The Merry Muses of Caledonia/The Bower of Bliss


Tune—"Logan Water."

In a letter from Burns to Wm. Stewart, Closeburn, dated Ellisland, Wednesday evening, he writes—"I go for Ayrshire to-morrow, so cannot have the pleasure of meeting you for some time, but anxious for your spiritual welfare and growth in grace, I enclose you the Plenipo. You will see another, the "Bower of Bliss," 'tis the work of a Rev. Doctor of the Church of Scotland. Would to Heaven a few more of them would turn their fiery zeal that way. There they might spend their holy fury, and show the tree by its fruits! ! ! There, the inbearing workings might give hopeful presages of a new birth! ! ! ! The other two are by the author of the Plenipo. 'The Doctor' is not half there, as I have mislaid it. I have no copies left of either, so must have the precious pieces again." This shows the part played by the poet's boon companions in the compilation of the Crochallan collection. The Plenipo did not find a place in the printed volume, but it was inserted in subsequent editions of the "Merry Muses." Its author was a Captain Morris, author of "Songs Drinking, Political and Facetious," published circa 1790.

The "high-kilted" muse does not become drawing-room costume. The deliberate, downright, mother-naked coarseness of the vernacular is infinitely preferable to this sickening stuff, which is Greek to the peasant, who calls a spade a spade because he has no other word for it.

Whilst others to thy bosom rise,
And paint the glories of thine eyes,
Or bid thy lips and cheeks disclose
The unfading bloom of Eden's rose;
Less obvious charms my song inspire
Which gods and men alike admire—
Less obvious charms, not less divine,
I sing that lovely bower of thine.

Rich gem! worth India's wealth alone,
How much pursued, how little known;
Tho' rough its face, tho' dim its hue,
It soils the lustre of Peru.
The vet'ran such a prize to gain.
Might all the toils of war sustain;
The devotee forsake his shrine,
To venerate that bower of thine.

When the stung heart feels keen desire,
And through each vein pours liquid fire;
When with flush'd cheeks and burning eyes,
Thy lover to thy bosom flies;
Believe, dear maid, believe my vow,
By Venus' self, I swear, 'tis true!
More bright the higher beauties shine,
Illum' d by that strange bower of thine.

What thought sublime, what lofty strain
Its wondrous virtues can explain?
No place howe'er remote, can be
From its intense attraction free;
Tho' more elastic far than steel.
Its force ten thousand needles feel;
Pleas'd their high temper to resign,
In that magnetic bower of thine.

Irriguous vale, embrown'd with shades,
Which no intrinsic storm pervades!
Soft clime, where native summer glows!
And nectar's living current flows!
Not Tempe's vale, renowned of yore,
Of charms could boast such endless store:
More than Elysian sweets combine,
To grace that smiling bower of thine.

O may no rash invader stain,
Love's warm, sequestered virgin fane!
For me alone let gentle fate,
Preserve the dear august retreat!
Along its banks when shall I stray?
The beauteous landscape when survey?
How long in fruitless anguish pine,
Nor view unveil'd that bower of thine.

O! let my tender, trembling hand,
The awful gate of life expand!
With all its wonders feast my sight;
Dear prelude to immense delight!
Till plung'd in liquid joy profound,
The dark unfathom'd deep I sound;
All panting on thy breast recline,
And, murmuring, bless that bower of thine.