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THE

POETICAL WORKS OF

ROBERT BURNS

A

VOLUME III

ALDI

DISCIP

ANG LVS

LONDON

WILLIAM PICKERING

1839

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The gloomy night is gath’ring fast,
Loud roars the wild inconstant blast,
Yon murky cloud is foul with rain,
I see it driving o'er the plain ;
The hunter now has left the moor,
The scatter'd coveys meet secure,
While here I wander, prest with

care,
Along the lonely banks of Ayr.

"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

VOL. III.

B

57

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V.3

525

The Autumn mourns her rip’ning corn By early Winter's

ravage

torn;
Across her placid, azure sky,
She sees the scowling tempest fly:
Chill runs my blood to hear it rave,
I think 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 my heart the ties are bound,
That heart transpierc'd with many a wound;
These bleed afresh, those ties I tear,
To leave the bonie banks of Ayr.

Farewell, old Coila's hills and dales,
Her heathy moors and winding vales;
The scenes where wretched fancy roves,
Pursuing past, unhappy loves !

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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unpublished poems; and he recited his farewell Song to the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 cir-
cumstances 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, bad 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 !
My peace with these, my love with those-
The bursting tears my heart declare,
Farewell, the bonie banks of Ayr !

THE FAREWELL.

TO THE BRETHREN OF 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!
Tho' I to foreign lands must hie,

Pursuing Fortune's slidd'ry ba',
With melting heart, and brimful eye,

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."

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