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Poem by William Hamilton Reid
Monody on the Death of Robert Burns
1. Melpomene, thou mournfu’ muse, Dinna to aid me now refuse, My paper mony a tear bedews, My heart’s like lead, Now while I write the waefu’ news, That Robin’s dead. 2. For sterling genius, blyth and free, Fam’d Robin’s match when shall we see? Ye sons o’ music rise and gie A waefu’ screed, The pith and saul o’ mirth and glee Wi’ Burns are fled. 3. Ye lasses, gathering heather bells, By Scotia’s mosses, glens, or sells, Ye bardies “crooning to yoursels” By burn or brae, Echo thro’ a’ her hills and dells The sang of wae. 4. He sang of nature’s “foggage green,” And a’ her sweets that charm our een, In strains that ne’er shall fail’ I ween, Our sauls to cheer; For in a crack they drive the spleen Frae a’ that hear. 5. In spring, when Sol span out the day, And Boreas’ blasts were fled away, Sax rood of ground Rab o’er could lay, Syne on his reed, At night untir’d fine could he play, But oh! he’s dead. 6. He lash’d the canting whining race, Wha wear an artificial face, Tho’ blest wi’ kirks, or out of place Rab did na care, Hypocrisy weel could he trace And ne’er did spare. 7. His Ordination, Holy Fair, And Priest wha like a calf did rair, Some thought these hurt religious fair, That heav’nly maid, But what was wrang Rab wadna spare, For a’ they said. 8. And whan he sings the Holy Fair, W… of sense can ca’ it mair? Tho’ bigotry, with ideot-stare, Offence may tak; Yet pure religion when or where Does he attack? 9. Na, na, religion heav’n sair! Thy dictates Rab did ay revere, And tho’ he did na practise mair, Yet ah! waes me, Whare dwalis the man that disna err As well as he? 10. He paints religion a’ sae sweet, As true devotions sire may beet; But satirizes most complete And sair taks aff, A’ them that mix our heav’nly wheat Wi’ common c’aff. 11. Let poor dull rhymers rack their brains, His native wild enchanting strains Shall charm a’ Caledonia’s swains, Baith young and aul, While mountain daisies deck our plains They’ll touch the saul. 12. And far awa, as weel’s at hame, His merit shall be kend the same; For time shall dry up baith the Thame And silver Tweed, Before he shall destroy the fame Of him now dead. 13. Ambitious fools hae mony a time Striven to outrival Robin’s rhyme; But pith was wanting – poor dull chime Was a’ they gied; Rab was the boy hit a’ theing prime, But ah! he’s dead. 14. Parnassus’ bastards, mony a gelping, Hae deev’d us wi’ their dinsome yelping; But his sweet sangs ne’er needed hrlping, To send to prent; For rank and file his words cam’ skelping, Afore he kent. 15. Some feckless rhymers’ wit’s sae scarce They’re pinch’d to screed and antrim verse; But Robin’s fertile muse was fierce, And stout and baul’: Her pithy style had power to pierce The very saul. 16. His death wi’ far mair grief we learn, That on reflection we discern, Lang might we had our fav’rite bairn, In health fu’ sicker: O curse the fallows did him learn To toom the bicker. 17. O dool! that e’er he left the plough, And took him to a trade was new, And bade sweet Temperanse adieu! For wae to tell, Then up like Watson’s sock he flew, And tint himsell. 18. But let us not, as chatt’ring fools, Proclaim his fauts, like envy’s tools Wha seek out darkness just like owls, Dark, dark indeed; But a’ his failings co’er wi’ mools, Now since he’s dead. 19. As bright a genius death has torn, Frae us, as Scotia did adorn, Like Phœbus whan he springs at morn, Clear was his head; What news could mak’ us mair forlorn, Than Robin’s dead? 20. The winter nights I’ve cheer’d by turns, Wi’ Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns: The first twa cauld are in their urns, Their sauls at rest: Now weeping Caledonia mourns, Him last and best.
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