Address to the Shade of Burns
Now thou art gone, O BURNS! to thy last bed, Where Kings and Ploughmen, Wits and Fools, are laid; Nor softer lie the Kings than hardy hinds-- They sleep most calm who wore the purest minds! I've heard that thou, like others, hadst thy faults, And, like myself, didst hear life's rude assaults, Alas! these nipt, O BURNS! my rhyming powers, As April frost nips tender budding flowers. Right well thou know'st how Poverty's despis'd, And poor folks wit by few is fairly priz'd; Yet there are some, as thou may'st frankly own, Will do us justice, if our merit's known. Well wert thou countenanc'd by rich and great; Hadst thou but known aright to prize the state, To which they rais'd thee, by the golden show'r Thy gleeful numbers mov'd their hearts to pour! Intoxicating praises made thee glide Down Vice and Folly's ruinating tide: Bright hadst thou shone, if thou hadst rightly us'd The shining talents which thou hast abus'd. But, let me ask thee (for thou now canst tell), If subjects fit for jest were Death and Hell? Tho' me excelling, as the Eagle King Excells the Bat that flies on pow'rless wing, Yet my weak Muse ne'er ventur'd to deride The Man, commission'd from above to chide The vain aspiring thoughts of human pride. 'Tis this will cheer me when my vital breath Escapes its prison by the stroke of Death. My Guardian Angel knows my wish to sing, He'll plant each shoulder with a Poet's wing, To soar in praise to Heaven's Almighty KING.
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