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To a Mountain Daisy
by Robert Burns

Scottish poet and songwriter, Burns is best known today for the latter and, in particular, for his Auld Lang Syne, generally sung in Britain upon the occasion of New Year. This appeared, along with such other lyrics as O My Loves Like a Red, Red Rose, Ye Banks and Braes and Scots wha hac, in the selection of Scottish tunes Burns collected and contributed to: the Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice (1793-1818). Other of his songs are also collected in another compendia, The Scots Musical Museum (1787-1803).

As a poet Burns worked with simple concepts, but applied them across a number of forms. He wrote and published satires, scenes of rustic life, epistles to friends, epigrams and nature poems, both in a composite poetic form made up of a number of Scottish dialects and in English. In poems such as The Cotter's Saturday Night and To a Mountain Daisy he uses both Scottish dialect and English together. His poems were published in the Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786).


To a Mountain Daisy
by Robert Burns

(On turning one down with the plough in April, 1786)

Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour;
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem:
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonie gem.

Alas! it's no thy neebor sweet,
The bonie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet,
Wi' spreckled breast!
When upward-springing, blithe, to greet
The purpling east.

Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
Upon thy early, humble birth;
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce reared above the parent-earth
Thy tender form.

The flaunting flow'rs our gardens yield,
High shelt'ring woods and wa's maun shield;
But thou, beneath the random bield
O' clod or stane,
Adorns the histie stibble-field,
Unseen, alane.

There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawy bosom sunward spread,
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise;
But now the share uptears thy bed,
And low thou lies!

Such is the fate of artless Maid,
Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betrayed,
And guileless trust,
Till she, like thee, all soiled, is laid
Low i' the dust.

Such is the fate of simple Bard,
On Life's rough ocean luckless starred!
Unskilful he to note the card
Of prudent lore,
Till billows rage, and gales blow hard,
And whelm him o'er!

Such fate to suffering worth is giv'n,
Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
By human pride or cunning driv'n
To mis'ry's brink,
Till wrenched of ev'ry stay but Heav'n,
He, ruined, sink!

Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
That fate is thine -no distant date;
Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight,
Shall be thy doom!


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