Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

To the Noble Duke of Athole





[The Falls of Bruar in Athole are exceedingly beautiful and
picturesque; and their effect, when Burns visited them, was much
impaired by want of shrubs and trees. This was in 1787: the poet,
accompanied by his future biographer, Professor Walker, went, when
close on twilight, to this romantic scene: "he threw himself," said
the Professor, "on a heathy seat, and gave himself up to a tender,
abstracted, and voluptuous enthusiasm of imagination. In a few days I
received a letter from Inverness, for the poet had gone on his way,
with the Petition enclosed." His Grace of Athole obeyed the
injunction: the picturesque points are now crowned with thriving
woods, and the beauty of the Falls is much increased.]


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.


The lightly-jumpin' glowrin' trouts,
That thro' my waters play,
If, in their random, wanton spouts,
They near the margin stray;
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,
Even as I was he shor'd me;
But had I in my glory been,
He, kneeling, wad ador'd me.


Here, foaming down the shelvy rocks,
In twisting strength I rin;
There, high my boiling torrent smokes,
Wild-roaring o'er a linn:
Enjoying large each 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 bonnie 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 laverock, 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 insure
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 gray;
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 shadows' 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 bonnie lasses?"

Robert Burns