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The hunter now has left the moor,
The Autumn mourns her ripening corn,
'Tis not the surging billow's roar,
Farewell old Coila's hills and dales,
THE BRIGS OF AYR.
INSCRIBED TO JOHN BALLANTYNE, ESQ., AYR.
It seems to have been at the close of autumn that Burns composed his amusing poem, The Brigs of Ayr, the model of which he found in Fergusson's Dialogue between the Plainstanes and Causeway, though, as usual, he made an immense advance upon his predecessor. A new bridge was now building across the river at Ayr, in order to supersede an ancient structure which had long been inconvenient, and was now infirm, and as this work was proceeding under the chief magistracy of his kind patron, Mr. Ballantyne, Burns seized the occasion to make a return of gratitude by inscribing the poem to him.
THE simple Bard, rough at the rustic plough, Learning his tuneful trade from every bough; The chanting linnet, or the mellow thrush, Hailing the setting sun, sweet, in the green thorn-bush;
The soaring lark, the perching redbreast shrill, Or deep-toned plovers, gray, wild-whistling o'er the hill;
Shall he, nurst in the peasant's lowly shed,
By early poverty to hardship steeled,
Shall he be guilty of their hireling crimes,
'Twas when the stacks get on their winter hap,
And thack and rape secure the toil-won thatch—rope
Potato bings are snuggèd up frae skaith
Of coming Winter's biting, frosty breath;
Are doomed by man, that tyrant o'er the weak, The death o' devils smoored wi' brim- smothered stone reek:
The thundering guns are heard on every side,
The wounded coveys, reeling, scatter wide; The feathered field-mates, bound by Nature's tie,
Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie;
While thick the gossamour waves wanton in the rays.
'Twas in that season, when a simple Bard,
Or whether, rapt in meditation high,
1 A noted tavern at the Auld Brig end. B.
2 In a MS. copy, here occur two lines omitted in print:
"Or penitential pangs for former sins
Led him to rove by quondam Merran Din's.”
The drowsy Dungeon-clock1 had numbered two, And Wallace Tower2 had sworn the fact was true;
The tide-swoln Firth, with sullen sounding roar, Through the still night dashed hoarse along the shore.
All else was hushed as Nature's closed e'e;
When lo! on either hand the listening Bard, The clanging sugh of whistling wings is rustle heard ;
Two dusky forms dart through the midnight air, Swift as the gos3 drives on the wheeling hare.
Ane on the Auld Brig his airy shape uprears,
1 A clock in a steeple connected with the old jail of Ayr. This steeple and its clock were removed some years ago.
2 The clock in the Wallace Tower an anomalous piece of antique masonry, surmounted by a spire, which stood in the High Street of Ayr. It was removed some years ago, and replaced by a more elegant tower, which bears its name.
8 The gos-hawk, or falcon. - B.