Epitaph on my own friend, and my father's friend, William Muir in Tarbolton

An honest man here lies at rest As e'er God with his image blest. The friend of man, the friend of truth; The friend of Age, and guide of Youth: Few hearts like his with virtue warm'd, Few heads with knowledge so inform'd: If there's another world, he lives in bliss; If there is none, he made the best of this.


Gerda Stevenson

About this work

This is an epitaph by Robert Burns. It is read here by Gerda Stevenson.

More about this epitaph

This is a mock epitaph for William Muir (1745-1793), a miller in Tarbolton who proved to be a good friend to the Burnes family.

When Jean Armour was thrown out by her family in March 1788 it was Muir who took her in.

After Muir’s death, Burns remained a friend of the family, and of his widow he remarked, "I am much interested for her, and will... move heaven and earth in her behalf."

The poem was written sometime in April 1784, and appears in the First Commonplace Book. It was one of seven epitaphs that Burns included in the Kilmarnock edition.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this epitaph

death friendship life

Locations for this epitaph


Selected for 10 April

Several of Burns’s friends became the subjects of mock epitaphs while they were still very much alive! The miller William Muir sheltered the poet’s wife-to-be, Jean Armour, from her father’s rage during her second pregnancy. This affectionate, greatly exaggerated rumour of her protector’s death dates from April, 1784.

Donny O'Rourke

Skip to top

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.