網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

35

PREFACE TO THE FIRST, OR KILMARNOCK EDITION OF BURNS'S POEMS 1786 1786

10

The following trifles are not the production of the poet, who, with all the advantages of learned art, and, perhaps, amid the elegancies and idlenesses of 5 upper life, looks down for a rural theme, with an eye to Theocritus or Virgil. To the author of this, these and other celebrated names (their countrymen) are, at least in their original language, "a fountain shut up, and a book sealed." Unacquainted with the necessary requisites for commencing poet' by rule, he sings the sentiments and manners he felt and saw in himself and his rustic compeers around him, in his and their native language. Though a rhymer from his earliest years, at least from the earliest impulses of the softer passions, it was not till very lately that the applause, perhaps the partiality, of friendship, wakened his vanity so far as to make him think any thing of his was worth showing; and none of the following works were composed with a view to the press. To amuse himself with the little 25 creations of his own fancy, amid the toil

15

20

and fatigues of a laborious life; to transcribe the various feelings, the loves, the griefs, the hopes, the fears, in his own breast; to find some kind of counterpoise 30 to the struggles of a world, always an

alien scene, a task uncouth to the poetical mind; these were his motives for courting the Muses, and in these he found poetry to be its own reward.

Now that he appears in the public character of an author, he does it with fear and trembling. So dear is fame to the rhyming tribe, that even he, an obscure, nameless bard, shrinks aghast at the 40 thought of being branded as "An imper

1 foe

2 for beginning the vocation of a poet

204

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

35

PREFACE TO THE FIRST, OR KILMARNOCK EDITION OF BURNS'S POEMS 1786 1786

10

The following trifles are not the production of the poet, who, with all the advantages of learned art, and, perhaps, amid the elegancies and idlenesses of 5 upper life, looks down for a rural theme, with an eye to Theocritus or Virgil. To the author of this, these and other celebrated names (their countrymen) are, at least in their original language, "a fountain shut up, and a book sealed." Unacquainted with the necessary requisites for commencing poet2 by rule, he sings the sentiments and manners he felt and saw in himself and his rustic compeers around him, in his and their native language. Though a rhymer from his earliest years, at least from the earliest impulses of the softer passions, it was not till very lately that the applause, perhaps the partiality, of friendship, wakened his vanity so far as to make him think any thing of his was worth showing; and none of the following works were composed with a view to the press. To amuse himself with the little 25 creations of his own fancy, amid the toil

15

20

and fatigues of a laborious life; to transcribe the various feelings, the loves, the griefs, the hopes, the fears, in his own breast; to find some kind of counterpoise 30 to the struggles of a world, always an

alien scene, a task uncouth to the poetical mind; these were his motives for courting the Muses, and in these he found poetry to be its own reward.

Now that he appears in the public character of an author, he does it with fear and trembling. So dear is fame to the rhyming tribe, that even he, an obscure, nameless bard, shrinks aghast at the 40 thought of being branded as "An imper

1 foe

2 for beginning the vocation of a poet

tinent blockhead, obtruding his nonsense on the world; and, because he can make shift to jingle a few doggerel Scotch rhymes together, looks upon himself as a poet of no small consequence forsooth.

""

5

10

It is an observation of that celebrated poet, whose divine Elegies do honor to our language, our nation, and our speciesthat "Humility has depressed many a genius to a hermit, but never raised one to fame." If any critic catches at the word genius, the author tells him, once for all, that he certainly looks upon himself as possessed of some poetic abilities, otherwise his publishing in the manner he 15 has done would be a maneuver below the worst character which, he hopes, his worst * enemy will ever give him. But to the genius of a Ramsay, or the glorious dawnings of the poor, unfortunate Fergusson, he, with equal unaffected sincerity, declares that, even in his highest pulse of vanity, he has not the most distant pretensions. These two justly admired Scotch poets he has often had in his eye 25 in the following pieces; but rather with a view to kindle at their flame, than for servile imitation.

To his subscribers the author returns his most sincere thanks. Not the mer- 30 cenary bow over a counter, but the heartthrobbing gratitude of the bard, conscious how much he is indebted to benevolence and friendship for gratifying him, if he deserves it, in that dearest wish of every 35 poetic bosom-to be distinguished. He begs his readers, particularly the learned and the polite, who may honor him with a perusal, that they will make every allowance for education and circumstances of 40 life; but if, after a fair, candid, and impartial criticism, he shall stand convicted of dulness and nonsense, let him be done by as he would in that case do by others let him be condemned without mercy, to contempt and oblivion.

45

DEDICATION TO THE SECOND, OR
EDINBURGH EDITION OF

BURNS'S POEMS
1787

1787

TO THE NOBLEMEN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE
CALEDONIAN HUNT2

20

Though much indebted to your goodness, I do not approach you, my Lords and Gentlemen, in the usual style of dedication, to thank you for past favors: that path is so hackneyed by prostituted learning that honest rusticity is ashamed of it. Nor do I present this address with the venal soul of a servile author, looking for a continuation of those favors: I was bred to the plough, and am independent. I come to claim the common Scottish name with you, my illustrious countrymen; and to tell the world that I glory in the title. I come to congratulate my country, that the blood of her ancient heroes still runs uncontaminated; and that from your courage, knowledge, and public spirit, she may expect protection, wealth, and liberty. In the last place, I come to proffer my warmest wishes to the great fountain of honor, the monarch of the universe, for your welfare and happiness.

1 Shenstone

2 An association of Scottish huntsmen.

properly look for patronage as to the illustrious names of his native land; those who bear the honors and inherit the virtues of their ancestors? The poetic genius of my country found me, as the prophetic bard Elijah did Elisha-at the plough;1 and threw her inspiring mantle over me. She bade me sing the loves, the joys, the rural scenes and rural pleasures of my native soil, in my native tongue: I tuned my wild, artless notes, as she inspired. She whispered me to come to this ancient metrop olis of Caledonia and lay my songs under your honored protection: I now obey her dictates.

MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN:

A Scottish bard, proud of the name, 55 and whose highest ambition is to sing in his country's service-where shall he so

When you go forth to waken the echoes, in the ancient and favorite amusement of your forefathers, may pleasure ever be of your party: and may social joy await your return! When harassed in courts or camps with the jostlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest consciousness of injured worth attend your return to your native seats; and may domestic happiness, with a smiling welcome, meet you at your gates! May corruption shrink at your kindling, indignant glance; and 50 may tyranny in the ruler, and licentiousness in the people, equally find you an inexorable foe!

I have the honor to be, with the sincerest gratitude and highest respect, My Lords and Gentlemen,

Your most devoted humble Servant,

ROBERT BURNS. EDINBURGH, April 4, 1787.

1 See 1 Kings, 19:19.

II. NINETEENTH CENTURY ROMANTICISTS

SAMUEL ROGERS (1763-1855) THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY 1792 1792

From PART I

Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village green,

With magic tints to harmonize the scene. Stilled is the hum that thro' the hamlet broke,

When round the ruins of their ancient oak 5 The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel

play,

And games and carols closed the busy day. Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no

more

With treasured tales, and legendary lore. All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows 10 To chase the dreams of innocent repose.

All, all are fled; yet still I linger here! What secret charms this silent spot endear!

Mark yon old mansion frowning thro' the trees,

Whose hollow turret woos the whistling breeze.

15 That casement, arched with ivy's brownest shade,

First to these eyes the light of heaven con-
veyed.
The mouldering gateway strews the grass-
grown court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple
sport;
When all things pleased, for life itself was

new, 20 And the heart promised what the fancy drew.

As thro' the garden's desert paths I

rove,

70 What fond illusions swarm in every

grove! How oft, when purple evening tinged the west,

[blocks in formation]
« 上一頁繼續 »