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Paraphrase of the First Psalm.1

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.

The first six verses of the Ninetieth
Psalm versified.2

O THOU, the first, the greatest friend
Of all the human race!

Whose strong right hand has ever been
Their stay and dwelling place!

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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.

A Prayer in the Prospect of Death.1

O THOU unknown, Almighty Cause
Of all my hope and fear!

In whose dread presence, ere an hour,
Perhaps I must appear!

Burns notes that this piece was written in an early illness which "first

put nature on the alarm. Probably we have here the malaise of Irvine.

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.1

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.

1 An early and unpromising experiment in the Spenserian measure, which "did not set his genius." The verses

were a good deal polished for the Edinburgh edition.


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 path 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,
Ör 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' allowèd line;
O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!

Fickle Fortune-"A Fragment.”1

THOUGH fickle Fortune has deceived me,
She promis'd fair and perform'd but ill;
Of mistress, friends, and wealth bereav'd me,
Yet I bear a heart shall support me still.

I'll act with prudence as far 's I'm able,
But if success I must never find,
Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,
I'll meet thee with an undaunted mind.

1 Of the same period. Burns quotes an old verse which he imitated: un

fortunately the rest of the "auld sang" has perished.

Raging Fortune-Fragment of Song.1

O RAGING Fortune's withering blast
Has laid my leaf full low, Ŏ!
O raging Fortune's withering blast
Has laid my leaf full low, O!

My stem was fair, my bud was green,
My blossom sweet did blow, O!
The dew fell fresh, the sun rose mild,
And made
my branches grow, O!

But luckless Fortune's northern storms
Laid a' my blossoms low, O!

But luckless Fortune's northern storms
Laid a' my blossoms low, O!

Impromptu—“I'll go and be a Sodger.""

O WHY the deuce should I repine,
And be an ill foreboder?
I'm twenty-three, and five feet nine,
I'll go and be a sodger!

I gat some gear wi' mickle care,
I held it weel thegither;

But now it's gane, and something mair-
I'll go and be a sodger!

1 This is of the same period and inspiration.

The hypochondria is vanquished

in this piece, assigned by Mr Scott Douglas to Burns's return home from Irvine, in 1782.

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