Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
 
Elegy on the Death of Scots Music
By Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)
 
ON Scotia’s plains, in days of yore,
When lads and lasses tartan wore,
Saft Music rang on ilka shore,
        In hamely weid;
But Harmony is now no more,        5
        And Music dead.
 
Round her the feather’d choir would wing,
Sae bonnily she wont to sing,
And sleely wake the sleeping string,
        Their sang to lead,        10
Sweet as the zephyrs of the spring;
        But now she’s dead.
 
Mourn ilka nymph and ilka swain,
Ilk sunny hill and dowie glen;
Let weeping streams and Naiads drain        15
        Their fountain head;
Let echo swell the dolefu’ strain,
        Since Music’s dead.
 
Whan the saft vernal breezes ca’
The grey-hair’d Winter’s fogs awa’,        20
Naebody then is heard to blaw,
        Near hill or mead,
On chaunter or on aiten straw,
        Since Music’s dead.
 
Nae lasses now, on simmer days,        25
Will lilt at bleaching of their claes;
Nae herds on Yarrow’s bonny braes,
        Or banks of Tweed,
Delight to chant their hameil lays,
        Since Music’s dead.        30
 
At gloamin’, now, the bagpipe’s dumb,
Whan weary owsen hameward come;
Sae sweetly as it wont to bum,
        And pibrachs skreed;
We never hear its warlike hum,        35
        For Music’s dead.
 
Macgibbon’s gane: Ah! waes my heart!
The man in music maist expert,
Wha cou’d sweet melody impart,
        And tune the reed,        40
Wi’ sic a slee and pawky art;
        But now he’s dead.
 
Ilk carline now may grunt and grane,
Ilk bonny lassie make great mane;
Since he’s awa’, I trow there’s nane        45
        Can fill his stead;
The blythest sangster on the plain!
        Alake, he’s dead!
 
Now foreign sonnets bear the gree,
And crabbit queer variety        50
Of sounds fresh sprung frae Italy,
        A bastard breed!
Unlike that saft-tongu’d melody
        Which now lies dead.
 
Can lav’rocks at the dawning day,        55
Can linties chirming frae the spray,
Or todling burns that smoothly play
        O’er gowden bed,
Compare wi’ Birks of Indermay?
        But now they’re dead.        60
 
O Scotland! that cou’d yence afford
To bang the pith of Roman sword,
Winna your sons, wi’ joint accord,
        To battle speed,
And fight till Music be restor’d,        65
        Which now lies dead?
 
 
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