moor-hen.

Chorus.—I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men,

I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men;

Take some on the wing, and some as they spring,

But cannily steal on a bonie moor-hen.

Sweet—brushing the dew from the brown heather bells

Her colours betray'd her on yon mossy fells;

Her plumage outlustr'd the pride o' the spring

And O! as she wanton'd sae gay on the wing.

I rede you, &c.

Auld Phoebus himself, as he peep'd o'er the hill,

In spite at her plumage he tried his skill;

He levell'd his rays where she bask'd on the brae—

His rays were outshone, and but mark'd where she lay.

I rede you,&c.

They hunted the valley, they hunted the hill,

The best of our lads wi' the best o' their skill;

But still as the fairest she sat in their sight,

Then, whirr! she was over, a mile at a flight.

I rede you, &c.

Song—My Lord A-Hunting

Chorus.—My lady's gown, there's gairs upon't,

And gowden flowers sae rare upon't;

But Jenny's jimps and jirkinet,

My lord thinks meikle mair upon't.

My lord a-hunting he is gone,

But hounds or hawks wi' him are nane;

By Colin's cottage lies his game,

If Colin's Jenny be at hame.

My lady's gown, &c.

My lady's white, my lady's red,

And kith and kin o' Cassillis' blude;

But her ten-pund lands o' tocher gude;

Were a' the charms his lordship lo'ed.

My lady's gown, &c.

Out o'er yon muir, out o'er yon moss,

Whare gor-cocks thro' the heather pass,

There wons auld Colin's bonie lass,

A lily in a wilderness.

My lady's gown, &c.

Sae sweetly move her genty limbs,

Like music notes o'lovers' hymns:

The diamond-dew in her een sae blue,

Where laughing love sae wanton swims.

My lady's gown, &c.

My lady's dink, my lady's drest,

The flower and fancy o' the west;

But the lassie than a man lo'es best,

O that's the lass to mak him blest.

My lady's gown, &c.

Epigram At Roslin Inn

My blessings on ye, honest wife!

I ne'er was here before;

Ye've wealth o' gear for spoon and knife—

Heart could not wish for more.

Heav'n keep you clear o' sturt and strife,

Till far ayont fourscore,

And while I toddle on thro' life,

I'll ne'er gae by your door!

Epigram Addressed To An Artist

Dear _____, I'll gie ye some advice,

You'll tak it no uncivil:

You shouldna paint at angels mair,

But try and paint the devil.

To paint an Angel's kittle wark,

Wi' Nick, there's little danger:

You'll easy draw a lang-kent face,

But no sae weel a stranger.—R. B.

The Book-Worms

Through and through th' inspir'd leaves,

Ye maggots, make your windings;

But O respect his lordship's taste,

And spare his golden bindings.

On Elphinstone's Translation Of Martial's Epigrams

O Thou whom Poetry abhors,

Whom Prose has turned out of doors,

Heard'st thou yon groan?—proceed no further,

'Twas laurel'd Martial calling murther.

Song—A Bottle And Friend

There's nane that's blest of human kind,

But the cheerful and the gay, man,

Fal, la, la, &c.

Here's a bottle and an honest friend!

What wad ye wish for mair, man?

Wha kens, before his life may end,

What his share may be o' care, man?

Then catch the moments as they fly,

And use them as ye ought, man:

Believe me, happiness is shy,

And comes not aye when sought, man.

Lines Written Under The Picture Of The Celebrated Miss Burns

Cease, ye prudes, your envious railing,

Lovely Burns has charms—confess:

True it is, she had one failing,

Had a woman ever less?

Epitaph For William Nicol, Of The High School, Edinburgh

Ye maggots, feed on Nicol's brain,

For few sic feasts you've gotten;

And fix your claws in Nicol's heart,

For deil a bit o't's rotten.

Epitaph For Mr. William Michie

Schoolmaster of Cleish Parish, Fifeshire.

Here lie Willie Michie's banes;

O Satan, when ye tak him,

Gie him the schulin o' your weans,

For clever deils he'll mak them!

Boat song—Hey, Ca' Thro'

Up wi' the carls o' Dysart,

And the lads o' Buckhaven,

And the kimmers o' Largo,

And the lasses o' Leven.

Chorus.—Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',

For we hae muckle ado.

Hey, ca' thro', ca' thro',

For we hae muckle ado;

We hae tales to tell,

An' we hae sangs to sing;

We hae pennies tae spend,

An' we hae pints to bring.

Hey, ca' thro', &c.

We'll live a' our days,

And them that comes behin',

Let them do the like,

An' spend the gear they win.

Hey, ca' thro', &c.

Address To Wm. Tytler, Esq., Of Woodhouselee

With an Impression of the Author's Portrait.

Revered defender of beauteous Stuart,

Of Stuart, a name once respected;

A name, which to love was the mark of a true heart,

But now 'tis despis'd and neglected.

Tho' something like moisture conglobes in my eye,

Let no one misdeem me disloyal;

A poor friendless wand'rer may well claim a sigh,

Still more if that wand'rer were royal.

My fathers that name have rever'd on a throne:

My fathers have fallen to right it;

Those fathers would spurn their degenerate son,

That name should he scoffingly slight it.

Still in prayers for King George I most heartily join,

The Queen, and the rest of the gentry:

Be they wise, be they foolish, is nothing of mine;

Their title's avow'd by my country.

But why of that epocha make such a fuss,

That gave us th' Electoral stem?

If bringing them over was lucky for us,

I'm sure 'twas as lucky for them.

But, loyalty, truce! we're on dangerous ground;

Who knows how the fashions may alter?

The doctrine, to-day, that is loyalty sound,

To-morrow may bring us a halter!

I send you a trifle, a head of a bard,

A trifle scarce worthy your care;

But accept it, good Sir, as a mark of regard,

Sincere as a saint's dying prayer.

Now life's chilly evening dim shades on your eye,

And ushers the long dreary night:

But you, like the star that athwart gilds the sky,

Your course to the latest is bright.

Epigram To Miss Ainslie In Church

Who was looking up the text during sermon.

Fair maid, you need not take the hint,

Nor idle texts pursue:

'Twas guilty sinners that he meant,

Not Angels such as you.

Burlesque Lament For The Absence Of William Creech, Publisher

Auld chuckie Reekie's^1 sair distrest,

Down droops her ance weel burnish'd crest,

Nae joy her bonie buskit nest

Can yield ava,

Her darling bird that she lo'es best—

Willie's awa!

O Willie was a witty wight,

And had o' things an unco' sleight,

Auld Reekie aye he keepit tight,

And trig an' braw:

But now they'll busk her like a fright,—

Willie's awa!

The stiffest o' them a' he bow'd,

The bauldest o' them a' he cow'd;

They durst nae mair than he allow'd,

That was a law:

We've lost a birkie weel worth gowd;

Willie's awa!

Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks and fools,

Frae colleges and boarding schools,

May sprout like simmer puddock-stools

In glen or shaw;

He wha could brush them down to mools—

Willie's awa!

[Footnote 1: Edinburgh.]

The brethren o' the Commerce-chaumer

May mourn their loss wi' doolfu' clamour;

He was a dictionar and grammar

Among them a';

I fear they'll now mak mony a stammer;

Willie's awa!

Nae mair we see his levee door

Philosophers and poets pour,

And toothy critics by the score,

In bloody raw!

The adjutant o' a' the core—

Willie's awa!

Now worthy Gregory's Latin face,

Tytler's and Greenfield's modest grace;

Mackenzie, Stewart, such a brace

As Rome ne'er saw;

They a' maun meet some ither place,

Willie's awa!

Poor Burns ev'n Scotch Drink canna quicken,

He cheeps like some bewilder'd chicken

Scar'd frae it's minnie and the cleckin,

By hoodie-craw;

Grieg's gien his heart an unco kickin,

Willie's awa!

Now ev'ry sour-mou'd girnin blellum,

And Calvin's folk, are fit to fell him;

Ilk self-conceited critic skellum

His quill may draw;

He wha could brawlie ward their bellum—

Willie's awa!

Up wimpling stately Tweed I've sped,

And Eden scenes on crystal Jed,

And Ettrick banks, now roaring red,

While tempests blaw;

But every joy and pleasure's fled,

Willie's awa!

May I be Slander's common speech;

A text for Infamy to preach;

And lastly, streekit out to bleach

In winter snaw;

When I forget thee, Willie Creech,

Tho' far awa!

May never wicked Fortune touzle him!

May never wicked men bamboozle him!

Until a pow as auld's Methusalem

He canty claw!

Then to the blessed new Jerusalem,

Fleet wing awa!

Note To Mr. Renton Of Lamerton

Your billet, Sir, I grant receipt;

Wi' you I'll canter ony gate,

Tho' 'twere a trip to yon blue warl',

Whare birkies march on burning marl:

Then, Sir, God willing, I'll attend ye,

And to his goodness I commend ye.

R. Burns

Elegy On "Stella"

The following poem is the work of some hapless son of the Muses who deserved a better fate. There is a great deal of "The voice of Cona" in his solitary, mournful notes; and had the sentiments been clothed in Shenstone's language, they would have been no discredit even to that elegant poet.—R.B.

Strait is the spot and green the sod

From whence my sorrows flow;

And soundly sleeps the ever dear

Inhabitant below.

Pardon my transport, gentle shade,

While o'er the turf I bow;

Thy earthy house is circumscrib'd,

And solitary now.

Not one poor stone to tell thy name,

Or make thy virtues known:

But what avails to me—to thee,

The sculpture of a stone?

I'll sit me down upon this turf,

And wipe the rising tear:

The chill blast passes swiftly by,

And flits around thy bier.

Dark is the dwelling of the Dead,

And sad their house of rest:

Low lies the head, by Death's cold arms

In awful fold embrac'd.

I saw the grim Avenger stand

Incessant by thy side;

Unseen by thee, his deadly breath

Thy lingering frame destroy'd.

Pale grew the roses on thy cheek,

And wither'd was thy bloom,

Till the slow poison brought thy youth

Untimely to the tomb.

Thus wasted are the ranks of men—

Youth, Health, and Beauty fall;

The ruthless ruin spreads around,

And overwhelms us all.

Behold where, round thy narrow house,

The graves unnumber'd lie;

The multitude that sleep below

Existed but to die.

Some, with the tottering steps of Age,

Trod down the darksome way;

And some, in youth's lamented prime,

Like thee were torn away:

Yet these, however hard their fate,

Their native earth receives;

Amid their weeping friends they died,

And fill their fathers' graves.

From thy lov'd friends, when first thy heart

Was taught by Heav'n to glow,

Far, far remov'd, the ruthless stroke

Surpris'd and laid thee low.

At the last limits of our isle,

Wash'd by the western wave,

Touch'd by thy face, a thoughtful bard

Sits lonely by thy grave.

Pensive he eyes, before him spread

The deep, outstretch'd and vast;

His mourning notes are borne away

Along the rapid blast.

And while, amid the silent Dead

Thy hapless fate he mourns,

His own long sorrows freshly bleed,

And all his grief returns:

Like thee, cut off in early youth,

And flower of beauty's pride,

His friend, his first and only joy,

His much lov'd Stella, died.

Him, too, the stern impulse of Fate

Resistless bears along;

And the same rapid tide shall whelm

The Poet and the Song.

The tear of pity which he sheds,

He asks not to receive;

Let but his poor remains be laid

Obscurely in the grave.

His grief-worn heart, with truest joy,

Shall meet he welcome shock:

His airy harp shall lie unstrung,

And silent on the rock.

O, my dear maid, my Stella, when

Shall this sick period close,

And lead the solitary bard

To his belov'd repose?

The Bard At Inverary

Whoe'er he be that sojourns here,

I pity much his case,

Unless he comes to wait upon

The Lord their God, His Grace.

There's naething here but Highland pride,

And Highland scab and hunger:

If Providence has sent me here,

'Twas surely in his anger.

Epigram To Miss Jean Scott

O had each Scot of ancient times

Been, Jeanie Scott, as thou art;

The bravest heart on English ground

Had yielded like a coward.

On The Death Of John M'Leod, Esq,

Brother to a young Lady, a particular friend of the Author's.

Sad thy tale, thou idle page,

And rueful thy alarms:

Death tears the brother of her love

From Isabella's arms.

Sweetly deckt with pearly dew

The morning rose may blow;

But cold successive noontide blasts

May lay its beauties low.

Fair on Isabella's morn

The sun propitious smil'd;

But, long ere noon, succeeding clouds

Succeeding hopes beguil'd.

Fate oft tears the bosom chords

That Nature finest strung;

So Isabella's heart was form'd,

And so that heart was wrung.

Dread Omnipotence alone

Can heal the wound he gave—

Can point the brimful grief-worn eyes

To scenes beyond the grave.

Virtue's blossoms there shall blow,

And fear no withering blast;

There Isabella's spotless worth

Shall happy be at last.

Elegy On The Death Of Sir James Hunter Blair

The lamp of day, with—ill presaging glare,

Dim, cloudy, sank beneath the western wave;

Th' inconstant blast howl'd thro' the dark'ning air,

And hollow whistled in the rocky cave.

Lone as I wander'd by each cliff and dell,

Once the lov'd haunts of Scotia's royal train;^1

Or mus'd where limpid streams, once hallow'd well,^2

Or mould'ring ruins mark the sacred fane.^3

Th' increasing blast roar'd round the beetling rocks,

The clouds swift-wing'd flew o'er the starry sky,

The groaning trees untimely shed their locks,

And shooting meteors caught the startled eye.

[Footnote 1: The King's Park at Holyrood House.—R. B.]

[Footnote 2: St. Anthony's well.—R. B.]

[Footnote 3: St. Anthony's Chapel.—R. B.]

The paly moon rose in the livid east.

And 'mong the cliffs disclos'd a stately form

In weeds of woe, that frantic beat her breast,

And mix'd her wailings with the raving storm

Wild to my heart the filial pulses glow,

'Twas Caledonia's trophied shield I view'd:

Her form majestic droop'd in pensive woe,

The lightning of her eye in tears imbued.

Revers'd that spear, redoubtable in war,

Reclined that banner, erst in fields unfurl'd,

That like a deathful meteor gleam'd afar,

And brav'd the mighty monarchs of the world.

"My patriot son fills an untimely grave!"

With accents wild and lifted arms she cried;

"Low lies the hand oft was stretch'd to save,

Low lies the heart that swell'd with honest pride.

"A weeping country joins a widow's tear;

The helpless poor mix with the orphan's cry;

The drooping arts surround their patron's bier;

And grateful science heaves the heartfelt sigh!

"I saw my sons resume their ancient fire;

I saw fair Freedom's blossoms richly blow:

But ah! how hope is born but to expire!

Relentless fate has laid their guardian low.

"My patriot falls: but shall he lie unsung,

While empty greatness saves a worthless name?

No; every muse shall join her tuneful tongue,

And future ages hear his growing fame.

"And I will join a mother's tender cares,

Thro' future times to make his virtues last;

That distant years may boast of other Blairs!"—

She said, and vanish'd with the sweeping blast.

Impromptu On Carron Iron Works

We cam na here to view your warks,

In hopes to be mair wise,

But only, lest we gang to hell,

It may be nae surprise:

But when we tirl'd at your door

Your porter dought na hear us;

Sae may, shou'd we to Hell's yetts come,

Your billy Satan sair us!

To Miss Ferrier

Enclosing the Elegy on Sir J. H. Blair.

Nae heathen name shall I prefix,

Frae Pindus or Parnassus;

Auld Reekie dings them a' to sticks,

For rhyme-inspiring lasses.

Jove's tunefu' dochters three times three

Made Homer deep their debtor;

But, gien the body half an e'e,

Nine Ferriers wad done better!

Last day my mind was in a bog,

Down George's Street I stoited;

A creeping cauld prosaic fog

My very sense doited.

Do what I dought to set her free,

My saul lay in the mire;

Ye turned a neuk—I saw your e'e—

She took the wing like fire!

The mournfu' sang I here enclose,

In gratitude I send you,

And pray, in rhyme as weel as prose,

A' gude things may attend you!

Written By Somebody On The Window

Of an Inn at Stirling, on seeing the Royal Palace in ruin.

Here Stuarts once in glory reigned,

And laws for Scotland's weal ordained;

But now unroof'd their palace stands,

Their sceptre's sway'd by other hands;

Fallen indeed, and to the earth

Whence groveling reptiles take their birth.

The injured Stuart line is gone,

A race outlandish fills their throne;

An idiot race, to honour lost;

Who know them best despise them most.

The Poet's Reply To The Threat Of A Censorious Critic

My imprudent lines were answered, very petulantly, by somebody, I believe, a Rev. Mr. Hamilton. In a MS., where I met the answer, I wrote below:—

With Esop's lion, Burns says: Sore I feel

Each other's scorn, but damn that ass' heel!

The Libeller's Self-Reproof^1

Rash mortal, and slanderous poet, thy name

Shall no longer appear in the records of Fame;

Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible,

Says, the more 'tis a truth, sir, the more 'tis a libel!

Verses Written With A Pencil

Over the Chimney—piece in the Parlour of the Inn at Kenmore, Taymouth.

Admiring Nature in her wildest grace,

These northern scenes with weary feet I trace;

O'er many a winding dale and painful steep,

Th' abodes of covey'd grouse and timid sheep,

[Footnote 1: These are rhymes of dubious authenticity.—Lang.]

My savage journey, curious, I pursue,

Till fam'd Breadalbane opens to my view.—

The meeting cliffs each deep-sunk glen divides,

The woods wild scatter'd, clothe their ample sides;

Th' outstretching lake, imbosomed 'mong the hills,

The eye with wonder and amazement fills;

The Tay meand'ring sweet in infant pride,

The palace rising on his verdant side,

The lawns wood-fring'd in Nature's native taste,

The hillocks dropt in Nature's careless haste,

The arches striding o'er the new-born stream,

The village glittering in the noontide beam—

Poetic ardours in my bosom swell,

Lone wand'ring by the hermit's mossy cell;

The sweeping theatre of hanging woods,

Th' incessant roar of headlong tumbling floods—

Here Poesy might wake her heav'n-taught lyre,

And look through Nature with creative fire;

Here, to the wrongs of Fate half reconcil'd,

Misfortunes lighten'd steps might wander wild;

And Disappointment, in these lonely bounds,

Find balm to soothe her bitter, rankling wounds:

Here heart-struck Grief might heav'nward stretch her scan,

And injur'd Worth forget and pardon man.

Song—The Birks Of Aberfeldy

Tune—"The Birks of Abergeldie."

Chorus.—Bonie lassie, will ye go,

Will ye go, will ye go,

Bonie lassie, will ye go

To the birks of Aberfeldy!

Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,

And o'er the crystal streamlets plays;

Come let us spend the lightsome days,

In the birks of Aberfeldy.

Bonie lassie, &c.

While o'er their heads the hazels hing,

The little birdies blythely sing,

Or lightly flit on wanton wing,

In the birks of Aberfeldy.

Bonie lassie, &c.

The braes ascend like lofty wa's,

The foaming stream deep-roaring fa's,

O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws—

The birks of Aberfeldy.

Bonie lassie, &c.

The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers,

White o'er the linns the burnie pours,

And rising, weets wi' misty showers

The birks of Aberfeldy.

Bonie lassie, &c.

Let Fortune's gifts at randoe flee,

They ne'er shall draw a wish frae me;

Supremely blest wi' love and thee,

In the birks of Aberfeldy.

Bonie lassie, &c.

The Humble Petition Of Bruar Water

To the noble Duke of Athole.

My lord, I know your noble ear

Woe ne'er assails in vain;

Embolden'd thus, I beg you'll hear

Your humble slave complain,

How saucy Phoebus' scorching beams,

In flaming summer-pride,

Dry-withering, waste my foamy streams,

And drink my crystal tide.^1

The lightly-jumping, glowrin' trouts,

That thro' my waters play,

If, in their random, wanton spouts,

They near the margin stray;

[Footnote 1: Bruar Falls, in Athole, are exceedingly picturesque

and beautiful; but their effect is much impaired by the want of

trees and shrubs.—R.B.]

If, hapless chance! they linger lang,

I'm scorching up so shallow,

They're left the whitening stanes amang,

In gasping death to wallow.

Last day I grat wi' spite and teen,

As poet Burns came by.

That, to a bard, I should be seen

Wi' half my channel dry;

A panegyric rhyme, I ween,

Ev'n as I was, he shor'd me;

But had I in my glory been,

He, kneeling, wad ador'd me.

Here, foaming down the skelvy rocks,

In twisting strength I rin;

There, high my boiling torrent smokes,

Wild-roaring o'er a linn:

Enjoying each large spring and well,

As Nature gave them me,

I am, altho' I say't mysel',

Worth gaun a mile to see.

Would then my noble master please

To grant my highest wishes,

He'll shade my banks wi' tow'ring trees,

And bonie spreading bushes.

Delighted doubly then, my lord,

You'll wander on my banks,

And listen mony a grateful bird

Return you tuneful thanks.

The sober lav'rock, warbling wild,

Shall to the skies aspire;

The gowdspink, Music's gayest child,

Shall sweetly join the choir;

The blackbird strong, the lintwhite clear,

The mavis mild and mellow;

The robin pensive Autumn cheer,

In all her locks of yellow.

This, too, a covert shall ensure,

To shield them from the storm;

And coward maukin sleep secure,

Low in her grassy form:

Here shall the shepherd make his seat,

To weave his crown of flow'rs;

Or find a shelt'ring, safe retreat,

From prone-descending show'rs.

And here, by sweet, endearing stealth,

Shall meet the loving pair,

Despising worlds, with all their wealth,

As empty idle care;

The flow'rs shall vie in all their charms,

The hour of heav'n to grace;

And birks extend their fragrant arms

To screen the dear embrace.

Here haply too, at vernal dawn,

Some musing bard may stray,

And eye the smoking, dewy lawn,

And misty mountain grey;

Or, by the reaper's nightly beam,

Mild-chequering thro' the trees,

Rave to my darkly dashing stream,

Hoarse-swelling on the breeze.

Let lofty firs, and ashes cool,

My lowly banks o'erspread,

And view, deep-bending in the pool,

Their shadow's wat'ry bed:

Let fragrant birks, in woodbines drest,

My craggy cliffs adorn;

And, for the little songster's nest,

The close embow'ring thorn.

So may old Scotia's darling hope,

Your little angel band

Spring, like their fathers, up to prop

Their honour'd native land!

So may, thro' Albion's farthest ken,

To social-flowing glasses,

The grace be—"Athole's honest men,

And Athole's bonie lasses!

Lines On The Fall Of Fyers Near Loch-Ness.

Written with a Pencil on the Spot.

Among the heathy hills and ragged woods

The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;

Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,

Where, thro' a shapeless breach, his stream resounds.

As high in air the bursting torrents flow,

As deep recoiling surges foam below,

Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends,

And viewles Echo's ear, astonished, rends.

Dim-seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show'rs,

The hoary cavern, wide surrounding lours:

Still thro' the gap the struggling river toils,

And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils—

Epigram On Parting With A Kind Host In The Highlands

When Death's dark stream I ferry o'er,

A time that surely shall come,

In Heav'n itself I'll ask no more,

Than just a Highland welcome.

Strathallan's Lament^1

Thickest night, o'erhang my dwelling!

Howling tempests, o'er me rave!

Turbid torrents, wintry swelling,

Roaring by my lonely cave!

[Footnote 1: Burns confesses that his Jacobtism was merely

sentimental "except when my passions were heated by some

accidental cause," and a tour through the country where Montrose,

Claverhouse, and Prince Charles had fought, was cause enough.

Strathallan fell gloriously at Culloden.—Lang.]

Crystal streamlets gently flowing,

Busy haunts of base mankind,

Western breezes softly blowing,

Suit not my distracted mind.

In the cause of Right engaged,

Wrongs injurious to redress,

Honour's war we strongly waged,

But the Heavens denied success.

Ruin's wheel has driven o'er us,

Not a hope that dare attend,

The wide world is all before us—

But a world without a friend.

Castle Gordon

Streams that glide in orient plains,

Never bound by Winter's chains;

Glowing here on golden sands,

There immix'd with foulest stains

From Tyranny's empurpled hands;

These, their richly gleaming waves,

I leave to tyrants and their slaves;

Give me the stream that sweetly laves

The banks by Castle Gordon.

Spicy forests, ever gray,

Shading from the burning ray

Hapless wretches sold to toil;

Or the ruthless native's way,

Bent on slaughter, blood, and spoil:

Woods that ever verdant wave,

I leave the tyrant and the slave;

Give me the groves that lofty brave

The storms by Castle Gordon.

Wildly here, without control,

Nature reigns and rules the whole;

In that sober pensive mood,

Dearest to the feeling soul,

She plants the forest, pours the flood:

Life's poor day I'll musing rave

And find at night a sheltering cave,

Where waters flow and wild woods wave,

By bonie Castle Gordon.

Song—Lady Onlie, Honest Lucky

Tune—"The Ruffian's Rant."

A' The lads o' Thorniebank,

When they gae to the shore o' Bucky,

They'll step in an' tak a pint

Wi' Lady Onlie, honest Lucky.

Chorus.—Lady Onlie, honest Lucky,

Brews gude ale at shore o' Bucky;

I wish her sale for her gude ale,

The best on a' the shore o' Bucky.

Her house sae bien, her curch sae clean

I wat she is a daintie chuckie;

And cheery blinks the ingle-gleed

O' Lady Onlie, honest Lucky!

Lady Onlie, &c.

Theniel Menzies' Bonie Mary

Air—"The Ruffian's Rant," or "Roy's Wife."

In comin by the brig o' Dye,

At Darlet we a blink did tarry;

As day was dawnin in the sky,

We drank a health to bonie Mary.

Chorus.—Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary,

Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary,

Charlie Grigor tint his plaidie,

Kissin' Theniel's bonie Mary.

Her een sae bright, her brow sae white,

Her haffet locks as brown's a berry;

And aye they dimpl't wi' a smile,

The rosy cheeks o' bonie Mary.

Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, &c.

We lap a' danc'd the lee-lang day,

Till piper lads were wae and weary;

But Charlie gat the spring to pay

For kissin Theniel's bonie Mary.

Theniel Menzies' bonie Mary, &c.

The Bonie Lass Of Albany^1

Tune—"Mary's Dream."

My heart is wae, and unco wae,

To think upon the raging sea,

That roars between her gardens green

An' the bonie Lass of Albany.

This lovely maid's of royal blood

That ruled Albion's kingdoms three,

But oh, alas! for her bonie face,

They've wrang'd the Lass of Albany.

In the rolling tide of spreading Clyde

There sits an isle of high degree,

And a town of fame whose princely name

Should grace the Lass of Albany.

But there's a youth, a witless youth,

That fills the place where she should be;

We'll send him o'er to his native shore,

And bring our ain sweet Albany.

Alas the day, and woe the day,

A false usurper wan the gree,

Who now commands the towers and lands—

The royal right of Albany.

We'll daily pray, we'll nightly pray,

On bended knees most fervently,

The time may come, with pipe an' drum

We'll welcome hame fair Albany.

[Footnote 1: Natural daughter of Prince Charles Edward.]

On Scaring Some Water-Fowl In Loch-Turit

A wild scene among the Hills of Oughtertyre.

"This was the production of a solitary forenoon's walk from Oughtertyre House. I lived there, the guest of Sir William Murray, for two or three weeks, and was much flattered by my hospitable reception. What a pity that the mere emotions of gratitude are so impotent in this world. 'Tis lucky that, as we are told, they will be of some avail in the world to come." —R.B., Glenriddell MSS.

Why, ye tenants of the lake,

For me your wat'ry haunt forsake?

Tell me, fellow-creatures, why

At my presence thus you fly?

Why disturb your social joys,

Parent, filial, kindred ties?—

Common friend to you and me,

yature's gifts to all are free:

Peaceful keep your dimpling wave,

Busy feed, or wanton lave;

Or, beneath the sheltering rock,

Bide the surging billow's shock.

Conscious, blushing for our race,

Soon, too soon, your fears I trace,

Man, your proud, usurping foe,

Would be lord of all below:

Plumes himself in freedom's pride,

Tyrant stern to all beside.

The eagle, from the cliffy brow,

Marking you his prey below,

In his breast no pity dwells,

Strong necessity compels:

But Man, to whom alone is giv'n

A ray direct from pitying Heav'n,

Glories in his heart humane—

And creatures for his pleasure slain!

In these savage, liquid plains,

Only known to wand'ring swains,

Where the mossy riv'let strays,

Far from human haunts and ways;

All on Nature you depend,

And life's poor season peaceful spend.

Or, if man's superior might

Dare invade your native right,

On the lofty ether borne,

Man with all his pow'rs you scorn;

Swiftly seek, on clanging wings,

Other lakes and other springs;

And the foe you cannot brave,

Scorn at least to be his slave.

Blythe Was She^1

Tune—"Andro and his Cutty Gun."

Chorus.—Blythe, blythe and merry was she,

Blythe was she but and ben;

Blythe by the banks of Earn,

And blythe in Glenturit glen.

By Oughtertyre grows the aik,

On Yarrow banks the birken shaw;

But Phemie was a bonier lass

Than braes o' Yarrow ever saw.

Blythe, blythe, &c.

Her looks were like a flow'r in May,

Her smile was like a simmer morn:

She tripped by the banks o' Earn,

As light's a bird upon a thorn.

Blythe, blythe, &c.

Her bonie face it was as meek

As ony lamb upon a lea;

The evening sun was ne'er sae sweet,

As was the blink o' Phemie's e'e.

Blythe, blythe, &c.

[Footnote 1: Written at Oughtertyre. Phemie is Miss Euphemia

Murray, a cousin of Sir William Murray of Oughtertyre.—Lang.]

The Highland hills I've wander'd wide,

And o'er the Lawlands I hae been;

But Phemie was the blythest lass

That ever trod the dewy green.

Blythe, blythe, &c.

A Rose-Bud By My Early Walk

A Rose-bud by my early walk,

Adown a corn-enclosed bawk,

Sae gently bent its thorny stalk,

All on a dewy morning.

Ere twice the shades o' dawn are fled,

In a' its crimson glory spread,

And drooping rich the dewy head,

It scents the early morning.

Within the bush her covert nest

A little linnet fondly prest;

The dew sat chilly on her breast,

Sae early in the morning.

She soon shall see her tender brood,

The pride, the pleasure o' the wood,

Amang the fresh green leaves bedew'd,

Awake the early morning.

So thou, dear bird, young Jeany fair,

On trembling string or vocal air,

Shall sweetly pay the tender care

That tents thy early morning.

So thou, sweet Rose-bud, young and gay,

Shalt beauteous blaze upon the day,

And bless the parent's evening ray

That watch'd thy early morning.

Epitaph For Mr. W. Cruikshank^1

Honest Will to Heaven's away

And mony shall lament him;

His fau'ts they a' in Latin lay,

In English nane e'er kent them.

Song—The Banks Of The Devon

Tune—"Bhanarach dhonn a' chruidh."

How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon,

With green spreading bushes and flow'rs blooming fair!

But the boniest flow'r on the banks of the Devon

Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr.

Mild be the sun on this sweet blushing flower,

In the gay rosy morn, as it bathes in the dew;

And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower,

That steals on the evening each leaf to renew!

O spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes,

With chill hoary wing as ye usher the dawn;

And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizes

The verdure and pride of the garden or lawn!

Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded lilies,

And England triumphant display her proud rose:

A fairer than either adorns the green valleys,

Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.

Braving Angry Winter's Storms

Tune—"Neil Gow's Lament for Abercairny."

Where, braving angry winter's storms,

The lofty Ochils rise,

Far in their shade my Peggy's charms

First blest my wondering eyes;

As one who by some savage stream

A lonely gem surveys,

Astonish'd, doubly marks it beam

With art's most polish'd blaze.

[Footnote 1: Of the Edinburgh High School.]

Blest be the wild, sequester'd shade,

And blest the day and hour,

Where Peggy's charms I first survey'd,

When first I felt their pow'r!

The tyrant Death, with grim control,

May seize my fleeting breath;

But tearing Peggy from my soul

Must be a stronger death.

Song—My Peggy's Charms

Tune—"Tha a' chailleach ir mo dheigh."

My Peggy's face, my Peggy's form,

The frost of hermit Age might warm;

My Peggy's worth, my Peggy's mind,

Might charm the first of human kind.

I love my Peggy's angel air,

Her face so truly heavenly fair,

Her native grace, so void of art,

But I adore my Peggy's heart.

The lily's hue, the rose's dye,

The kindling lustre of an eye;

Who but owns their magic sway!

Who but knows they all decay!

The tender thrill, the pitying tear,

The generous purpose nobly dear,

The gentle look that rage disarms—

These are all Immortal charms.

The Young Highland Rover


Loud blaw the frosty breezes,

The snaws the mountains cover;

Like winter on me seizes,

Since my young Highland rover

Far wanders nations over.

Where'er he go, where'er he stray,

May heaven be his warden;

Return him safe to fair Strathspey,

And bonie Castle-Gordon!

The trees, now naked groaning,

Shall soon wi' leaves be hinging,

The birdies dowie moaning,

Shall a' be blythely singing,

And every flower be springing;

Sae I'll rejoice the lee-lang day,

When by his mighty Warden

My youth's return'd to fair Strathspey,

And bonie Castle-Gordon.

Birthday Ode For 31st December, 1787^1

Afar the illustrious Exile roams,

Whom kingdoms on this day should hail;

An inmate in the casual shed,

On transient pity's bounty fed,

Haunted by busy memory's bitter tale!

Beasts of the forest have their savage homes,

But He, who should imperial purple wear,

Owns not the lap of earth where rests his royal head!

His wretched refuge, dark despair,

While ravening wrongs and woes pursue,

And distant far the faithful few

Who would his sorrows share.

False flatterer, Hope, away!

Nor think to lure us as in days of yore:

We solemnize this sorrowing natal day,

To prove our loyal truth—we can no more,

And owning Heaven's mysterious sway,

Submissive, low adore.

Ye honored, mighty Dead,

Who nobly perished in the glorious cause,

Your King, your Country, and her laws,

[Footnote 1: The last birthday of Prince Charles Edward.]

From great Dundee, who smiling Victory led,

And fell a Martyr in her arms,

(What breast of northern ice but warms!)

To bold Balmerino's undying name,

Whose soul of fire, lighted at Heaven's high flame,

Deserves the proudest wreath departed heroes claim:

Nor unrevenged your fate shall lie,

It only lags, the fatal hour,

Your blood shall, with incessant cry,

Awake at last, th' unsparing Power;

As from the cliff, with thundering course,

The snowy ruin smokes along

With doubling speed and gathering force,

Till deep it, crushing, whelms the cottage in the vale;

So Vengeance' arm, ensanguin'd, strong,

Shall with resistless might assail,

Usurping Brunswick's pride shall lay,

And Stewart's wrongs and yours, with tenfold weight repay.

Perdition, baleful child of night!

Rise and revenge the injured right

Of Stewart's royal race:

Lead on the unmuzzled hounds of hell,

Till all the frighted echoes tell

The blood-notes of the chase!

Full on the quarry point their view,

Full on the base usurping crew,

The tools of faction, and the nation's curse!

Hark how the cry grows on the wind;

They leave the lagging gale behind,

Their savage fury, pitiless, they pour;

With murdering eyes already they devour;

See Brunswick spent, a wretched prey,

His life one poor despairing day,

Where each avenging hour still ushers in a worse!

Such havock, howling all abroad,

Their utter ruin bring,

The base apostates to their God,

Or rebels to their King.

On The Death Of Robert Dundas, Esq., Of Arniston,

Late Lord President of the Court of Session.

Lone on the bleaky hills the straying flocks

Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks;

Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains,

The gathering floods burst o'er the distant plains;

Beneath the blast the leafless forests groan;

The hollow caves return a hollow moan.

Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests, and ye caves,

Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves!

Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye,

Sad to your sympathetic glooms I fly;

Where, to the whistling blast and water's roar,

Pale Scotia's recent wound I may deplore.

O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear!

A loss these evil days can ne'er repair!

Justice, the high vicegerent of her God,

Her doubtful balance eyed, and sway'd her rod:

Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow,

She sank, abandon'd to the wildest woe.

Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den,

Now, gay in hope, explore the paths of men:

See from his cavern grim Oppression rise,

And throw on Poverty his cruel eyes;

Keen on the helpless victim see him fly,

And stifle, dark, the feebly-bursting cry:

Mark Ruffian Violence, distained with crimes,

Rousing elate in these degenerate times,

View unsuspecting Innocence a prey,

As guileful Fraud points out the erring way:

While subtle Litigation's pliant tongue

The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong:

Hark, injur'd Want recounts th' unlisten'd tale,

And much-wrong'd Mis'ry pours the unpitied wail!

Ye dark waste hills, ye brown unsightly plains,

Congenial scenes, ye soothe my mournful strains:

Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll!

Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul.

Life's social haunts and pleasures I resign;

Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine,

To mourn the woes my country must endure—

That would degenerate ages cannot cure.

Sylvander To Clarinda^1

Extempore Reply to Verses addressed to the Author by a Lady, under the signature of "Clarinda" and entitled, On Burns saying he 'had nothing else to do.'

When dear Clarinda, matchless fair,

First struck Sylvander's raptur'd view,

He gaz'd, he listened to despair,

Alas! 'twas all he dared to do.

Love, from Clarinda's heavenly eyes,

Transfixed his bosom thro' and thro';

But still in Friendships' guarded guise,

For more the demon fear'd to do.

That heart, already more than lost,

The imp beleaguer'd all perdue;

For frowning Honour kept his post—

To meet that frown, he shrunk to do.

His pangs the Bard refused to own,

Tho' half he wish'd Clarinda knew;

But Anguish wrung the unweeting groan—

Who blames what frantic Pain must do?

That heart, where motley follies blend,

Was sternly still to Honour true:

To prove Clarinda's fondest friend,

Was what a lover sure might do.

[Footnote 1: A grass-widow, Mrs. M'Lehose.]

The Muse his ready quill employed,

No nearer bliss he could pursue;

That bliss Clarinda cold deny'd—

"Send word by Charles how you do!"

The chill behest disarm'd his muse,

Till passion all impatient grew:

He wrote, and hinted for excuse,

'Twas, 'cause "he'd nothing else to do."

But by those hopes I have above!

And by those faults I dearly rue!

The deed, the boldest mark of love,

For thee that deed I dare uo do!

O could the Fates but name the price

Would bless me with your charms and you!

With frantic joy I'd pay it thrice,

If human art and power could do!

Then take, Clarinda, friendship's hand,

(Friendship, at least, I may avow;)

And lay no more your chill command,—

I'll write whatever I've to do.