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Poem by Robert Fergusson
Ode to the Gowdspink
Frae fields whare Spring her sweets has blawn Wi caller verdure owr the lawn, The gowdspink comes in new attire, The brawest ‘mang the whistling choir, That, ere the sun can clear his een, Wi glib notes sain the simmer’s green. Sure Nature herried mony a tree, For spraings and bonny spats to thee: Nae mair the rainbow can impart Sic glowing ferlies o’ her art, Whase pencil wrought its freaks at will On thee the sey-piece o’ her skill. Nae mair thro’ straths in simmer dight We seek the rose to bless our sight; Or bid the bonny wa-flowers sprout On yonder ruin’s lofty snout. Thy shining garments far outstrip The cherries upo’ Hebe’s lip, And fool the tints that Nature chose To busk and paint the crimson rose. ‘Mang man, wae’s heart! We aften find The brawest drest want peace of mind, While he that gangs wi ragged coat Is weel contentit wi his lot. Whan wand wi glewy birdlime’s set, To steal far aff your dautit mate, Blyth wad ye change your cleething gay In lieu of lav’rock’s sober grey. In vain thro’ woods you sair may ban Th’envious treachery of man, That, wi your gowden glister taen, Still hunts you on the simmer’s plain, And traps you ‘mang the sudden fa’s O’ winter’s dreary dreepin snaws. Now steekit frae the gowany field, Frae ilka fav’rite houff and bield, But mergh, alas! To disengage Your bonny bouk frae fettering cage, Your free-born bosom beats in vain For darling liberty again. In window hung, how aft we see Thee keek around at warblers free, That carrol saft, and sweetly sing Wi’ a the blythness of the spring? Like Tantalus they hing you here, To spy the glories o’ the year; And tho’ you’re at the burnie’s brink, They downa suffer you to drink. Ah, Liberty! thou bonny dame, How wildly wanton is thy stream, Round whilk the birdies a’ rejoice, An’ hail you wi a grateful voice. The gowdspink chatters joyous here, And courts wi’ gleesome sangs his peer: The mavis frae the new-bloom’d thorn Begins his lauds at ear’est morn; And herd loun louping owr the grass, Need far less fleetching til his lass, Than paughty damsels bred at courts, Wha thraw their mou’s and take the dorts: But, reft of thee, fient flee we care For a’ that life ahint can spare. The gowdspink, that sae lang has kend Thy happy sweets (his wonted friend), Her sad confinement ill can brook In some dark chamber’s dowy nook; Tho’ Mary’s hand his neb supplies, Unkend to hunger’s painfu cries, Ev’n beauty canna cheer the heart Frae life, frae liberty apart; For now we tyne its wonted lay, Sae lightsome sweet, sae blythly gay. Thus Fortune aft a curse can gie, To wyle us far frae liberty: Then tent her siren smiles wha list, I’ll ne’er envy your girnal’s grist; For whan fair freedom smiles nae mair, Care I for life? Shame fa’ the hair; A field o’ergrown wi’ rankest stubble, The essence of a paltry bubble.
Robert Fergusson's other poems:
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