Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Ode to the Gowdspink
By Robert Fergusson (1750–1774)
FRAE 1 fields where Spring her sweets has blawn
Wi’ caller verdure o’er the lawn,
The gowdspink comes in new attire,
The brawest ’mang the whistling choir,
That, ere the sun can clear his ein,        5
Wi’ glib notes sane 2 the simmer’s green.
  Sure Nature herried 3 mony a tree,
For spraings 4 and bonny spats to thee;
Nae mair the rainbow can impart
Sic glowing ferlies 5 o’ her art,        10
Whase pencil wrought its freaks at will
On thee the sey-piece 6 o’ her skill.
Nae mair through straths in simmer dight
We seek the rose to bless our sight;
Or bid the bonny wa’-flowers sprout        15
On yonder Ruin’s lofty snout.
Thy shining garments far outstrip
The cherries upo’ Hebe’s lip,
And fool the tints that Nature chose
To busk and paint the crimson rose.        20
  ’Mang men, wae’s heart! we aften find
The brawest drest want peace of mind,
While he that gangs wi’ ragged coat
Is weil contentit wi’ his lot.
Whan wand wi’ glewy birdlime’s set,        25
To steal far aff your dautit 7 mate,
Blyth wad ye change your cleething gay
In lieu of lav’rock’s sober grey.
In vain thro’ woods you sair may ban
Th’ envious treachery of man,        30
That, wi’ your gowden glister ta’en,
Still haunts you on the simmer’s plain
And traps you ’mang the sudden fa’s 8
O’ winter’s dreary dreepin’ snaws.
Now steekit 9 frae the gowany 10 field,        35
Frae ilka fav’rite houff 11 and bield,
But mergh, 12 alas! to disengage
Your bonny bouck 13 frae fettering cage,
Your free-born bosom beats in vain
For darling liberty again.        40
In window hung, how aft we see
Thee keek 14 around at warblers free.
That carrol saft, and sweetly sing
Wi’ a’ the blythness of the spring?
Like Tantalus they hing you here        45
To spy the glories o’ the year;
And tho’ you ’re at the burnie’s brink,
They douna 15 suffer you to drink.
  Ah, Liberty! thou bonny dame,
How wildly wanton is thy stream,        50
Round whilk the birdies a’ rejoice,
An’ hail you wi’ a gratefu’ voice.
The gowdspink chatters joyous here,
And courts wi’ gleesome sangs his peer:
The mavis frae the new-bloom’d thorn        55
Begins his lauds at earest morn;
And herd lowns 16 louping o’er the grass,
Need far less fleetching 17 till their lass,
Than paughty 18 damsels bred at courts,
Wha thraw their mou’s and take the dorts: 19        60
But, reft of thee, fient 20 flee we care
For a’ that life ahint can spare.
The gowdspink, that sae lang has kend
Thy happy sweets (his wonted friend),
Her sad confinement ill can brook        65
In some dark chamber’s dowy 21 nook;
Tho’ Mary’s hand his nebb 22 supplies,
Unkend to hunger’s painfu’ cries,
Ev’n beauty canna chear the heart
Frae life, frae liberty apart;        70
For now we tyne 23 its wonted lay,
Sae lightsome sweet, sae blythely gay.
  Thus Fortune aft a curse can gie,
To wyle us far frae liberty:
Then tent 24 her syren smiles wha list,        75
I ’ll ne’er envy your girnal’s 25 grist;
For whan fair freedom smiles nae mair,
Care I for life? Shame fa’ the hair: 26
A field o’ergrown wi’ rankest stubble,
The essence of a paltry bubble.        80
Note 1. Gowdspink = Goldfinch. [back]
Note 2. bless. [back]
Note 3. plundered. [back]
Note 4. different-coloured stripes. [back]
Note 5. marvels. [back]
Note 6. trial-piece. [back]
Note 7. cherished. [back]
Note 8. snares. [back]
Note 9. shut. [back]
Note 10. daisied. [back]
Note 11. resort. [back]
Note 12. without strength. [back]
Note 13. body. [back]
Note 14. look. [back]
Note 15. cannot. [back]
Note 16. lads. [back]
Note 17. flattery. [back]
Note 18. haughty. [back]
Note 19. huff. [back]
Note 20. devil a fly. [back]
Note 21. gloomy. [back]
Note 22. bill. [back]
Note 23. lose. [back]
Note 24. heed. [back]
Note 25. box for meal. [back]
Note 26. whore. [back]

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