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MAN WAS MADE TO MOURN
Lines on the Author's Death.1
WRITTEN WITH THE SUPPOSED VIEW OF BEING HANDED TO RANKINE AFTER THE POET'S INTERMENT.
He who of Rankine sang, lies stiff and dead,
Man was made to Mourn-A Dirge.2
WHEN chill November's surly blast
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seem'd weary, worn with care;
"Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"
"Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
To wander forth, with me to mourn
1 Only an indiscriminating piety can think these lines worth preserving.
Mr Scott Douglas dates this early lament of the Unemployed, so characteristic of Burns's tenderness and democratic sympathies, in November 1784. The tune, which inspires it, is described as "querulous."
The text is that of the Kilmarnock edition, 1786. The Common-place Book shows a number of variations, but the
only one of importance is the beginning
"Yon sun that hangs o'er Carrick moors,
On this there is a note in the MS.
"The sun that overhangs yon moors,
"O man! while in thy early years,
Licentious passions burn
Which tenfold force gives Nature's law,
"Look not alone on youthful prime,
But see him on the edge of life,
Then Age and Want-oh! ill-match'd pair-
"A few seem favourites of fate,
Yet, think not all the rich and great
But oh what crowds in ev'ry land,
All wretched and forlorn,
Thro' weary life this lesson learn,
"Many and sharp the num'rous ills
More pointed still we make ourselves,
MAN WAS MADE TO MOURN
And man, whose heav'n-erected face
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
"See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight,
"If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave,
E'er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
Or why has man the will and pow'r
"Yet, let not this too much, my son,
The poor, oppressed, honest man
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!
"O Death! the poor man's dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy fear thy blow,
But, oh a blest relief for those
The Twa Herds; or, The Holy Tulyie."
AN UNCO MOURNFU' TALE.1
"Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,
But fool with fool is barbarous civil war."-POPE.
O a' ye pious godly flocks,
Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
Or worrying tykesb?
Or wha will tent the waifs an' crocks,
About the dykes?
The twa best herds in a' the wast,
Hae had a bitter black out-cast
O, Moodie, man, an' wordy Russell,
The L-'s cause ne'er gat sic a twistle,
1 This is one of the earliest of Burns's priest-skelping turns.' The ferment of popular hatred of John Knox (sometimes expressed orally in his lifetime), at last informs a Scotch poem. Burns says, "with a certain description of the clergy, as well as laity, it met with a roar of applause." He did not publish it. The "herds" were Mr Moodie (of Riccarton), and Mr John Russell (of Kilmarnock). The quarrel was about parish boundaries. The right of "the brutes to choose their herds" ought to have commended
THE TWA HERDS
O, sirs! whae'er wad hae expeckit
But by the brutes themselves eleckit,
What flock wi' Moodie's flock could rank ?— Sae hale and hearty every shank!
Nae poison'd soor Arminian stank
He let them taste;
Frae Calvin's well aye clear they drank,-
The thummart, willcat, brock, an' tod,
What herd like Russell tell'd his tale;
An' saw gin they were sick or hale,
He fine a mangy sheep could scrub,
And New-Light herds could nicely drub
pay their skin;
Could shake them o'er the burning dub,b
Or heave them in.