Elegy On The Late Miss Burnet Of Monboddo

Life ne'er exulted in so rich a prize, As Burnet, lovely from her native skies; Nor envious death so triumph'd in a blow, As that which laid th' accomplish'd Burnet low. Thy form and mind, sweet maid, can I forget? In richest ore the brightest jewel set! In thee, high Heaven above was truest shown, As by His noblest work the Godhead best is known. In vain ye flaunt in summer's pride, ye groves; Thou crystal streamlet with thy flowery shore, Ye woodland choir that chaunt your idle loves, Ye cease to charm; Eliza is no more. Ye healthy wastes, immix'd with reedy fens; Ye mossy streams, with sedge and rushes stor'd: Ye rugged cliffs, o'erhanging dreary glens, To you I fly - ye with my soul accord. Princes, whose cumb'rous pride was all their worth, Shall venal lays their pompous exit hail, And thou, sweet Excellence! forsake our earth, And not a Muse with honest grief bewail? We saw thee shine in youth and beauty's pride, And Virtue's light, that beams beyond the spheres; But, like the sun eclips'd at morning tide, Thou left us darkling in a world of tears. The parent's heart that nestled fond in thee, That heart how sunk, a prey to grief and care; So deckt the woodbine sweet yon aged tree; So, rudely ravish'd, left it bleak and bare.


Alan Cumming

About this work

This is an elegy by Robert Burns. It was written in 1791 and is read here by Alan Cumming.

More about this elegy

Elizabeth Burnett (1765-1790) was the youngest daughter of the Scottish lawyer and Enlightenment philosopher Lord Monboddo.

After her death from consumption on the 17th June 1790, Burns spent months composing a suitable elegy. He sent it to Alexander Cunningham on 23rd January 1791, without lines 25-28. The omitted lines appeared in a version which he sent to Mrs Dunlop on 7th February.

Ralph Richard McLean

Themes for this elegy

death beauty regret

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