Tragic Death of a World-Famous Beauty

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759–1796). Poems and Songs.

"But I, the Queen of a' Scotland, maun lie in prison strang." Burns sings of poor Mary bound by chains, yearning for the day when flowers would "bloom on her peaceful grave."
(Mary, Queen of Scots, beheaded Feb. 8, 1587.)

Vol. 6, pp. 396-406 OF The Harvard Classics


Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots

NOW Nature hangs her mantle green
  On every blooming tree,
And spreads her sheets o’ daisies white
  Out o’er the grassy lea;
Now Phoebus cheers the crystal streams,
  And glads the azure skies;
But nought can glad the weary wight
  That fast in durance lies.

Now laverocks wake the merry morn
  Aloft on dewy wing;
The merle, in his noontide bow’r,
  Makes woodland echoes ring;
The mavis wild wi’ mony a note,
  Sings drowsy day to rest:
In love and freedom they rejoice,
  Wi’ care nor thrall opprest.

Now blooms the lily by the bank,
  The primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn’s budding in the glen,
  And milk-white is the slae:
The meanest hind in fair Scotland
  May rove their sweets amang;
But I, the Queen of a’ Scotland,
  Maun lie in prison strang.

I was the Queen o’ bonie France,
  Where happy I hae been;
Fu’ lightly raise I in the morn,
  As blythe lay down at e’en:
And I’m the sov’reign of Scotland,
  And mony a traitor there;
Yet here I lie in foreign bands,
  And never-ending care.

But as for thee, thou false woman,
  My sister and my fae,
Grim Vengeance yet shall whet a sword
  That thro’ thy soul shall gae;
The weeping blood in woman’s breast
  Was never known to thee;
Nor th’ balm that draps on wounds of woe
  Frae woman’s pitying e’e.

My son! my son! may kinder stars
  Upon thy fortune shine;
And may those pleasures gild thy reign,
  That ne’er wad blink on mine!
God keep thee frae thy mother’s faes,
  Or turn their hearts to thee:
And where thou meet’st thy mother’s friend,
  Remember him for me!

O! soon, to me, may Summer suns
  Nae mair light up the morn!
Nae mair to me the Autumn winds
  Wave o’er the yellow corn?
And, in the narrow house of death,
  Let Winter round me rave;
And the next flow’rs that deck the Spring,
  Bloom on my peaceful grave!


Song—There’ll never be Peace till Jamie comes hame

BY yon Castle wa’, at the close of the day,
I heard a man sing, tho’ his head it was grey:
And as he was singing, the tears doon came,—
There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.

The Church is in ruins, the State is in jars,
Delusions, oppressions, and murderous wars,
We dare na weel say’t, but we ken wha’s to blame,—
There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.

My seven braw sons for Jamie drew sword,
But now I greet round their green beds in the yerd;
It brak the sweet heart o’ my faithful and dame,—
There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.

Now life is a burden that bows me down,
Sin’ I tint my bairns, and he tint his crown;
But till my last moments my words are the same,—
There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame.


Song—Out over the Forth

OUT over the Forth, I look to the North;
  But what is the north and its Highlands to me?
The south nor the east gie ease to my breast,
  The far foreign land, or the wide rolling sea.

But I look to the west when I gae to rest,
  That happy my dreams and my slumbers may be;
For far in the west lives he I loe best,
  The man that is dear to my babie and me.


Song—The Banks o’ Doon (First Version)


SWEET are the banks—the banks o’ Doon,
  The spreading flowers are fair,
And everything is blythe and glad,
  But I am fu’ o’ care.
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
  That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o’ the happy days
  When my fause Luve was true:
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
  That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
  And wist na o’ my fate.
 
Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon,
  To see the woodbine twine;
And ilka birds sang o’ its Luve,
  And sae did I o’ mine:
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
  Upon its thorny tree;
But my fause Luver staw my rose
  And left the thorn wi’ me:
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
  Upon a morn in June;
And sae I flourished on the morn,
  And sae was pu’d or noon!


Song—The Banks o’ Doon (Second Version)

YE flowery banks o’ bonie Doon,
  How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
  And I sae fu’ o care!
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
  That sings upon the bough!
Thou minds me o’ the happy days
  When my fause Luve was true.
Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
  That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
  And wist na o’ my fate.
 
Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon,
  To see the woodbine twine;
And ilka bird sang o’ its Luve,
  And sae did I o’ mine.
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
  Upon its thorny tree;
But my fause Luver staw my rose,
  And left the thorn wi’ me.
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
  Upon a morn in June;
And sae I flourished on the morn,
  And sae was pu’d or noon.


Song—The Banks o’ Doon (Third Version)

YE banks and braes o’ bonie Doon,
  How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
  And I sae weary fu’ o’ care!
Thou’ll break my heart, thou warbling bird,
  That wantons thro’ the flowering thorn:
Thou minds me o’ departed joys,
  Departed never to return.

Aft hae I rov’d by Bonie Doon,
  To see the rose and woodbine twine:
And ilka bird sang o’ its Luve,
  And fondly sae did I o’ mine;
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
  Fu’ sweet upon its thorny tree!
And may fause Luver staw my rose,
  But ah! he left the thorn wi’ me.


Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn

THE WIND blew hollow frae the hills,
  By fits the sun’s departing beam
Look’d on the fading yellow woods,
  That wav’d o’er Lugar’s winding stream:
Beneath a craigy steep, a Bard,
  Laden with years and meikle pain,
In loud lament bewail’d his lord,
  Whom Death had all untimely ta’en.
 
He lean’d him to an ancient aik,
  Whose trunk was mould’ring down with years;
His locks were bleached white with time,
  His hoary cheek was wet wi’ tears!
And as he touch’d his trembling harp,
  And as he tun’d his doleful sang,
The winds, lamenting thro’ their caves,
  To Echo bore the notes alang.
 
“Ye scatter’d birds that faintly sing,
  The reliques o’ the vernal queir!
Ye woods that shed on a’ the winds
  The honours of the agèd year!
A few short months, and glad and gay,
  Again ye’ll charm the ear and e’e;
But nocht in all-revolving time
  Can gladness bring again to me.
 
“I am a bending agèd tree,
  That long has stood the wind and rain;
But now has come a cruel blast,
  And my last hald of earth is gane;
Nae leaf o’ mine shall greet the spring,
  Nae simmer sun exalt my bloom;
But I maun lie before the storm,
  And ithers plant them in my room.
 
“I’ve seen sae mony changefu’ years,
  On earth I am a stranger grown:
I wander in the ways of men,
  Alike unknowing, and unknown:
Unheard, unpitied, unreliev’d,
  I bear alane my lade o’ care,
For silent, low, on beds of dust,
  Lie a’ that would my sorrows share.
 
“And last, (the sum of a’ my griefs!)
  My noble master lies in clay;
The flow’r amang our barons bold,
  His country’s pride, his country’s stay:
In weary being now I pine,
  For a’ the life of life is dead,
And hope has left may aged ken,
  On forward wing for ever fled.
 
“Awake thy last sad voice, my harp!
  The voice of woe and wild despair!
Awake, resound thy latest lay,
  Then sleep in silence evermair!
And thou, my last, best, only, friend,
  That fillest an untimely tomb,
Accept this tribute from the Bard
  Thou brought from Fortune’s mirkest gloom.
 
“In Poverty’s low barren vale,
  Thick mists obscure involv’d me round;
Though oft I turn’d the wistful eye,
  Nae ray of fame was to be found:
Thou found’st me, like the morning sun
  That melts the fogs in limpid air,
The friendless bard and rustic song
  Became alike thy fostering care.
 
“O! why has worth so short a date,
  While villains ripen grey with time?
Must thou, the noble, gen’rous, great,
  Fall in bold manhood’s hardy prim
Why did I live to see that day—
  A day to me so full of woe?
O! had I met the mortal shaft
  That laid my benefactor low!
 
“The bridegroom may forget the bride
  Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
  That on his head an hour has been;
The mother may forget the child
  That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I’ll remember thee, Glencairn,
  And a’ that thou hast done for me!”


Lines to Sir John Whitefoord, Bart

With the Lament on the Death of the Earl of Glencairn

THOU, who thy honour as thy God rever’st,
Who, save thy mind’s reproach, nought earthly fear’st,
To thee this votive offering I impart,
The tearful tribute of a broken heart.
The Friend thou valued’st, I, the Patron lov’d;
His worth, his honour, all the world approved:
We’ll mourn till we too go as he has gone,
And tread the shadowy path to that dark world unknown.


Song—Craigieburn Wood

SWEET closes the ev’ning on Craigieburn Wood,
  And blythely awaukens the morrow;
But the pride o’ the spring in the Craigieburn Wood
  Can yield to me nothing but sorrow.
 
Chorus.—Beyond thee, dearie, beyond thee, dearie,
  And O to be lying beyond thee!
O sweetly, soundly, weel may he sleep
  That’s laid in the bed beyond thee!
 
I see the spreading leaves and flowers,
  I hear the wild birds singing;
But pleasure they hae nane for me,
  While care my heart is wringing.
      Beyond thee, &c.
 
I can na tell, I maun na tell,
  I daur na for your anger;
But secret love will break my heart,
  If I conceal it langer.
      Beyond thee, &c.
 
I see thee gracefu’, straight and tall,
  I see thee sweet and bonie;
But oh, what will my torment be,
  If thou refuse thy Johnie!
      Beyond thee, &c.
 
To see thee in another’s arms,
  In love to lie and languish,
’Twad be my dead, that will be seen,
  My heart wad burst wi’ anguish.
      Beyond thee, &c.
 
But Jeanie, say thou wilt be mine,
  Say thou lo’es nane before me;
And a’ may days o’ life to come
  I’ll gratefully adore thee,
      Beyond thee, &c.


Song—The Bonie Wee Thing

Chorus.—Bonie wee thing, cannie wee thing,
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine,
I wad wear thee in my bosom,
Lest my jewel it should tine.
WISHFULLY I look and languish
In that bonie face o’ thine,
And my heart it stounds wi’ anguish,
Lest my wee thing be na mine.
Bonie wee thing, &c.
Wit, and Grace, and Love, and Beauty,
In ae constellation shine;
To adore thee is my duty,
Goddess o’ this soul o’ mine!
Bonie wee thing, &c.


Epigram on Miss Davies

On being asked why she had been formed so little, and Mrs. A—— so big.

ASK why God made the gem so small?
And why so huge the granite?—
Because God meant mankind should set
That higher value on it.


Song—The Charms of Lovely Davies

Tune—“Miss Muir.”

O HOW shall I, unskilfu’, try
  The poet’s occupation?
The tunefu’ powers, in happy hours,
  That whisper inspiration;
Even they maun dare an effort mair
  Than aught they ever gave us,
Ere they rehearse, in equal verse,
  The charms o’ lovely Davies.

Each eye it cheers when she appears,
  Like Phoebus in the morning,
When past the shower, and every flower
  The garden is adorning:
As the wretch looks o’er Siberia’s shore,
  When winter-bound the wave is;
Sae droops our heart, when we maun part
  Frae charming, lovely Davies.

Her smile’s a gift frae ’boon the lift,
  That maks us mair than princes;
A sceptred hand, a king’s command,
  Is in her darting glances;
The man in arms ’gainst female charms
  Even he her willing slave is,
He hugs his chain, and owns the reign
  Of conquering, lovely Davies.

My Muse, to dream of such a theme,
  Her feeble powers surrender:
The eagle’s gaze alone surveys
  The sun’s meridian splendour.
I wad in vain essay the strain,
  The deed too daring brave is;
I’ll drap the lyre, and mute admire
  The charms o’ lovely Davies.


Song—What can a Young Lassie do wi’ an Auld Man?

WHAT can a young lassie, what shall a young lassie,
  What can a young lassie do wi’ an auld man?
Bad luck on the penny that tempted my minnie
  To sell her puir Jenny for siller an’ lan’.
Bad luck on the penny that tempted my minnie
  To sell her puir Jenny for siller an’ lan’!

He’s always compleenin’ frae mornin’ to e’enin’,
  He hoasts and he hirples the weary day lang;
He’s doylt and he’s dozin, his blude it is frozen,—
  O dreary’s the night wi’ a crazy auld man!
He’s doylt and he’s dozin, his blude it is frozen,
  O dreary’s the night wi’ a crazy auld man.

He hums and he hankers, he frets and he cankers,
  I never can please him do a’ that I can;
He’s peevish an’ jealous o’ a’ the young fellows,—
  O dool on the day I met wi’ an auld man!
He’s peevish an’ jealous o’ a’ the young fellows,
  O dool on the day I met wi’ an auld man.

My auld auntie Katie upon me taks pity,
  I’ll do my endeavour to follow her plan;
I’ll cross him an’ wrack him, until I heartbreak him
  And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan,
I’ll cross him an’ wrack him, until I heartbreak him,
  And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan.


Song—The Posie

O LUVE will venture in where it daur na weel be seen,
O luve will venture in where wisdom ance has been;
But I will doun yon river rove, amang the wood sae green,
      And a’ to pu’ a Posie to my ain dear May.

The primrose I will pu’, the firstling o’ the year,
And I will pu’ the pink, the emblem o’ my dear;
For she’s the pink o’ womankind, and blooms without a peer,
      And a’ to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

I’ll pu’ the budding rose, when Phoebus peeps in view,
For it’s like a baumy kiss o’ her sweet, bonie mou;
The hyacinth’s for constancy wi’ its unchanging blue,
      And a’ to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The lily it is pure, and the lily it is fair,
And in her lovely bosom I’ll place the lily there;
The daisy’s for simplicity and unaffected air,
      And a’ to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The hawthorn I will pu’, wi’ its locks o’ siller gray,
Where, like an aged man, it stands at break o’ day;
But the songster’s nest within the bush I winna tak away
      And a’ to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

The woodbine I will pu’, when the e’ening star is near,
And the diamond draps o’ dew shall be her een sae clear;
The violet’s for modesty, which weel she fa’s to wear,
      And a’ to be a Posie to my ain dear May.

I’ll tie the Posie round wi’ the silken band o’ luve,
And I’ll place it in her breast, and I’ll swear by a’ above,
That to my latest draught o’ life the band shall ne’er remove,
      And this will be a Posie to my ain dear May.


 

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