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Poem by Robert Burns


Prologue, Spoken by Mr. Woods, on his Benefit-night, Monday, April 16. 1787


WHEN by a generous publics kind acclaim,
That dearest meed is granted-honest fame;
When here your favour is the actors lot,
Nor even the man in private life forgot;
What breast so dead to heavnly virtues glow,
But heaves impassiond with the grateful throe?
  Poor is the task to please a barbrous throng,
It needs no Siddons power in Southerns song:
But here an ancient nation, famd afar
For genius, learning high, as great in war-
Hail, Caledonia! name for ever dear!
Before whose sons Im honourd to appear!
Where every science, every nobler art,
That can inform the mind, or mend the heart,
Is known; as grateful nations oft have found,
Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound.
Philosophy, no idle, pedant dream,
Here holds her search, by heaven-taught Reasons beam;
Here History paints with elegance and force,
The tide of Empires fluctuating course;
Here Douglas forms wild Shakespeare into plan,
And Harley rouses all the god in man.
When well-formd taste and sparkling wit unite,
With manly love, or female beauty bright
(Beauty, where faultless symmetry and grace
Can only charm us in the second place)-
Witness my heart, how oft with panting fear,
As on this night, Ive met these judges here!
But still the hope Experience taught to live,
Equal to judge-youre candid to forgive.
No hundred-headed Riot here we meet,
With decency and law beneath his feet,
Nor Insolence assumes fair Freedoms name;
Like Caledonians, you applaud or blame.
  O Thou, dread Power! whose empire-giving hand
Has oft been stretchd to shield the honourd land,
Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire;
May every son be worthy of his sire;
Firm may she rise with generous disdain
At Tyrannys, or direr Pleasures chain;
Still self-dependent in her native shore,
Bold may she brave grim Dangers loudest roar,
Till Fate the curtain drop on worlds to be no more.



                      Robert Burns


Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Theres News, Lasses
  2. Scroggam
  3. To a Young Lady, Miss Jessy Lewars, Dumfries, with Books which the Bard Presented her
  4. The Toast
  5. To Alex Cunningham, Writer


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