Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  On Scaring Some Waterfowl in Loch Turit

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Loch Turit

On Scaring Some Waterfowl in Loch Turit

By Robert Burns (1759–1796)

WHY, ye tenants of the lake,

For me your watery haunt forsake?

Tell me, fellow-creatures, why

At my presence thus you fly?

Why disturb your social joys,

Parent, filial, kindred ties?—

Common friend to you and me,

Nature’s gifts to all are free:

Peaceful keep your dimpling wave,

Busy feed, or wanton lave;

Or beneath the sheltering rock

Bide the surging billow’s shock.

Conscious, blushing for our race,

Soon, too soon, your fears I trace.

Man, your proud usurping foe,

Would be lord of all below;

Plumes himself in freedom’s pride,

Tyrant stern to all beside.

The eagle, from the cliffy brow,

Marking you his prey below,

In his breast no pity dwells,

Strong necessity compels;

But man, to whom alone is given

A ray direct from pitying Heaven,

Glories in his heart humane,—

And creatures for his pleasure slain.

In these savage, liquid plains,

Only known to wandering swains,

Where the mossy riv’let strays,

Far from human haunts and ways,

All on nature you depend,

And life’s poor season peaceful spend.

Or, if man’s superior might

Dare invade your native right,

On the lofty ether borne,

Man with all his powers you scorn;

Swiftly seek, on clanging wings,

Other lakes and other springs;

And the foe you cannot brave,

Scorn at least to be his slave.