To a Mountain Daisy
by ROBERT BURNS (1759-1796)
On Turning One Down with the Plow, in April, 1786
Wee, modest crimson-tipped flow’r,
Thou’st 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 neibor sweet,
The bonie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee ‘mang the dewy weet,
Wi’ spreckl’d breast!
When upward-springing, blythe, 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 rear’d 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,
There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawie bosom sun-ward 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 betray’d,
And guileless trust;
Till she, like thee, all soil’d, is laid
Low i’ the dust.
Such is the fate of simple bard,
On life’s rough ocean luckless starr’d!
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 wrench’d of ev’ry stay but Heav’n,
He, ruin’d, sink!
Ev’n thou who mourn’st the Daisy’s fate,
That fate is thine–no distant date;
Stern Ruin’s plough-share drives elate,
Full on thy bloom,
Till crush’d beneath the furrow’s weight,
Shall be thy doom!
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“Burns is generally regarded as by far the greatest peasant-poet who has yet appeared in any country; but his poetry is so remarkable in itself that the circumstances in which it was produced add hardly anything to our admiration. The character of this poetry is like the mind and the nature out of which it sprung,– instinct with passion, but not less so with power of thought,– full of light, as well as full of fire. More of matter and meaning will be found in no verses than are found in his….” from The Progressive Course in Reading (1900), p. 218