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THE LASS OF BALLOCHMYLE.
'Twas ev'n, the dewy fields were green,
On ev'ry blade the pearls hang;
And bore its fragrant sweets alang :
All nature list' ning seem'd the while, Except where greenwood echoes rang,
Amang the braes o' Ballochmyle.
With careless step I onward stray'd,
My heart rejoic'd in Nature's joy, When musing in a lonely glade,
A maiden fair I chanc'd to spy; Her look was like the morning's eye,
Her air like Nature's vernal smile; The lily's hue, and rose's dye,
Bespake the lass o' Ballochmyle,
Fair is the morn in flowry May,
And sweet is night in Autumn mild, When roving through the garden gay,
Or wand'ring in the lonely wild; But woman, Nature's darling child!
There all her charms she does compile; Ev'n there her other works are foil'd
By the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.
O had she been a country maid, i
And I the happy country, swain, Though shelter'd in the lowest shed
That ever rose on Scotland's plain! Through weary winter's wind and rain,
With joy, with rapture, I would toil And nightly to my bosom strain
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.
Then pride might climb the slipp'ry steep,
Where fame and honours lofty shine;
Or downward seek the Indian mine.
To tend the flocks, or till the soil,
Wi' the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle. *
* This song has been considered, and perhaps with justice, as one of the richest and most finished effusions of Burns's Muse. The name of the heroine has not been mentioned, but it has been said that she was “ a celebrated beauty of the West of Scotland,” and that “ the charms of her person corresponded with the character of her mind.” Our Bard's rencontre with her was not fictitious, nor did he leave her long in ignorance of the enthusiasm she had inspired. The following is an extract from the letter he sent to her, inclosing the song. It is highly descriptive, both of the surrounding scenery, and of his own feelings at the moment; and is, perhaps, one of the finest passages to be found in his prose writings, or indeed, in any writings in the English language.
“ The scenery was nearly taken from real life, though I dare say, Madam, you do not recollect it, as I believe you' scarcely noticed the poetic reveur as he wandered by you. I had roved out as chance directed, in the favourite haunts of my muse, on the banks of the Ayr, to view nature in all the gaiety of the vernal year. The evening sun was flaming over the distant western hills; not a breath stirred the crimson opening blossom, or the verdant spreading leaf.-It was a golden moment for a poetic heart. I listened to the feathered warblers, pouring their harmony on every hand, with a congenial kindred regard, and frequently turned out of my path, lest I should disturb their little songs, or frighten them to another station. Surely, said I to myself, he must be a wretch indeed, who, regardless of your harmonious endeavour to please him, can eye your elusive flights to discover your secret recesses, and to rob you of all the property nature gives you, your dearest comforts, your helpless nestlings. ..O TELL ME HOW FOR TO WOO.
TUNE" Bonnie Dundee.”
Ob tell me young lassie how for to woo !
Oh tell me sweet lassie how for to woo !
Lips like the roses fresh moisten'd wi' dew ?
Oh! tell me, oh tell me how for to woo!
Even the hoary hawthorn twig that shot across the way, what heart at such a time but must have been interested in its welfare, and wished it preserved from the rudely-browsing cattle, or the withering eastern blast? Such was the scene--and such the hour, when, in a corner of my prospect, I spied one of the fairest pieces of Nature's workmanship that ever crowned a poetic landscape, or met a poet's eye; those visionary bards excepted who hold commerce with aërial beings! Had Calumny and Vil. lany taken my walk, they had at that moment sworn eternal peace with such an object.
“What an hour of inspiration for a Poet! It would have raised plain, dull, historic prose into metaphor and measure.
“The enclosed song was the work of my return home; and perhaps it but poorly answers what might have been expected from such a scene.”
What care I for your wand'ring, young laddie!
What care I for your crossing the sea !
It was for my tocher ye cam to.court me;
Ribbans, and perlins, and breast-knots enew ? A house that is cantie, wi' walth in't, my laddie? ;
Without this ye never need try for to woo.
BESS THE GAWKIE."
BLYTHE young Bess to Jean did say,
And sport a while wi' Jamie?
For he's ta'en up wi' Maggie.
Out owre the muir to Maggie:
« That Bess was but a gawkie.
“ For when a civil kiss I seek, “ She turns her head, and thraws her cheek, “ And for an hour she'll hardly speak:
“ Wha'd no ca' her a gawkie? “ But sure my Maggie has mair sense, “ She'll gie a score without offence; “ Now gie me ane into the mense,
“ And ye shall be my dawtie.”