Robert Burns


On the Death of Robert Dundas, Esq.


Of Arniston, Late Lord President of the Court of Session.

LONE on the bleaky hills the straying flocks
Shun the fierce storms among the sheltering rocks;
Down from the rivulets, red with dashing rains,
The gathering floods burst o’er the distant plains;
Beneath the blasts the leafless forests groan;
The hollow caves return a sullen moan.

Ye hills, ye plains, ye forests, and ye caves,
Ye howling winds, and wintry swelling waves!
Unheard, unseen, by human ear or eye,
Sad to your sympathetic glooms I fly;
Where to the whistling blast and water’s roar,
Pale Scotia’s recent wound I may deplore.

O heavy loss, thy country ill could bear!
A loss these evil days can ne’er repair!
Justice, the high vicegerent of her God,
Her doubtful balance eyed, and sway’d her rod;
Hearing the tidings of the fatal blow,
She sunk, abandon’d to the wildest woe.

Wrongs, injuries, from many a darksome den,
Now gay in hope explore the paths of men:
See from his cavern grim Oppression rise,
And throw on Poverty his cruel eyes;
Keen on the helpless victim see him fly,
And stifle, dark, the feebly bursting cry:

Mark ruffian Violence, distain’d with crimes,
Rousing elate in these degenerate times;
View unsuspecting Innocence a prey,
As guileful Fraud points out the erring way:
While subtile Litigation’s pliant tongue
The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong:
Hark, injured Want recounts th’ unlisten’d tale,
And much-wrong’d Mis’ry pours th’ unpitied wail!

Ye dark waste hills, and brown unsightly plains,
To you I sing my grief-inspired strains:
Ye tempests, rage! ye turbid torrents, roll!
Ye suit the joyless tenor of my soul.
Life’s social haunts and pleasures I resign;
Be nameless wilds and lonely wanderings mine,
To mourn the woes my country must endure,
That wound degenerate ages cannot cure.

1787


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