Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Fitz-Greene Halleck. 1790–1867
 
10. Burns
 
To a Rose, brought from near Alloway Kirk, in Ayrshire, in the Autumn of 1822
 
WILD rose of Alloway! my thanks; 
  Thou 'mindst me of that autumn noon 
When first we met upon "the banks 
  And braes o' bonny Doon." 
  
Like thine, beneath the thorn-tree's bough,         5
  My sunny hour was glad and brief, 
We 've crossed the winter sea, and thou 
  Art withered—flower and leaf. 
  
And will not thy death-doom be mine— 
  The doom of all things wrought of clay—  10
And withered my life's leaf like thine, 
  Wild rose of Alloway? 
  
Not so his memory,—for whose sake 
  My bosom bore thee far and long, 
His—who a humbler flower could make  15
  Immortal as his song. 
  
The memory of Burns—a name 
  That calls, when brimmed her festal cup, 
A nation's glory and her shame, 
  In silent sadness up.  20
  
A nation's glory—be the rest 
  Forgot—she 's canonized his mind; 
And it is joy to speak the best 
  We may of human kind. 
  
I 've stood beside the cottage-bed  25
  Where the Bard-peasant first drew breath; 
A straw-thatched roof above his head, 
  A straw-wrought couch beneath. 
  
And I have stood beside the pile, 
  His monument—that tells to Heaven  30
The homage of earth's proudest isle 
  To that Bard-peasant given! 
  
Bid thy thoughts hover o'er that spot, 
  Boy-Minstrel, in thy dreaming hour; 
And know, however low his lot,  35
  A Poet's pride and power: 
  
The pride that lifted Burns from earth, 
  The power that gave a child of song 
Ascendency o'er rank and birth, 
  The rich, the brave, the strong;  40
  
And if despondency weigh down 
  Thy spirit's fluttering pinions then, 
Despair—thy name is written on 
  The roll of common men. 
  
There have been loftier themes than his,  45
  And longer scrolls, and louder lyres, 
And lays lit up with Poesy's 
  Purer and holier fires: 
  
Yet read the names that know not death; 
  Few nobler ones than Burns are there;  50
And few have won a greener wreath 
  Than that which binds his hair. 
  
His is that language of the heart, 
  In which the answering heart would speak, 
Thought, word, that bids the warm tear start,  55
  Or the smile light the cheek; 
  
And his that music, to whose tone 
  The common pulse of man keeps time, 
In cot or castle's mirth or moan, 
  In cold or sunny clime.  60
  
And who hath heard his song, nor knelt 
  Before its spell with willing knee, 
And listened, and believed, and felt 
  The Poet's mastery 
  
O'er the mind's sea, in calm and storm,  65
  O'er the heart's sunshine and its showers, 
O'er Passion's moments bright and warm, 
  O'er Reason's dark, cold hours; 
  
On fields where brave men "die or do," 
  In halls where rings the banquet's mirth,  70
Where mourners weep, where lovers woo, 
  From throne to cottage-hearth? 
  
What sweet tears dim the eye unshed, 
  What wild vows falter on the tongue, 
When "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,"  75
  Or "Auld Lang Syne" is sung! 
  
Pure hopes, that lift the soul above, 
  Come with his Cotter's hymn of praise, 
And dreams of youth, and truth, and love, 
  With "Logan's" banks and braes.  80
  
And when he breathes his master-lay 
  Of Alloway's witch-haunted wall, 
All passions in our frames of clay 
  Come thronging at his call. 
  
Imagination's world of air,  85
  And our own world, its gloom and glee, 
Wit, pathos, poetry, are there, 
  And death's sublimity. 
  
And Burns—though brief the race he ran, 
  Though rough and dark the path he trod,  90
Lived—died—in form and soul a Man, 
  The image of his God. 
  
Through care and pain, and want, and woe, 
  With wounds that only death could heal, 
Tortures—the poor alone can know,  95
  The proud alone can feel; 
  
He kept his honesty and truth, 
  His independent tongue and pen, 
And moved, in manhood as in youth, 
  Pride of his fellow-men. 100
  
Strong sense, deep feeling, passions strong, 
  A hate of tyrant and of knave, 
A love of right, a scorn of wrong, 
  Of coward and of slave; 
  
A kind, true heart, a spirit high, 105
  That could not fear and would not bow, 
Were written in his manly eye 
  And on his manly brow. 
  
Praise to the bard! his words are driven, 
  Like flower-seeds by the far winds sown, 110
Where'er, beneath the sky of heaven, 
  The birds of fame have flown. 
  
Praise to the man! a nation stood 
  Beside his coffin with wet eyes, 
Her brave, her beautiful, her good, 115
  As when a loved one dies. 
  
And still, as on his funeral day, 
  Men stand his cold earth-couch around, 
With the mute homage that we pay 
  To consecrated ground. 120
  
And consecrated ground it is, 
  The last, the hallowed home of one 
Who lives upon all memories, 
  Though with the buried gone. 
  
Such graves as his are pilgrim shrines, 125
  Shrines to no code or creed confined— 
The Delphian vales, the Palestines, 
  The Meccas of the mind. 
  
Sages, with wisdom's garland wreathed, 
  Crowned kings, and mitred priests of power, 130
And warriors with their bright swords sheathed, 
  The mightiest of the hour; 
  
And lowlier names, whose humble home 
  Is lit by Fortune's dimmer star, 
Are there—o'er wave and mountain come, 135
  From countries near and far; 
  
Pilgrims whose wandering feet have pressed 
  The Switzer's snow, the Arab's sand, 
Or trod the piled leaves of the West, 
  My own green forest-land. 140
  
All ask the cottage of his birth, 
  Gaze on the scenes he loved and sung, 
And gather feelings not of earth 
  His fields and streams among. 
  
They linger by the Doon's low trees, 145
  And pastoral Nith, and wooded Ayr, 
And round thy sepulchres, Dumfries! 
  The poet's tomb is there. 
  
But what to them the sculptor's art, 
  His funeral columns, wreaths and urns? 150
Wear they not graven on the heart 
  The name of Robert Burns? 
 
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