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Poem by Robert Burns


A Vision

As I stood by yon roofless tower,
  Where the waflower scents the dewy air.
Where the howlet mourns in her ivy bower,
  And tells the midnight moon her care;

The winds were laid, the air was still,
  The stars they shot alang the sky;
The fox was howling on the hill,
  And the distant echoing glens reply;

The stream adown the hazelly path
  Was rushing by the ruined was
To join yon river on the strath,
  Whase distant roaring swells an fas;

The cauld blue north was streaming forth
  Her lights wi hissing eerie din;
Athwart the lift they start an shift,
  Like fortunes favours, tint as win;

By heedless chance I turned mine eyes,
  And, by the moonbeam, shook to see
A stern and stalwart ghaist arise,
  Attired as minstrels wont to be;

Had I statue been o stane,
  His daring look had daunted me;
And, on his bonnet graved was, plain,
  The sacred posy-LIBERTIE!

And free his harp sic strains did flow
  Might roused the slumbering dead to hear;
But oh! it was a tale of woe
  As ever met a Britons ear.

He sang wi joy his former day,
  He weeping wailed his latter times;
But what he said it was nae play,
  I winna venture t in my rhymes....

No Spartan tube, no Attic shell,
  No lyre Aeolian I awake;
Tis libertys bold note I swell;
  Thy harp, Columbia, let me take!

See gathering thousands, while I sing,
A broken chain exulting bring,
  And dash it in a tyrants face!
And dare him to his very beard,
And tell him he no more is feared,
  No more the despot of Columbias race!
A tyrants proudest insults braved,
They shout, a people freed; they hail an empire saved!

Where is mans godlike form?
  Where is that brow erect and bold,
  That eye that can unmoved behold
The wildest rage, the loudest storm,
That eer created fury dared to raise?
  Avaunt, thou caitiff! servile, base,
  That tremblest at a despots nod,
  Yet, crouching under the iron rod,
Canst laud the hand that struck the insulting blow!
  Art thou of mans imperial line?
  Dost boast that countenance divine?
Each skulking feature answers No!
  But come, ye sons of Libertie,
  Columbias offspring, brave as free!
  In dangers hour still flaming in the van,
  Ye know and dare maintain the royalty of Man!

    Alfred! on the starry throne,
  Surrounded by the tuneful choir,
  The bards that erst have struck the patriot lyre,
  And roused the freeborn Britons soul of fire-
    No more thy England own!
Dare injured nations form the great design
  To make detested tyrants bleed?
  Thy England execrates the glorious deed!
  Beneath her hostile banners waving,
  Every pang of honour braving,
England in thunder calls-The tyrants cause is mine!

That hour accurst how did the fiends rejoice,
And hell thro all her confines raise the exulting voice!
That hour which saw the generous English name
Linked with such damned deeds of everlasting shame!
  Thee, Caledonia, thy wild heaths among,
  Thee, famed for martial deed and heaven-taught song,
    To thee I turn with swimming eyes;
  Where is that soul of Freedom fled?
  Immingled with the mighty dead!
    Beneath the hallowd turf where Wallace lies!
  Hear it not, Wallace, in thy bed of death!
    Ye babbling wind; in silence sweep;
    Disturb not ye the heros sleep,
  Nor give the coward secret breath.

    Is this the ancient Caledonian form,
    Firm as the rock, resistless as the storm?
  The eye which shot immortal hate,
    Crushing the despots proudest bearing?
  The arm which, nerved with thundering fate,
    Bravd usurpations boldest daring?
  Dark-quenched as yonder sinking star,
  No more that glance lightens afar;
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war!

Robert Burns

Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. Stanzas on the Same Occasion
  2. O, Wat Ye Whas In Yon Town?
  3. Hee Balou
  4. The Cardin Ot
  5. Epistle to John Lapraix, An Old Scottish Bard

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