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Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759-1796) rose to immediate success as a poet after his very first volume of verse was published in 1786. The son of a struggling tenant farmer in Ayrshire, he was fired by the ambition to preserve Scotland's national identity and language through the medium of his poetry. Burns' popularity with his fellow-countrymen soon earned him the title of Scotland's national poet, a position he has
retained for over two centuries. His contribution to English literature as a whole is today widely acknowledged and the name Robert Burns is celebrated worldwide.

O Once I Lov'd

O ONCE I lov'd a bonnie lass,
An' aye I love her still,
An' whilst that virture warms my breast
I'll love my handsome Nell.

As bonnie lasses I hae seen,
And mony full as braw,
But for a modest gracefu' mein
The like I never saw.

A bonny lass I will confess,
Is pleasant to the e'e,
But without some better qualities
She's no lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
And what is best of a',
Her reputation is compleat,
And fair without a flaw;

She dresses ay sae clean and neat,
Both decant and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
Gars ony dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air
May slightly touch the heart,
But it's innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.

'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
'Tis this enchants my soul;
For absolutely in my breast
She reigns without controul.
Afton Water

FLOW GENTLY, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, distrub not her dream.

Thou stock dove whose echo resounds thro' the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you distrub not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark'd with the courses of clear, winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet Cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green vallies below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft as mild ev'ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet scent birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream. Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green breas,
Flow gently, sweet River, the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring steam,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.