6 JULY 1895, Page 20


THE TOMB OF BURNS.* WHAT woos the world to yonder shrine P What sacred clay, what dust divine P Was this some Master faultless-fine, In whom we praise The cunning of the jewelled line And carven phrase P A searcher of our source and goal, A reader of God's secret scroll?

A Shakespeare, flashing o'er the whole Of Man's domain The splendour of his cloudless soul And perfect brain P Some Keats, to Grecian gods allied, Clasping all Beauty as his bride P Some Shelley, soaring dim-descried Above Time's throng, And heavenward hurling wild and wide His spear of song P

• This poem is copyright, and not more than a reasonable specimen of its quality should be quoted by our contemporaries. A. lonely Wordsworth, from the crowd Half hid in light, half veiled in cloud ? A sphere-born Milton cold and proud, In hallowing dews

Dipt, and with gorgeous ritual vowed Unto the Muse ?

Nay, none of these,—and little skilled On heavenly heights to sing and build! Thine, thine, 0 Earth, whose fields he tilled, And thine alone, 'Was he whose fiery heart lies stilled 'Heath yonder stone.

He came when poets had forgot How rich and strange the human lot ; How warm the tints of Life ; how hot Are Love and Hate; And what makes Truth divine, and what Makes Manhood great.

A ghostly troop, in pale amaze They melted 'neath that living gaze,— His in whose spirit's gusty blaze We seem to hear The crackling of their phantom bays Sapless and sere!

For, 'mid an age of dust and dearth, -Once more had bloomed immortal worth. There, in the strong, splenetic North, The Spring began.

A mighty mother had brought forth A mighty man.

No mystic torch through Time he bore, No virgin veil from Life he tore ; His soul no bright insignia wore Of starry birth; He saw what all men see—no more— In heaven and earth : But as, when thunder crashes nigh, All darkness opes one flaming eye, And the world leaps against the sky,— So fiery-clear Did the old truths that we pass by To him appear.

How could he 'nape the doom of such As feel the airiest phantom-touch Keenlier than others feel the clutch

Of iron powers,—

'Who die of having lived so mach In their large hours ?

He erred, he sinned: and if there be Who, from his hapless frailties free, Rich in the poorer virtues, see His faults alone,— To such, 0 Lord of Charity, Be mercy shown !

Singly he faced the bigot brood, The meanly wise, the feebly good; He pelted them with pearl, with mud; He fought them well,— But ah, the stupid million stood, And he—he fell!

All bright and glorious at the start, 'Twas his ignobly to depart, Slain by his own too affluent heart, Too generous blood;

And blindly, having lost Life's chart, To meet Death's flood.

So closes the fantastic fray, The duel of the spirit and clay! So come bewildering disarray And blurring gloom, The irremediable day And final doom. So passes, all confusedly As lights that hurry, shapes that flee

About some brink we dimly see,

The trivial, great, Squalid, majestic tragedy Of human fate.

Not ours to gauge the more or less, The will's defect, the blood's excess, The earthy humours that oppress The radiant mind.

His greatness, not his littleness, Concerns mankind.

A dreamer of the common dreams, A fisher in familiar streams, He chased the transitory gleams That all pursue ; But on his lips the eternal themes Again were new.

With shattering ire or withering mirth He smote each worthless claim to worth.

The barren fig-tree cumbering Earth He would not spare.

Through ancient lies of proudest birth He drove his share.

To him the Powers that formed him brave,

Yet weak to breast the fatal wave, A mighty gift of Hatred gave,— A gift above All other gifts benefic, save The gift of Love.

He saw 'tis meet that Man possess The will to curse as well as bless, To pity—and be pitiless, To make, and mar; The fierceness that from tenderness Is never far.

And so his fierce and tender strain Lives, and his idlest words remain To flout oblivion, that in vain Strives to destroy One lightest record of his pain Or of his joy.

And though thrice statelier names decay, His own can wither not away While plighted lass and lad shall stray Among the broom, Where evening touches glen and brae With rosy gloom ;

While Hope and Love with Youth abide; While Age sits at the ingleside;

While yet there have not wholly died The heroic fires, The patriot passion, and the pride In noble sires ; While, with the conquering Saxon breed Whose fair estate of speech and deed Heritors north and south of Tweed Alike may claim, The dimly mingled Celtic seed Flowers like a flame ; While nations see in holy trance That vision of the world's advance Which glorified his countenance When from afar He hailed the Hope that shot o'er France Its crimson star ; While, plumed for flight, the Soul deplores The cage that foils the wing that soars; And while, through adamantine doors In dreams flung wide, We hear resound, on mortal shores, The immortal tide.