ON TURNING ONE DOWN WITH THE PLOUGH IN
[This was not the original title of this sweet poem: I have a copy in
the handwriting of Burns entitled "The Gowan." This more natural name
he changed as he did his own, without reasonable cause; and he changed
it about the same time, for he ceased to call himself Burness and his
poem "The Gowan," in the first edition of his works. The field at
Mossgiel where he turned down the Daisy is said to be the same field
where some five months before he turned up the Mouse; but this seems
likely only to those who are little acquainted with tillage--who think
that in time and place reside the chief charms of verse; and who feel
not the beauty of "The Daisy," till they seek and find the spot on
which it grew. Sublime morality and the deepest emotions of the soul
pass for little with those who remember only what the genius loves to
Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonnie gem.
Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
The bonnie lark, companion meet!
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
Wi' spreckl'd breast,
When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
The purpling east.
Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
Upon thy early, humble birth;
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce rear'd above the parent earth
Thy tender form.
The flaunting flowers our gardens yield,
High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield
But thou, beneath the random bield
O' clod or stane,
Adorns the histie stibble-field,
There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sunward spread,
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise;
But now the share uptears thy bed,
And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless maid,
Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betray'd,
And guileless trust,
'Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard,
On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
Unskilful he to note the card
Of prudent lore,
'Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
By human pride or cunning driv'n
To mis'ry's brink,
'Till wrenched of every stay but Heav'n,
He, ruin'd, sink!
Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
That fate is thine--no distant date;
Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
Full on thy bloom,
'Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight,
Shall be thy doom!