COMPLIMENTARY EPIGRAM ON MARIA RIDDELL
Mrs Maria Riddell, for whom Robert Burns composed the following epigram, had a complex relationship with the poet. He admired her not only for her womanly beauty but also her understanding of his poetic efforts. Their platonic friendship was suspended for a time following an incident in the house of her brother-in-law Robert Riddell, in which Burns appears to have in some way ‘gone over the top’. She remained a true friend to the poet after his death when others sought to tarnish his memory.
"Praise Woman still," his lordship roars,
"Deserv'd or not, no matter?"
But thee, whom all my soul adores,
Ev'n Flattery cannot flatter:
Maria, all my thought and dream,
Inspires my vocal shell;
The more I praise my lovely theme,
The more the truth I tell.