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Sae I'll rejoice the lee-lang day,
When by his mighty Warden
My youth's return'd to fair Strathspey,
And bonie Castle-Gordon.

Birthday Ode for 31st December 1787.1

AFAR the illustrious Exile roams,

Whom kingdoms on this day should hail;
An inmate in the casual shed,

On transient pity's bounty fed,

Haunted by busy memory's bitter tale!
Beasts of the forest have their savage homes,
But He, who should imperial purple wear,
Owns not the lap of earth where rests his royal head!
His wretched refuge, dark despair,
While ravening wrongs and woes pursue,
And distant far the faithful few

Who would his sorrows share.

False flatterer, Hope, away !

Nor think to lure us as in days of yore:
We solemnize this sorrowing natal day,
To prove our loyal truth-we can no more,
And owning Heaven's mysterious sway,
Submissive, low adore.

Ye honored, mighty Dead,

Who nobly perished in the glorious cause,
Your KING, your Country, and her laws,
From great DUNDEE, who smiling Victory led,
And fell a Martyr in her arms,

(What breast of northern ice but warms!)

1 This piece has a melancholy interest. The greatest of Scottish poets wrote the last Birthday Ode for the last hope of the Stuart line. In a month the king was dead, and only "a barren stock," the Cardinal Duke of York, survived. Poor as the verses are, for the most part, the praise of "Great Dundee " severs Burns from

the inheritors of Covenanting and Cameronian traditions, and ranges him with Scott.

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The text is from the Glenriddell MS. Currie printed only the second paragraph, as far as 'So Vengeance. where political considerations stopped him.

To bold BALMERINO's undying name,

Whose soul of fire, lighted at Heaven's high flame, Deserves the proudest wreath departed heroes claim: Not unrevenged your fate shall lie,

It only lags, the fatal hour,

Your blood shall, with incessant cry,
Awake at last, th' unsparing Power;
As from the cliff, with thundering course,
The snowy ruin smokes along

With doubling speed and gathering force,

Till deep it, crushing, whelms the cottage in the vale; So Vengeance' arm, ensanguin'd, strong,

Shall with resistless might assail,

Usurping Brunswick's pride shall lay,

And STEWART's wrongs and yours, with tenfold weight repay.

PERDITION, baleful child of night!
Rise and revenge the injured right
Of STEWART's royal race:

Lead on the unmuzzled hounds of hell,
Till all the frighted echoes tell

The blood-notes of the chase!
Full on the quarry point their view,
Full on the base usurping crew,
The tools of faction, and the nation's curse!
Hark how the cry grows on the wind;
They leave the lagging gale behind,
Their savage fury, pitiless, they pour;
With murdering eyes already they devour;
See Brunswick spent, a wretched prey,
His life one poor despairing day,

Where each avenging hour still ushers in a worse!
Such havock, howling all abroad,

Their utter ruin bring,

The base apostates to their GOD,
Or rebels to their KING.


On the Death of Robert Dundas, Esq.,
of Arniston,

Late Lord President of the Court of Session.1

LONE on the bleaky hills the straying flocks
Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks;
Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains,
The gathering floods burst o'er the distant plains;
Beneath the blast the leafless forests groan;
The hollow caves return a hollow moan.

Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests, and ye caves,
Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves!
Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye,
Sad to your sympathetic glooms I fly;
Where, to the whistling blast and water's roar,
Pale Scotia's recent wound I may deplore.

O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear!
A loss these evil days can ne'er repair!
Justice, the high vicegerent of her God,
Her doubtful balance eyed, and sway'd her rod:
Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow,
She sank, abandon'd to the wildest woe.

Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den,
Now, gay in hope, explore the paths of men:
See from his cavern grim Oppression rise,
And throw on Poverty his cruel eyes;
Keen on the helpless victim see him fly,
And stifle, dark, the feebly-bursting cry:
Mark Ruffian Violence, distained with crimes,
Rousing elate in these degenerate times,

1 Burns's letter to Alexander Cunningham gives the history of this elegy. He does not reflect that the moment of a father's death is likely to find a son occupied with so many duties that a mortuary poem may

escape notice and reply. Carlyle's unanswered letter to Scott is a parallel and equally intelligible grievance, though probably not felt with an equal passion of bitterness.

View unsuspecting Innocence a prey,

As guileful Fraud points out the erring way:
While subtle Litigation's pliant tongue

The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong:
Hark, injur'd Want recounts th' unlisten'd tale,
And much-wrong'd Mis'ry pours the unpitied wail!

Ye dark waste hills, ye brown unsightly plains,
Congenial scenes, ye soothe my mournful strains:
Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll!
Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul.
Life's social haunts and pleasures I resign;
Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine,
To mourn the woes my country must endure-
That wound degenerate ages cannot cure.

Sylvander to Clarinda.1

Extempore Reply to Verses addressed to the Author by a Lady, under the signature of "Clarinda."

WHEN dear Clarinda, matchless fair,

First struck Sylvander's raptur'd view,
He gaz'd, he listened to despair,
Alas! 'twas all he dared to do.

Love, from Clarinda's heavenly eyes,
Transfixed his bosom thro' and thro';
But still in Friendship's guarded guise,
For more the demon fear'd to do.

That heart, already more than lost,
The imp beleaguer'd all perdue;
For frowning Honour kept his post—
To meet that frown he shrunk to do.

1 Clarinda (Mrs M'Lehose) was not a widow, but a grass-widow, and Burns was, legally, a married man. Her story may be seen in the Introduction.

The verses referred to are headed "On Burns saying he 'had nothing else to do.'

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His pangs the Bard refused to own,
Tho' half he wish'd Clarinda knew ;
But Anguish wrung the unweeting groan-
Who blames what frantic Pain must do?

That heart, where motley follies blend,
Was sternly still to Honour true:
To prove Clarinda's fondest friend,
Was what a lover sure might do.

The Muse his ready quill employed,
No nearer bliss he could pursue;
That bliss Clarinda cold deny'd-

"Send word by Charles how you do!"

The chill behest disarm'd his muse,
Till passion all impatient grew:
He wrote, and hinted for excuse,
'Twas, 'cause "he'd nothing else to do."

But by those hopes I have above!
And by those faults I dearly rue!
The deed, the boldest mark of love,
For thee, that deed I dare to do!

O could the Fates but name the price
Would bless me with your charms and you!
With frantic joy I'd pay it thrice,

If human art and power could do!

Then take, Clarinda, friendship's hand,
(Friendship, at least, I may avow ;)
And lay no more your chill command,-
I'll write, whatever I've to do.


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