Poem of the Month

Winter: A Dirge

1781

Type: Poem

 

The wintry west extends his blast,

And hail and rain does blaw;

Or the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw:

While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,

And roars frae bank to brae;

And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

 

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"

The joyless winter day

Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May:

The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,

My griefs it seems to join;

The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine!

 

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme

These woes of mine fulfil,

Here firm I rest; they must be best,

Because they are Thy will!

Then all I want - (O do Thou grant

This one request of mine!): 

Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,

Assist me to resign.

 

 

With the nights drawing in...

This poem was copied into Burns's Commonplace Book, with the remarks appended: "As I am what the men of the world, if they knew such a man, would call a whimsical mortal, I have various forms of pleasure and enjoyment which are in a manner peculiar to myself, or some here and there such out-of-the-way person. Such is the peculiar pleasure I take in the season of Winter more than the rest of the year. This, I believe, may be partly owing to my misfortunes giving my mind a melancholy cast; but there is something even in the

Mighty tempest, and the heavy waste,
Abrupt, and deep, stretched o'er the buried earth.


which raises the mind to a serious sublimity favourable to everything great and noble. There is scarcely any object gives me more -- I do not know if I should call it pleasure -- but something which exalts me -- something which enraptures me -- to walk in the sheltered side of a wood, or high plantation, in a cloudy winter day, and hear the stormy wind howling among the trees and raving over the plain. It is my best season for devotion; my mind is rapt up in a kind of enthusiasm to Him, who, in the pompous language of the Hebrew bard, 'Walks on the wings of the wind.' In one of these seasons, just after a train of misfortunes, I composed these lines."

 

Source:

The Poetical Works Of Robert Burns
Copyright 1910
Ward, Lock, and Co., Ltd

 

Trevor ,Webmaster

Burns Cottage in Winter, Alloway

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