[Page 160]



1 WHEN chill November's surly blast
2 Made fields and forests bare,
3 One ev'ning, as I wand'red forth,
4 Along the banks of AIRE,
5 I spy'd a man, whose aged step
6 Seem'd weary, worn with care;
7 His face was furrow'd o'er with years,
8 And hoary was his hair.
[Page 161]
9 Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?
10 Began the rev'rend Sage;
11 Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
12 Or youthful Pleasure's rage?
13 Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
14 Too soon thou hast began,
15 To wander forth, with me, to mourn
16 The miseries of Man.
17 The Sun that overhangs yon moors,
18 Out-spreading far and wide,
19 Where hundreds labour to support
20 A haughty lordling's pride;
21 I've seen yon weary winter-sun
22 Twice forty times return;
23 And ev'ry time has added proofs,
24 That Man was made to mourn.
25 O Man! while in thy early years,
26 How prodigal of time!
[Page 162]
27 Mispending all thy precious hours,
28 Thy glorious, youthful prime!
29 Alternate Follies take the sway;
30 Licentious Passions burn;
31 Which tenfold force gives Nature's law,
32 That Man was made to mourn.
33 Look not alone on youthful Prime,
34 Or Manhood's active might;
35 Man then is useful to his kind,
36 Supported is his right:
37 But see him on the edge of life,
38 With Cares and Sorrows worn,
39 Then Age and Want, Oh! ill-match'd pair!
40 Show Man was made to mourn.
41 A few seem favourites of Fate,
42 In Pleasure's lap carest;
43 Yet, think not all the Rich and Great,
44 Are likewise truly blest.
[Page 163]
45 But Oh! what crouds in ev'ry land,
46 All wretched and forlorn,
47 Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
48 That Man was made to mourn!
49 Many and sharp the num'rous Ills
50 Inwoven with our frame!
51 More pointed still we make ourselves,
52 Regret, Remorse and Shame!
53 And Man, whose heav'n-erected face,
54 The smiles of love adorn,
55 Man's inhumanity to Man
56 Makes countless thousands mourn!
57 See, yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
58 So abject, mean and vile,
59 Who begs a brother of the earth
60 To give him leave to toil;
61 And see his lordly fellow-worm,
62 The poor petition spurn,
[Page 164]
63 Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife,
64 And helpless offspring mourn.
65 If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave,
66 By Nature's law design'd,
67 Why was an independent wish
68 E'er planted in my mind?
69 If not, why am I subject to
70 His cruelty, or scorn?
71 Or why has Man the will and pow'r
72 To make his fellow mourn?
73 Yet, let not this too much, my Son,
74 Disturb thy youthful breast:
75 This partial view of human-kind
76 Is surely not the last!
77 The poor, oppressed, honest man
78 Had never, sure, been born,
79 Had there not been some recompence
80 To comfort those that mourn!
[Page 165]
81 O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
82 The kindest and the best!
83 Welcome the hour, my aged limbs
84 Are laid with thee at rest!
85 The Great, the Wealthy fear thy blow,
86 From pomp and pleasure torn;
87 But Oh! a blest relief for those
88 That weary-laden mourn!


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Title (in Source Edition): MAN WAS MADE TO MOURN, A DIRGE.
Author: Robert Burns
Genres: lament

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Source edition

Burns, Robert, 1759-1796. POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, BY ROBERT BURNS. Kilmarnock: printed by John Wilson, M,DCC,LXXXVI., 1786, pp. 160-165. 240p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T91548) (Page images digitized by National Library of Scotland.)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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