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And, for thy potence, vainly wished
For lack o' thee I leave this much-loved shore, Never perhaps to greet old Scotland more.
R. B.- Kyle.
ON A BLANK LEAF OF A COPY OF THE POEMS, PRESENTED TO AN OLD SWEETHEART, THEN MARRIED.
ONCE fondly loved, and still remembered dear, Sweet early object of my youthful vows! Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere— Friendship! 'tis all cold duty now allows.
And when you read the simple artless rhymes,
1 According to Dr. Currie, this old sweetheart was a girl whom the poet had seen at Kirkoswald, when he was attending school there. If so, she was a Mrs. Neilson, living in Ayr.
VERSES WRITTEN UNDER VIOLENT
ACCEPT the gift a friend sincere
Though 'twad my sorrows lessen.
My morning raise sae clear and fair,
You think I'm glad; oh, I
For a' the joy I borrow,
then, then I feel
I canna to mysel' conceal
My deeply-ranklin' sorrow.
Farewell! within thy bosom free
A tear may wet thy laughin' e'e,
Now hopeless, comfortless, forsaken!
1 These verses were probably written, like the preceding. on a copy of the volume of poems. They were first published in the Sun newspaper, April, 1823.
TO THE REV. MR. JAMES STEVEN,1
On his Text, Malachi, iv. 2.
"And ye shall go forth, and
grow up as CALVES of the stall."
RIGHT, sir! your text I'll prove it true,
For instance, there's yoursel' just now,
And should some patron be so kind,
I doubt na, sir, but then we'll find
Ye're still as great a stirk.
1 Afterwards minister of one of the Scotch churches in London, and ultimately of Kilwinning, in Ayrshire. The tradition in the family of Mr. Gavin Hamilton is, that the poet, in passing to the church at Mauchline, called at Mr. Hamilton's, who, being confined with the gout, could not accompany him, but desired him, as parents do with children, to bring home a note of the text. At the conclusion of the service, Burns called again, and sitting down for a minute at Mr. Hamilton's business-table, scribbled these verses, by way of a compliance with the request. From a memorandum by Burns himself, it would appear that there was also a wager with Mr. Hamilton as to his producing a poem in a certain time, and that he gained it by inditing The Calf.
But if the lover's raptured hour
Forbid it, every heavenly power,
Though, when some kind, connubial dear, Your but-and-ben adorns, kitchen and parlor The like has been that you may wear
A noble head of horns.
And in your lug, most reverend James,
Few men o' sense will doubt your claims
And when ye're numbered wi' the dead,
Below a grassy hillock,
Wi' justice they may mark your head "Here lies a famous bullock!"
Mr. William Chalmers, writer in Ayr, who had drawn up an assignation of the bard's property, was in love, and it occurred to him to ask Burns to address the admired object in his behalf. The poet, who had seen the lady, but was scarcely acquainted with her,
readily complied by producing the following specimen of vicarious courtship.
Wr' braw new branks in mickle pride, bridle
And eke a braw new brechan,
My Pegasus I'm got astride,
And up Parnassus pechin';
Whiles owre a bush wi' downward crush,
The doited beastie stammers;
Then up he gets, and off he sets,
For sake o' Willie Chalmers.
I doubt na, lass, that weel-kenned name
I am nae stranger to your fame,
His honest heart enamours,
And faith ye'll no be lost a whit,
Though waired on Willie Chalmers.
Auld Truth hersel' might swear ye're fair,
And Modesty assume your air,