Scottish Poetry Selection
- To the Cuckoo
This poem by Michael Bruce (1746-1767) was one of many he wrote about the countryside. He was born in Kinross-shire where his father was a weaver. Although his father taught him to read before he was four years old, the young lad's attendance at school was often interrupted because in the summer he had to herd cattle on the Lomond Hills overlooking Loch Leven. He was able to go to the University of Edinburgh for four winter sessions. He later became a divinity student at Kinross. But he became seriously ill and died of consumption at the early age of 21, leaving behind a legacy of some fine poems.
To the CuckooHail, beauteous stranger of the grove!
Thou messenger of Spring!
Now Heaven repairs thy rural seat,
And woods thy welcome sing.
What time the daisy decks the green,
Thy certain voice we hear:
Hast thou a star to guide thy path,
Or mark the rolling year?
Delightful visitant, with thee
I hail the time of flowers;
And hear the sound of music sweet
From birds among the bowers.
The schoolboy, wandering through the wood,
To pull the primrose gay,
Starts the new voice of Spring to hear,
And imitates thy lay.
What time the pea puts on the bloom,
Thou fliest thy vocal vale —
An annual guest, in other lands,
Another Spring to hail.
Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
Thou hast no sorrow in thy song.
No winter in thy year!
Alas! sweet bird! not so my fate;
Dark scowling skys I see
Fast gathering round, and fraught with woe
And ninety years to me.
O could I fly, I'd fly with thee!
We'd make, with joyful wing,
Our annual visit o'er the globe—
Companions of the Spring.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
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