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A Mother's Lament

Fate gave the word, the arrow sped, And pierc'd my darling's heart; And with him all the joys are fled Life can to me impart. By cruel hands the sapling drops, In dust dishonour'd laid; So fell the pride of all my hopes, My age's future shade. The mother-linnet in the brake Bewails her ravish'd young; So I, for my lost darling's sake, Lament the live-day long. Death, oft I've feared thy fatal blow. Now, fond, I bare my breast; O, do thou kindly lay me low With him I love, at rest!


Vivien Heilbron

About this work

This is a work by Robert Burns. It is read here by Vivien Heilbron.

More about this work

(Mrs Fergusson of Craigdarroch's Lamentation for the Death of Her Son.)

First sent in letter format to Mrs Dunlop in September 1788, upon the Bard "being taken by a Poetic-fit" whilst on horseback. The lament is intended for the tune of 'Finlayston House,' and sees the lyrics from the point of view of a mother upon the death of her son.

Although the verse is sometimes attributed solely for the benefit of the Fergussons of Craigdarroch, another family connected to Burns also possessed a copy of it, as well as notes from Burns himself, indicating that "'A Mother's Lament' was composed partly with a view to Mrs Fergusson of Craigdarroch, and partly to the worthy patrons of my early unknown muse, Mrs Stewart of Afton."

Another set of Burns notations on this lament exist in the annotated copy of Scots Musical Museum given to Captain Riddell of Glenriddell. Says Burns, "This most beautiful tune is, I think, the happiest composition of that bard-born genius, John Riddle, of the family of Glencarnock, at Ayr." Published in volume iii of Scots Musical Museum.

Lisa Harrison

Themes for this

death regret love

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