Tam Samson's Elegy.

A poem by Robert Burns

"An honest man's the noblest work of God."

Pope.


Has auld Kilmarnock seen the deil?
Or great M'Kinlay[2] thrawn his heel?
Or Robinson[3] again grown weel,
To preach an' read?
"Na, waur than a'!" cries ilka chiel,
Tam Samson's dead!

Kilmarnock lang may grunt an' grane,
An' sigh, an' sob, an' greet her lane,
An' cleed her bairns, man, wife, an wean,
In mourning weed;
To death, she's dearly paid the kane,
Tam Samson's dead!

The brethren o' the mystic level
May hing their head in woefu' bevel,
While by their nose the tears will revel,
Like ony bead;
Death's gien the lodge an unco devel,
Tam Samson's dead!

When Winter muffles up his cloak,
And binds the mire like a rock;
When to the lochs the curlers flock,
Wi' gleesome speed,
Wha will they station at the cock?
Tam Samson's dead!

He was the king o' a' the core,
To guard or draw, or wick a bore,
Or up the rink like Jehu roar
In time o' need;
But now he lags on death's hog-score,
Tam Samson's dead!

Now safe the stately sawmont sail,
And trouts be-dropp'd wi' crimson hail,
And eels weel ken'd for souple tail,
And geds for greed,
Since dark in death's fish-creel we wail
Tam Samson dead.

Rejoice, ye birring patricks a';
Ye cootie moor-cocks, crousely craw;
Ye maukins, cock your fud fu' braw,
Withouten dread;
Your mortal fae is now awa'
Tam Samson's dead!

That woefu' morn be ever mourn'd
Saw him in shootin' graith adorn'd,
While pointers round impatient burn'd,
Frae couples freed;
But, Och! he gaed and ne'er return'd!
Tam Samson's dead!

In vain auld age his body batters;
In vain the gout his ancles fetters;
In vain the burns cam' down like waters,
An acre braid!
Now ev'ry auld wife, greetin', clatters,
Tam Samson's dead!

Owre many a weary hag he limpit,
An' ay the tither shot he thumpit,
Till coward death behind him jumpit,
Wi' deadly feide;
Now he proclaims, wi' tout o' trumpet,
Tam Samson's dead!

When at his heart he felt the dagger,
He reel'd his wonted bottle swagger,
But yet he drew the mortal trigger
Wi' weel-aim'd heed;
"L--d, five!" he cry'd, an' owre did stagger;
Tam Samson's dead!

Ilk hoary hunter mourn'd a brither;
Ilk sportsman youth bemoan'd a father;
Yon auld grey stane, amang the heather,
Marks out his head,
Whare Burns has wrote in rhyming blether
Tam Samson's dead!

There low he lies, in lasting rest;
Perhaps upon his mould'ring breast
Some spitefu' muirfowl bigs her nest,
To hatch an' breed;
Alas! nae mair he'll them molest!
Tam Samson's dead!

When August winds the heather wave,
And sportsmen wander by yon grave,
Three volleys let his mem'ry crave
O' pouther an' lead,
'Till echo answer frae her cave
Tam Samson's dead!

Heav'n rest his soul, whare'er he be!
Is th' wish o' mony mae than me;
He had twa fauts, or may be three,
Yet what remead?
Ae social, honest man want we:
Tam Samson's dead!

* * * * *

Epitaph.

Tam Samson's weel-worn clay here lies,
Ye canting zealots spare him!
If honest worth in heaven rise,
Ye'll mend or ye win near him.

* * * * *

Per Contra.

Go, Fame, an' canter like a filly
Thro' a' the streets an' neuks o' Killie,
Tell ev'ry social honest billie
To cease his grievin',
For yet, unskaith'd by death's gleg gullie,
Tam Samson's livin'.

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