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Oh bless her with a mother's joys,
But spare a mother's tears!
Their hope, their stay, their darling youth,
Bless him, thou God of love and truth,
The beauteous, seraph sister-band,
With earnest tears I pray,
Thou know'st the snares on every hand
When soon or late they reach that coast,
A family in heaven!
1 Miss Louisa Lawrie possessed a scrap of verse in the poet's handwriting - —a mere trifle, but apparently intended as part of a lyric description of the manse festivities. Some little license must be granted to the poet with respect to his lengthening the domestic dance so far into the night.
The night was still, and o'er the hill
Sae merrily they danced the ring,
Frae eenin' till the cock did craw;
And aye the o'erword o' the spring, burden-tune
THE GLOOMY NIGHT IS GATHERING
The time for parting came (see the preceding piece), and the benevolent host was left by Burns under feelings deeply affected by the consideration that so bright a genius should be contemplating a destiny so dismal as a clerkship in the West Indies. A wide stretch of moor had to be passed by Burns on his way home.1 "His mind was strongly affected by parting forever with a scene where he had tasted so much elegant and social pleasure, and depressed by the contrasted gloom of his prospects. The aspect of nature harmonized with his feelings. It was a lowering and heavy evening in the end [beginning?] of autumn. The wind was up, and whistled through the rushes and long speargrass which bent before it. The clouds were driving across the sky; and cold pelting showers at intervals added discomfort of body to cheerlessness of mind.” Under these circumstances, and in this frame, Burns
composed what he concidered as "the last song he
should ever measure in Caledonia."
THE gloomy night is gathering fast,
1 Professor Walker gives the ensuing narration from the conversation of Burns in Edinburgh.
The hunter now has left the moor,
The scattered coveys meet secure ;
The Autumn mourns her ripening corn,
'Tis not the surging billow's roar,
Farewell old Coila's hills and dales,
Farewell, my friends! farewell, my foes!
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
Shall he, nurst in the peasant's lowly shed,
By early poverty to hardship steeled,
And trained to arms in stern misfortune's field
Shall he be guilty of their hireling crimes,
With all the venal soul of dedicating prose?
'Twas when the stacks get on their winter hap,
And thack and rape secure the toil-won thatch-rope
Of coming Winter's biting, frosty breath;
Are doomed by man, that tyrant o'er the weak,
The thundering guns are heard on every side,