1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "To the Memory of Robert Burns" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 1 (7 November 1801) 360.



Sweet Caledonian! rest beneath thy turf,
Thy reed is silent, and thy lyre unstrung;
No more the warmth of genius fires thine eye,
Nor millions list the music of thy tongue.

The lamb, reclining on thy grass-grown grave,
Warms thy cold sod, nor crops one tender blade,
Ah! learn from it to press with fairy foot,
The spot where Nature's idol, Burns, is laid.

When twilight rises from the moss-clad cave,
And creeps, unheeded, down the silent vale,
The muses seek the turf, where Burns is laid,
Sigh to the winds, and murmur to the gale.

What hedge the lilly droops its lowly head,
Or rose-bud sips the chilly evening air,
Each muse, dejected, seeks with silent tread,
To catch the dew-drops that may tremble there.

Silent, returning to his lonely grave,
They brush, with velvet wand, the dust away,
Tear, with indignant hand, the barren briar,
And pluck the nettle from his hallowed clay.

And now as sweetly as their Burns e'er sung,
Wildly the lyre's sweet, full-ton'd strings would sweep,
Each virtue note, that made his breast its home,
Sigh for his follies — for his failings weep.

Around his grave, with slow, sad, pensive pace,
Moving, they chant a requiem to his shade,
Scatt'ring the dew-drops, mingled with a tear,
And hallow the green sod where Burns is laid.

Each, in her turn, to breathe one plaintive strain,
Plaintive as that from his half-broken heart,
Rob'd in the mantle which for him they wove,
Now sweeps the lyre, and acts her mournful part.

The night-bird ceases her unheeded tale,
List'ning awhile to strains more sweet than those
She e'er had sung — then lends her feeble aid,
And pours out one sad note to Burns's woes.

The morning twilight streaks the eastern clouds,
And smiles serenely on his clay-roof'd urn;
Life-wearied wand'rer! Nature tun'd that reed,
Which sang so sweetly "Man was made to mourn."