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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!
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