1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A. M. A., "On visiting the tomb of Robert Burns" Scots Magazine 67 (October 1805) 784.



Adorn yon grave with flow'rs, ye western maids,
Soon as the balmy spring with flow'rs returns:
When winter's breath your flow'ry stores invades,
Adorn with tears the grave of woe-worn Burns.

O hapless Bard! — But pardon, gentle shade;
Happy thou art, tho' helpless thou hast been:
Thy feeling soul, to endless bliss convey'd,
Wants but the converse of thy faithful Jean.

There now thou listen'st to thy darling child;
That child that robb'd thee of thy latest tears:
With native notes of praise, seraphic, wild,
She hymns the Ruler of the rolling spheres.

With golden harps, beside the living stream,
Where trees forever flourish, fruits abound,
Ye, tuneful twain, rehearse the heavenly theme,
And wake the silver strings to holy sound.

Contempt no longer, and neglect, attend
Thy worth, O living Burns, beyond the grave;
The sire of nature, ev'ry merit's friend
Enrolls the tuneful with the wise and brave.

See how each virgin bloom (meed divine!)
Heaves with his longest lay, nor thinks it long:
Ah, why these feelings to the lay confine?
The bard himself is better than his song.

Then, stung by poverty and woes unnam'd,
Cannot the son of song command a tear?
Before his worth is own'd, himself acclaim'd,
The poet first must press the sable bier.

But when the earth is clos'd and mute the tongue
Of him, who ere while plain'd his wretched doom;
Late tears are shed, and annual sorrows sung:
Who died of famine, fills a costly tomb.

Thus far'd on earth the blind unheeded sage,
Who sung Achilles and the wrath of kings:
Thus he, who chac'd by the fell tyrant's rage,
By Pontic billows tun'd his plaintive strings.