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COPIES TONE OF OLD SCOTTISH BALLADS.
Scottish ballads which he took for his model, and upon
That happy my dreams and my slumbers may bo;
The lad that is dear to my baby and me.”
“ Drumossie moor, Drumossie day!
A waefu' day it was to me;
My father dear, and brethren three.
Their graves are growing green to see ;
That ever blest a woman's e'e !
A bluidy man I trow thou be ;
That ne'er did wrong to thine or thee.". vol. iv. p. 337. Sometimes it is animated with airy narrative, and adorned with images of the utmost elegance and beauty. specimen taken at random, we insert the following stanzas:
she wrought her mammie's wark ;
sang sae merrilie :
Had ne'er a lighter heart than she.
That bless the little lintwhite's nest;
And love will break the soundest rest.
The flower and pride of a' the glen;
And wanton naigies nine or ten.
He danc'd wi' Jeanie on the down ;
Her heart was tint, her peace was stown.
- SIMPLE PATHOS OF HIS SONGS,
" As in the bosom o' the stream
The moon-beam duells at dewy e'en;
80. Sometimes, again, it is plaintive and mournful — in the same strain of unaffected simplicity.
"O stay, sweet warbling wood-lark, stay,
Nor quit for me the trembling spray!
Thy soothing fond complaining.
That I may catch thy melting art ;
Wha kills me wi' disdaining.
Sic notes o' woe could wauken.
O’speechless grief, and dark despair;
Or my poor heart is broken !” — vol. iv. p. 226, 227. We add the following from Mr. Cromek’s new volume; as the original form of the very popular song given at p. 325. of Dr. Currie's 4th volume:
“ Ye flowery banks o' bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair;
And I sae fu' o'care!
“ Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird
That sings upon the bough:
fause luve was true.
That sings beside thy mate;
To see the woodbine twine,
And sae did I o' mine.
AND REDUNDANT IMAGERY.
“ Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree,
But left the thorn wi' me." - vol. v. p. 17, 18. Sometimes the rich 'imagery of the poet's fancy overshadows and almost overcomes the leading sentiment.
The merry ploughboy cheers his team,
Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks,
A dream of ane that never wauks.
Amang the reeds the ducklings cry,
And every thing is blest but I.
And owre the moorlands whistles shill;
I meet him on the dewy hill.
Blythe waukens by the daisy's side,
vol. iii. p. 284, 285. The sensibility which is thus associated with simple imagery and gentle melancholy, is to us the most winning and attractive. But Burns has also expressed it when it is merely the instrument of torture — of keen remorse, and tender and agonizing regret. There are some strong traits of the former feeling, in the poems entitled the Lament, Despondency, &c.; when, looking back to the times
“When love's luxurious pulse beat high," he bewails the consequences of his own irregularities. There is something cumbrous and inflated, however, in the diction of these pieces. We are infinitely more moved with his Elegy upon Highland Mary. Of this first love of the poet, we are indebted to Mr, Cromek for a brief, but very striking account, from the pen of the poet himself. In a note on an early song inscribed to this mistress, he had recorded in a manuscript book —
"My Highland lassie was a warm-hearted, charming young creature as ever blessed a man with generous love. After a pretty long
HIS HIGHLAND MARY.
tract of the most ardent reciprocal attachment, we met, by appointment, on the second Sunday of May, in a sequestered spot by the Banks of Ayr, where we spent the day in taking a farewel, before she should embark for the West Highlands, to arrange matters among her friends for our projected change of life. At the close of Autumn fol. lowing, she crossed the sea to meet me at Greenock: where she had scarce landed when she was seized with a malignant fever, which hurried my dear girl to the grave in a few days ! — before I could even hear of her illness.” vol. v. p. 237, 238.
Mr. Cromek has added, in a note, the following interesting particulars; though without specifying the authority upon which he details them:
“ This adieu was performed with all those simple and striking ceremonials which rustic sentiment has devised to prolong tender emotions and to inspire awe. The lovers stood on each side of a small purling brook; they laved their hands in its limpid stream, and, holding a Bible between them, pronounced their vows to be faithful to each other. They parted — never to meet again!
" The anniversary of Mary Campbell's death (for that was her name) awakening in the sensitive mind of Burns the most lively emotion, he retired from his family, then residing on the farm of Ellisland, and wandered, solitary, on the banks of the Nith, and about the farm yard, in the extremest agitation of mind, nearly the whole of the night : His agitation was so great, that he threw himself on the side of a corn stack, and there conceived his sublime and tender elegy — his address To Mary in Heaven.” -- vol. v. p. 298. The poem itself is as follows:“ Thou lingering star, with less'ning ray,
That lov'st to greet the early morn,
My Mary from my soul was torn!
Where is thy place of blissful rest ?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast?
Can I forget the hallowed grove,
To live one day of parting love!
Those records dear of transports past;
Ah! little thought we 'twas our last !
O'erhung with wild woods, thickening, green,
Twin'd amorous round the raptured scene.
" The flowers sprang wanton to be prest,
The birds sang love on every spray,
Proclaim'd the speed of winged day!
And fondly broods with miser care ;
As streams their channels deeper wear.
Where is thy place of blissful rest ?
Vol. i. p. 125, 126. Of his pieces of humour, the tale of Tam o' Shanter is probably the best : though there are traits of infinite merit in Scotch Drink, the Holy Fair, the Hallow E'en, and several of the songs; in all of which, it is very remarkable, that he rises occasionally into a strain of beautiful description or lofty sentiment, far above the pitch of his original conception. The poems of obseryation on life and characters, are the Twa Dogs and the various Epistles — all of which show very extraordinary sagacity and powers of expression. They are written, however, in so broad a dialect, that we dare not venture to quote any part of them. The only pieces that can be classed under the head of pure fiction, are the Two Bridges of Ayr, and the Vision. In the last, there are some vigorous and striking lines. We select the passage in which the Muse describes the early propensities of her favourite, rather as being more generally intelligible, than as superior to the rest of the poem.
" I saw thee seek the sounding shore,
Delighted with the dashing roar;
Drove through the sky,
Struck thy young eye.
Warm cherish'd ev'ry flow'ret's birth,
In ev'ry grove,
With boundless love,