Sunday, 15 February 2009

Epistle To Francis Boyle - By John Meharg

Here's another early example of Ulster-Scots poetry - Gilhahirk poet, John Meharg's Epistle To Francis Boyle, published in Boyle's Miscelleous Poems (1811).

By John Meharg

Dear Frank, it lang was in my view,
To write a verse or twa to you,
We Poets, poor discernin' few,
Love ane anither,
Wi' heart an' saul, an' far mair true
Than money a brither.
Let warly sons o' men combine,
An' gather gowd to mak them shine,
At this, dear Frank, we'll ne'er repine,
E'en let them gae;
We'll sing our joys in hamely rhyme,
On some burn brae.
How sweetly do the moments pass,
Aye whan our theme's a bonny lass,
Or wi' a frien', out owre a glass
O' gin or rum!
The sordid, grov'lin, miser ass,
May there sing dumb.

But as for riches what care I,
Sic low pursuits the Bards deny,
An' Fortune's frowns they will defy,
While e'er the Muse,
Will with their wishes kind comply,
An' no refuse.

An' yet my rhymes are unco rough,
As owre a country e'er did sugh,
They hardly please mysel' eneugh,
As aft's I read them;
But spun by ane frae loom or pleugh,
Nae man will heed them.

An' sae, my much respected friend,
I'll ne'er presume, nor yet pretend,
Wi' you in verses to contend,
For wit or theme,
Na, na, I ken that it wad end
In my great shame.

Your verses rin as true an' fine,
As if the Muses did combine,
Apollo an' tunefu' Nine,
To raise your name,
An' roun' your brow a wreath entwine,
O' endless fame.

In Grenshaw townland may you sing,
Till a' the hills an' vallies ring,
An' whan the Winter's owre, an' Spring
Begins to dawn,
Your Fancy yet shall spread her wing,
Out owre the lawn.

Aft hae I wish'd an' hope't to see,
Yet mony a year afore I die,
Your verses fill'd sae fu' o' glee,
In grandeur paintit,
Wi' ae request o' mine agree -
An' get them prentit.

An' let the warl' ken your name,
An' sons unborn exalt your fame,
An' narrow-minded men think shame
If ony reads,
Your torch o' satire, like a flame,
To show their deeds!

An' whan ye're mouldrin' i' the clay,
The stranger that shall pass the way,
Will to your dwallin' homage pay
An' spier the where,
Some frien' o' thine will point an' say -
"The Bard lived there."

But as for me, I needna think
E'er to appear in prent or ink,
For folk to read, then laugh an' wink,
An' cock their nose,
An' tauntin', say, "It disna clink
"Like verse or prose."

But what care I? e'en let them say;
Whan in the bonny month o' May,
On some burn side I'll lonely stray,
Whar nane shall hear,
An' chant to her my rustic lay,
I love sae dear.

O Love! O Life! O Friendship dear!
'Tis you I court, 'tis you I fear
All cares are drown'd when you are near,
In seas o' pleasure;
Ye Powers Divine, while I am here,
Be these my treasure!

"But Johnie, stap, ye're yet a boy,
Know, Beauty's but a fleetin' toy,
An' love's a momentary joy,
That soon will pass,
It will your inward peace destroy,
Ye simple Ass.

For all these joys will pass away,
When Age shall come, life's winter day,
An' firmest friendship will decay;
My son, good night."
Erato thus to me did say,
Then took her flight.

My bosom heav'd, I gave a sigh,
As after her I cast my eye,
Until her flight she winged on high,
Out o' my sight,
An' reach'd her distant kindred sky,
'Mang orbs o' light.

Sae now, dear Frank, my Muse is gane,
Which causes me a kin' o' pain;
But aiblins she'll return again,
An' wi' me dwell;
An' daut me like a sukin' wean;
Sae, frien', farewell.

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