1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

John Struthers, "Dirge, to a Person who lamented that no Monument had been erected on the Grave of Robert Burns" 1798; The Poor Man's Sabbath (1808) 76-78.



Why sigh'st thou, my friend! for a monument great,
To point where the poet fills, cold, the clay urn,
Whom Nature profuse, in a peasant's estate,
Gave with all the bold ardour of genius to burn?
Drest in sight soothing green, still the spot shall be shown,
And a tear to bedew it each swain shall bestow,
While, sad, he laments that, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

While Winter hangs, hoary, with cranreuch the thorn,
While gowans glint through the green garment of May,
While the sweet smiling June the gay rose buds adorn,
And o'er ripe fields of corn, while September winds play,
His powers of description each bosom shall own,
Consenting emotions their wonder shall show;
But the sigh shall be heard, for, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

And while liberty deigns to make glad our green isle,
And the bold Briton drinks at her clear flowing stream,
When roused by the coward insults of the vile,
His anger is up, and his arms dreadful gleam!
Then the strength of the strains of our Bard shall be known,
In a torrent of fire it shall burst on the foe!
But the hero shall weep; for, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

Why sigh'st thou, my friend! for a monument great,
To point where the poet fills, cold, the clay urn,
Whom nature profuse, in a peasant's estate,
Gave with all the bold ardour of genius to burn?
Drest in sight-soothing green, still the spot shall be shown,
And a tear to bedew it each swain shall bestow,
While, sad, he laments that, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

While Winter hangs, hoary, with caneuch the thorn,
While gowans glint through the green garment of May,
While the sweet-smelling June the gay rose-buds adorn,
And o'er the ripe fields of corn, while September winds play,
His powers of description each bosom shall own,
Consenting emotions their wonder shall show;
But the sigh shall be heard, for, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

And while Liberty deigns to make glad our green isle,
And the bold Briton drinks at her clear-flowing stream,
When roused by the coward insults of the vile,
His anger is up, and his arms dreadful gleam!
Then the strength of the strains of our Bard shall be known,
In a torrent of fire it shall burst on the foe!
But the hero shall weep; for, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!

While the trust of the poor man is placed upon heaven,
While devotion the breasts of the wise can inspire,
While to virtue and calm contemplation is given
In his works the Creator to see and admire;
His "Cottar" shall live — But the good shall bemoan,
And the warm tear of pity unceasing shall flow;
For by error bewilder'd, by folly undone,
In the cold tomb he lies, all untimely laid low!