Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Man Was Made to Mourn - a dirge by Robert Burns

Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And Man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,--
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
Some thoughts…
On this poem: Burns (1759-1796) is known for both for his original compositions as well as his adaptation of sweetly lilting Scottish folk-songs. Much as I love his cheerier works, this somber poem ‘spoke’ to me today. It’s only a brief excerpt from a narrative poem of eleven stanzas; wherein an elderly wanderer accosts a younger man, and quite unsolicited, lets loose a mournful plaint on all the evils that can beset one in life till Death comes along as a blessed release. Yes, I know, pretty dismal stuff. Well, the reader should have taken warning from the title. But moving on…
On a personal note: Generally speaking, my view of life is sunny-side-up, but I’d just finished reading one book on WW II, and immediately followed that up with another. In retrospect, that was not such a good idea. It’s led to some morose brooding on‘Man’s inhumanity to man’, a famous phrase for which we can give thanks to Burns.

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