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To Miss Isabella MacLeod


The crimson blossom charms the bee, The summer sun the swallow; So dear this tuneful gift to me From lovely Isabella. Her portrait fair upon my mind Revolving Time shall mellow; And Mem'ry's latest effort find The lovely Isabella. No Bard nor Lover's rapture this, In fancies vain and shallow; She is, so come my soul to bliss! The lovely Isabella.

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John Shedden

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1787 and is read here by John Shedden.

Themes for this poem

beauty love woman

Selected for 15 August

Today's poem evokes the drowsy, bee buzzy, rose musky atmosphere and mood of mid-August. Infatuation came easily to the Bard; and so did the verse that expressed it 'No Bard nor Lover's rapture this/No fancy vain or shallow...'? Well if you say so Mr Burns! In fact the poet is doing here what he so often did, paying a real woman he genuinely admired, the compliment of a 'love lyric', safely taken in the encomiastic spirit in which it was offered. The recipient of Burns's praise was the daughter of the Earl of Raasay, who had entertained Johnson and Boswell. She met Burns while he was in Edinburgh in 1787. He also wrote 'Raving Winds' for her after the death of her sister.

Donny O'Rourke

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