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Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn

by Robert Burns, 1791

The wind blew hollow frae the hills,
  By fits the sun's departing beam
Look'd on the fading yellow woods,
  That wav'd o'er Lugar's winding stream:
Beneath a craigy steep, a Bard,
  Laden with years and meikle pain,
In loud lament bewail'd his lord,
  Whom Death had all untimely ta'en.

He lean'd him to an ancient aik,
  Whose trunk was mould'ring down with years;
His locks were bleached white with time,
  His hoary cheek was wet wi' tears!
And as he touch'd his trembling harp,
  And as he tun'd his doleful sang,
The winds, lamenting thro' their caves,
  To Echo bore the notes alang.

"Ye scatter'd birds that faintly sing,
  The reliques o' the vernal queir!
Ye woods that shed on a' the winds
  The honours of the agèd year!
A few short months, and glad and gay,
  Again ye'll charm the ear and e'e;
But nocht in all-revolving time
  Can gladness bring again to me.

"I am a bending agèd tree,
  That long has stood the wind and rain;
But now has come a cruel blast,
  And my last hald of earth is gane;
Nae leaf o' mine shall greet the spring,
  Nae simmer sun exalt my bloom;
But i maun lie before the storm,
  And ithers plant them in my room.

"I've seen sae mony changefu' years,
  On earth I am a stranger grown:
I wander in the ways of men,
  Alike unknowing, and unknown:
Unheard, unpitied, unreliev'd,
  I bear alane my lade o' care,
For silent, low, on beds of dust,
  Lie a' that would my sorrows share.

"And last, (the sum of a' my griefs!)
  My noble master lies in clay;
The flow'r amang our barons bold,
  His country's pride, his country's stay:
In weary being now I pine,
  For a' the life of life is dead,
And hope has left may aged ken,
  On forward wing for ever fled.

"Awake thy last sad voice, my harp!
  The voice of woe and wild despair!
Awake, resound thy latest lay,
  Then sleep in silence evermair!
And thou, my last, best, only, friend,
  That fillest an untimely tomb,
Accept this tribute from the Bard
  Thou brought from Fortune's mirkest gloom.

"In Poverty's low barren vale,
  Thick mists obscure involv'd me round;
Though oft I turn'd the wistful eye,
  Nae ray of fame was to be found:
Thou found'st me, like the morning sun
  That melts the fogs in limpid air,
The friendless bard and rustic song
  Became alike thy fostering care.

"O! why has worth so short a date,
  While villains ripen grey with time?
Must thou, the noble, gen'rous, great,
  Fall in bold manhood's hardy prim
Why did I live to see that day—
  A day to me so full of woe?
O! had I met the mortal shaft
  That laid my benefactor low!

"The bridegroom may forget the bride
  Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
  That on his head an hour has been;
The mother may forget the child
  That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
  And a' that thou hast done for me!"

Published in Poems and Songs of Robert Burns

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