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Poem by Margaret Chalmers


Verses: In Humble Imitation of Burns


WHAT will this warld come to belyve!
The rhyming trade does briskly thrive
It wad appear;
They're ane tane't now, ye sanna guess,
In seven year.
No as lang syne, whan now and then,
The tunefu' lasses lent the pen
To able hands;
And Shakespeare's, Milton's, Thomson's fame
Illustrious stands.
I wat I thought it was right fair,
Whan after muckle thought and care,
On cow'ring wing,
My ain wee muse, in hamely strain,
Ettled to sing.
There lies an Isle, north Johnnie Groat's,
They're hafflins Danes, and hafflins Scots,
I watna how,
But whether it be Christen'd land
I hardly trow.
An unco place, they ca' it Zetland,
For sailors wi' surprize, cried "Yet Land!"
When it they saw,
Ferlying to find baith stane and mold,
Sae far awa'.
But learned scholars ca' it Thulè,
A place whar darkness reigns in July,
By Sol forsook,
And naething there but frost and snaw,
A cauld rife nook.
To hear the limmer pertly carol,
Nae less than about Bay and Laurel,
'Twad vex a tike,
I trow, a doken scarce she'd ken
Alangst a dyke.
Some friend cries out, "what ails ye now,
"Ye hardly ken yoursel, I trow,
"What flyte ye at,
"Ravin about some far aff Isle,
"I watna what.
"Gin folk bide there they hae the skaith,
"But what need ye be in a wrath,
"Wha bienly beik
"On kindly Nature's smiling lap,
"Ye're no to seek."
But Argosie* does sae prevail,
I come back foremost wi' my tale,
Is't ony winner;
The like o' this wad vex a Saint,
Forby a sinner.
Amang thae awfu' eerie rocks,
Whar selchies, otters, gang in flocks,
There dwalls a hizzie,
Wha has the pertness 'mang the Nine
To be right bizzie.
Fegs, madam Thulia, ye're no blate,
Ye want na for your ain conceit;
But now, gude sooth,
Ye're angry; weel, they're aft ill heard
That tell the truth.
But bide a wee, my Greenland Lady,
And tell me gif ye think ye're ready
For the review;
"Review? what's that?" ye'll may be ken
In time enow.
An yet ye may, gif ye're in luck,
Come better aff than better folk,
For truth to tell,
Ferlies, (and surely your book's ane,)
Aft bear the bell.
Besides, in a' that's done and said,
Allowances maun ay be made,
An it is own'd,
Whar other authors fa' a grain,
Ye claim a pound.
Sae they will, may be, let you pass,
But tak my word, my rhymin lass,
It's for the fun;
And it would hae sae mony fauts,
The task they'll shun.
I thought the Heliconian lasses,
And the gudeman of fam'd Parnassus,
Mair wit had kend,
Than Pegasus, their dauted steed,
To you to lend.
For wad it no be just as bonnie
To see you mounted on a poney
O' Zetland breed,
As flying on the wandering wings
O' that wild steed.
And wha tauld you about Apollo,
Urania, Thalia? a' maun follow,
In order due,
Melpomene comes greetin neist,
Led on by you.
As wha say "I'm a Poetess,"
It moves my anger, I confess,
It vexes folk,
'Twad set you better to clean fish,
Or knit your sock.
The Nine might better kent their worth,
Than venturing owre the Pentland Firth,
You to inspire,
An naething less can sair you than
Apollo's Lyre.
I've aften heard it said, "A Len
Should laugh when it gaes hame again,"
That's right and meet,
But fegs, I hae an unco fear,
The Lyre will greet.
For, whan it comes amang your damps,
And a' your plashy, miry swamps,
'Twill spoil the strings:
Feint care; let them that gae you't tak
The skaith it brings.
But, since ye maun hae tunefu' fame,
What need ye gang sae far frae hame,
Whan, at your hand,
Hangs the Æolian harp, well tun'd,
At your command.
An for the fam'd Pierian stream,
It's little mair than just a name,
Gif right ye wist;
Tak ye a drink o' Neptune's flood,
He'll never miss't.
And when wi' him to make a storm,
Æolus and Boreas, in a quorum,
Their help combine,
Gang ye a fleechin to the Three,
Ne'er fash the Nine.



Margaret Chalmers


Margaret Chalmers's other poems:
  1. The Rose of the Rock
  2. To the Muses
  3. Verses on the Jubilee Night at Lerwick
  4. The Author's Address to the Critics
  5. Address to the Evening Star


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