1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A Lady, "Lines written on the Death of Robert Burns" The Star, Daily Evening Advertiser (26 December 1796).



Why o'er yon urn — yon sable urn—
Bend's CALEDONIA'S timid eye?
Why droops thy Genius, SCOTIA, say,
Why heaves she there the heart-felt sigh?

Ah! hush'd is now her Poet's voice—
Sweet COILA'S Bard lies wrapt in clay;
Near Nith's fam'd stream no more his form—
His musing form, is seen to stray.

Th' eccentric thought no longer strikes,
No more the Muse employs his care!
Unheeded now each fav'rite scene,
Unsung the winding banks of Ayr.

In vain with him the festive board
Wou'd HUMOUR'S cheerful note prolong—
Fled is the mirth-inspiring jest—
In sighs absorb'd the Poet's song!

Ceas'd — ceas'd the gen'rous heart to beat;
The speaking eye no longer beams!
Life's final scene on him has clos'd—
Has clos'd on him its chequer'd dreams!

Hast thou e'er catch'd the Meteor's blaze,
As darting past its course it bore?
Has thou not wish'd its lustre less—
Its lustre less to view it more?

Yes! thou hast catch'd the Meteor's blaze,
And mark'd its progress thro the sky!
Hast seen its glories brightly shine,
Then seen them vanish from the eye!

Yes! thou hast catch'd Meteor's blaze—
Admir'd the Bard — confess'd his worth—
And wond'ring trac'd the various pow'rs
Call'd by his Heaven-taught Genius forth.

Hast seen there come on eagle wing,
Pursue wild NATURE'S sportive flight:
Beheld them dazzle — charm — surprize;
Then seen them sink in endless night!

O Death! why point thy venom'd dart
Against the breast we wish to save?
Why doom superior merit still—
Why doom it to an early grave?

Ah me! how short man's mortal state?
How quick the springs of life decay?
Most quick where mental force impells,
The transient fabric wears away!

Accept, lamented Shade, the verse,
The votive verse, to FRIENDSHIP due:
Long o'er yon urn — yon sable urn—
Shall still be bent her humid view!

And where thy gentle Spirit roves—
Where'er its new abode may be,
Remembrance there shall faithful soar,
And bear thy country's tears to thee.