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Poem by Robert Burns

Tam Samson’s Elegy

HAS auld Kilmarnock seen the deil?
Or great Mackinlay thrawn his heel?
Or Robertaon again grown weel,
    To preach an’ read?
‘Na, waur than a’!’ cries ilka chiel,
    ‘Tam Samson ‘a dead!’

Ki1marnock lang may grunt an’ grane,
An’ sigh, an’ sab, an’ greet her lane,
An’ cleed her bairns, man, wife, an’ wean,
    In mourning weed;
To death, she’s	dearly paid the kane,-
    Tam Samson ‘a dead!

The Brethren o’ the mystic level
May hing their head in woefu’ bevel,
While by their nose the tears will revel,
    Like ony bead;
Death’s gien the Lodge an unco devel,-
    Tam Samson’s dead!

When Winter muffles up his cloak,
And binds the mire like a rock;
When to the loughs the curlers flock
    Wi’ gleesome speed,
Wha will they station at the cock?
    Tam Samson’s dead!

He was the king o’ a’ the core
To guard, or draw, or wick a bore,
Or up the rink like Jehu roar
    In time o’ need;
But now he lags on Death’s hogscore,-
    Tam Samson’s dead!

Now safe the stately sawmont sail,
And trouts bedropp’d wi’ crimson hail,
And eels weel kent for souple tail,
    And geds for greed,
Since dark in Death’s fish-creel we wail
    Tam Samson’s dead!

Rejoice, ye birring paitricks a’;
Ye cootie moorcocks, crousely craw;
Ye maukins, cock your fud fu’ braw,
    Withouten dread;
Your mortal fae is now awa’,-
    Tam Samson’s dead!

That woefu’ morn be ever mourn’d
Saw him in shootin graith adorn’d,
While pointers round impatient burn’d,
    Prae couples freed;
But oh! he gaed and ne’er return’d!
    Tam Samson’s dead!

In vain auld age his body batters;
In vain the gout his andes fetters;
In vain the burns cam down like waters,
    An acre braid!
Now ev’ry auld wife, greetin’, clatters
    ‘Tam Samson’s dead!’

Owre mony a weary hag he limpit,
An’ aye the tither shot he thumpit,
Till coward Death behind him jumpit
    Wi’ deadly feide;
Now he proclaims, wi’ tout o’ trumpet,
    ‘Tam Samson’s dead!’

When at his heart he felt the dagger,
He reel’d his wonted bottle-swagger,
But yet he drew the mortal trigger
    Wi’ weel-aim’d heed;
‘Lord, five!’ he cried, an’ owre did stagger;
    Tam Samson’s dead!

Ilk hoary hunter mourn’d a brither;
Ilk sportsman youth bemoan’d a father;
Yon auld grey stane, amang the heather,
    Marks out his head,
Where Burns has	wrote, in rhyming blether,
    ‘Tam Samson’s dead!’

There low he lies in lasting rest;
Perhaps upon his mould’ring breast
Some spitfu’ muirfowl bigs her nest,
    To hatch and breed;
Alas! nae mair he’ll them molest!
    Tam Samson’s dead!

When August winds the heather wave,
And sportsmen wander by yon grave,
Three volleys let his memory crave
    O’ pouther an’ lead,
Till Echo answer frae her cave
    ‘Tam Samson’s dead!’

Heav’n rest his saul, where’er he be!
Is th’ wish o’ mony mae than me:
He had twa faults, or maybe three,
    Yet what remead?
Ae social honest man want we:
    Tam Samson’s dead!

        THE EPITAPH.

TAM SAMSON’s weel-worn clay here lies:
  Ye canting zealots, spare him!
If honest worth in heaven rise,
  Ye’ll mend ere ye win near him.

        _Per Contra._

Go, Fame, an’ canter like a filly
Thro’ a’ the streets an’ neuks o’ Killie,
Tell ev’ry social honest billie
    To cease his grievin’,
For yet, unskaith’d by Death’s gleg gullie,
    Tam Samson’s livin’!

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? 

Shakespeare, ‘King Lear’. Act 3, Scene 4.

                      Robert Burns

Robert Burns's other poems:
  1. The Cooper O’ Cuddle
  2. Ye Banks and Braes
  3. Epitaph on a Shoolmaster
  4. Verses Intended to be Written Below a Noble Earl’s Picture
  5. Extempore in the Court of Session

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