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Address to the Shade of Thomsen





["Lord Buchan has the pleasure to invite Mr. Burns to make one at the
coronation of the bust of Thomson, on Ednam Hill, on the 22d of
September: for which day perhaps his muse may inspire an ode suited to
the occasion. Suppose Mr. Burns should, leaving the Nith, go across
the country, and meet the Tweed at the nearest point from his farm,
and, wandering along the pastoral banks of Thomson's pure parent
stream, catch inspiration in the devious walk, till he finds Lord
Buchan sitting on the ruins of Dryburgh. There the Commendator will
give him a hearty welcome, and try to light his lamp at the pure flame
of native genius, upon the altar of Caledonian virtue." Such was the
invitation of the Earl of Buchan to Burns. To request the poet to lay
down his sickle when his harvest was half reaped, and traverse one of
the wildest and most untrodden ways in Scotland, for the purpose of
looking at the fantastic coronation of the bad bust of on excellent
poet, was worthy of Lord Buchan. The poor bard made answer, that a
week's absence in the middle of his harvest was a step he durst not
venture upon--but he sent this Poem.

The poet's manuscript affords the following interesting variations:--

"While cold-eyed Spring, a virgin coy,
Unfolds her verdant mantle sweet,
Or pranks the sod in frolic joy,
A carpet for her youthful feet:

"While Summer, with a matron's grace,
Walks stately in the cooling shade,
And oft delighted loves to trace
The progress of the spiky blade:

"While Autumn, benefactor kind,
With age's hoary honours clad,
Surveys, with self-approving mind,
Each creature on his bounty fed."]

While virgin Spring, by Eden's flood,
Unfolds her tender mantle green,
Or pranks the sod in frolic mood,
Or tunes Ćolian strains between:

While Summer, with a matron grace,
Retreats to Dryburgh's cooling shade,
Yet oft, delighted, stops to trace
The progress of the spiky blade:

While Autumn, benefactor kind,
By Tweed erects his aged head,
And sees, with self-approving mind,
Each creature on his bounty fed:

While maniac Winter rages o'er
The hills whence classic Yarrow flows,
Rousing the turbid torrent's roar,
Or sweeping, wild, a waste of snows:

So long, sweet Poet of the year!
Shall bloom that wreath thou well hast won;
While Scotia, with exulting tear,
Proclaims that Thomson was her son.

Robert Burns