Winter: A Dirge

by Robert Burns

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 Pow'r 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.

Notes to the poem:

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.


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