I groused about this a little yesterday -- here we have Washington's Birthday, the anniversary of the great and really somewhat underappreciated father of the country, and we are sent off to read Robert Burns. For the third time. I mean, I like Scotch as much as the next man, especially if he's willing to drive, but this is too much. Couldn't we have read some legal documents or something?
And if I may directly address the anonymous compiler from 1908 -- sir (or madam), the Burns fetishization has got to stop. Maybe they like Burns because, being Scottish, he seems more manly than your typical traipse-y tubucular poet:
Anyway, to the Ode for General Washington. It is four stanzas. General Washington is never mentioned. The gist of the poem seems to be that, if the Americans (here referred to as "Columbia") can kick the ass of the hated British ("Dare him to his very beard/And tell him he no more is feared"), then why can't the Scots:
In this the ancient Caledonian form,Of course I am always skeptical of poems praising "immortal hate." Nor does it seem very Washingtonian. Maybe this is why we no longer observe his birthday.
Firm as her rock, resistless as her storm?
Show me that eye which shot immortal hate,
Blasting the Despot's proudest bearing!
Show me that arm which, nerv'd with thundering fate,
Braved Usurpation's boldest daring!
Dark-quench'd as yonder sinking star,
No more that glance lightens afar,
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war.