Scottish Poetry Selection
- Elegy - Written in Spring
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.
Elegy - Written in Spring'Tis past: the iron North has spent his rage;
Stern Winter now resigns the lengthening day,
The stormy howlings of the winds assuage,
And warm o'er ether western breezes play.
Of genial heat and cheerful light the source,
From summer climes, beneath another sky,
The sun, returning, wheels his golden course:
Before his beams all noxious vapors fly.
Far to the north grim Winter draws his train,
To his own clime, to Zembla's frozen shore;
Where, throned on ice, he holds eternal reign;
Where whirlwinds madden, and where tempests roar.
Loosed from the bands of frost, the verdant ground
Again puts on her robe of cheerful green,
Again puts forth her flowers; and all around
Smiling, the cheerful face of Spring is seen.
Behold! the trees new deck their withered boughs;
Their ample leaves, the hospitable plane,
The taper elm, and lofty ash disclose;
The blooming hawthorn variegates the scene.
The lily of the vale, of flowers the queen,
Puts on the robe she neither sewed nor spun;
The birds on ground, or on the branches green,
Hop to and fro, and glitter in the sun.
Soon as o'er eastern hills the morning peers,
From her low nest the tufted lark upsprings;
And, cheerful singing, up the air she steers;
Still high she mounts, still loud and sweet she sings.
Now is the time for those who wisdom love,
Who love to walk in virtue's flowery road,
Along the lovely paths of Spring to rove,
And follow Nature up to Nature's God.
Meaning of unusual words:
Zembla = Nova Zembla is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia
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