written in 1785
Hail, Poesie! Thou nymph reserv'd! In chase o' thee, what crowds hae swerv'd Frae Common Sense, or sunk ennerv'd 'Mang heaps o' clavers; And Och! o'er aft thy joes hae starv'd 'Mid a' thy favors! Say, Lassie, why thy train amang, While loud the trumps heroic clang, And Sock and buskin skelp alang To death or marriage; Scarce ane has tried the Shepherd-sang But wi' miscarriage? In Homer's craft Jock Milton thrives; Eschylus' pen Will Shakespeare drives; Wee Pope, the knurlin, 'till him rives Horatian fame; In thy sweet sang, Barbauld, survives E'en Sappho's flame. But thee, Theocritus, wha matches? They're no' Herd's ballats, Maro's catches; Squire Pope but busks his skinklin patches O' Heathen tatters: I pass by hunders, nameless wretches, That ape their betters. In this braw age o' wit and lear, Will nane the Shepherd's whistle mair Blaw sweetly in his native air And rural grace; And wi' the far-fam'd Grecian share A rival place? Yes! there is ane; a Scotish callan! There's ane: come forrit, honest Allan! Thou need na jouk behint the hallan, A chiel sae clever; The teeth o' Time may gnaw Tamtallan, But thou's for ever. Thou paints auld Nature to the nines, In thy sweet Caledonian lines; Nae gowden stream thro' myrtles twines Where Philomel, While nightly breezes sweep the vines, Her griefs will tell! Thy rural loves are Nature's sel'; Nae bombast spates o' nonsense swell; Nae snap conceits, but that sweet spell O' witchin' love, That charm that can the strongest quell, The sternest move. In gowany glens thy burnie strays, Where bonie lasses bleach their claes; Or trots by hazelly shaws and braes Wi' hawthorns gray, Where blackbirds join the shepherd's lays At close o' day.