1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "Elegiac Verses to the Memory of Robert Burns" The Scourge 7 (March 1814) 184.



Occasioned by reading in the News papers, that a Meeting was lately held at Dumfries to take measures for erecting a Mausoleum over his remains; and that 300 had been remitted from Bombay, in aid of the work.

Hard is the poet's lot too often we find,
With penury condemn'd to pass his days;
Few are the friends he meets amongst mankind,
And those repay him but with barren praise:

Or if, perchance, to gain a patron's name,
Some haughty son of wealth exerts his pow'r,
The bard receives the paltry gift with shame,
Scarce yielding bread to feed the passing hour.

Alas! poor BURNS! such was thy hapless fate:—
What tho' the Muse smil'd on thy boyish days,
Reflecting radiance on thy lowly state,
And crown'd thy manhood with Parnassian bays:

Tho' Scotia's sons admired their native Bard,
Thy sterling sense, thy free unstudy'd wit;
Tho' all agreed thou well deserv'dst reward,
Such as thy country's honour might befit:

What was the boon thy gen'rous country gave,
The merit of her boasted sons to pay,
Thy much-lov'd family from want to save,
And cheer thy age thro' life's long wintry day?

O dire disgrace! — it was an office mean,
The lowest boon proud Scotia could bestow!—
Better an honest swain thou still hadst been,
Than seek so vile a refuge from thy woe!

Now when thy broken heart to dust is turn'd,
Scotia's repentant sons their error see;
In costly pile thy bones must be inurn'd—
To feed their pride, more than to honour thee.

Ah! had those lavish sums been timely giv'n,
When fancy fir'd thy brain and swell'd thy heart,
Bless'd by a nation's smiles long hadst thou thriv'n,
And well repaid them by thy Heaven-taught art.

No monument the genuine Bard requires,
To tell posterity how fair his fame—
His works preserv'd, like sacred Vestal's fires,
Shall shed immortal glories round his name!