Robert Fergusson ( )

Ode to the Gowdspink

Frae fields whare Spring her sweets has blawn
Wi caller verdure owr the lawn,
The gowdspink comes in new attire,
The brawest mang the whistling choir,
That, ere the sun can clear his een,
Wi glib notes sain the simmers green.

Sure Nature herried mony a tree,
For spraings and bonny spats to thee:
Nae mair the rainbow can impart
Sic glowing ferlies o her art,
Whase pencil wrought its freaks at will
On thee the sey-piece o her skill.
Nae mair thro straths in simmer dight
We seek the rose to bless our sight;
Or bid the bonny wa-flowers sprout
On yonder ruins lofty snout.
Thy shining garments far outstrip
The cherries upo Hebes lip,
And fool the tints that Nature chose
To busk and paint the crimson rose.

Mang man, waes heart! We aften find
The brawest drest want peace of mind,
While he that gangs wi ragged coat
Is weel contentit wi his lot.
Whan wand wi glewy birdlimes set,
To steal far aff your dautit mate,
Blyth wad ye change your cleething gay
In lieu of lavrocks sober grey.
In vain thro woods you sair may ban
Thenvious treachery of man,
That, wi your gowden glister taen,
Still hunts you on the simmers plain,
And traps you mang the sudden fas
O winters dreary dreepin snaws.
Now steekit frae the gowany field,
Frae ilka favrite houff and bield,
But mergh, alas! To disengage
Your bonny bouk frae fettering cage,
Your free-born bosom beats in vain
For darling liberty again.
In window hung, how aft we see
Thee keek around at warblers free,
That carrol saft, and sweetly sing
Wi a the blythness of the spring?
Like Tantalus they hing you here,
To spy the glories o the year;
And tho youre at the burnies brink,
They downa suffer you to drink.

Ah, Liberty! thou bonny dame,
How wildly wanton is thy stream,
Round whilk the birdies a rejoice,
An hail you wi a grateful voice.
The gowdspink chatters joyous here,
And courts wi gleesome sangs his peer:
The mavis frae the new-bloomd thorn
Begins his lauds at earest morn;
And herd loun louping owr the grass,
Need far less fleetching til his lass,
Than paughty damsels bred at courts,
Wha thraw their mous and take the dorts:
But, reft of thee, fient 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
In some dark chambers dowy nook;
Tho Marys hand his neb supplies,
Unkend to hungers painfu cries,
Evn beauty canna cheer the heart
Frae life, frae liberty apart;
For now we tyne its wonted lay,
Sae lightsome sweet, sae blythly gay.

Thus Fortune aft a curse can gie,
To wyle us far frae liberty:
Then tent her siren smiles wha list,
Ill neer envy your girnals grist;
For whan fair freedom smiles nae mair,
Care I for life? Shame fa the hair;
A field oergrown wi rankest stubble,
The essence of a paltry bubble.

Robert Fergusson's other poems:
  1. To the Tron-Kirk Bell
  2. The Daft-Days
  3. The Sitting of the Session
  4. To Sir John Fielding, on His Attempts to Suppress The Beggars Opera
  5. Elegy on the Death of Scots Music

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