Page images

Methought fresh May before my bed upstude,

In weed depaint of mony diverse hue,
Sober, benign, and full of mansuetude,

In bright attire of flouris forged new,

Heavenly of color, white, red, brown, and blue,
Balmy in dew, and gilt with Phoebus' bemys;
Quhyl all the house illumynit of her lemys.
Sluggard, she said, awake, anon, for shame,

And in my honour something thou go write:
The lark has done the merry day proclaim,

To raise up lovers with comfort and delight;

Yet nought increase thy courage to indite,
Whose heart sometime has glad and blissful been,

Sangis to make under the leavis green. The poet and his conductress then enter a garden filled with flowers, and breathing odours redolent of paradise, when immediately The purple sun,

with tender bemys red,
In orient bright as angel did appear,
Through golden skyis putting up his head,

Quhois gilt tresses shone so wonder clear,
That all the world take comfort far and near. -

And, as the blissful son of cherarchy *,

The fowlis sung through comfort of the light;
The birdis did with open voices cry,

“O Lovers, fo away thow dully night,

And welcome day that comforts every wight :
Hail May, hail Flora, hail Aurora schene,

Hail princess Nature, hail Venus, lovers queen !" * Hierarchy.-Job, ch. xxxviii. v. 7. The morning stars singing together.

Picturesque and faithful to nature as these descriptions of Spring most assuredly are, rich in imagery, and glowing with poetic inspiration, yet has Burns, by blending equal powers of delineation with emotions of the tenderest pathos, rendered his portraits of the same season, by this very charm of contrast, still more endearing and impressive. Frequent, indeed, as are his sketches of vernal scenery, there is scarcely one but what is thus commingled with the sweetest feelings of love and pity; and it is this happy and almost constant intermixture of minute description with sentiment and passion which has given to the poetry of Burns such a wide and ever-during dominion over the human heart. I shall now select from our Scottish bard a few specimens of this delightful union of imagery and pathos whilst painting the Mornings of Spring.

Now Spring has clad the



green, And strew'd the lea wi' flowers; The furrow'd waving corn is seen

Rejoice in fostering showers :
While ilka thing in nature join

Their sorrows to forego,
O why thus all alone are mine

The weary steps of woe !

The trout within yon wimpling burn

Glides swift, a silver dart,

And safe beneath the shady thorn

Defies the angler's art :
My life was ance that careless stream,

That wanton trout was I ;
But love, wi' unrelenting beam,

Has scorch'd my fountains dry.

The waken'd lav'rock warbling springs

And climbs the early sky,
Winnowing blythe her dewy wings

In morning's rosy eye ;
As little reckt I sorrow's power,

Until the flowery snare
0' witching love, in luckless hour,

Made me the thrall o'care.

The wretch whose doom is, “ hope nae mair,"

What tongue his woes can tell :
Within whase bosom, save despair,

Nae kinder spirits dwell.

The features attendant on this the most beautiful season of the year are yet further marked and extended in the following lines, which, like those that I have just quoted, make a powerful appeal to our sympathy.

Again rejoicing nature sees

Her robe assume its vernal hues,
Her leafy locks wave in the breeze

All freshly steep'd in morning dews.

In vain to me the cowslips blaw,

In vain to me the vi'lets spring;
In vain to me, in glen or shaw,

The mavis and the lintwhite sing.

The merry plough-boy cheers his team,

Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks,
But life to me's a weary dream,

A dream of ane that never wauks.

The wanton coot the water skims,

Amang the reeds the ducklings cry,
The stately swan majestic swims,

And every thing is blest but I.

The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap,

And owre the moorlands whistles shrill,
Wi' wild, unequal, wand'ring step

I meet him on the dewy hill.

And when the lark, tween light and dark,

Blythe waukens by the daisy's side,
And mounts and sings on flittering wings,

A woe-worn ghaist I hameward glide.

[ocr errors]

I conclude these instances with a quotation from the “ Lament of Mary Queen of Scots on the Approach of Spring,” a poem equally estimable for the loveliness of its descriptive touches, and for the pensive strain and maternal tenderness which so sweetly characterise its stanzas.

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 chrystal streams,

And glads the azure skies;
But nought can glad the weary wight

That fast in durance lies.

Now lav'rocks wake the merry morn,

Aloft on dewy wing;
The merle, in his noontide bow'r,

Makes woodland echoes ring;
The mavis mild, 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.-

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!

« PreviousContinue »