R. Burns & Edinburgh

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is one of the best known Scottish writers and a pioneer of Romanticism. In 1786, the poet mounted a borrowed pony and rode to Edinburgh leaving behind his country-life in Alloway.  He admired Edinburgh as much as Edinburgh (and the men of letters of Edinburgh, among them Walter Scott) admired him. In the same year (1786) Burns wrote “Address to Edinburgh.”

robertburnsmonumentTA-small

R. Burns Monument in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat in the background. 

 

Address to Edinburgh

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat! 
All hail thy palaces and tow’rs, 
Where once, beneath a Monarch’s feet, 
Sat Legislation’s sov’reign pow’rs: 
From marking wildly scatt’red flow’rs, 
As on the banks of Ayr I stray’d, 
And singing, lone, the lingering hours, 
I shelter in they honour’d shade. 

Here Wealth still swells the golden tide, 
As busy Trade his labours plies; 
There Architecture’s noble pride 
Bids elegance and splendour rise: 
Here Justice, from her native skies, 
High wields her balance and her rod; 
There Learning, with his eagle eyes, 
Seeks Science in her coy abode. 

Thy sons, Edina, social, kind, 
With open arms the stranger hail; 
Their views enlarg’d, their liberal mind, 
Above the narrow, rural vale: 
Attentive still to Sorrow’s wail, 
Or modest Merit’s silent claim; 
And never may their sources fail! 
And never Envy blot their name! 

Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn, 
Gay as the gilded summer sky, 
Sweet as the dewy, milk-white thorn, 
Dear as the raptur’d thrill of joy! 
Fair Burnet strikes th’ adoring eye, 
Heaven’s beauties on my fancy shine; 
I see the Sire of Love on high, 
And own His work indeed divine! 

There, watching high the least alarms, 
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar; 
Like some bold veteran, grey in arms, 
And mark’d with many a seamy scar: 
The pond’rous wall and massy bar, 
Grim-rising o’er the rugged rock, 
Have oft withstood assailing war, 
And oft repell’d th’ invader’s shock. 

With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears, 
I view that noble, stately Dome, 
Where Scotia’s kings of other years, 
Fam’d heroes! had their royal home: 
Alas, how chang’d the times to come! 
Their royal name low in the dust! 
Their hapless race wild-wand’ring roam! 
Tho’ rigid Law cries out ’twas just! 

Wild beats my heart to trace your steps, 
Whose ancestors, in days of yore, 
Thro’ hostile ranks and ruin’d gaps 
Old Scotia’s bloody lion bore: 
Ev’n I who sing in rustic lore, 
Haply my sires have left their shed, 
And fac’d grim Danger’s loudest roar, 
Bold-following where your fathers led! 

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat! 
All hail thy palaces and tow’rs;

Where once, beneath a Monarch’s feet, 
Sat Legislation’s sovereign pow’rs: 
From marking wildly-scatt’red flow’rs, 
As on the banks of Ayr I stray’d, 
And singing, lone, the ling’ring hours, 
I shelter in thy honour’d shade.

 

 

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