To a Mountain Daisy
On Turning One Down with the Plow, in April, 1786
Robert Burns, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Kilmarnock, 1786). PR 4300 1786a K5s SMR. B-10 0051 Fisher Library.
2Thou's met me in an evil hour;
4 Thy slender stem:
5To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
6 Thou bonie gem.
7Alas! it's no thy neibor sweet,
8The bonie lark, companion meet,
9Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet
10 Wi' spreck'd breast,
11When upward-springing, blythe, to greet
12 The purpling east.
13Cauld blew the bitter-biting north
14Upon thy early, humble birth;
15Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
16 Amid the storm,
17Scarce rear'd above the parent-earth
18 Thy tender form.
19The flaunting flowers our gardens yield
22 O' clod or stane,
24 Unseen, alane.
25There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
26Thy snawie-bosom sun-ward spread,
27Thou lifts thy unassuming head
28 In humble guise;
29But now the share uptears thy bed,
30 And low thou lies!
31Such is the fate of artless maid,
32Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
33By love's simplicity betray'd
34 And guileless trust;
35Till she, like thee, all soil'd, is laid
36 Low i' the dust.
37Such is the fate of simple bard,
38On life's rough ocean luckless starr'd!
40 Of prudent lore,
41Till billows rage and gales blow hard,
42 And whelm him o'er!
43Such fate to suffering Worth is giv'n,
44Who long with wants and woes has striv'n,
45By human pride or cunning driv'n
46 To mis'ry's brink;
47Till, wrench'd of ev'ry stay but Heav'n,
48 He ruin'd sink!
49Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
50That fate is thine--no distant date;
51Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives elate,
52 Full on thy bloom,
53Till crush'd beneath the furrow's weight
54 Shall be thy doom.
1] At the time when this poem was written Burns was in great distress and anxiety, and was meditating emigration to Jamaica. His circumstances are reflected in this poem, which, like the lines "To a Mouse", was composed at the plough. It was published in 1786. crimson-tippèd. Canadian students should remember that the daisy here meant (bellis perennis) is an entirely different flower from that commonly called daisy in this country (ox-eye daisy, chrysanthemum leucanthemum). Back to Line
3] stoure. Dust. "Stoure" means primarily turmoil ("Mary Morison", l. 5), hence dust in motion. Back to Line
20] wa's. Walls. Back to Line
21] bield. Shelter. Back to Line
23] histie. Dry, barren.
stibble. Stubble. Back to Line
39] card. Compass, as in Macbeth, I.iii.17. Back to Line
Publication Start Year:
RPO poem Editors:
W. J. Alexander; William Hall Clawson
RP (1912), 92-94.