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THE AUTHOR'S FAREWELL TO HIS NATIVE
TUNE_' ROSLIN CASTLE.'
The gloomy night is gath’ring fast,
"I composed this song,” which was printed in the Edinburgh edition, in 1787, says Burns, in a note to a copy in his own hand, “ as I conveyed my chest so far on my road to Greenock, where I was to embark, in a few days, for Jamaica. I meant it as my farewell dirge to my native land.” He has elsewhere given the following history of this piece :
· I had been for some time skulking from covert to covert under all the terrors of a jail, as some ill-advised people had uncoupled the merciless pack of the law at my heels. I had taken the last farewell of my few friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock, and I had composed the last song I should ever measure in Caledonia
• The gloomy night is gath’ring fast;' when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a friend of mine, overthrew all my schemes, by opening new prospects to my poetic ambition." Professor Walker adds these further par
The Autumn mourns her rip’ning corn
upon the stormy wave, Where many a danger I must dare, Far from the bonie banks of Ayr.
'Tis not the surging billow's roar, 'Tis not that fatal, deadly shore; Tho' death in ev'ry shape appear, The wretched have no more to fear : But round
heart the ties are bound,
Farewell, old Coila's hills and dales,
ticulars : “ I requested him to communicate some of his unpublished poems; and he recited his farewell Song to the Banks of Ayr, introducing it with a description of the circumstauces in which it was composed, more striking than the poem itself. He had left Dr. Laurie's family, after a visit, which he expected to be the last, and on his way home, had to cross a wide stretch of solitary moor. His mind was strongly affected by parting for ever with a scene where he had tasted so much elegant and social pleasure ; and, depressed by the contrasted gloom of his prospects, the aspect of nature harmonized with his feelings; it was a lowering and heavy evening in the end of autumn. The wind was up and whistled through the rushes and long spear-grass which beat before it. The clouds were driving
Farewell, my friends! Farewell, my foes!
TO THE BRETHREN OP ST. JAMES's Lodge, TARBOLTON, †
TUNE-GUID NIGHT, AND JOY BE WI' YOU A'!
Adieu ! a heart-warm, fond adieu !
Dear brothers of the mystic tie ! Ye favour'd, ye enlighten'd few,
Companions of my social joy!
Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba',
I'll mind you still, tho' far awa'.
across the sky; and cold pelting showers, at intervals, added discomfort of body to cheerlessness of mind. Under these circumstances, and in this frame, Burns composed his poem.”
+ This Farewell was printed in the Kilmarnock edition, in a copy of wbich Burns has written," At this time the author intended going to Jamaica.” Allan Cunningham states that the Poet, it is said, recited, or rather chanted, “This Farewell in the St. James's Lodge, of Tarbolton, when his chest was on the way to Greenock. The concluding verse affected his friends greatly. Several of the gentlemen who heard him chant it are still living in the west of Scotland.”
Oft have I met your social band,
And spent the cheerful, festive night; Oft, honour'd with supreme command,
Presided o'er the sons of light: And by that hieroglyphic bright,
Which none but craftsmen ever saw ! Strong mem'ry on my heart shall write
Those happy scenes when far awa'!
May freedom, harmony, and love,
Unite you in the grand design, Beneath th' Omniscient eye above,
The glorious Architect Divine! That you may keep th' unerring line,
Still rising by the plummet's law, Till Order bright, completely shine,
Shall be my pray'r when far awa'.
And You,* farewell! whose merits claim,
Justly, that highest badge to wear! Heav'n bless your honour’d, noble
name, To Masonry and Scotia dear! A last request permit me here, When yearly ye
assemble a', One round, I ask it with a tear,
To him, the Bard that's far awa'.
* Sir John Whiteford, the Grand Master.