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Each prudent cit a warm existence finds,
And all mechanics' many-apron'd kinds.
Some other rarer sorts are wanted yet,
The lead and buoy are needful to the net:
The caput mortuum of gross desires

Makes a material for mere knights and squires;
The martial phosphorus is taught to flow,
She kneads the lumpish philosophic dough,

Then marks th' unyielding mass with grave designs,
Law, physic, politics, and deep divines;
Last, she sublimes th' Aurora of the poles,
The flashing elements of female souls.

The order'd system fair before her stood,
Nature, well pleas'd, pronounc'd it very good;
But ere she gave creating labour o'er,
Half-jest, she tried one curious labour more.
Some spumy, fiery, ignis fatuus matter,

Such as the slightest breath of air might scatter;
With arch-alacrity and conscious glee,
(Nature may have her whim as well as we,
Her Hogarth-art perhaps she meant to show it),
She forms the thing and christens it-a Poet:
Creature, tho' oft the prey of care and sorrow,
When blest to-day, unmindful of to-morrow;
A being form'd t' amuse his graver friends,
Admir'd and prais'd-and there the homage ends;
A mortal quite unfit for Fortune's strife,
Yet oft the sport of all the ills of life;
Prone to enjoy each pleasure riches give,
Yet haply wanting wherewithal to live;
Longing to wipe each tear, to heal each groan,
Yet frequent all unheeded in his own.
But honest Nature is not quite a Turk,
She laugh'd at first, then felt for her poor work:
Pitying the propless climber of mankind,
She cast about a standard tree to find;
And, to support his helpless woodbine state,
Attach'd him to the generous, truly great:

EPISTLE TO ROBERT GRAHAM

A title, and the only one I claim,

To lay strong hold for help on bounteous Graham.

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Pity the tuneful Muses' hapless train,
Weak, timid landsmen on life's stormy main !
Their hearts no selfish stern absorbent stuff,
That never gives-tho' humbly takes enough;
The little fate allows, they share as soon,
Unlike sage proverb'd Wisdom's hard-wrung boon:
The world were blest did bliss on them depend,
Ah, that "the friendly e'er should want a friend!"
Let Prudence number o'er each sturdy son,
Who life and wisdom at one race begun,
Who feel by reason and who give by rule,
(Instinct's a brute, and sentiment a fool!)
Who make poor "will do" wait upon "I should
We own they're prudent, but who feels they're good?
Ye wise ones hence! ye hurt the social eye!
God's image rudely etch'd on base alloy !
But come ye who the god-like pleasure know,
Heaven's attribute distinguished-to bestow!
Whose arms of love would grasp the human race:
Come thou who giv'st with all a courtier's grace;
FRIEND OF MY LIFE, true patron of my rhymes!
Prop of my dearest hopes for future times.
Why shrinks my soul half blushing, half afraid,
Backward, abash'd to ask thy friendly aid?
I know my need, I know thy giving hand,
I crave thy friendship at thy kind command;
But there are such who court the tuneful Nine—
Heavens! should the branded character be mine!
Whose verse in manhood's pride sublimely flows,
Yet vilest reptiles in their begging prose.
Mark, how their lofty independent spirit
Soars on the spurning wing of injured merit!
Seek you the proofs in private life to find?
Pity the best of words should be but wind!

So, to heaven's gates the lark's shrill song ascends,
But grovelling on the earth the carol ends.
In all the clam'rous cry of starving want,

They dun Benevolence with shameless front;
Oblige them, patronise their tinsel lays-
They persecute you all your future days!
Ere my poor soul such deep damnation stain,
My horny fist assume the plough again,
The pie-bald jacket let me patch once more,
On eighteenpence a week I've liv'd before.
Tho', thanks to Heaven, I dare even that last shift,
I trust, meantime, my boon is in thy gift:
That, plac'd by thee upon the wish'd-for height,
Where, man and nature fairer in her sight,

My Muse may imp her wing for some sublimer flight.

Song.-The Day Returns.1

Tune-"Seventh of November."

THE day returns, my bosom burns,
The blissful day we twa did meet :
Tho' winter wild in tempest toil'd,

Ne'er summer-sun was half sae sweet.
Than a' the pride that loads the tide,
And crosses o'er the sultry line;
Than kingly robes, than crowns and globes,
Heav'n gave me more-it made thee mine!

While day and night can bring delight,
Or Nature aught of pleasure give;
While joys above my mind can move,
For thee, and thee alone I live.
When that grim foe of life below

Comes in between to make us part,
The iron hand that breaks our band,
It breaks my bliss-it breaks my heart!

1 Written for the aforesaid Mr Riddell, his friend.

O WERE I ON PARNASSUS HILL

A Mother's Lament

For the Death of Her Son.1

FATE gave the word, the arrow sped,
And pierc'd my darling's heart;
And with him all the joys are fled
Life can to me impart.

By cruel hands the sapling drops,
In dust dishonour'd laid ;
So fell the pride of all my hopes,
My age's future shade.

The mother-linnet in the brake
Bewails her ravish'd young;
So I, for my lost darling's sake,
Lament the live-day long.

Death, oft I've feared thy fatal blow.

Now, fond, I bare my breast;
O, do thou kindly lay me low
With him I love, at rest!

Song.-O were I on Parnassus Hill.2

Tune-"My love is lost to me."

O WERE I on Parnassus hill,
Or had o' Helicon my fill,
That I might catch poetic skill,

To sing how dear I love thee!
But Nith maun be my Muse's well,
My Muse maun be thy bonie sel',
On Corsincon I'll glowr and spell,

And write how dear I love thee.

1 The lady was Mrs Fergusson of Craigdarroch.

2 For Mrs Burns: at the close it

recalls Horace's dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo, dulce loquentem.

Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my lay!
For a' the lee-lang simmer's day

I couldna sing, I couldna say,

How much, how dear, I love thee,
I see thee dancing o'er the green,
Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean,
Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een—
By Heaven and Earth I love thee!

By night, by day, a-field, at hame,
The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame :
And aye I muse and sing thy name-
I only live to love thee.

Tho' I were doom'd to wander on,
Beyond the sea, beyond the sun,
my last weary sand was run;
Till then-and then I love thee!

Till

The Fall of the Leaf.1

THE lazy mist hangs from the brow of the hill,
Concealing the course of the dark winding rill;
How languid the scenes, late so sprightly, appear!
As Autumn to Winter resigns the pale year.

The forests are leafless, the meadows are brown,
And all the gay foppery of summer is flown :
Apart let me wander, apart let me muse,
How quick Time is flying, how keen Fate pursues !

How long I have liv'd-but how much liv'd in vain,
How little of life's scanty span may remain,
What aspects old Time in his progress has worn,
What ties cruel Fate, in my bosom has torn.

How foolish, or worse, till our summit is gain'd!

And downward, how weaken'd, how darken'd, how pain'd! Life is not worth having with all it can give

For something beyond it poor man sure must live.

1 An autumnal lament, written in November 1788.

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