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May 12, 2017

Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/words-of-burns/their-groves-o-sweet-myrtle


In spite of all the diversions and infatuations in the last 10 years of his life, the central constant for Robert Burns was his wife Jean Armour. The long-suffering Jean must have had her patience and tolerance sorely tried but felt that Burns really did love her, first and foremost. The poet wrote many works in praise of Jean. Here is one sent to the collector, Thomson, just a year before he died.


"Their groves o' sweet myrtle let Foreign Lands reckon,

Where bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume;

Far dearer to me yon lone glen o' green breckan,

Wi' the burn stealing under the lang, yellow broom.

Far dearer to me are yon humble broom bowers

Where the blue-bell and gowan lurk, lowly, unseen;

For there, lightly tripping, among the wild flowers,

A-list'ning the linnet, aft wanders my Jean.


"Tho' rich is the breeze in their gay, sunny valleys,

And cauld Caledonia's blast on the wave;

Their sweet-scented woodlands that skirt the proud palace,

What are they?-the haunt of the Tyrant and Slave.

The Slave's spicy forests, and gold-bubbling fountains,

The brave Caledonian views wi' disdain;

He wanders as free as the winds of his mountains,

Save Love's willing fetters-the chains of his Jean."

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© 2014 Neil Macgillivray