1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

A Lowland Laddie, "Lines spoken by the Ghost of Robert Burns, at the London Tavern, May 28, 1818, at a public Dinner in honour of his Memory" British Statesman (25 June 1819).



Kind Lords and Gentlemen assembled
Your love, I wot, is not dissembled;
If mortal I had surely trembled,
For thus to see
E'en Royalty assembled
To honour me!

All you who to my songs have ear lent
Or at my lines have e'er gave tear vent;
And you, who now express endearment,
Both great and small,
Tho' long entomb'd, I've broke me cearment
To thank you all.

A son of Scotia (ancient nation),
Born in obscure and humble station,
With no much help from education,
Aspir'd to fame;
Would gain his country's approbation—
Exalt her name.

Sang of those men, who nobly plann'd
The freedom of his native land;
Who dar'd oppression to withstand,
And right defend;
Or met, with weapon, in each hand,
A glorious end!

Thus o'er the deeds of heroes poring,
All Nature's works around adoring,
To Heaven on high my soul was soaring
On Fancy's wing.
I thought that gold, which men were storing,
A useless thing.

When erst upon life's stormy ocean,
The Muse I sought with great devotion,
And thought my fortune (silly notion)
And name to raise;
But found grim poverty my portion,
And empty praise.

To see my children — O, 'twas trying!
About me stand, with hunger crying,
Their mother looking on them, sighing
With heavy heart.
Alas! my blood was almost flying,
And tears would start.

Had then some noble hand befriended,
And to my wants some help extended,
My heart strings had not been distended
With passions wild.
Nor I been call'd since life has ended,
"Misfortune's child."

Enough of plaints. — My cares are past;
Kind death dispers'd each envious blast,
On wife and bairns Heaven deign'd to cast
A tender eye.
May they be honest to the last,
Then with me lie!

Time calls, and I can but renew
My thanks, for kindness that ye shew,
Then to this world I'll bid adieu,
And take my flight;
For immortality I view—
O glorious sight!

Hence let my spirit quiet rest,
My works are quoted and caress'd,
My Memory supremely blest.
Then look around,
Poor living Bardies, now distress'd,
May soon be found.

To them, I pray your gifts extend,
Let living merit find a friend,
Go, and their wretched state amend,
Their bosoms cheer,
Or ah, misfortunes to the end,
They'll meet, I fear!!
August 1818