Robert Burns: Poems


Winter: A Dirge

The wintry west extends his blast,

And hail and rain does blaw;

Or the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw:

While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,

And roars frae bank to brae;

And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"

The joyless winter day

Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May:

The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,

My griefs it seems to join;

The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme

These woes of mine fulfil,

Here firm I rest; they must be best,

Because they are Thy will!

Then all I want—O do Thou grant

This one request of mine!—

Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,

Assist me to resign.

Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish

O Thou Great Being! what Thou art,

Surpasses me to know;

Yet sure I am, that known to Thee

Are all Thy works below.

Thy creature here before Thee stands,

All wretched and distrest;

Yet sure those ills that wring my soul

Obey Thy high behest.

Sure, Thou, Almighty, canst not act

From cruelty or wrath!

O, free my weary eyes from tears,

Or close them fast in death!

But, if I must afflicted be,

To suit some wise design,

Then man my soul with firm resolves,

To bear and not repine!

Paraphrase Of The First Psalm

The man, in life wherever plac'd,

Hath happiness in store,

Who walks not in the wicked's way,

Nor learns their guilty lore!

Nor from the seat of scornful pride

Casts forth his eyes abroad,

But with humility and awe

Still walks before his God.

That man shall flourish like the trees,

Which by the streamlets grow;

The fruitful top is spread on high,

And firm the root below.

But he whose blossom buds in guilt

Shall to the ground be cast,

And, like the rootless stubble, tost

Before the sweeping blast.

For why? that God the good adore,

Hath giv'n them peace and rest,

But hath decreed that wicked men

Shall ne'er be truly blest.

First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm Versified, The

O Thou, the first, the greatest friend

Of all the human race!

Whose strong right hand has ever been

Their stay and dwelling place!

Before the mountains heav'd their heads

Beneath Thy forming hand,

Before this ponderous globe itself

Arose at Thy command;

That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds

This universal frame,

From countless, unbeginning time

Was ever still the same.

Those mighty periods of years

Which seem to us so vast,

Appear no more before Thy sight

Than yesterday that's past.

Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man,

Is to existence brought;

Again Thou say'st, "Ye sons of men,

Return ye into nought!"

Thou layest them, with all their cares,

In everlasting sleep;

As with a flood Thou tak'st them off

With overwhelming sweep.

They flourish like the morning flow'r,

In beauty's pride array'd;

But long ere night cut down it lies

All wither'd and decay'd.

Prayer, In The Prospect Of Death

O Thou unknown, Almighty Cause

Of all my hope and fear!

In whose dread presence, ere an hour,

Perhaps I must appear!

If I have wander'd in those paths

Of life I ought to shun,

As something, loudly, in my breast,

Remonstrates I have done;

Thou know'st that Thou hast formed me

With passions wild and strong;

And list'ning to their witching voice

Has often led me wrong.

Where human weakness has come short,

Or frailty stept aside,

Do Thou, All-Good—for such Thou art—

In shades of darkness hide.

Where with intention I have err'd,

No other plea I have,

But, Thou art good; and Goodness still

Delighteth to forgive.

Stanzas, On The Same Occasion

Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene?

Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?

Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between—

Some gleams of sunshine 'mid renewing storms,

Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?

Or death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode?

For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms:

I tremble to approach an angry God,

And justly smart beneath His sin-avenging rod.

Fain would I say, "Forgive my foul offence,"

Fain promise never more to disobey;

But, should my Author health again dispense,

Again I might desert fair virtue's way;

Again in folly's part might go astray;

Again exalt the brute and sink the man;

Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray

Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan?

Who sin so oft have mourn'd, yet to temptation ran?

O Thou, great Governor of all below!

If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee,

Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,

Or still the tumult of the raging sea:

With that controlling pow'r assist ev'n me,

Those headlong furious passions to confine,

For all unfit I feel my pow'rs to be,

To rule their torrent in th' allowed line;

O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!