Page images



Give lettered pomp to teeth of Time,
So "Bonnie Doon" but tarry;
Blot out the epic's stately rhyme,

But spare his "Highland Mary."


There have been loftier themes than his,
And longer scrolls, and louder lyres,
And lays lit upon with Poesy's

Purer and holier fires:

Yet read the names that know not death;
Few nobler ones than Burns are there;
And few have won a greener wreath

Than that which binds his hair.

His is that language of the heart

In which the answering heart would speak, Thought, word, that bids the warm tear start, Or the smile light the cheek;

And his that music to whose tone

The common pulse of man keeps time,

In cot or castle's mirth or moan,

In cold or sunny clime.

And who hath heard his song, nor knelt
Before its spell with willing knee,
And listened, and believed, and felt,
The poet's mastery?

O'er the mind's sea, in calm and storm,

O'er the heart's sunshine and its showers, O'er Passion's moments, bright and warm, O'er Reason's dark, cold hours;

On fields where brave men "die or do,"
In halls where rings the banquet's mirth,
Where mourners weep, where lovers woo,
From throne to cottage hearth?

What sweet tears dim the eyes unshed,
What wild vows falter on the tongue,
When "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,"
Or "Auld Lang Syne," is sung!

Pure hopes, that lift the soul above,

Come with his "Cotter's" hymn of praise, And dreams of youth, and truth, and love With "Logan's" banks and braes.

And when he breathes his master-lay
Of Alloway's witch-haunted wall,
All passions in our frames of clay
Come thronging at his call.

Imagination's world of air,

And our own world, its gloom and glee, Wit, pathos, poetry, are there,

And death's sublimity.

And Burns-though brief the race he ran,
Though rough and dark the path he trod-
Lived, died, in form and soul a Man,
The image of his God.

Through care, and pain, and want, and woe,
With wounds that only death could heal,
Tortures the poor alone cán know,
The proud alone can feel;

He kept his honesty and truth,

His independent tongue and pen,

And moved in manhood as in youth,
Pride of his fellow-men.

Praise to the bard! his words are driven,
Like flower-seeds by the far winds sown,
Where'er beneath the sky of heaven,
The birds of fame have flown.

Praise to the man! a nation stood
Beside his coffin with wet eyes,-
Her brave, her beautiful, her good,—
As when a loved one dies.

Such graves as his are pilgrim-shrines,
Shrines to no code or creed confined—
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
The Meccas, of the mind.

Sages, with Wisdom's garland wreathed, Crowned kings, and mitred priests of power, And warriors with their bright swords sheathed, The mightiest of the hour;

And lowlier names, whose humble home

Is lit by Fortune's dimmer star,

Are there

o'er wave and mountain come,

From countries near and far;

Pilgrims, whose wandering feet have pressed
The Switzer's snow, the Arab's sand,
Or trod the piled leaves of the West,
My own green forest land.

All ask the cottage of his birth,

Gaze on the scenes he loved and sung,
And gather feelings not of earth
His fields and streams among.

They linger by the Doon's low trees,
And pastoral Nith, and wooded Ayr,
And round thy sepulchres, Dumfries!
The poet's tomb is there.

But what to them the sculptor's art,

His funeral columns, wreaths, and urns!

Wear they not graven on the heart

The name of Robert Burns?



For sheer beauty of expression it would be hard to find anything surpassing this. It should be read with a very slow voice movement, and a light, musical tone.

My soul to-day

Is far away,

Sailing the Vesuvian Bay;

My winged boat,

A bird afloat,

Swims round the purple peaks remote:

Round purple peaks

It sails and seeks

Blue inlets, and their crystal creeks,

Where high rocks throw,

Through deeps below,

A duplicated golden glow.

Far, vague and dim,

The mountains swim;
While on Vesuvius' misty brim,
With outstretched hands,

The gray smoke stands,
O'erlooking the volcanic lands.

Here Ischia smiles

O'er liquid miles;

« PreviousContinue »