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Fraser's Scottish Annual
Scottish Poet in Canada

THE stream of Scottish poetry seems 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 introduction.

"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 pleasing dream
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 flower."

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."

As 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.


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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