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I'll pu' the budding rose, when Phoebus peeps in view,
For it's like a baumy kiss o' her sweet, bonie mou;
The hyacinth's for constancy wi' its unchanging blue,
And a' to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The lily it is pure, and the lily it is fair,
And in her lovely bosom I'll place the lily there;
The daisy's for simplicity and unaffected air,

And a' to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The hawthorn I will pu', wi' its locks o' siller gray,
Where, like an aged man, it stands at break o' day;
But the songster's nest within the bush I winna tak away
And a' to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The woodbine I will pu', when the e'ening star is near,
And the diamond draps o' dew shall be her een sae clear;
The violet's for modesty, which weel she fa's to wear,
And a' to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

I'll tie the Posie round wi' the silken band o' luve,
And I'll place it in her breast, and I'll swear by a' above,
That to my latest draught o' life the band shall ne'er remove,
And this will be a Posie to my ain dear May.

A Fragment, 1791.

THOU, Liberty, thou art my theme;
Not such as idle poets dream,
Who trick thee up a heathen goddess

That a fantastic cap and rod has;
Such stale conceits are poor and silly;
I paint thee out, a Highland filly,
A sturdy, stubborn, handsome dapple,
As sleek's a mouse, as round's an apple,
That when thou pleasest canst do wonders;
But when thy luckless rider blunders,
Or if thy fancy should demur there,
Wilt break thy neck ere thou go further.

These things premised, I sing a Fox,
Was caught among his native rocks,
And to a dirty kennel chained,
How he his liberty regained.

Glenriddell! Whig without a stain, A Whig in principle and grain, Could'st thou enslave a free-born creature, A native denizen of Nature?

How could'st thou, with a heart so good, (A better ne'er was sluiced with blood!) Nail a poor devil to a tree,

That ne'er did harm to thine or thee?

The staunchest Whig Glenriddell was, Quite frantic in his country's cause; And oft was Reynard's prison passing, And with his brother-Whigs canvassing The Rights of Men, the Powers of Women, With all the dignity of Freemen.

Sir Reynard daily heard debates Of Princes', Kings', and Nations' fates, With many rueful, bloody stories Of Tyrants, Jacobites, and Tories: From liberty how angels fell, That now are galley-slaves in hell; How Nimrod first the trade began Of binding Slavery's chains on Man; How fell Semiramis-God damn her! Did first, with sacrilegious hammer, (All ills till then were trivial matters) For Man dethron'd forge hen-peck fetters;

How Xerxes, that abandoned Tory, Thought cutting throats was reaping glory, Until the stubborn Whigs of Sparta

Taught him great Nature's Magna Charta; How mighty Rome her fiat hurl'd Resistless o'er a bowing world,

And, kinder than they did desire,
Polish'd mankind with sword and fire;
With much, too tedious to relate,
Of ancient and of modern date,
But ending still, how Billy Pitt
(Unlucky boy!) with wicked wit,

Has gagg'd old Britain, drain'd her coffer,
As butchers bind and bleed a heifer.

Thus wily Reynard by degrees,
In kennel listening at his ease,
Suck'd in a mighty stock of knowledge,
As much as some folks at a College;
Knew Britain's rights and constitution,
Her aggrandisement, diminution,
How fortune wrought us good from evil;
Let no man, then, despise the Devil,
As who should say, 'I never can need him,'
Since we to scoundrels owe our freedom.


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 Shakespeare drives;
Wee Pope, the knurlin', till him rives
Horatian fame;

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' myrtle twines,
Where Philomel,

While nightly breezes sweep the vines,
Her griefs will tell!

In gowany glens thy burnie strays,
Where bonie 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.


As on the banks o' wandering Nith,
Ae smiling simmer morn I stray'd,
And traced its bonie howes and haughs,
Where linties sang and lammies play'd,
I sat me down upon a craig,

And drank my fill o' fancy's dream,
When from the eddying deep below,
Up rose the genius of the stream.

Dark, like the frowning rock, his brow,
And troubled, like his wintry wave,
And deep, as sughs the boding wind

Amang his caves, the sigh he gave-
"And come ye here, my son," he cried,
"To wander in my birken shade?
To muse some favourite Scottish theme,
Or sing some favourite Scottish maid?

"There was a time, it's nae lang syne,
Ye might hae seen me in my pride,
When a' my banks sae bravely saw
Their woody pictures in my tide;
When hanging beech and spreading elm
Shaded my stream sae clear and cool:
And stately oaks their twisted arms
Threw broad and dark across the pool;

"When, glinting thro' the trees, appear'd
The wee white cot aboon the mill,
And peacefu' rose its ingle reek,

That, slowly curling, clamb the hill.

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