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Poem by William Hamilton Reid


An Elegy to the Memory of Mr. Robert Burns, the Celebrated Scots Poet


As late I walkd beneath the moons pale rays,
Accusing fortune of my scanty share,
How I had spent  mispent, my youthful days, 
To gain the favour of a venal fair; 
Instant a form, in solemn sable clad, 
Approachd my path with heedless steps, and slow; 
Pale fading laurels, hung adown her head, 
And her disheveld hair did indicate her woe. 

Forbear, she cried, nor think of woes but mine; 
The pride of nature and these plains is dead. 
The favourite songster of the tuneful nine, 
Is fled forever  Is forever fled.  
COILAS my name  with BURNS I oft did go, 
And did his bold poetic flame inspire; 
Made his enrapturd fancy smoothly flow, 
And taught the bard to catch from heaven the sacred fire.
 
With me he wanderd by the purling rill, 
With me he strayd upon the distant lawn, 
And oft we climbd yon cloud-cappd distant hill, 
And reachd its summit, by the early dawn. 
O Melpomene, muse of tragic woe  
Mourn him who sung of ruin and despair: 
Een smiling Thalia fraught with sprightly flow, 
Lament his fate, who sung upon the banks of Ayr. 

Have we not seen him skim the dewy lawn? 
And with adventrous fingers sweep the lyre?
Have we not seen him at the early dawn,
Enrapturd high with fancys sacred fire?
Has not his fame in distant lands been told?
Has not his voice been pleasant to our ear?
Has not the youthful gay, the serious old,
Been highly charmd, who now must shed the bitter tear? 

Ye sportive Naiades of the gurgling rills,
Lament his fate in Irvine, Ayr, and Doon,
Pour forth your plaints, till all the distant hills,
Do nod their sorrow to the silent moon:
For me, Ill weep while hills and streams endure; 
Ill wandring mourn, and tell the groves my grief, 
The lawn shall hear me at an early hour, 
Nor shall I ever deign to take the least relief. 

I go, she cryd, nor ever shall return,  
I go forever from this once lovd field, 
My fate is fixd  disconsolate Ill mourn, 
Since Scotia now no longer charms can yield. 
Her grief stung bosom heavd with bitter sighs, 
She seemd prepard to take her distant flight;  
She turnd and left me with her tear-swolln eyes, 
And in a cloud of mist evanishd from my sight.

American Universal Magazine 1 (20 March 1797)

William Hamilton Reid

Poem Theme: Robert Burns

William Hamilton Reid's other poems:
  1. Ode to Reflexion
  2. The Tomb of Shere, an Oriental Elegy
  3. Elegy, supposed to be written on a Waste near the Charter-house, London
  4. Invocation to Melancholy
  5. Invocation to Fancy


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