1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

J. H., "Elegy on the Death of R. Burns" Newcastle Chronicle (3 September 1796).



Death's silent port, where ills nor joy molest,
Thousands would seek, and shun the storms of pain;
Hope flatt'ring whispers "Yet thou shalt be blest!"
Deceives us still, and still we trust again.

Yet what avails that, blest with Poesy's ray,
The inchanted soul strays in Elysian bowers,
Aerial beings guide the Muses' way,
And heaven propitious hails the smiling hours,

If, luckless, doom'd to poverty and woe,
In Misery's chill vale we darkling sing;
Or torturing fancy adds to every blow,
Cankers each wound, and venoms every sting!

And art thou gone, Oh! injur'd, hapless BURNS!
Unstrung for ever thy harmonious lyre!
Science in vain the fate of genius mourns,
Now quench'd for ever her celestial fire!

Ungrateful Scotia! see thy darling son,
His honest breast with want and sorrow torn;
His feeling soul with pregant anguish wrung;
Dull, teaz'd, distrest, dejected, and forlorn!

Maim'd, sick, and drooping midst domestic woe,
The unequal conflict long he calmly bore;
O'erwhelm'd he sinks — Fate deals the welcome blow—
And the last pang of parting life is o'er!

Dear injur'd shade! in peaceful silence rest,
By no rude hands thy sacred reliques torn;
May the green turf lie lightly on thy breast,
And choicest flowers thy honour'd grave adorn!

So shall the Muse a soothing calm enjoy,
(As oft at eve thy hapless tale she mourns)
While dear Remembrance, with a rising sigh,
In pensive accent cries, "Alas poor BURNS!"
Newcastle.