Robert Burns


Tragic Fragment


ALL devil as I am, a damned wretch,
A harden’d, stubborn, unrepenting villain,
Still my heart melts at human wretchedness;
And with sincere tho’ unavailing sighs
I view the helpless children of distress.
With tears indignant I behold th’ oppressor
Rejoicing in the honest man’s destruction,
Whose unsubmitting heart was all his crime.
Even you, ye helpless crew, I pity you;
Ye, whom the seeming good think sin to pity;
Ye poor, despis’d, abandon’d vagabonds,
Whom Vice, as usual, has turn’d o’er to Ruin.
O but for kind, tho’ ill-requited friends,
I had been driven forth like you forlorn,
The most detested, worthless wretch among you!
O injur’d God!  Thy goodness has endow’d me
With talents passing most of my compeers,
Which I in just proportion have abus’d,
As far surpassing other common villains,
As Thou in natural parts hadst given me more.

1777


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