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VERSES TO A YOUNG LADY,
WITH A PRESENT OF Songs.1
In July, 1794, Burns told Thomson, “I have presented a copy of your songs to the daughter of a much-valued and much-honoured friend of mine, Mr. Graham, of Fintry. I wrote, on the blank side of the title-page, the following address to the young lady:"
E RE, where the Scottish Muse immortal
lives, In sacred strains and tuneful” num
bers join'd, Accept the gift; tho’ humble he who gives,
Rich is the tribute of the grateful mind.
So may no ruffian-feeling in thy breast
Discordant jar thy bosom-chords among !
Or Love, ecstatic, wake his seraph song !
Or Pity's notes, in luxury of tears,
As modest Want the tale of woe3 reveals ;
And heaven-born Piety her sanction seals !
VAR.. 1 his poems.
3 secret tale.
2 strains divine and sacred. 4 Virtue, conscious.
POEM ON PASTORAL POETRY.*
SAIL, Poesie! thou Nymph reserv'd!
swervd. D P Frae common sense, or sunk enery'd
'Mang heaps o'clavers ; And och! o'er aft thy joes hae starv'd,
'Mid a' thy favours !
. To death or marriage; 10 Scarce ane has tried the shepherd-sang
. But wi' miscarriage ?
Even Sappho’s flame.
* Gilbert Burns says, that though this Poem was found by Dr. Currie among Burns' papers, and in his writing, there is some doubt whether he was the author. Mr. Allan Cunningham thinks that the second verse alone would go far to remove all doubts : "the lines too which characterize the Pastorals of Pope, and the concluding stanza of the Poem, bear,” he says, “the Burns' stamp, which no one has been successful in counterfeiting.”
But thee, Theocritus, wha matches ?
O’heathen tatters :
That ape their betters.
And rural grace;
A rival place ?
A chiel sae clever;
But thou's for ever!
Thou paints auld nature to the nines,
Her griefs will tell !
In gowany glens thy burnie strays,
Wi' hawthorns gray,
At close o' day.
Thy rural loves are nature's sel’;
The sternest move.
WRITTEN ON THE BLANK LEAF OF THE
LAST EDITION OF HIS POEMS, PRESENTED TO
THE NAME OF CHLORIS. * per IS Friendship’s pledge, my young, fair
Nor thou the gift refuse,
The moralizing muse.
* About Mayor June, 1795, Burns sent the following verses to Mr, Thomson with this description of them : “ Written on the blank leaf of a copy of the last edition [i. e. 1794,] of my poems, presented to the lady, whom, in so many fictitious reveries of passion, but with the most ardent sentiments of real friendship, I have so often sung under the name of Chloris.” The lady in question was Miss Jean Lorimer, of Craigieburn Wood, near Moffat, whose history was unfortunate. She married an officer called Whelpdale, but in consequence of his misconduct, lived with him only a few months. After her separation she resided at Dumfries, where the Poet often met her; and she seems to have inspired him with admiration and esteem. He has touchingly adverted to her misfortunes in these verses.
Since thou, in all thy youth and charms,
Must bid the world adieu, (A world 'gainst peace in constant arms)
To join the friendly few.
Since, thy gay morn of life o'ercast,
Chill came the tempest's lower, (And ne'er misfortune's eastern blast
Did nip a fairer flower.)
Since life's gay scenes must charm no more,
Still much is left behind ;
The comforts of the mind !
Thine is the self-approving glow,
On conscious honour's part;
Thine friendship’s truest heart.
The joys refin’d of sense and taste,
With every muse to rove:
These joys could he improve.