Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
A Bard’s Epitaph
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
IS there a whim-inspired fool,
Owre fast for thought, owre hot for rule,
Owre blate 1 to seek, owre proud to snool, 2
                Let him draw near;
And owre this grassy heap sing dool,        5
                And drap a tear.
 
Is there a bard of rustic song,
Who, noteless, steals the crowds among,
That weekly this area throng,
                O, pass not by!        10
But, with a frater-feeling strong,
                Here, heave a sigh.
 
Is there a man whose judgment clear,
Can others teach the course to steer,
Yet runs, himself, life’s mad career        15
                Wild as the wave;
Here pause—and, thro’ the starting tear,
                Survey this grave.
 
The poor inhabitant below
Was quick to learn, and wise to know,        20
And keenly felt the friendly glow,
                And softer flame;
But thoughtless follies laid him low,
                And stained his name!
 
Reader, attend—whether thy soul        25
Soars fancy’s flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole,
                In low pursuit;
Know, prudent, cautious self-control
                Is wisdom’s root.        30
 
Note 1. bashful. [back]
Note 2. submit tamely. [back]
 
 
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