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Poem by Robert Fergusson


Elegy on the Death of Scots Music


ON Scotias plains, in days of yore,
When lads and lasses tartan wore,
Saft Music rang on ilka shore,
        In hamely weid;
But Harmony is now no more,
        And Music dead.
 
Round her the featherd choir would wing,
Sae bonnily she wont to sing,
And sleely wake the sleeping string,
        Their sang to lead,
Sweet as the zephyrs of the spring;
        But now shes dead.
 
Mourn ilka nymph and ilka swain,
Ilk sunny hill and dowie glen;
Let weeping streams and Naiads drain
        Their fountain head;
Let echo swell the dolefu strain,
        Since Musics dead.
 
Whan the saft vernal breezes ca
The grey-haird Winters fogs awa,
Naebody then is heard to blaw,
        Near hill or mead,
On chaunter or on aiten straw,
        Since Musics dead.
 
Nae lasses now, on simmer days,
Will lilt at bleaching of their claes;
Nae herds on Yarrows bonny braes,
        Or banks of Tweed,
Delight to chant their hameil lays,
        Since Musics dead.
 
At gloamin, now, the bagpipes dumb,
Whan weary owsen hameward come;
Sae sweetly as it wont to bum,
        And pibrachs skreed;
We never hear its warlike hum,
        For Musics dead.
 
Macgibbons gane: Ah! waes my heart!
The man in music maist expert,
Wha coud sweet melody impart,
        And tune the reed,
Wi sic a slee and pawky art;
        But now hes dead.
 
Ilk carline now may grunt and grane,
Ilk bonny lassie make great mane;
Since hes awa, I trow theres nane
        Can fill his stead;
The blythest sangster on the plain!
        Alake, hes dead!
 
Now foreign sonnets bear the gree,
And crabbit queer variety
Of sounds fresh sprung frae Italy,
        A bastard breed!
Unlike that saft-tongud melody
        Which now lies dead.
 
Can lavrocks at the dawning day,
Can linties chirming frae the spray,
Or todling burns that smoothly play
        Oer gowden bed,
Compare wi Birks of Indermay?
        But now theyre dead.
 
O Scotland! that coud yence afford
To bang the pith of Roman sword,
Winna your sons, wi joint accord,
        To battle speed,
And fight till Music be restord,
        Which now lies dead?



Robert Fergusson


Robert Fergusson's other poems:
  1. Ode to the Gowdspink
  2. To the Tron-Kirk Bell
  3. The Daft-Days
  4. The Sitting of the Session
  5. To Sir John Fielding, on His Attempts to Suppress The Beggars Opera


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