Ode to the Memory of Burns
Soul of the Poet! wheresoe'er, Reclaimed from earth, thy genius plume Her wings of immortality; Suspend thy harp in happier sphere, And with thine influence illume The gladness of our jubilee. And fly like fiends from secret spell, Discord and Strife, at Burn's name, Exorcised by his memory; For he was chief of bards that swell The heart with songs of social flame, And high delicious revelry. And Love's own strain to him was given, To warble all its ecstacies With Pythian words unsought, unwilled,— Love, the surviving gift of Heaven The choicest sweet of Paradise, In life's else bitter cup distilled. Who that has melted o'er his lay To Mary's soul, in Heaven above, But pictured sees, in fancy strong, The landscape and the livelong day That smiled upon their mutual love? Who that has felt forgets the song? Nor skilled one flame alone to fan: His country's high-souled peasantry What patriot-pride he taught!—how much To weigh the inborn worth of man! And rustic life and poverty Grow beautiful beneath his touch. Him, in his clay-built cot, the Muse Entranced, and showed him all the forms, Of fairy-light and wizard gloom, (That only gifted Poet views,) The Genii of the floods and storms, And martial shades from Glory's tomb. On Bannock-field what thoughts arouse The swain whom Burns's song inspires! Beat not his Caledonian veins, As o'er the heroic turf he ploughs, With all the spirit of his sires, And all their scorn of death and chains? And see the Scottish exile, tanned By many a far and foreign clime, Bend o'er his home-born verse, and weep In memory of his native land, With love that scorns the lapse of time, And ties that stretch beyond the deep. Encamped by Indian rivers wild, The soldier resting on his arms, In Burns's carol sweet recalls The scenes that blessed him when a child, And glows and gladdens at the charms Of Scotia's woods and waterfalls. O deem not, 'midst this worldly strife, An idle art the Poet brings: Let high Philosophy control, And sages calm the stream of life, 'T is he refines its fountain-springs, The nobler passions of the soul. It is the muse that consecrates The native banner of the brave, Unfurling, at the trumpet's breath, Rose, thistle, harp; 't is she elates To sweep the field or ride the wave, A sunburst in the storm of death. And thou, young hero, when thy pall Is crossed with mournful sword and plume, When public grief begins to fade, And only tears of kindred fall, Who but the bard shall dress thy tomb, And greet with fame thy gallant shade? Such was the soldier—Burns, forgive That sorrows of mine own intrude In strains to thy great memory due. In verse like thine, oh! Could he live, The friend I mourned—the brave—the good Edward that died at Waterloo! Farewell, high chief of Scottish song! That couldst alternately impart Wisdom and rapture in thy page, And brand each vice with satire strong, Whose lines are mottoes of the heart? Whose truths electrify the sage. Farewell! and ne'er may Envy dare To wring one baleful poison drop From the crushed laurels of thy bust; But while the lark sings sweet in air, Still may the grateful pilgrim stop, To bless the spot that holds thy dust.
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