1799 Poem, Samuel Thomson, ‘Epistle to the Rev. James Glass. M.A.’

Author: Samuel Thomson

Date: 1799

Source: Poem: ‘Epistle to the Rev. James Glass. M.A.’, from New Poems, on a variety of different subjects by Samuel Thomson (Belfast: Doherty & Simms, 1799)

Comments: Samuel Thomson (1766–1816) from Lyles Hill near Templepatrick in South Antrim was the editor of the ‘Poets’ Corner’ in the Belfast United Irishman newspaper Northern Star until the paper was closed down in 1797. He exchanged poems with, and visited, Robert Burns, and published three books containing Ulster-Scots poetry — in 1793, 1799 and 1806. An account of his life and poetry can be found in the Introduction to The Country Rhymes of Samuel Thomson, by Philip Robinson and Ernest Scott (Belfast, 1992).

Doc. ref. no.: USLS/TB/Poetry/1700-1799/031



“Will men of sense and taste approve my strain?”


Dear Glass, wilt thou accept a sang,

A simple lilt, no vera lang,

In artless, Scottish style?

Compos’d beside a lonely thorn,

That monie a cauldrife blast has borne,

Upon the brow of Lyle;

Whar I full oft frae blockhead’s din,

To Solitude retire,

My rustic madrigals to spin,

And tune my humble lyre;

While larks fleet, frae parks fleet,

On floating pinions rife,

High touring and pouring

Wild music thro’ the skies.

Here I can sit in rural state,

And smile on a’ the little great,

These buzzards o’ the creation.

Wha chafin’ modest merit still,

Frae shore to shore, frae hill to hill,

Extend their devastation.

That they are rich and I but poor,

I dinna care ava:

Yet its no easy to endure

Their rude insulting jaw!

The [indecipherable one or two letters]inny see, when guineas he,

Can jingle in his pocket,

An’ suit new, his snout how

Provokingly he’ll cock it!

What tho’ sic gude-for-naithing foes,

To mar our innocent repose,

Full monie schemes invent;

Despite o’ a’ their power and art,

Ay conscious o’ the honest heart,

We’ll try to rest content.

Is there amang them a’ can taste

Like us, the kindling dawn,

The raptures o’ the breezy waste,

Or daisy sheeted lawn?

But wealth Sir, we’ve health Sir,

An’ Nature’s sweets are free;

To feel then, sae weel, then,

Is rowth to you an’ me.

What signifies blin’ Fortune’s frown?

What tho’ we wander up and down,

Frae Grandeur far exil’d?

Unpetted by the gaudy throng,

Sweet Nature’s various scenes among,

We chant our “wood-notes wild.”

The linnet’s or the mavis’ lay,

Is sweeter I’ll engage,

When carol’d frae the blooming spray,

Than chanted frae a cage.

Thro’ woods now, whar buds now,

On thorns begin to smell,

We’ll stray wild, and play wild

Conceits, to please oursel.

O, sir, quat politics an’ news!

To other themes invoke your muse;

Sic as by Leven’s side,

Ance streekit on the downy grass,

Ye sung to please a thrawart lass,

An’ win her for your bride.

Had I your powers for rural sang,

Here ilka stream and vale,

Ilk hawthorn glen an’ meadow lang,

Shou’d hear my tuneful tale;

You’d see then, ilk tree then,

To bloom the dykes alang;

The bowers with flowers,

Shou’d blossom in my sang.

Now, sir, I’ll quat my roundelay,

And whether it be found to hae

Beginning, middle, en’

Or whether downright nonsense, dull,

Or prose run mad, or what you will,

I neither care nor ken.

Nae rules I heed, I rhyme awa,

Tak’ what the musie gies me;

Sae if this may an answer draw

Frae you, ’twill greatly please me.

Whilst I, sir, when dry, sir,

The whisky stoup can drain,

Your servant, most fervent,

An’ true, I here remain.



APRIL, 1796.


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