[Though Gilbert Burns says there is some doubt of this Poem being by
his brother, and though Robert Chambers declares that he "has scarcely
a doubt that it is not by the Ayrshire Bard," I must print it as his,
for I have no doubt on the subject. It was found among the papers of
the poet, in his own handwriting: the second, the fourth, and the
concluding verses bear the Burns' stamp, which no one has been
successful in counterfeiting: they resemble the verses of Beattie, to
which Chambers has compared them, as little as the cry of the eagle
resembles the chirp of the wren.]
Hail Poesie! thou Nymph reserv'd!
In chase o' thee, what crowds hae swerv'd
Frae common sense, or sunk enerv'd
'Mang heaps o' clavers;
And och! o'er aft thy joes hae starv'd
Mid a' thy favours!
Say, Lassie, why thy train amang,
While loud the trump's heroic clang,
And sock or buskin skelp alang,
To death or marriage;
Scarce ane has tried the shepherd-sang
But wi' miscarriage?
In Homer's craft Jock Milton thrives;
Eschylus' pen Will Shakspeare drives;
Wee Pope, the knurlin, 'till him rives
In thy sweet sang, Barbauld, survives
Even Sappho's flame.
But thee, Theocritus, wha matches?
They're no herd's ballats, Maro's catches;
Squire Pope but busks his skinklin patches
O' heathen tatters;
I pass by hunders, nameless wretches,
That ape their betters.
In this braw age o' wit and lear,
Will nane the Shepherd's whistle mair
Blaw sweetly in its native air
And rural grace;
And wi' the far-fam'd Grecian share
A rival place?
Yes! there is ane; a Scottish callan--
There's ane; come forrit, honest Allan!
Thou need na jouk behint the hallan,
A chiel sae clever;
The teeth o' time may gnaw Tantallan,
But thou's for ever!
Thou paints auld nature to the nines,
In thy sweet Caledonian lines;
Nae gowden stream thro' myrtles twines,
While nightly breezes sweep the vines,
Her griefs will tell!
In gowany glens thy burnie strays,
Where bonnie lasses bleach their claes;
Or trots by hazelly shaws and braes,
Wi' hawthorns gray,
Where blackbirds join the shepherd's lays
At close o' day.
Thy rural loves are nature's sel';
Nae bombast spates o' nonsense swell;
Nae snap conceits, but that sweet spell
O' witchin' love;
That charm that can the strongest quell,
The sternest move.