1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

M., "The Poet's Grave; a Tribute to the Memory of Burns" Gentleman's Magazine 71 (May 1801) 447-48.



Ye, who low-bending o'er the tomb
For worth departed shed a tear,
Behold, cut off in vigorous bloom,
A Scottish Bard reposes here.

Beneath the mould'ring turf he lies,
Who felt Ambition's gen'rous flame,
Who fickle Fortune could despise,
And climb'd the proudest heights of Fame.

Yet ah! in vain, the Muses smil'd,
Not e'en could Genius Fate repel;
Still known thro' life Misfortune's child,
At length in manhood's pride he fell.

Methinks I hear his bursting sigh!
I see his agony of soul,
When haggard ills in Fancy's eye
Usurp'd calm Reason's weak controul!

Then gloomy terrors hope obscur'd;
He saw, by dire delusion led,
Himself in dungeons deep immur'd,
His wife, his children craving bread.

In vain Reflection sooth'd his grief,
In vain the promis'd years of peace;
Till Heav'n in pity sent relief,
And bade each earthly suff'ring cease.

See now, with ling'ring steps and slow,
In Sorrow's mournful garb array'd,
The last sad duties friends can shew
With martial rites and honours paid.

Low bow'd with resignation meek
Around the Bard's untimely grave,
A tear bedews each manly cheek,
For pity best becomes the brave.

Yet hark! what shrieks invade the ear!
Ah! whence can sounds like these arise;
O God! from yonder roof I hear
A mother's and a widow's cries!

Poor hapless babe, in sorrow born,
Mid scenes of agonizing woe,
Not long thus hapless, thus forlorn
Shall be thy lot of life below!

Soon freed from ev'ry earthly care
Thy spirit wings its way to Heav'n;
Ah! spotless Cherub, plead that there
Thy father's faults may be forgiven!

O'er frailties here, which Envy pale
Delights to blazon and reprove,
The Muse shall cast Oblivion's veil—
And Mercy dwells with God above.

For thee 'mid Winter's stormy reign,
For thee she weeps when Spring returns;
But when shall Genius bloom again,
Or Scotia hail a second BURNS.