1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "Verses to the Memory of R. Burns" The Telegraph (29 July 1796).



Let musing Melancholy drop a tear,
And gay fantastic Humour heave a sigh;
Let no unhallow'd hand approach the bier,
Where low in death his sacred reliques lie:

BURNS, blest with native vigour, struck the lyre:
Each heart assenting felt the magic sound;
To soothe the soul the pleasing notes conspire;
From hill and dale the heavenly notes rebound.

Alive to joy, while joy was on the wing;
To playful mirth, to humour void of art;
'Twas Nature's self that taught her bard to sing
The song of joy, pour'd genuine from the heart.

For Genius gone let Scotia melt in tears:
Her darling son no more shall soothe her woes,
No more gay Hope excite, — dispel her fears,
Or tuneful sing her sorrows to repose.

The soul of harmony, the plaintive strain,
Fall sweetly pleasing on the ravish'd ear,
Nor let unmov'd the hardest heart remain:—
In silence drop the softly trickling tear.

See where the pledges sweet of mutual love
Are left in pinching penury to pine:
O! if ye hope sweet mercy from above,
Let mercy sweet to gen'rous deeds incline.

A widow's woes, a mother's tears revere,
And helpless babes, their father now no more;
The sight of these, alas! belov'd and dear,
His dying breast with bitter anguish tore.

His Jeanie's woes, his helpless babes forlorn,
The prospect dire of penury and want,
The insolent contempt, the haughty scorn,
The look disdainful, and the bitter taunt,

These, from th' unfeeling, never cease to fall
With all their weight upon the wretched head;
This well he knew: — the thought that heart appall'd
That smil'd in pain descending to the dead.

O! may his shade revisit oft with joy
These scenes which once to rapture rais'd his mind:—
To glad his shade, your friendly aid employ,
To succour those he to your care resign'd.

When just about to bid this world adieu,—
His last advice still rings upon my ear,
"These dying words, I now impart to you,
O might the world with due attention hear.

"In sprightly youth of syren vice beware:
Learn from my fate the helpless lot of man;
With caution learn to shun each gilded snare:
O'erlook my faults, and all my beauties scan."

EPITAPH.
Consign'd to earth, here rests the lifeless clay,
Which once a vital spark from heav'n inspir'd;
The lamp of genius shone full bright its day,
Then left the world to mourn its light retir'd.

While burns that splendid orb which lights the spheres,
While mountain streams descend to swell the main,
While changeful seasons mark the rolling years,
Thy fame, O BURNS, let Scotia still retain.