1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Thomas Mounsey Cunningham, "Verses on the Death of Burns" Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 19 (August 1797) 138-39.



Baith dark and dreary was the night,
Wild rav'd the angry blast;
And rapid thro' the midnight gloom
The crooked lightning past.

The raging linn, far up the glen,
Was loudly heard to roar;
And wild the sea-fowl scream'd along
The hoarsley-sounding shore.

Near by a moss-grown hoary rock,
Beside the dreary waste,
A simple bard, to fame unken'd,
Sat list'ning to the blast.

He heard the roaring angry winds
Sound hollow i' the caves;
He heard the hoarse-contending dash
Of tempest-driven waves.

While thus he sat amid the gloom,
Wi' various passions torn;
These sad and mournful notes upon
The fleet-wing'd winds were born:—

"O Scotia! let the heart-shed tear
Fall from thy aged eye:
For yonder thy immortal bard
In death's cold arms doth lye.

"Oft did he wander thro' thy woods,
Charm'd wi' the blossom'd briar;
When birds sang sweet their little loves,
And hail'd the infant year.

"Aft did he deeply musing stray
Along the fertile plain;
When kindly beaming Summer swell'd
The heavy waving grain.

"When bounteous Autumn's yellow locks
Wav'd o'er thy fertile fields;
Oft did he sing the plenteous boon
Which liberal Nature yields.

"Oft did he paint the gath'ring storm,
And Nature's visage draw;
When Winter bad the angry North
Send forth the sleet and snaw.

"Lament for him, ye social bards!
Bound fast with Friendship's ties
His was the essence of bright wit,
Tho' now he lowly lies.

"Mourn for him, ye who boldly dare
To stem Corruption's tide:
His was an independent mind
That scorn'd the threats of pride.

"Lament for him, ye feeling few!
Whose tears for misery flow;
His was the tender feeling heart
That felt for weeping woe.

"The narrow-minded scribbler may
Take hold of Envy's pen;
And strive to wound his weel-won fame,
But he will strive in vain.

"His works immortal will remain,
And will preserve his name,
Till ruin bids the world return
To nought, from whence it came."

He heard no more except those words
Which linger'd on the coast.
Bright wit, and worth, and sterling sense
Is mankind's noblest boast.
Dumfries,
15 Aug. 1797.