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To A Mountain Daisy


Wee, modest crimson-tipped flow'r, Thou's 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, Unseen, alane. 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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Maureen Beattie
Ian McDiarmid

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1786 and is read here by Maureen Beattie.

Themes for this poem

nature future regret

Selected for 20 April

Today’s poem was enclosed in a letter sent to John Kennedy on April 20th, 1786. Kennedy features in two of the poems selected for March. This was Dorothy Wordsworth's favourite Burns piece. It matches in situation and mood, if not compositional quality, 'To a Mouse'. The 'artless maid', is Jean Armour, about to be banished to Paisley and a projected forced marriage to a suitor richer than the poet who had got her pregnant. The father-to-be hoped to venture even further afield, leaving his troubles behind in the 'billows' and 'gales' of the passage to Jamaica.

Donny O'Rourke

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