1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Burns

Anonymous, "A Lament on Burns" Port Folio [Philadelphia] NS 1 (22 March 1806) 175-76.



At Waucope House great was the din,
Amang the neebours kyth and kin,
An down their cheeks the saut tears rin,
But no remeid;
The Brisk Guide wife wi greetings thin,
For Burns is dead.

O Scotland, thou mayst seb and grane,
Great cause thou hast to make thy mane,
For sic a Bard as he that's gane,
Thou'lt never see;
Base death thou mights fu' mony ta'en,
Less worth than he.

Where sall we get anither Wight,
Cries the guide wife, wi' saul sae bright,
To mak our weary folks loup light,
Amid'st their toils;
He gart them laugh in sweet delight,
At life's turmoils.

Death's friens, or faes, he need na jeuk,
Behint the door, or i' the neuk,
Even killing Doctor Hornbook
May shaw his face,
For he that gave him minie a peuke,
Has rin his race.

Ye haly saints of step demur,
An cankart are as ony cur
Stroke down your chins, for that sharp bur,
Is now awa;
What aften teuk your borrow'd fur
A waefu claw.

And ye wha little ither think,
Than how to come at draps o' drink,
Your Bardie's e'en na langer blink
At the fu gill,
Ah! never shall he birle his clink
Wi' hearty will.

O bonny lasses, hearts sae true,
Wha' Hymen's gifts wi' fondness view,
And honest wives an' widows too;
Lament his fall.
He was a better frien' to you
Than to himsel'.

Caul' is the han' o' that daft Ranter,
That taul the tale o' Tam O'Shanter,
His blythsome Muse nae mair shall canter,
Wi' mirth an' glee;
Her hapless crony ne'er shall want her,
An' now she's free.

See Scotia's Genius, a' in tears,
Wi' doleful' sobbings much he fears,
In spite o' a' his painfu' cares,
He maun rin out,
For when his outmost strength he waves,
Death craps the fruit.

This was the case wi' dainty Allan,
Wha's genius was a gawky stallion,
The joy of Highland man and Lawlan;
O dreary lot,
Death rusht upon the canty callan,
And squeez'd his throat.

Diel worry death that I should ban,
The curst mishapen fae o' man,
Scarce Fergusson his sangs began,
A genius rare,
Death gae him sic a blow off han',
He ne'er sang muir.

As they were makin this palaver,
Misca'en Death that gruesome shaver,
They hear a dunt a'hint the keber,
Aboon the wa':
Whilk gars ilk ane hud fast their neebor,
And skairt them a'.

The queerest shape that e'er ye saw,
Appears of length guide Scotch ells twa,
But fient a name it had awa,
And then its shanks,
They were as thin, as sharp and sma,
As cheeks o branks.

"Ye may be sley'd, for Death's my name,
I come (it cries) to fend my fame,
Frae wicked slanner. Fie for shame
Ye drunken rout;
To throw on ony ane sic blame
Wha's back's about.

"When whisky burns the liver white,
When pleasures drain the strength, and sight,
When lazy loons their shankies blight,
An' quickly die;
Its always death wha gets the wyte,
An' name but me.

"Ye glaiket coofs, from henceforth ken,
That death's a frien' to honest men,
And cunning slight will aye disdain,
Wi' noble scunner,
Or kill by ony ither mean,
Than laws o' honor.

"The auld alane I think my due,
And when they're wise they think so too:
If younkers want to join the crew,
Ayent the Burn;
The summons which, they serve, if true,
I maun return.

"Ye ken fu' weel the killing faut,
That Burns twind o' his kail and saut
And from his customs ye may wat,
Could ne'er grow gray;
He tauk too much of oil o' maut,
Het usquebae.

"Had he but ta'en a drappie less,
And gotten ance a higher place,
Where cursed still to square and trace,
Were never seen;
He might for me run on his race,
These years nineteen.

"Now, if ye a' be unco laith,
To ca' by ye're ain summons death,
And dinna wish to yield your breath,
This monie a day;
Be always gude, and shun the skaith
Of usquebae."