THE SUN had closâ€™d the winter day, The curless quat their roarin play, And hungerâ€™d maukin taen her way, To kail-yards green, While faithless snaws ilk step betray Whare she has been.
The thresherâ€™s weary flingin-tree, The lee-lang day had tired me; And when the day had closâ€™d his eâ€™e, Far iâ€™ the west, Ben iâ€™ the spence, right pensivelie, I gaed to rest.
There, lanely by the ingle-cheek, I sat and eyâ€™d the spewing reek, That fillâ€™d, wiâ€™ hoast-provoking smeek, The auld clay biggin; Anâ€™ heard the restless rattons squeak About the riggin.
All in this mottie, misty clime, I backward musâ€™d on wasted time, How I had spent my youthfuâ€™ prime, Anâ€™ done nae thing, But stringing blethers up in rhyme, For fools to sing.
Had I to guid advice but harkit, I might, by this, hae led a market, Or strutted in a bank and clarkit My cash-account; While here, half-mad, half-fed, half-sarkit. Is aâ€™ thâ€™ amount.
I started, muttâ€™ring, â€œblockhead! coof!â€ And heavâ€™d on high my waukit loof, To swear by aâ€™ yon starry roof, Or some rash aith, That I henceforth wad be rhyme-proof Till my last breathâ€”
When click! the string the snick did draw; Anâ€™ jee! the door gaed to the waâ€™; Anâ€™ by my ingle-lowe I saw, Now bleezin bright, A tight, outlandish hizzie, braw, Come full in sight.
Ye need na doubt, I held my whisht; The infant aith, half-formâ€™d, was crusht I glowrâ€™d as eerieâ€™s Iâ€™d been dusht In some wild glen; When sweet, like honest Worth, she blusht, Anâ€™ steppÃ¨d ben.
Green, slender, leaf-clad holly-boughs Were twisted, gracefuâ€™, round her brows; I took her for some Scottish Muse, By that same token; And come to stop those reckless vows, Would soon been broken.
A â€œhair-brainâ€™d, sentimental traceâ€ Was strongly markÃ¨d in her face; A wildly-witty, rustic grace Shone full upon her; Her eye, evâ€™n turnâ€™d on empty space, Beamâ€™d keen with honour.
Down flowâ€™d her robe, a tartan sheen, Till half a leg was scrimply seen; Anâ€™ such a leg! my bonie Jean Could only peer it; Sae straught, sae taper, tight anâ€™ cleanâ€” Nane else came near it.
Her mantle large, of greenish hue, My gazing wonder chiefly drew: Deep lights and shades, bold-mingling, threw A lustre grand; And seemâ€™d, to my astonishâ€™d view, A well-known land.
Here, rivers in the sea were lost; There, mountains to the skies were tossâ€™t: Here, tumbling billows markâ€™d the coast, With surging foam; There, distant shone Artâ€™s lofty boast, The lordly dome.
Here, Doon pourâ€™d down his far-fetchâ€™d floods; There, well-fed Irwine stately thuds: Auld hermit Ayr staw throâ€™ his woods, On to the shore; And many a lesser torrent scuds, With seeming roar.
Low, in a sandy valley spread, An ancient borough rearâ€™d her head; Still, as in Scottish story read, She boasts a race To evâ€™ry nobler virtue bred, And polishâ€™d grace. 2
By stately towâ€™r, or palace fair, Or ruins pendent in the air, Bold stems of heroes, here and there, I could discern; Some seemâ€™d to muse, some seemâ€™d to dare, With feature stern.
My heart did glowing transport feel, To see a race heroic 3 wheel, And brandish round the deep-dyed steel, In sturdy blows; While, back-recoiling, seemâ€™d to reel Their Suthron foes.
His Countryâ€™s Saviour, 4 mark him well! Bold Richardtonâ€™s heroic swell,; 5 The chief, on Sark who glorious fell, 6 In high command; And he whom ruthless fates expel His native land.
There, where a sceptrâ€™d Pictish shade Stalkâ€™d round his ashes lowly laid, 7 I markâ€™d a martial race, pourtrayâ€™d In colours strong: Bold, soldier-featurâ€™d, undismayâ€™d, They strode along.
Throâ€™ many a wild, romantic grove, 8 Near many a hermit-fancied cove (Fit haunts for friendship or for love, In musing mood), An aged Judge, I saw him rove, Dispensing good.
With deep-struck, reverential awe, The learned Sire and Son I saw: 9 To Natureâ€™s God, and Natureâ€™s law, They gave their lore; This, all its source and end to draw, That, to adore.
Brydonâ€™s brave ward 10 I well could spy, Beneath old Scotiaâ€™s smiling eye: Who callâ€™d on Fame, low standing by, To hand him on, Where many a patriot-name on high, And hero shone.
DUAN SECONDWith musing-deep, astonishâ€™d stare, I viewâ€™d the heavenly-seeming Fair; A whispering throb did witness bear Of kindred sweet, When with an elder sisterâ€™s air She did me greet.
â€œAll hail! my own inspired bard! In me thy native Muse regard; Nor longer mourn thy fate is hard, Thus poorly low; I come to give thee such reward, As we bestow!
â€œKnow, the great genius of this land Has many a light aerial band, Who, all beneath his high command, Harmoniously, As arts or arms they understand, Their labours ply.
â€œThey Scotiaâ€™s race among them share: Some fire the soldier on to dare; Some rouse the patriot up to bare Corruptionâ€™s heart: Some teach the bardâ€”a darling careâ€” The tuneful art.
â€œâ€™Mong swelling floods of reeking gore, They, ardent, kindling spirits pour; Or, â€™mid the venal senateâ€™s roar, They, sightless, stand, To mend the honest patriot-lore, And grace the hand.
â€œAnd when the bard, or hoary sage, Charm or instruct the future age, They bind the wild poetric rage In energy, Or point the inconclusive page Full on the eye.
â€œHence, Fullarton, the brave and young; Hence, Dempsterâ€™s zeal-inspired tongue; Hence, sweet, harmonious Beattie sung His â€™Minstrel laysâ€™; Or tore, with noble ardour stung, The scepticâ€™s bays.
â€œTo lower orders are assignâ€™d The humbler ranks of human-kind, The rustic bard, the labâ€™ring hind, The artisan; All choose, as various theyâ€™re inclinâ€™d, The various man.
â€œWhen yellow waves the heavy grain, The threatâ€™ning storm some strongly rein; Some teach to meliorate the plain With tillage-skill; And some instruct the shepherd-train, Blythe oâ€™er the hill.
â€œSome hint the loverâ€™s harmless wile; Some grace the maidenâ€™s artless smile; Some soothe the labâ€™rerâ€™s weary toil For humble gains, And make his cottage-scenes beguile His cares and pains.
â€œSome, bounded to a district-space Explore at large manâ€™s infant race, To mark the embryotic trace Of rustic bard; And careful note each opening grace, A guide and guard.
â€œOf these am Iâ€”Coila my name: And this district as mine I claim, Where once the Campbells, chiefs of fame, Held ruling power: I markâ€™d thy embryo-tuneful flame, Thy natal hour.
â€œWith future hope I oft would gaze Fond, on thy little early ways, Thy rudely, carollâ€™d, chiming phrase, In uncouth rhymes; Firâ€™d at the simple, artless lays Of other times.
â€œI saw thee seek the sounding shore, Delighted with the dashing roar; Or when the North his fleecy store Drove throâ€™ the sky, I saw grim Natureâ€™s visage hoar Struck thy young eye.
â€œOr when the deep green-mantled earth Warm cherishâ€™d evâ€™ry floweretâ€™s birth, And joy and music pouring forth In evâ€™ry grove; I saw thee eye the general mirth With boundless love.
â€œWhen ripenâ€™d fields and azure skies Callâ€™d forth the reapersâ€™ rustling noise, I saw thee leave their evâ€™ning joys, And lonely stalk, To vent thy bosomâ€™s swelling rise, In pensive walk.
â€œWhen youthful love, warm-blushing, strong, Keen-shivering, shot thy nerves along, Those accents grateful to thy tongue, Thâ€™ adorÃ¨d Name, I taught thee how to pour in song, To soothe thy flame.
â€œI saw thy pulseâ€™s maddening play, Wild send thee Pleasureâ€™s devious way, Misled by Fancyâ€™s meteor-ray, By passion driven; But yet the light that led astray Was light from Heaven.
â€œI taught thy manners-painting strains, The loves, the ways of simple swains, Till now, oâ€™er all my wide domains Thy fame extends; And some, the pride of Coilaâ€™s plains, Become thy friends.
â€œThou canst not learn, nor I can show, To paint with Thomsonâ€™s landscape glow; Or wake the bosom-melting throe, With Shenstoneâ€™s art; Or pour, with Gray, the moving flow Warm on the heart.
â€œYet, all beneath thâ€™ unrivallâ€™d rose, T e lowly daisy sweetly blows; Thoâ€™ large the forestâ€™s monarch throws His army shade, Yet green the juicy hawthorn grows, Adown the glade.
â€œThen never murmur nor repine; Strive in thy humble sphere to shine; And trust me, not Potosiâ€™s mine, Nor kingâ€™s regard, Can give a bliss oâ€™ermatching thine, A rustic bard.
â€œTo give my counsels all in one, Thy tuneful flame still careful fan: Preserve the dignity of Man, With soul erect; And trust the Universal Plan Will all protect.
â€œAnd wear thou thisâ€â€”she solemn said, And bound the holly round my head: The polishâ€™d leaves and berries red Did rustling play; And, like a passing thought, she fled In light away. [To Mrs. Stewart of Stair Burns presented a manuscript copy of the Vision. That copy embraces about twenty stanzas at the end of Duan First, which he cancelled when he came to print the price in his Kilmarnock volume. Seven of these he restored in printing his second edition, as noted on p. 174. The following are the verses which he left unpublished.]
Note 1. Duan, a term of Ossianâ€™s for the different divisions of a digressive poem. See his Cath-Loda, vol. 2 of Mâ€™Phersonâ€™s translation.â€”R. B. [back] Note 2. The seven stanzas following this were first printed in the Edinburgh edition, 1787. Other stanzas, never published by Burns himself, are given on p. 180. [back] Note 3. The Wallaces.â€”R. B. [back] Note 4. William Wallace.â€”R. B. [back] Note 5. Adam Wallace of Richardton, cousin to the immortal preserver of Scottish independence.â€”R. B. [back] Note 6. Wallace, laird of Craigie, who was second in command under Douglas, Earl of Ormond, at the famous battle on the banks of Sark, fought anno 1448. That glorious victory was principally owing to the judicious conduct and intrepid valour of the gallant laird of Craigie, who died of his wounds after the action.â€”R. B. [back] Note 7. Coilus, King of the Picts, from whom the district of Kyle is said to take its name, lies buried, as tradition says, near the family seat of the Montgomeries of Coilsfield, where his burial-place is still shown.â€”R. B. [back] Note 8. Barskimming, the seat of the Lord Justice-Clerk.â€”R. B. [back] Note 9. Catrine, the seat of the late Doctor and present Professor Stewart.â€”R. B. [back]