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The shouts o' war are heard afar,
The battle closes thick and bloody.
But it's not the roar o' sea or shore
Wad make me langer wish to tarry;
Nor shouts o' war that's heard afar
It's leaving thee, my bonny Mary.
LINES WRITTEN IN FRIARS' CARSE
THOU whom chance may hither lead,
Be thou clad in russet weed,
Be thou deckt in silken stole,
Grave these counsels on thy soul.
Life is but a day at most,
Sprung from night, in darkness lost;
Hope not sunshine every hour,
Fear not clouds will always lower.
1 In the shorter copy, an additional couplet is here inserted
Day, how rapid in its flight!
Day, how few must see the night!
As Youth and Love with sprightly dance,
Beneath thy morning-star advance,
Pleasure with her siren air
May delude the thoughtless pair;
Let Prudence bless Enjoyment's cup,
Then raptured sip, and sip it up.
As thy day grows warm and high,
Life's meridian flaming nigh,
Dost thou spurn the humble vale?
Life's proud summits wouldst thou scale?
Check thy climbing step, elate,
Evils lurk in felon wait:
Dangers, eagle-pinioned, bold,
Soar around each cliffy hold,
While cheerful peace, with linnet song,
Chants the lowly dells among.
As the shades of evening close,
Beck'ning thee to long repose,
As life itself becomes disease,
Seek the chimney-nook of ease :
There ruminate with sober thought,
On all thou'st seen, and heard, and wrought,
And teach the sportive younkers round,
Saws of experience, sage and sound.
Say, man's true genuine estimate,
The grand criterion of his fate,
Is not art thou high or low?
Did thy fortune ebb or flow? 1
Did many talents gild thy span?
Or frugal Nature grudge thee one?
Tell them, and press it on their mind,
As thou thyself must shortly find,
The smile or frown of awful Heaven
To virtue or to vice is given.
Say, to be just, and kind, and wise,
There solid self-enjoyment lies;
That foolish, selfish, faithless ways
Lead to be wretched, vile, and base.
Thus resigned and quiet, creep
To the bed of lasting sleep;
Sleep, whence thou shalt ne'er awake,
Night, where dawn shall never break,
Till future life, future no more,
To light and joy the good restore,
To light and joy unknown before.
Stranger, go! Heaven be thy guide!
Quod the Bedesman of Nithside ! 2
Say, man's true genuine estimate
The grand criterion of their fate,
The important query of their state,
Is not art thou high or low?
Did thy fortune ebb or flow?
Wast thou cottager or king,
Peer or peasant? -no such thing!
Did many talents, etc.
2 This extended copy of the lines for Friars' Carse Hermit
Jan. 1, 1789.
FOR Lords or Kings I dinna mourn,
E'en let them die for that they're born:
But oh! prodigious to reflec' !
A towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck! twelvemonth
Oh Eighty-eight, in thy sma' space
What dire events hae taken place!
Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!
In what a pickle thou hast left us!
The Spanish empire's tint a head,1
And my auld teethless Bawtie's 2 dead;
The tulzie's sair 'tween Pitt and Fox,
And our guidwife's wee birdie cocks:
The tane is game, a bluidie devil,
But to the hen-birds unco civil;
The tither's something dour o' treadin', unsparing But better stuff ne'er clawed a midden.
age was produced in December. We agree with Allan Cunningham in seeing in this second effort a proof of the comparative labor which Burns encountered in attempting to compose in pure English. The restricted religious views of the poet will be remarked.
1 Charles III., king of Spain, died on the 13th of December, 1788.
2 A generic familiar name for a dog in Scotland.
Ye ministers, come mount the pu'pit,
And cry till ye be hearse and roopit hoarse
For Eighty-eight he wished you weel,
And gied ye a' baith gear and meal;
E'en monie a plack, and monie a peck,
Ye ken yoursel's, for little feck! . .
Observe the very nowt and sheep,
How dowf and dowie now they creep: dull — sad
Nay, even the yirth itsel' does cry,
For Embro' wells are grutten dry.1 Edinburgh - wept
But, like himsel', a full free agent.
Be sure ye follow out the plan
Nae waur than he did, honest man!
As muckle better as you can.
Oh Eighty-nine, thou's but a bairn,
And no owre auld, I hope, to learn!
Thou beardless boy, I pray tak care,
Thou now has got thy daddy's chair,
Nae hand-cuffed, muzzled, hap-shackled foot-tied
1 The Edinburgh newspapers of this period contain many references to a scarcity of water, in consequence of severe frost.
2 The king having shown symptoms of unsound mind in November, the public was at this time agitated with discussions as to the choice of a regent.