THE stream of Scottish
poetryseems never to be exhausted.It is a perennial spring whose rippling melody is heard in the
present age, and that shall continue to fall in sweetest cadences upon the
ear throughout the ages yet to come. Many are the poets of Scotland who
are never known beyond their own circumscribed locality, yet whose verse
is worthy of wider circulation. In this respect we would introduce to our
readers one of Scotland's poets, who has recently come to settle in
Ontario, Canada. Middlemass Brown, the subject of our sketch was born in
Galashiels, Scotland, but in early life he settled in Glasgow. Educated at
a public school in Glasgow, Anderson's College and Glasgow School of Art,
he began his career by learning the profession of a quantity surveyor or
measurer, and in 1881 was admitted a member of the Glasgow Institute of
Measurers. For upwards of twenty years he carried on business at his
profession, and amid his multifarious labors he found time to add to his
country's literature four volumes of well accredited verse. He had long
cultivated the poetic art before he ventured publication, and it was not
till 1894 that his first volume, "Aspects of Life," appeared. It describes
the varied phases of human existence as they appear to the mind of the
poet, and the characteristics of the poems may be elucidated by the
"Come, heavenly Muses, sweet poesy sublime Attune my soul to sing again in rhyme The varied
aspects of Man's life we find Displayed in noble triumphs of the mind, Or what is nobler still to trace the source From
whence the stream of Love pursues its course, And flows in silence as the ages roll, To cheer and animate the human soul." Encouraged by the success achieved
by this volume, he ventured his second publication, "The Vale of Life and
Pilgrim Songs," in 1895. The first part describes in dramatic form the
struggles and triumphs of human life from the cradle to the grave, while
the "Pilgrim Songs" express the feeling in lyrical verse of the varied
moods which the soul experiences in the pilgrimage through this world.
These find expression in the "Songs of Morning, Songs of Noon, Songs of
Eventide and Songs of Night." The tenor of these may be exemplified by an
extract entitled " Morn." It is the Morn of Life, brother! Awake! Awake! And for the daily strife, brother, Fresh courage
take. Great nature with
a smiling face And thankful heart, And joyously the charms embrace She doth impart. How sweet it is to breathe
the morning air, When o'er
the mind no gloomy clouds of care Their shadows cast And prospects all seem glorious and fair While
the bright beam of Hope is shining there, And night is past! Hope is the morning star whose radiant beam Shines through the doubts and fears which often seem To have control, And when we think of trials by the way Then Hope
arises with its cheerful ray To guide the soul.
The next volume
which appeared from his pen was "Langside Lyrics and Other Poems," in
1900. The pieces are principally of a local character. Living as the
author did in the district of Langside, so rich in historical romance, and
retaining still much of that sylvan beauty for which it is famed, he could
not but be inspired with the scenes surrounding him. The first part
describes the battle of Lang- side, in four cantos, and several of the
localities in the neighbourhood, while the latter part consists of
miscellaneous poems, one of which "A Centenary Poem on Robert Burns,
1796-1896," is accounted as one of the finest.
Immortal bard! whose
genius we revere, Accept the tribute of a falling tear, In
Scotland's name, While round thy brow the laurel wreath we twine
That through the ages shall be ever thine, In deathless fame.
Ye verdant trees beside the Nith's clear stream, Where oft our bard in
Fancy's pleasingdream Has strayed alone,
Wave now your branches gently in the breeze, And croon a dirge, kuld
Scotia's heart to please, For him that's gone.
No more shall he
beneath your leafy bowers Delight to linger in the sunny hours, And
sing your praise, But yet we hear his notes of song sublime, Borne
clearly through the fleeting course of time, In these bright days.
Ye flowers that bloom upon the bonnie braes, No more shall he with
rapture on you gaze In gladsome hour. And call the very humblest of
your race, (Wherein a matchless beauty he could trace) "A modest
Ye little birds that sing on ilka spray, No more shall
he rejoice to hear your lay, So soft and clear, That often cheered
him on his lonely way At morning's dawn, or in the evening. grey,
To him so dear.
Ye crystal streams that flow by hill or plain,
No! never shall he gaze on you again With ravished eyes, But yet we
catch his strain of sweetest song, That with the Stream of Time now
glides along, And never dies,
Ye trees and flowers! Ye birds and
flowing streams! Mourn now the loss of him whose golden dreams To us
impart Bright visions that are beautiful and fair, And songs of
Nature, sweet beyond compare, To cheer the heart.
We will not
say "Farewell," our Poet dear, But think of thee when every 'circling.
year Again returns. For Scotland may forget her sons abroad, And
others that are laid beneath the sod,, But not her "Burns."
illustrating the Lyrics in this volume we may quote "The Bonnie Bluebells.
The bluebells of Scotland, how lovely they grow On the banks and
braes where the wee burnies flow, In the woods and the glens where the
birds sweetly sing And Nature and Joy in blithe harmony spring. Ye
bonnie bluebells, I love your blue crest Oh ! fain would I snatch you
from Nature's own breast, And adorn the fair bosom of Love where you
may Be cherished by her throughout endless day.
For Love shall
endure when all else shall decay, When the flowers in the forest shall
wither away, And the voice of the songsters is hushed in the night
Of winter, whose shadow shall everything blight.
And now, my dear
country, where bloom the bluebells, My heart for thy glory exultingly
swells, And long may thy sons and fair daughters I see Wear the
bonnie bluebells to the honour of thee.
The fourth and last volume
published for our author was "Glasgow Exhibition Odes and Lyrics,"
intended to commemorate the great Exhibition of 1901 held in Glasgow.
There are three odes written for the occasion of its opening, and the
first poem "To our beloved Queen" was on the 81st birthday of the late
Queen Victoria. The Lyrics are descriptive of the scenes of sylvan beauty
around Kelvingrove where the exhibition buildings were erected. As
illustrative of this volume we may quote "To our beloved Queen."
Hail, sovereign lady, Britain's Queen, Who long has held thy people's
love, And treasured it as far above The richest jewel ever seen.
On this occasion we would greet The dawn that ushers in the day
When many years have passed away Since thou wast but an infant sweet.
Love with thy years progressive grew, And shed around a halo
bright, That still continues a delight, Which springs from out a
heart that's true.
And though thou hast a regal crown With
jewels of a lustre rare, Yet virtues far beyond compare Thou
holdest in supreme renown.
We hope that yet thou long may'st reign
A loving Sovereign o'er our land, To guide us with thy gentle hand
Into the path of peace again.
And when at last thou leav'st the
place Of honour thou hast filled on earth, Then all thy charms of
noble birth, We in thy glorious life may trace. 24th May, 1900.
These extracts may suffice to show the quality of our author's verse,
but a few illustrations can never give an adequate conception of the four
volumes which we have here briefly introduced to our Canadian readers. We
will conclude with an unpublished poem by our author which he has just
dedicated to the Sons of Scotland Benevolent Association in Canada.
"SCOTLAND FOR EVER."
To thee, my dear country, I'll sing in
sweet strains, Of beauty and grandeur within thy domains, And, oh!
that my heart could express all it feels Of the many bright charms
which thy scenery reveals.
There are mountains majestic and clear-
flowing streams That glisten with splendor beneath the sun's beams,
And verdure-clad valleys with murmuring rills That merrily dance down
the sides of the hills.
There are bonnie bluebells that bloom in
thy woods, And songsters that sing in thy deep solitudes, While the
lark as she soars to the regions above, Sings her carols of praise from
a heart full of love.
Thy scenery so lovely enraptures the hearts
Of leal and brave Scotsmen whose lives have a part In the grand
independence for centuries shown By thy sons and fair daughters for
rights of their own.
Then hurrah !. for the mountains and valleys
so fair, Where braw lads and lassies are reared 'neath thy care With
hearts true and honest to honour the name Of Scotland forever, their
hearts' dearest claim.
And hurrah! for each Scotsman at home and
afar, Whose heart beats with rapture when bright as a star Shines
the fame of his country, that ever shall be Resplendent with glory on
land and the sea.
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